The Pentagon places too much importance on senior-level Defense Department officials when assigning personal security details, and discounts imminent credible threats against lower-level officials, an audit by the Pentagon's Inspector General's office has found.
Military personal security details, or PSDs, are made up of highly-trained military or civilian personnel capable of providing protection for individuals designated as high‑risk personnel and come from protection-providing organizations such as U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the Pentagon Force Protection Agency.
The Pentagon is responsible for overseeing the procedures for designating and protecting high-risk personnel, a category that includes the most senior military and civilian officials. There is also a Defense Department process to nominate other DoD personnel for PSD services based on an imminent credible threat or compelling operational considerations, according to the audit.
The protection-providing organizations "did not adjust their recommendations for the level of protection based on the results of the personal security vulnerability assessment," according to the audit, released on Thursday, that recommends that the Pentagon "eliminate the pre‑assigned levels of protection" and assign PSDs based on personal security vulnerability assessments or nominations.
The Pentagon disagreed with the recommendation to eliminate the preassigned levels of protection, according to a response in the audit report from the office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Defense Continuity and Mission Assurance.
Instead, the Pentagon office proposed reviewing the policy for preassigned permanent protection levels, the audit states.
The audit also found that the protection organizations "did not provide PSDs consistently throughout the DoD."
In addition, protection organizations "did not consistently use the assistance of the other [agencies] and field agents local to the mission location to reduce costs, to reduce the need for large standing details on PSDs, and to increase joint operations for the missions we reviewed," the audit states.
In another example of inconsistency, the Army's Criminal Investigation Command, or CID, assigned more personnel to PSDs than Pentagon instruction allows for five of the seven high-risk officials it protects, the audit states.
The audit recommends that the commanding general of Army CID "modify the number of personnel assigned to protect each [high-risk] individual" as well as the number of personnel used on each mission to comply with the Pentagon PSD instruction.
Auditors also recommended that the commandant of the U.S. Army Military Police School update Army Techniques Publication 3‑39.35, "Protective Services," dated May 2013, to comply with any changes to the Pentagon's PSD instruction.
Another recommendation calls on the commanders of Army CID and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations as well as the director of NCIS to develop and issue policy in line with the Pentagon's instruction to emphasize the use of assistance from other protection organizations and local field agents when conducting PSDs, the audit states.
The audit also recommended that the Pentagon establish a working group including representatives from each protection organization to revise the PSD policy, so it includes guidance on the number of personnel and days of advance work needed for PSD missions.
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at email@example.com.