Currently there are several definitions of asymmetric threats listed throughout the internet as well as other literature. The definition that best sums up the meaning in my view is leveraging unconventional tactics against a superior opponent with the goal of disrupting the willingness to achieve the operational objectives. The most common and current example of this would be the insurgency tactics used in Iraq and Afghanistan. The United States must not assume those tactics and strategies will only be used abroad. The same asymmetric threats our country’s security initiative is facing are the same challenges are seaports are facing. Some examples of the potential asymmetric threats the United States seaport faces are nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, biological weapons, and terrorism.
Nuclear Weapons are one the key components for countries/states to be considered as a world superpower. Just the possession of a nuclear weapon guarantees a country a position of negations with other world powers. Countries like the United States and United Kingdom have an invested interest on who has those capabilities to avoid such negotiations. The ever going crisis with North Korea is a perfect example of the United States diligence to avoid an unaccountability of nuclear weapons potential threat. The employment of a nuclear weapons on a seaport would greatly slow or deter the deployment process for operating military functions. The injuries, casualties and infrastructure damage would be significant, therefore any successful attempt would cripple any military or commercial cargo operation.
In comparison to nuclear weapons, chemical weapons are less damaging, but are easier to acquire. Both threats could be delivered in a container and once in the vicinity of a seaport easily detonated. The overall effect of a chemical weapon is to slow the progress and operations at a seaport due to chemical garments being required to operate in that environment. The impact of a chemical environment would also lessen the dominance of a United States military operation. The United States military is commonly known to operate both deployment and re-deployment operations at specific ports of embarkation and debarkation; making targeting for a chemical attack fairly simple.
Like chemical weapons, biological weapons are easy to obtain, but the area covered by such an attack is fairly small and limited. The most effective area to use a chemical weapon on a seaport would be the operation center of that port due to the limited damage it will cause to the infrastructure. The psychological effect of VX or Sarin would devastate any port operation and to trace the origin of the agents would prove to be very difficult.
The most common vulnerabilities to seaports exist due to the geographical location and the amount of activity surrounding most seaports. Highways, railways, and joining waterways create many security issues and make larger seaports terrorist strategic...