Federal authorities are taking what might be termed a “lurking” approach to aviation security. It may have application for earthbound security needs as well. It amounts to keeping terrorists guessing – and fearful – about whether they can be confronted with live opposition.
The Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) has increased the number of marshals on airplanes from fewer than three dozen to several thousand in a matter of months. But not all domestic and overseas flights have marshals aboard.
FAMS also has VIPERs – visible intermodal prevention and response teams. They’re functioning in 10 big cities on a “multi-modal” basis – not just aviation. They show up randomly on subways, bus systems and water ferry systems.
“You never know when [the VIPER teams] are going to show up, you can’t get any pattern on it,” says Robert Bray, FAMS’ director. “So it gives [potential terrorists] a certain amount of doubt in their minds if they might be planning anything against our transportation system…”
“Keep ’em guessing” is actually a good motto for any type of security system, airborne or ground-based.