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Upgrading Your Perimeter Security for Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices

Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs) are one of today’s preferred attack methods for both individual and nation-state terrorists. To effectively defend against such attacks, a thorough review of a site’s perimeter security should include proper threat/risk assessment and a system review to determine if the existing perimeter security system has to be hardened or upgraded in either hardware components, system integration, operational software, and/or human staffing.

The more aggressive modus operandi of recent terrorist attacks necessitates that existing countermeasures be constantly probed and tested to assure they are providing the necessary level of protection prescribed by the risk assessment process. This means that perimeters and blast distances between security fences and key buildings should be carefully considered and appropriate stand-off capability created. It is not adequate to invest considerable sums of money for only CCTV camera technology, access control hardware and security guards. A more robust deterrent needs to be an added component, comprising active and passive vehicle barriers, anti-climb, anti-vehicular, and pedestrian fencing with intrusion technology built into the perimeter zone.

The table below (courtesy of ATF) provides some objective guidelines.


Establishing traffic control at exist/entry points is a critical element of thorough perimeter security. Every vehicle entering a parking lot, especially underground, should be thoroughly inspected as a standard practice in key facilities. Increase the number of overt security personnel wherever possible. Trained and attentive eyes and ears are an element of a comprehensive security plan.

Review existing vehicle barriers. Many barrier systems have been in place for years or decades. They are often poorly maintained. Consider upgrading or replacing old equipment with new electrically-actuated systems that will lower operating costs and extend their life cycle. The electronic controls used in these systems are designed to integrate all perimeter technologies into a seamless solution and can be terminated into the internal master security control facility, saving costs and manpower.

Most importantly, make sure you establish partnerships with appropriate local authorities and organizations. Coordinate with them to develop intelligence and information sharing relationships. Preemption and protection are both elements of comprehensive perimeter security.

The following preventative actions are critical to effective perimeter protection:

  • Increase perimeter lighting
  • Deploy visible security cameras and/or intrusion detection sensors
  • Remove vegetation in and around perimeters, maintain architectural vegetation regularly
  • Provide specialist vehicle inspection training and access control procedures for security personnel
  • Consider deploying explosive detection devices using both electronic and canine solutions
  • Conduct vulnerability studies focusing on physical security stand-off, structural engineering, blast mitigation and infrastructure, i.e. power, water, and air filtration if feasible
  • Initiate a system to enhance material delivery—mail and package screening procedures (both announced and unannounced)

The main effort should be directed to changing the mindset of those on your security team. You must deal with the fact that 99.9% of their efforts are routine and uneventful. The more automated you can make your perimeter defense, the less human fatigue will play in the success of your security commitment.