Type: Analysis
Pages: 6 | Words: 1577
Reading Time: 7 Minutes

The risks associated with terrorist attacks on buildings continue to rise with time. Identification of the potential risks on such buildings helps in mitigation against any potential attacks. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) manual provides a mechanism for the assessment and mitigation against terror-related risks. These include mitigating or reducing physical damage caused by terrorists’ bombings and attacks where chemical, biological or radiological agents are applied (FEMA, 2004). The paper will focus on threat identification, asset value assessment, vulnerability assessment, risk assessment, and the mitigation options against attacks on the Pentagon building in Washington.

Rating Asset Value Assessment

The process of value assessment must begin with the understanding of what is implied by an asset in FEMA assessments procedures. FEMA considers an asset to be any item or person with great value that requires protection against destruction. It can be tangible such as buildings, tenants, equipments and facilities, information and activities that take place within a particular premise (FEMA, 2004). It can also be intangible like when it involves the reputation of a company or organization. The asset value assessment process in this context will thus aim at identifying the value of people operating from Pentagon building, the value of activities that take place within the building and quantification of the exact value of the facility.

In order to correctly and accurately conduct an asset value assessment according to the FEMA guidelines, an interview with people that are very familiar with Pentagon building must be undertaken. This will call for the contributions of the owners of the building, the staff working within this facility, tenants as well as all those who may be very familiar with the property (Craighead, 2009). The input of such significant people can be used in the identification of the most valuable assets within Pentagon house.

Significant reduction of risks is achievable through identification and prioritization of the critical assets that are found within the Pentagon house. This can be helpful in development of strategic mitigation measures against terrorist attacks on this building. The identification of the value of Pentagon building in Washington can be achieved through two simple steps. This includes identification of the core functions of the building and its building infrastructure (FEMA, 2004).  In order to accurately assess and arrive at an accurate valuation, infrastructural components of Pentagon building must be clearly assessed. These include assets, information systems, life systems, security systems and safe haven areas within the facility (Craighead, 2009).

In further determining the infrastructural value of Pentagon building, assessment should focus on establishing the number of people who may suffer injuries or can die in the event of a terrorist attack that directly impacts on the infrastructure of the building. FEMA (2004) posits that the assessment process must also include determination of the value of the assets that could be lost in the event of an attack. This includes the consequences of loss of any information stored within the building and the loss of the basic services sheltered under the facility (FEMA, 2004).

Quantification of the asset values within Pentagon building is an important process under the asset value assessment in the guidelines of FEMA assessment manual (FEMA, 2004). The asset value refers to the level of debilitating consequences caused by destruction of the assets within the building. The determination of the asset value of Pentagon building would enhance establishment of strategic precautionary measures against the threats of Al-Qaeda terrorist attack on Pentagon building for example. It would also help in guiding in the installation of security structures based on the risk potential of the building to terrorist attack.  

Threat/Hazard Assessment and Identification

According to FEMA manual of risk assessment on terrorism on buildings, the assessment and identification of the threats associated with terrorist attacks on building begins with the understanding of the aggressors (Craighead, 2009). In order to identify the threats that Pentagon building in Washington is exposed to in relation to terrorist attacks, the state defense department and functions must understand the nature of the weapons that the Al-Qaeda network uses. The assessment process must also include identification of the tools, weapons and tactics (FEMA, 2004).  This can be used to modify the design of the building and boost its future survival against Al-Qaeda attacks. 

Terrorists most often target buildings like Pentagon or the World Trade Center in New York that are likely to cause great emotional, political or even economic loss. However, understanding of the tactics, weapons and strategies of the terrorists would inform designing the building in a manner that it is able to withstand any threats and risks of terrorist attack (Craighead, 2009). The threat assessment process must include collection of security information from the law enforcement, the FBI, the U.S Department of Homeland Security and Homeland Security Offices (FEMA, 2004). 

The assessment must include identification of the risks associated with technological applications. These can be collected from the Local Emergency Planning Committee. These structures and bodies are empowered and can competently help in the determination of facilities and buildings that are more vulnerable to terrorist attacks (FEMA, 2004).  Such information can thus be used to develop emergency management strategies to limit the negative impacts of attacks on property and people.

An assessment and identification of threats of terrorism on the World Trade Centre building for example should focus on understanding of the risky methods used by the terrorist attackers. These can thus include understanding of such methods as forced entry tools, terrorist vehicles, and supported and monitored surveillance (FEMA, 2004).  The weapons may involve rifles, rocketed grenades used for bombings, chemical explosive bombs, biological and radioactive compounds. A designer with the understanding of the threats of attack can thus apply a system engineering evaluation approaches in determining the critical functions of the Pentagon building, its infrastructure, and vulnerability to terrorist attacks (Craighead, 2009).

Risk Assessment

Assessment of the risks associated with terrorist attack on Pentagon building must include the prospects analysis for loss or damage of the building. In this process, the risk potentials are measured against the threats and the vulnerabilities related to it (FEMA, 2004).  Various methods and techniques can be used in assessing the risk potentials of Pentagon building to terrorist attack. One of these involves assembling of value assessment of the building, assessment of its threats and its vulnerability so as to determine the numeric value of the risks associated with each asset within the building. The risk is thus equivalent to the asset value multiplied by the rating of the threat involved and the vulnerability rating (Patrick, 2009).

The process of identification of terrorist threats to the building is followed by a vulnerability assessment that helps in identification of the weaknesses and gaps that the terrorists might exploit (FEMA, 2004).  Knowledge of the great risks associated with terrorist attack on the building can consequently be used as a guideline to the formulation of strategic mitigation mechanisms that will help in reducing the risks. Risk assessment is only complete with the analysis and identification of cost effective mitigation measures that will enhance the achievement of sustainable levels of protection against terrorist attacks.  

Vulnerability Assessment

Vulnerability assessment according to (FEMA, 2004) is the determination of the weaknesses that can be used by a terrorist attacker to execute an attack on an asset. It involves detailed assessment of the functions of the asset that leads to identification of the weakness that can be exploited by an aggressor. In the case of Pentagon building in Washington, vulnerability assessment would help in the designing of mitigation measures against any potential terrorist attacks. This would help in reducing vulnerabilities (Patrick, 2009).

Vulnerability assessment involves organization of relevant resources needed for the assessment process, evaluation of the building site, preparation of the portfolio for the building that is under assessment, and determination of the vulnerability rating of Pentagon building (Stewart, 2008). Vulnerability assessment is critical to the establishment of the mitigation measures based on understanding of the type, nature and variation in the level of threats of terrorist attack on a building. Comprehensive vulnerability assessment includes development and installation of advanced disaster response and recovery planning in coordination with local authorities as mitigation measures (Stewart, 2008).

Mitigation Option against Terrorist attack on Pentagon Building

Mitigation measures against a terrorist attacks must include determination and sealing of all the potential opportunities that the attackers could exploit to execute their terrorist attacks (Patrick, 2009). This process entirely depends on effective risk assessment, vulnerability and value asset assessment. The confidential data, information and other infrastructural assets within Pentagon building that are likely to be targets of terrorist attack can therefore be accompanied with back-ups for security in the event of an attack.

The aggressors in a terrorist attack often target key equipment and facilities whose destruction can be a significant setback on the target points of attack. Patrick (2009) cited that mitigation measures should thus include identification of the locations of such equipments so that in the event of an attack they can be easily rescued from damage (Stewart, 2008).  Further, the communication lines should be secured such that there is un-interrupted flow of information and security sensitivity alerts within the building.

The mitigation process includes the security of the lines of communication. This can facilitate easy and faster movement of people and assets in the event of a disaster. The mitigation measures should also include determination of the location, accessibility and readiness condition of the emergency response facilities within the building. The staff within Pentagon building must also be very well trained to use the disaster response facilities within the building in emergency situations. 

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