There is no doubt that terrorists are actively working to get their hands on radioactive or nuclear material. As head of the Second Line of Defense Program, Tracy Mustin provides a significant counterweight to these efforts and makes a strong and central contribution to defending the U.S. homeland. Under her leadership, the program has placed more than 425 portal monitoring devices at more than 100 border crossings, airports and seaports in more than 40 countries to detect illicit trafficking of nuclear and radiological material.
The first line of defense against nuclear terrorist attack is to secure the nuclear material at the source. Our government has multiple efforts dedicated to this important goal, but given the seriousness of the threat, and the information available about nuclear smuggling, this first line of defense is clearly not enough. It is also necessary to ensure that materials cannot be readily transported across international borders, and this is the work of the Second Line of Defense.
The first component of Mustin’s Second Line of Defense Program is the Core Program, which places radiation portal monitors at land borders, airports and small seaports in carefully chosen locations. The program was initially focused in Russia, and this work remains a priority. Recently, Ms. Mustin’s program secured an agreement with Russian officials to equip all of Russia’s official international border crossings, including airports, seaports, railways and land crossings, with radiation detection devices to prevent nuclear smuggling in or out of the country. This project will be completed six years ahead of schedule.
Beyond Russia, and again due to Mustin’s strong leadership, the program has grown to include a number of surrounding nations including Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Turkey, Slovenia and Slovakia. The result will be the protection of hundreds of additional border crossings against nuclear smuggling. Mustin also worked closely with the International Atomic Energy Agency and Greek authorities to enhance security at the 2004 Olympic Games.
Mustin also heads the Megaports Initiative, which uses the same technology as the Core Program to screen cargo at major international seaports. When trucks carrying containers drive into the gates of a growing number of major international ports, they must now drive through monitors deployed by Mustin’s program. The Megaports Initiative achieves three main objectives. It deters terrorists from using the world’s seaports to ship illicit materials; it detects nuclear and radioactive materials if they are shipped via sea cargo; and it interdicts harmful material before it is used against the United States or one of our allies. The Megaports Initiative is now working at 23 ports in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and South America.
There are very few people in the world who could so effectively lead these important efforts. It requires technical expertise, program management expertise, diplomacy skills, and the ability to work with multiple federal agencies and stakeholders in the U.S. and abroad. Not only is there broad international participation in this effort as a direct result of Mustin’s leadership, but other countries are now donating funds to the Second Line of Defense.
Mustin has succeeded not only because of her considerable skills, but also through plain hard work. She has traveled personally to more than 30 nations as the head of this program, and she is away from her home and family roughly half the year. She wishes these sacrifices weren’t necessary, but perseveres nonetheless, recognizing that there is no bigger threat to our country than nuclear terrorism. Tracy Mustin has unquestionably played an important leadership role in fighting this threat.
This medalist was the recipient of the Homeland Security Medal. This medal was combined with the Justice and Law Enforcement category in 2013, and renamed the Safety, Security and International Affairs Medal in 2020.