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Lankford Gets Answers on Counter-drone Efforts on the Southern Border

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WASHINGTON, DC –Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today raised concerns in a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on protecting the US from unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and instituting counter-drone processes, particularly at our southern border. Lankford emphasized the need for agencies to collaborate to enhance counter-drone efforts and to ensure we have the technology we need, when we need, to protect the homeland from drones. He highlighted the issue of not effectively stopping drone activity on the southern border and what needs to be done to get that process moving forward more quickly.

Lankford recently introduced the Strengthening Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operations (C-UAS) Partnerships Act, a bill to authorize the Secretary of Defense to bolster our work with our allies and increase training capacity in counter-unmanned aerial systems (C-UAS) with partners like Israel who also lead in this area.

Witnesses at today’s hearing included Samantha Vinograd, the Acting Assistant Secretary for Counterterrorism and Threat Prevention and Law Enforcement Policy at the Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans under the Department of Homeland Security; Brad Wiegmann, the Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the National Security Division of the Department of Justice; and Tonya D. Coultas, the Deputy Associate Administrator for Security and Hazardous Materials Safety at the Federal Aviation Administration.

Excerpt

Lankford: Here’s my challenge on this, and I’ll just take one specific region on the southwest border. When I go there, and I see the people, I see the equipment. Everyone’s trained, everyone’s ready to go. And they’re waiting on a piece of paper to be signed somewhere in Washington. I get on the phone and start calling around and saying where is this? How do we get this unstuck? Because they’re dealing with, literally at that point, thousands of UAS coming across from Mexico carrying narcotics, doing surveillance. We have the technology sitting there. I’m just trying to figure out, how do we get this unstuck? Because it’s on someone’s desk ‘moving’ doing ‘something.’ If there is a need to assist in process, this Committee is very engaged to be able to help get processes unstuck, but we’re trying to figure out why it’s still stuck?

Vinograd: Senator, I try to be in the business of unsticking things as well. And I will tell you for the one that I mentioned that is forthcoming in a small number  of weeks, what we’re waiting for in that particular context and in others is to ensure that this equipment can be safely used and operated in that airspace…

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