Aviation security is a delicate balance. Airlines and aviation security agencies must balance risk against revenue and be proactive to be ahead of threats … and while there is the argument of “can you ever really have to much security?” … it appears that Kuwait’s Ministry of Interior division of Flight Protection may have the answer to the question of “can you ever really have to much security?”
Less than two weeks after U.S. Navy SEAL’s infiltrated the compound of former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, killing the head of the global terrorist organization, Kuwait Airways is stepping up its security fearing possible retaliatory attacks in the region. To meet the needs of potential threats, Kuwaiti anti-terrorism Special Forces have stepped up the monitoring of passenger manifests for all Kuwaiti Airways flights and increased its in-flight security teams.
Presently within Kuwait’s Ministry of Interior division of Flight Protection there is a 300-person team of Special Forces Air Marshals trained in in-flight anti-terrorist security tactics. Prior to the death of Osama bin Laden, Kuwait Airways medium haul and long haul flights typically flew with a team of 10 security agents, now with terror alerts increasing, Kuwait Airways flights will reportedly be increasing the number of security personnel on each flight to as many as 12 to 14 special forces Air Marshals.
Given that high risk airlines, such as Israel’s El Al typically fly with less than 10 Air Marshals, although Israel will not disclose its actual number of Air Marshals on board flights, Kuwait Airways may have already been ‘overstocked’ in terms of security, the addition of more Air Marshals, stretching the staffing levels thin, the airline may “really have to much security.”
With a security force of 300 member, 10 security agents per flight already creates strains on the staffing levels of the Kuwait Ministry of Interior’s division of Flight Protection. Air Marshals must be well rested and completely alert to be effective. If agents are continually flying back to back flights, crossing many time zones their effectiveness decreases and increases agent burn out … which leads to this question …
Are Kuwait Airways flights any safer with 12 to 14 Air Marshals on board rather than 10, or even 6, Air Marshals on board?