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A Strategic Analysis of Stationary Radiation Portal Monitors and Mobile Detection Systems in Border Monitoring
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Radiation Portal Monitors (RPM) are our primary border defense against nuclear smuggling, but are they still the best way to spend limited funds? The purpose of this research is to strategically compare RPM defense at the border with state-side mobile detectors. The challenge of an adequately detailed smuggling network problem is that the number of variables required to adequately capture the problem also makes the problem computationally exhaustive. A well bounded problem, although simple, can provide meaningful information to a decision-maker. Limiting the problem to a comparison of two technologies, a decision-maker can prioritize how to best allocate resources, by reinforcing the border with stationary Radiation Portal Monitors (RPMs) which can be perceived, or by investing in Mobile Radiation Detection Systems (MRDS) which are harder for an adversary to detect but may have other weaknesses. An abstract, symmetric network is studied to understand the impact of initial conditions on the network, and the most conservative choices are made in an asymmetric network loosely modeled on the state of Texas transportation system. This asymmetric network is then examined for the technology that will maximally suppress the adversary’s success rate at minimal cost. We conclude that MRDS, which have the advantage of discrete operation, outperform RPMs deployed to a border. We also conclude that MRDS maintain this strategic advantage if they operate with one-tenth the relative efficiency of their stationary counter-parts or better.
Coogan, Ryan Christopher (2019). A Strategic Analysis of Stationary Radiation Portal Monitors and Mobile Detection Systems in Border Monitoring. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from