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Tools in America's War Terror

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America's War on Terror
America is at war with a transnational terrorist movement fueled by a radical ideology of hatred oppression, and murder (Executive Office of the President 2003). On October 12, 2000, members of the al Qaida terrorist group attacked the USS Cole (DDG 67) in the port of Aden, Yemen. This attack demonstrated our enemies’ ability to identify areas of vulnerability within our defense apparatus and exploit them in an effective and lethal manner. As with any event, the attack on the USS Cole resulted in an investigation which reviewed the events leading up to the attacks and provided mitigation strategies to prevent, or deter, such an attack from taking place again, altering the way the U.S. military thinks and operates while in-transit. The report organized the findings into national and operational levels and further separated these into the five functional areas of organization, antiterrorism/force protection, intelligence, logistics and training.
The report found that a unity of effort across US Government agencies and development of host nations’ security capabilities was critical in impeding a terrorist’s ability to hit transit forces. It also recommended the allocation of additional intelligence gathering resources for the collection and analysis of data related the terrorist organizations’ capability and intent within the region as well as increasing counterintelligence assets to combat terrorism and develop counterintelligence assessments for forces unable to do so while they are in-transit. Finally the report makes clear that units must be as competent in responding to antiterrorist/force protection (AT/FP) attacks as they are in the performance of their wartime mission. The goal of the report was to develop strategies intended to inhibit an enemy’s ability to strike our forces abroad. Other programs and initiatives have been developed in collaboration with partners to impede a hostile nation or terrorist group from acquiring or building a weapon of mass destruction (WMD). The Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) is such an initiative.
On 31 May 2003, in Krakow, Poland, former President Bush unveiled the Proliferation Security Initiative. Its goal was to “enhance the capabilities of our military, intelligence, technical, and law enforcement communities to prevent the movement of WMD materials, technology, and expertise to hostile states and terrorist organizations.” (White House December 2002, 2). It gave nations the ability to join the global fight against WMD proliferation without expanding membership within previously established export control groups. A report to Congress from the Congressional Research Service updated on September 14, 2006 states that there is no real way to measure the effectiveness of PSI. Although there have been a number of interdictions since the inception of PSI, there is no evidence to suggest that without PSI these shipments would not have been stopped. The reason for this is that PSI is not an actual organization or body with enhanced international authority designed to disrupting WMD proliferation. Rather, PSI is a global activity that applies established methods and international laws more stringently with old and new international partners. The report covers support for the program from groups such as the European Union and the G8, addresses a need for funding, and the creation of new international interdiction laws that would enhance its members ability to interdict cargo such as the seizure of cargo in international waters and the ability to interdict government transports to name a few. PSI cannot completely stop WMD proliferation but it is a part of a greater national strategy. It aligns itself with our National Strategy for Combating Terrorism by hindering a terrorist organization ability to acquire a WMD. The 2006 National Strategy for Combating Terrorism recognizes a need to engage our country’s enemies not only through the criminal justice system but with diplomatic, financial, intelligence, and law enforcement activities designed to enhance our defensive posture and disrupt their ability to stage and execute an act of terror. It builds upon the 2006 National Security Strategy as well as the 2003 National Strategy for Combating Terrorism and integrates a lessons learned about our enemy. The strategy goes beyond direct engagements with terrorist organizations and focuses on promoting freedom and dignity through democracy as an alternative to the hate and violence pushed on by radical ideology. The National Strategy for Combating Terrorism (2006) relies on the following objectives to win the War on Terrorism:
• Advance effective democracies as the long-term antidote to the ideology of terrorism;
• Prevent attacks by terrorist networks;
• Deny weapons of mass destruction to rogue states and terrorist allies who seek to use them;
• Deny terrorists the support and sanctuary of rogue states;
• Deny terrorists control of any nation they would use as a base and launching pad for terror; and
• Lay the foundations and build the institutions and structures we need to carry the fight forward against terror and help ensure our ultimate success.
This is a two prong approach. The strategy takes the fight to the enemy, killing and capturing terrorist; destroying their ability to amass in any one location, preventing them from obtaining a WMD; hardening soft targets, and going after their resources and money. The long term goal is to win the battle of ideas by promoting democracy and freedom and an understanding that the senseless killing of innocent people is not the solution to their problems or in keeping with God’s will. Instead the focus should be on tolerance, freedom, and good will towards each other, helping our neighbors and sharing our blessings. The 2006 National Strategy for Combating Terrorism works at defeating the current crop of terrorist by any means necessary as well as promoting an environment where those with a higher propensity of joining a terrorist group are educated and understand that more is gained through education, freedom, and tolerance versus hatred and mass murder.
In his 2002 State of the Union Address, former President Bush stated, “Our first priority must always be the security of our nation. . . . America is no longer protected by vast oceans. We are protected from attack only by vigorous action abroad, and increased vigilance at home”. Prior to 9/11 our military was postured to defend our interest beyond our borders. Defense within our borders was the responsibility of civilian law enforcement agencies at the local, state, and federal level. DoD’s deployment of forces within the US and its territories was military assistance to civil authorities (MACA) and designed to assist local authorities with incidents related to the chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive (CBRNE) weapons of mass destruction (WMD) (Tomisek 2002, 2) among other situations. 9/11 changed the role our military played within the confines of the United States.
Operation Noble Eagle commenced three days after 9/11. It pulled together a full range of task organized military activities in support of homeland defense and civil support operations throughout the United States (Tomisek 2002, 4). Key activities include aerospace defense, land defense, maritime defense, and civil support and are rolled up under the U.S. Joint Force Command. The rub here is that it requires DoD to undertake this mission wihout taking away any of its overseas military obligations. Its a tough task that can strain our forces capabilities especially after 12 years of war in two conflicts. The challenges we face are difficult ones. We are battling a stateless, adaptive, and dedicated enemy capable of executing complex attacks on US soil. Our leaders have developed programs and initiatives designed to maintain the enemy on the defensive and limit their ability to carry out another attack on US soil. Our enemy is creative and we must be as well. I believe our success thus far has been our adaptability to the threat and a proactive approach to taking the fight to the enemy no matter where they are located as well as limiting the availability of resources or finances. Now the long term part of the National Strategy for Combating Terrorism must take effect in order to limit the number of new recruits available to these terrorist groups.
Executive Office of the President. National Strategy for Combating Terrorism. D.C.: United States, 2003, 1.
Squassoni, Sharon. Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). Report for Congress, D.C.: Congressional Research Service; The Library of Congress, 2006.
Tomisek, Steven J. "Homeland Security: The New Role for Defense." Strategic Forum, 2002.
White House. National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). D.C.: White House, December 2002, 2.

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