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COMBATING NEW SECURITY THREATS

attacks against US military installations abroad, others believed it was the rise of China, another faction a North Korean attack on South Korea and another, a rogue state firing a missile at the United States. Even now, while there is consensus on terrorism being the overriding threat, there is some dissent on what form it might take. The public is overwhelmingly concerned with biological attacks, specif- ically anthrax. As a result of these concerns and the fact that its own employees were targets of anthrax attacks, Congress has focused on biological agents. The Pentagon, by contrast, is primarily concerned with protecting its per- sonnel abroad and with a possible inter-continental ballis- tic missile attack. Despite these differing perceptions, it is important not to focus solely on one aspect of the problem to the detriment of capabilities in others and consequently invite attacks in those areas where we are the least pre- pared. of those agencies that have traditionally been tasked with it. New players must be introduced, including health and human services, state and local authorities, and the private sector. All assets must be integrated and brought to bear. At present, however, many agencies are acting independently. This produces overlap and confusion about authority, duplication of capabilities, incompatible systems and wasted expenditure, and needlessly raises the risk. Many state and local governments and federal agencies have made progress in their preparations for dealing with terrorist attacks. What they lack is cohesion. We need to build on those centres of excellence that do exist and weave them into a cohesive and comprehensive national strategy. In this respect, President George Bush’s call, prior to the events of 11 September, for Vice President Dick Cheney to estab- lish a national plan and create an Office of National Preparedness was exemplary. Moreover, this momentum has been maintained with the creation of the Office of Homeland Security under former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge. In moving forward, it is important to find answers to a series of difficult questions. Are our existing structures, policies and institutions sufficient? And what has been done right and what needs improvement? The time has come for a cold-eyed assessment and evaluation of current approaches that considers and appreciates what has worked, what has not worked and what has not been adequately addressed. Only then is it possible to go on to the next step of crafting an effective counter- terrorism strategy. All capabilities have to be included in this effort. The medical, public-health and human- services communities are especially critical to bioterrorism preparedness and response. It can take days, or even weeks, for the symptoms of biological agents to manifest themselves. In this case, the first responder, the very tip of the spear, is likely to be a primary-care physician, healthcare provider, veteri- narian, agricultural inspector, patholo- gist or even perhaps an entomologist. Here again, the need for effective organisation is in marked contrast to the current state of affairs. That said, the response to the ongo- ing anthrax attacks has been admirable. It has demonstrated the need to bring new players to the table and provided timely lessons on how to improve responses. While Bin Laden may have his finger on the trigger of an AK-47, his nephew may have his finger on a computer mouse While WMD terrorism is a cross- cutting phenomenon, government is organised vertically. Clearly, govern- ment must adapt to be able to cope and manage the myriad of multi-dimensional issues that WMD terrorism poses. “Stove-piping” will not work. Effective organisation is the concept that not only lies at the heart of a comprehensive national counter-terrorism strategy but also underpins it from start (meaning pre-event preventive, pre-emptive and preparedness measures) to finish (mean- ing post-event crisis and consequence management and response). Currently, an artificial line is drawn between cri- sis management and consequence management. This dis- tinction has proved unworkable in practice. Crisis manage- ment (immediate response and apprehension of perpetrators) and consequence management (treating mass casualties and restoring essential services) occur simulta- neously and must be dealt with simultaneously. Perhaps the most important tool in counter-terrorism is intelligence. Accurate and timely information, coupled with proper analysis is the lifeblood of the campaign against terrorism. Every aspect of the campaign from diplomatic, military, financial and political operations to the provision of warnings about future attacks relies largely on our intelligence. More specifically, the breadth, depth and uncertainty of the terrorist threat demands significant investment, coordination and re-tooling of the intelligence process across the board for the pre-attack (warning), trans-attack (pre-emption) and post-attack (“whodunit”) phases. Multi-disciplinary intelligence collection is crucial to provide indications and warning of a possible attack — including insights into the cultures and mindsets of terrorist organisations — and to illuminate key vulnerabilities that can be exploited and leveraged to prevent, pre-empt and disrupt terrorist activities. To date, signals intelligence has provided decision-makers with most operational counter- Our concept of national-security planning needs to be broadened to encompass WMD counter-terrorism as well as critical infrastructure protection, such as telecommuni- cations, electric-power systems, oil and gas, banking and finance, transportation, water-supply systems, government services and emergency services. We need to recognise that no single federal agency owns this strategic mission, that national security is no longer the exclusive responsibility

14 NATO review

Winter 2001/2002

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