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Lasting Challenge: A Strategy for Counterterrorism and Asymmetric Warfare

NCJ Number
Anthony H. Cordesman
Date Published
November 2001
27 pages
This document discusses how to minimize the risk or damage of terrorist attacks.
The United States faces an evolving and enduring threat of terrorism that is certain to last for decades. The solution involves reducing the threat to acceptable levels allowing Americans to go on with their lives in spite of the fact that new attacks are possible. It also involves restructuring military forces and defense posture overseas, creating new Homeland defense capabilities, and improving the ability to respond if attacks succeed. Even if these abilities are accomplished, there will be no sudden end to the threat of terrorism and asymmetric warfare. The first thing to be done is to defeat Osama Bin Laden, Al Qaida, and the Taliban. Shaping a more stable post-war Afghanistan is critical and can be done by creating a coordinated outreach and media program and rooting out possible extremist and terrorist groups allied to Al Qaida. The second thing to be done is to deal with the Arab-Israeli Peace Process; the problems of Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan; and key Arab and Islamic “Moderates.” The impact of globalism needs to be realized when looking to the future and developing a realistic picture of how the world is changing. Though the September 11th attacks demonstrated the threat of “conventional” methods of terrorism, advances in technology are increasing the ease with which terrorists can manufacture weapons of mass destruction. Advances in information systems and the steady integration of world trading and financial systems are increasing the vulnerability of cyberwarfare and terrorism. In dealing with the mid- and long-term challenges, improvements in homeland defense are necessary. U.S. forces, allied forces, and the capabilities for asymmetric warfare must be transformed. Specific issues that must be addressed are defining a new approach to extended deterrence, resolving the problem of missile defense, rethinking the geographic focus of NATO, and reshaping the expansion of NATO and Partnership for Peace. A new approach to Homeland defense, law enforcement, and counterterrorism is needed, as well as a new approach in dealing with weapons of mass destruction. 2 footnotes