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Terrorism Prevention: How Does Special Operations Fit In?

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Master's thesis

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The 2002 U.S. national security strategy is a proactive, world-integrated strategy against terrorism. The United States chose to highlight preemption as a viable option to deal with terrorists or rogue states. The aim of this thesis is to address the planning and execution of this policy at the operational level with regard to prevention more so than preemption. As such, strategic and operational decisions regarding actions to be taken against impending terrorist threats will need to be made to prevent the onset of hostile acts against the United States. The decision to act also will incur associated military and political risks. Once possible terrorist activity is detected, the United States may choose to use diplomatic, economic, or informational means of preventing it, but often the only sure way of stopping terrorist attacks will be by military means. The decision to preempt or prevent terrorism using the military equates to the use of force and can be accomplished with conventional or special operations forces SOF. The thesis includes a chapter that utilizes METT-TC to analyze the circumstances that exist to allow a combatant commander to gain maximum situational awareness. It explains the capabilities that he must look for when choosing appropriate forces to achieve success, the types of threats and different states he may face, and considerations he must take into account regarding the U.S. public and the international community. It concludes with a Classical Terrorism-Prevention Flowchart to assist in deciding which type of forces to use. Another chapter interprets, analyzes, and explains five cases pertaining to preventivepreemptive strikes. The circumstances of each case are placed into the Flowchart to compare the classical solution to applying force to the solution that was actually used. The chapter concludes with an analysis of SOF and how SOFs capabilities present a better opportunity for both military and political success.

Subject Categories:

  • Administration and Management
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Unconventional Warfare

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