Who's Responsible? Understanding Force Protection
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV WASHINGTON DC INST FOR NATIONAL STRATEGIC STUDIES
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Force protection is a contentious issue. Since terrorism is a constant concern, commanders agonize over their responsibilities and demand that their authority be precisely circumscribed. But although confusion persists, the legal basis of force protection has been greatly enhanced in recent years. Once understood, this structure can become an ally in protecting U.S. military personnel. Terrorist attacks have claimed the lives of over 300 defense-affiliated personnel since 1977. Yet force protection was not emphasized until after two attacks in Saudi Arabia. The first occurred in November 1995 when a car bomb exploded in Riyadh at the Office of the Program Manager, Saudi Arabian National Guard, that killed five and injured another thirty-five. Then in June 1996, terrorists mounted a devastating attack in Dhahran at Khobar Towers housing complex, detonating 20,000 pounds of explosives in a fuel truck that took the lives of nineteen and wounded hundreds. As Secretary of Defense William Perry later stated, The Khobar Towers attack should be seen as a watershed event pointing the way to a radically new mindset and dramatic changes in the way we protect our forces deployed overseas from this growing threat.
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