Role of Terrorism in Modern Term Paper

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To illustrate this concept, deception is used to protect the security of the people and country that the military branch is responsible for protecting. In this case, deception planning and deception execution are used so that the enemy does not acquire an unexpected advantage. If an enemy acquires an unexpected advantage, then the security of the people and country becomes breached.

According to military science, security enhances freedom of action by reducing vulnerability to hostile acts, influence or surprise. This is important to the military force and the enemy because security results from the measures taken by a commander to protect his forces. Knowledge and understanding of enemy strategy, tactics, doctrine, and staff planning improve the detailed planning of adequate security measures (Wikipedia, 2006). The U.S. military has prepared for this by studying the operations management and decision making processes and tactics used at different points in history and by foreign opponents. In the military, operations management tactics are also used to decisively shift the balance of combat power. This is a skill which is especially important for an enemy force to be capable of. The enemy must be prepared for the possibility that they will be attacked at a time, place or manner for which they both do not expect and are unprepared for. This type of unexpected attack can result in the achievement of success well out of proportion to the effort expended, and can come in the form of surprise (Wikipedia, 2006). Deception aids in the probability of achieving surprise, which can come in many different forms; size of force, direction or location of main effort, or timing. The U.S. military has tried to predict the types of terrorism attacks, but the successful acts of terrorism in 2001 have revealed the importance of striking at enemy when he is least prepared to be a valuable deception tactic.

The Role of Terrorism in Modern War

The research indicates that terrorism has changed the role traditionally held by war. For example, the more successful terrorists have appeared to operate on broad mission orders that carry down to the level of the individual terrorist. The battlefield is highly dispersed and includes the whole of the enemy's society; the terrorist lives almost completely off the land and the enemy (Lind, 1989). Terrorism is very much a matter of maneuver: the terrorist's firepower is small and when he applies it is crucial (Lind, 1989). There are many other differences between the actions of terrorists as compared to the typical "enemy" in a war. Terrorists do not fight the target country's military; instead they bypass the enemy's military and strike directly at the civilians, as in the case of September 11th. They also manipulate the media coverage of warfare. If we treat them within our laws, they gain many protections; if we simply shoot them down, the televised news can easily make them appear as the victims (Lind, 1989). More disturbingly, terrorists can effectively wage their war while being protected in the very same country they are attacking.

Another deviation from the traditionally manner in which wars were fought involves the culture of the military. The U.S. military culture traditionally involves the use of varying ranks of officials, uniforms and drills, whereas terrorists do not follow this culture of "order." Terrorists do not employ ranks, uniforms or drills, and this disorder is displayed by the fact that they use their technological resources differently. For example, in the 1980's the United States was spending 500 million dollars each for stealth bombers. A terrorist stealth bomber is a car with a bomb in the trunk, or a car that looks like every other car on the street alongside it. Terrorists almost always attack using suicide missions, where the terrorist so believes in his cause that he is willing to die for it. U.S. military troops do not attack with that same type of vengeance that allows for a complete mission. This is not saying that the terrorist's method is preferred, just that it is easier to win a war when there are people willing to dedicate their entire lives for the completion of the mission, and where a suicidal death is a supported honor.

Relation of Terrorism and Modern War to Current Events

The manner in which terrorists attack relates to current events because of the strategies that are employed. For example, our national security capabilities are designed to operate within a nation-state framework (Lind, 1989). The U.S. national security capabilities have difficulties operating outside of that framework. A clear example of this is the manner in which several terrorists were able to board the planes heading to New York. Our national security was not equipped to operate at designated airports to prevent these individuals from entering the United States in the first place. The terrorists came from foreign countries; however, we were unable to stop them from penetrating and planning attacks in our very same country. They were able to bypass the entire state apparatus set up to prescreen individuals coming into the U.S., despite our best efforts.

Terrorists have also very successfully utilized psychological warfare through their manipulation of the media, especially the televised news. This is significant because terrorists can easily take advantage of a significant product of televisions reporting. They can do this by portraying the enemy's casualties on television. If we bomb an enemy city, the pictures of enemy civilian brought dead into every living room in the country on the evening news can easily turn what may have been a military success into a serious defeat (Lind, 1989). Additionally, as seen in the past few years, the terrorists have captured American civilians and have killed them in brutal manners such as cutting off their heads on nationally broadcast television. This is also a highly sophisticated method of psychological warfare, because American civilians are traumatized by their actions and incited to fight against them, but cannot locate the exact culprits.

Finally, as seen in the recent elevated security measures in the United States over the past few months regarding carry-on baggage on all flights, the terrorists have highly sophisticated methods of creating home made devices. These devices, although very deadly, can be made from common consumer goods such as coffee and a water bottle that can easily go undetected in a carry-on bag. This illustrates the sophistication of their technology and their ability to create and use almost any type of common good to create dangerous devices. This also affects modern warfare because whereas before weapons were traditionally made of metal or explosives, and easily detectable, the terrorists have brought weapons to a new height (Blanche, 2002). They have created bombs easily disguised, which makes the possibility of an attack easier. This has also created psychological warfare, because Americans are now scared of terrorists every move, and have implemented drastic measures to capture the terrorists new plan of action. However, the terrorists appear to remain one step ahead, as they continue to manipulate new methods of attacking and penetrating countries.


Thus, many examples in the history of war throughout our present day have repeatedly portrayed the role in which modern war has changed, and the significant connection to terrorism. Current events regarding acts of terror performed on the United States and elsewhere indicate the importance of the manner in which decisions and deception are used to both protect the security of the people and country that the military branch is responsible for protecting (Smith, 2002). By thoroughly studying the actions of terrorism and understanding the reasons behind their acts will allow us to decisively shift the balance of combat power in our favor. The study of research on the wars of the past and of the future reveal the shift in modern war caused by terrorism in the last five years. Finally, such tactics as previously used by prior generations of warfare and the military are sure to result in someone's success, be it the success of the U.S. military forces, or the success of their terrorist enemies.


Blanche, E. (2002). Al-Qaeda Recruitment. Jane's Intelligence Review, 14(January), 27-28.

Kaplan, R. & Norton, D. The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action.

Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press: 1996.

Lind, W., Nightengale, K., Schmitt, J., Sutton, J. & Wilson, G. (1989). The Changing Face of War: Into the Fourth Generation. Marine Corps Gazette (October 1989), 22-26.

Lugar, R. & the Avalon Project. (2002). NATO's Role in the War on Terrorism. U.S.-NATO

Missions Conference, Belgium, (January 2002).

National Partnership for Reinventing Government. (2006). Balancing Measures: Best Practices in Performance Management. Retrieved Oct. 10, 2006, at

Smith, P. (2002). Transnational Terrorism and the al Qaeda Model: Confronting New Realities.

Parameters (Summer 2002), 33-46.

Wikipedia. (2006). Military Science and Modern Warfare. Retrieved October 10, 2006, at

Wise, R. "The Balanced Scorecard Approach to Strategic Management." The…[continue]

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