Terrorism If A Significant Terrorist Term Paper

Length: 12 pages Sources: 10 Subject: Military Type: Term Paper Paper: #52894549 Related Topics: Attack, International Terrorism, Military Deployment, Attribution Theory
Excerpt from Term Paper :

Such a strategy, if fully developed, would successfully reduce the risk of a successful terrorist nuclear attack because the system itself would have nuclear-specific elements that could be coordinated with an assortment of other prevention and protection measures. More so, this system would work with the international community to develop similar multi-elemental, layered and cross-departmental approaches there and then coordinate the United States' measures with these international efforts, thus creating a global defense strategy capable of fully defending a way of life against the threat of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

This new approach to defense would focus on coordinating improved capabilities of monitoring and controlling both nuclear weapons and nuclear material, thus being able to better evaluate where the risk is and what kind of risk it is. Further, such an internationally coordinated monitoring system would dissuade those in the planning stages of a nuclear attack could defeat any attacks that do actually occur. Because the frequency of nuclear attacks will always be low, creating an initial line of defense that simply monitors the risk areas is half the battle.

An essential component of any monitoring system is to have the technology that creates the ability to monitor all nuclear movement and activity throughout the world. One suggested method of accomplishing this is a Department of Defense program to deploy, both throughout the United States and throughout the world, several hundred thousand sensors capable of providing radiation detection. As a follow-up to this strategy is the development of special operations forces focused on such areas as counter-nuclear military operations involving several thousand highly trained military personnel capable of carrying out a covert operation in an area where sensors detect the unauthorized presence of nuclear radiation.

The best way to conceive of this multi-leveled defense system is as a defense architecture involving numerous floors, each serving a particular purpose in the soundness of the building. Part of this defense architecture is a global and geographically layered system of sensors and covert response capabilities. When working functionally together, the layered global civil and military defense and prevention system will successfully: 1) Secure and protect material and weapons at its sources; 2) Detect and prevent materials and weapons from leaving a source nation, such as Russia; 3) Detect and prevent materials and weapons from exiting from ports and airports; 4) Create a maritime interdiction system; 5) Detect and prevent material and weapons from entering into the United States through ports, airports and border crossings; 6) Detect and prevent movement of materials and weapons within the borders of the United States; 7) Detect and prevent the materials and weapons at the perimeters of such targets as metropolitan centers and military bases; and 8) Detect and prevent the movement and/or deployment of materials and weapons within the target area.

Clearly, a detection system capable of providing accurate and constant radioactivity detection at all of these levels is both costly and lofty. According to the Department of Defense, to successfully implement this defense strategy, an estimated 100,000 to 400,000 detectors will be required, costing several billion to tens of billions of dollars. On top of this expense would be the additional expenses of operations, management and maintenance.

Although a central focus on prevention is essential in any effective defense strategy, it is not enough. However, even with a thorough detection and prevention strategy, an attack could still occur, perhaps even before the prevention strategy is operational. Thus, no defense strategy is complete without also looking at the worse case scenario, or asking the question of what will happen after an explosion?

At this level of the defense strategy, improvements need to be implemented in both being able to mitigate the consequences of a terrorist nuclear attack and in attributing the attack to the appropriate perpetrators. It should be noted here that having the capability to efficiently identify the perpetrators of an attack, and this capability is communicated to the potential perpetrators, namely the terrorist organizations, is a form of deterrence in and of itself.

The main role the government must plan for is, following a devastating nuclear attack, they must have the ability to move quickly and, more importantly, be seen moving quickly so as to prevent a follow-up second nuclear terrorist attack. If a second nuclear attack can occur...


After an initial attack, the nation will face a variety of fiscal, economic, legal and political constraints that will limit its ability to protect itself and defend itself from further attacks. Thus, it is essential that careful procedures and plans are made that will allow for an effective surge of defense to occur following an attack.

Ideally, the United States' defense strategy would include a full spectrum counter-nuclear operations and capabilities. As part of this defense strategy, the military would be able to provide foundational protection against an initial nuclear strike against the nation's military forces and bases. The strategy would likewise include the capability to create a nuclear quarantine around the terrorist organizations perimeter of operations and a national system that can assess the nuclear situation and subsequently alert all necessary parties of this assessment. The defense strategy must also be able to identify, locate and react to a terrorist organizations possession of nuclear weapons, devices, materials or the facilities needed to gain nuclear power. The reaction must be capable of including both a standoff, strike and, when needed, a preventive attack. Finally, the defense strategy must also incorporate such diplomatic measures as institutionalizing internationally enforced consequences for nuclear management and mismanagement, along with effect abilities to enter into attribution and arbitration agreements and procedures.

When operating under such a defense strategy, the future use of United States forces will be vastly different then their conventional use. In the future, the United States will conduct military operations of various levels, including waging war, especially in geographic regions where nuclear weapons that could potentially be used against the Untied States' interest are present. Even in situations where nuclear weapons are not present, the Untied States armed forced may still be the target of an attack themselves, thus meaning that the armed forces main call of duty is to prevent the importation of nuclear weapons and devices. Although currently a vast majority of warfare and other uses of military forces occur remotely, typically by route of an air strike, under the new system, it will be necessary to conduct in-the-area searches and seizures of the nuclear weapons, thus requiring more highly trained ground forces.


Despite these intricate and complex plans for defense strategies, the United States, as a whole, is remarkably under-prepared for a terrorist nuclear-based attack. As a result of several decades of underestimating the reality of such an attack, very little resources have been delegated to the research needed to develop the technological capabilities of implementing and operating a comprehensive defense strategy. However, as has been shown, today this threat is very much real, thus the stakes are higher and the need for specialized technologies and the processes to mitigate against the terrorist threat is a matter of life and death.

Although technological improvement is not the sole answer to implementing an effective defense strategy, it is a crucial component at all levels of the strategy. For example, technology is necessary for the: protection of materials and weapons at their sources, detection of the presence or transit of weapons and materials, responding to an attack, rendering an attacked area safe, attribution and identification, and consequence management. Without such technological improvements, it will be impossible to implement a comprehensive defense strategy. Without the implementation of a comprehensive defense strategy, the United States faces the inability to defend against and respond to the imminent threat posed by terrorist organization's nuclear capabilities.

In conclusion, several things are clear. First, the possibility of a significant terrorist attack against the United States or its interest by a terrorist organization and using such weapons of mass destruction as nuclear weapons is very real. Second, currently, the United States is grossly unprepared to defend against this very real and very dangerous threat. Third, the United States needs to restructure its approach to military defense strategies and thus develop a new strategy better capable of effectively preventing and managing the nuclear threat.

In order to this, the United States must start by evaluating its current vulnerabilities and take the necessary and immediate steps to rectify them. The United States must also take measures to improve its nuclear intelligence capabilities, establish a strategy for the development and deployment of a prevention and protection strategy to protect mission areas from attacks, and establish joint war capabilities with the international community that includes special organizational, training and equipment needs.

Without these measures in place, the United States is setting itself up for a devastating nuclear…

Sources Used in Documents:


Bolt, Paul J., Coletta, Damon V., and Collins G. Shackleford. American Defense Policy. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2005.

De Becker, Gavin. Fear Less: Real Truth About Risk, Safety, and Security in a Time of Terrorism. New York: Little Brown & Co., 2005.

Burd, R. "Nuclear Detection to Prevent or Defeat Clandestine Nuclear Attack." Los Alamos Manuscript LA-UR-04-0629, submitted to IEEE Sensors Journal, Special Issue on Sensors for the Prevention of Terrorist Acts. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government, 2004.

Department of Defense. Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Preventing and Defending Against Clandestine Nuclear Attack. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government, 2004.

Cite this Document:

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