Thursday, June 30, 2011

New CT Strategy Released June 29

The Obama Administration released its new CT Strategy. As with all US official 'strategy' documents, its really a statement of principles than a detailed ends, ways, means, program of action with detailed activities and budget items etc. Overall, its an unremarkable statement aside from the outline of a clear trend line of success spelled out within it overall, and in particular areas, especially in SE Asia.

Given that in the past 12-24 months all of the attacks against the homeland have emanated from Yemen, and given recent changes there, the impact of which is currently difficult to discern, I have wondered whether the US will change its CT approach to a more robust response. Prior blog postings suggest that the drone and related programs against Yemeni targets has escalated but so far the US has resisted a general purpose force land commitment. I hope it continues to avoid a mistake of that kind and the policy outlined here and the President's recent statement on Afghanistan suggest that we have become rightly weary of open ended ground commitments. SOF and CT remain an imperfect but nevertheless the best tool for this kind of threat.

One area that was pleasing to see mentioned, albeit very briefly, was the idea of resilience - the cornerstone of British CT and CIP efforts for some time now. I think it reflects a realistic assessment that despire how effective homeland security and CT efforts have been, there is always the possibility that a terrorist will get through. This is simply a new reality. The CT strategy can't direct how the public reacts to events, I think it is responsible to outline the risks and to remind ourselves that internal strength is just as important as external programs. Interestingly the Singaporeans have a "total defense" concept that integrates public perceptions into defense policy. Its kind of quirky (and has specific domestic messages that grow out of Singaporean history) but the gist of it is societal strength has a role to play in national security. Its not possible to mandate resilience but it will be vital when the inevitable strike does make it through.

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