Most security professionals and media analysts focus primarily on the capacity and capability of terrorist groups and networks. What most fail to recognize or adequately understand is the capacity and capability of local police and military forces to respond and manage terrorist attacks involving hostages and urban engagements. In this article we address the real terrorism threat for 2013 and how it will impact upon threat assessments, risk management decision making and international business. Anyone responsible for the health, safety and security of personnel involved in international business needs to read this article on the real threat of terrorism.
Terrorist Attacks: What is old becomes new again
A few decades ago, limited technology and contemporary tactics resulted in a majority terror threat that involved shootings, kidnapping, hostage scenarios and many other “simple” or “expedient” scenarios. Most of the world’s special forces and police units, with an increase in funding and public awareness, quickly evolved to counter such threats and responded quickly and efficiently to such terrorism norms. Contemporary terrorism, outside of unique hostile environments in Iraq and Afghanistan have been more complex and sophisticated with an increase in “spectacular” tactics and explosive-centric attacks. In recent years, we have seen a catastrophic return to the “old days” with startling effectiveness and ease of implementation.
Both the recent Algerian hostage drama and Mumbai terror attacks have shined a very big light of concern on just how devastating simple plans can be, with the help of an under developed, local capability.
Local Response and Capability: Algeria and Mumbai are not unique
Survivability and expectation of success still plays a role in many terrorist attacks. Faced with low odds of both, finding suicide ambassadors for your cause reduces your capacity to conduct sustained terrorism campaigns and may well exhaust your number of fighters/terrorists/guerrillas very quickly. A key role in these factors is not the result of a suicide bomb but that of the local agencies who manage and respond to such attacks.
Significant budget cuts in developed countries, money that never reached tactical units that respond to terrorist threats, poor training and retention of tactical units along with the size and territory that many countries and regions consist of is all part of the formula that has seen a global decline in the capability of local response to terrorist attacks.
Which countries are the most prepared: The results may shock you
If an individual can walk into a school in the US, or a recreational area in Norway and kill multiple unarmed victims in a matter of minutes, without law enforcement or military intervention, what makes you think any other country in the world is more capable of stopping the first few minutes of a similar style attack?
The entire world’s tactical units trained for counter terrorism and on standby for such attacks are “responders”. In much the same way you need to commute to work, the logistics of mobilization and deployment to a local incident are plagued by simple challenges. Transport, response time, local knowledge, bureaucracy, authority, response selection and so on. Local police are likely to be the first responders and some parts of the world they still carry sticks, no firearms or weapons that are 50+ years old.
If mass killings can and have occurred in the US, EU, Australia, Russia and many other developed countries, just who do you think is “safe” from such threats? The reality is that no country on earth at present can successfully defend their entire population, 24/7/365, from “old fashioned” terrorist threats. This means the whole world is at risk, where there are functioning, capable and intent orientated “threat individuals and groups”, with the less developed countries being of greater concern as the response may never come, or will not prevent significant loss of life in the event of an incident.
While most security professionals and media analysts focus primarily on the capacity and capability of terrorist groups and networks it is clear that greater consideration and evaluation be apportioned to local capacity and capability to respond and manage terrorist attacks involving hostages and urban engagements. In this article we addressed the real terrorism threat for 2013 and how it will impact upon threat assessments, risk management decision making and international business. Planners and executives should take this information and immediately review any assumptions and evaluations relating to local response capabilities, in the event of terrorist attacks. Anyone responsible for the health, safety and security of personnel involved in international business needs to act upon this article and the real threat of terrorism.