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How are the public and private sectors, separately and collectively, responsible for security against terrorism?600 words, APA style
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2.3
James Q. Roberts
Building a National
Counterterrorism Capability:
A Primer for Operators and Policymakers Alike
Thrs chapter describes the diverse cousiderations governments should take into account as
they seek to build or improve a national countertenorisra capabilit:;.:. For the pu;poses of
this dis~ussjon, conducting a sncce,ssfu’J hostage rescue operation will serve as the bench­
mark for a competent cOllJitertcnorism capahility. Althollgh terrorists armed with a weapon
of ma;;;!) destmction and seeking to leverage that We2.poI: (or weapons) to blackmall a gov­
ernment present perhaps the most difficult decisk’n for politicians as they consider the
employment of their conntt’:rtenOI!1′-m forces, ve can be th2nkful that sLlch a scenario has
not yet occllrred.
RaUl’.’;! than addre>s snd! a theoretical chaiIenge, Ihis chapter vill fOCllS on coon·­
tel’ teI-rdr hostage rescue {)peralions. Recent history is :”cplete vith many case studies of
both sncceSses and failures in these operalions, from which kssons leamed ma:/ be drawn.
These also seIlle to highlight the key challenges for the three elements involved in any hos­
tage r’escue decision: the ccnmtertel”l’ori;;Jll force, the jntelhgcnce slnlctures :<;upportiLg the rescue. aud the p~liticians vho must decide whether or nol to Imil:ch Ihe operation. Despite a decrease 111 the appeal of hostage~takil:g operations in apparent favor of suicide body, car. and trllck bombs, terrorists stHl can get m;:Ljor milef.ge OUlOt' hostage tul­ ing. The most recent example i.s the att3cks on luxury hotel;.; by Lashkar c- Tayyiba~tra:ued 1vlnslin: extremists i.e. Mumbai during November 2008, To h.-we decent odds for the conduct of a snccc'lsful hostage rescoe, there are three componcr:ts of any govcmmenl that rIll.:.'.'t come· together to form an alliance of shared cap-lhilitieh, risk 3r:;}lysis, and pohtic.al resolve. First, the govemmeut beset v:!th a host2ge­ taking situation must possess a trained hostage rcs(,l1e forc~··-the h&1T'.me:"". Sec-onc, ~m intelligence capabllity must be ahle to provide adequale details about tbe hostage crisis to enable a reasnnable char:ce of a successful res:..~ue~·-the eyes, Third, political leaders lllU.::;t have confidence in both lhe resene f()rce and the intelligence underpinning the operation. Politician'>, rhe hrziu, must muster the political wj)J to c10:5e !.he crisis by launching an
operutim:-tud suffer the consequeuces: good or:bad.
1 refer to these three comp(menh”~·ha:nmC’r, eyes, brain~as the «]ron’Triang:e” of
cQuntcrtenorism decision makiug. In most governments, the three compouer:ts (where they
e.xi~t) live in ~eparate wodds, that
separate ministries, different values. divergent con··
c-epts of risk and degrees of risk aversion, cE:TercnL ~km seLS, different understandings of
the political en- i:·onmenL
r
128
OpTion
All too frcquently,
COl:::’le together only at the momenf of crisis. However, for
a successful resew;:; Th(;,}’ must coalesce inlo a CDmpetent polilical-mllim:’y whole–like a
skilled c<~rpenter. striki,lg a llaj ~ with a hammer, OIl the :first $Wl!1g. wit:--toU[ denting lhe wooc below. This chap:er :::rg'Jcs thar such coord:nati01: rcquirc~s practice, pra::.:-rice, p:1lcticc. The Rescue Force-the Hammer The first compo~ler:t 0:' the Iwu Triangle is rhe rescue force itself. History shows 1l'S that suc-cessf>..Il rescues alfilOst a!v’/ays r:Jve been execured by a ‘lpeclahzed hostagerc:;,cuc force.
Vhether the force. is a lIuHt2IY, pohce, 0: gend’:..rmerie organization is not of critical jm­
portance. Vhat is absolutely crncial are the skill set” the force possf’~ses, a!.lo its readiness.
Th(‘ key sbl1s combine oUlstandjng physical and menta: tonghness, au unpaT;;llle:ed sense
of mhsion aed Cilty. and a set of lethal and non:cthal capabilities, which is ever evolving
and can he brought to bear v.’ith speed, force, aJd surgical precision,
To find the “right cut of c~oth” for their operators almos~ all hostage rescue units
begin with un a~sc.ssment and selection process. Ie this phase the unit is building it5 initial
cadre or looking for nev,: members to fill ,losses or make thc force more robust. Ar~ initial
records screening h coneucted to establish Ihat the canclda1e possesses the rcqnisite in­
tellect, perfonnance reco~’d, Hnd physica] abilities. and can obt2.1:1 the ne(x’s,~aI)’ security
clearances. Next. a typical assessment and selection process involves a series of physicaL
mental, and psychological tests, usually putting the candidates under significant ;md un­
cxp~eted stress :n an effort to weE’d om thE’ weclk of heart, or rrUnd, or v/jlL This process:is
nsually several days to several weeks in length and is often conducted if: an isolated and
uncomfortable. environment.
The stress peritJd a!1ows the unit to obscrve behaviors su,,::b as inJividual perfOT­
ll:tallce, teamwork compeTition among candidates, ethical decision making uTlder stress,
and the effecrs of fatigue, venther extrerncs, and sleep deprivation 011 candidate:;’ physical
and mental capab~lities, S(llne unlti’ also k’st for preexisting skills such as phorogi:aphy,
mnrtial 2f~S, marksmansbip, dernmlstrated IEadership~ n~OlU1taineering, or cxpedence in
urban operhlions. Almost all conduct hask ar.d advanced physical fitness tests, and svim··
ming exmninatio::Js in difficnlt t::onditiolls” A few also test for irrational fears such ?..s claus­
trophobia ()r aZTophubia.
A detailed phy>1caJ cxamination aod some degree of psychological assessment frl’~
r;nently rollnd out the assessment. pha;;e. Pi.lail)” many u;lib concuct some type of inter~
view with the candidate during which leaders iTy to get a final meaSlI:: of the candicatc. If
be Or she is deemed w possess “Wh3t it takeS.” an offer to joiu the u:ait 111 in mban static (bunding) scenarios, l “watch” and is conductiug leaves. tl’aining, or developing 1:ldividual skills.
After a year or two of rrainicg and development these un:ls begin to ewib:t a person­
ality all of their owr1, The unit’s traits most often include a spirit of Indepelldenee, a certaiu
degree of secrecy, <:. sellse of invu!ucfability or in vincibility, and an elite mc-ntn;ity thar set;; them ap81t from peers. Operators and the::x commanders tend to be tough, uncompromis.­ ir;g, competent, brusque, and Long hoUl's of training and st..'Ulcling ready also resull in a collective impatience for opcrationid oppottunitks in '~lhe reu: wo:-Id." These attl'ibutes form both the streeglh and the weakDcss of counterterrorism units around the globe. As one senior commander of ~uch m~its W3S fond of saying, "Ve must Hol confUSe enth"Jsiasm \·-jI11 c;:lpability,'" ber~ The Intelligence and Investigative l;nit-the Eyes The second compor:ent of the Iron Triallgle is the inrelligence and inves.tigative capabiHty that a nation can bring to bear on the hostage crisis, These scenarios ty?ically present a multifaceted inteEigellce aud investigmive challenge. At what one might call the strategic level, of key -c-oocern from the outser are the identity aad agenda of the hostage-takers, Ate the hostages being held for political reasous? Or is 1hh a lddnapping-for-ransom scenario? Do tJle 11Ost:1ge-t2!kers represent a domestic or foreign telTorlst organization? Does [Lte or­ gar:izatkm have a track record? Do Ihey rely on intcr!lal Of external support'] Are they state 129 130 Unit 2 Lallt; Force, and the l.1ilttary Option supported, or state spoesored? Are the local media sympathetic to their cause? If this is not their first a::1verture al hoslage taking, what i.e; the previous track ~ecord? Hov lethal h2,ve thejr a:.;tions be.z'Tl in ~he past? Anc1. whar are their tactical andior strategic de:mands in the CUlTcnt crisi::? As a genera~ conside:"ation, if the lerrorists are fmcigners, national intelligence O:'g2­ niz'Omen, children, elderly, ur others who might be rdea'ied on humanl:ariau grou~ds? "Vhat arc the najion8htit;:s of the hostages? Jf the terrorisrs rr.ake no initial demands, can some mtcm be determjned based on these biographical aspects of the pool of hostages? Can negotiarors gain the release of some of the hostages based on kr::owleclge of the ho:..tage population? Next 3rC the details about the terrori;.:ts. Hmv many? '1Vllat ages illltl sexe5? ·Which ethnic, cu]tnral, religions baekgronuds? AImed witb v.'hat? fs there a suicide bomber's device involved'! Are there 8m3:! arm;; only? Or Jo the terrorist>; have grenades, otDer
exploslves, tedf gas or otber ehc:nicals, rocket~propelled grenudes, or olber heavy weap­
ons? ‘VV!Jat other equip:G1ent did they bring to the crisis, such as bl1 dy anno:.’, gas masks,
or video or audio :G1onitorir:g eqnipraent? Vhat is rhe chain of command, 3nd \’ho :s the
commander? Does he or she have a track reconJ from former terrorist operations? ‘What
languages are they using? Is chain of command respected arr~ong the lenorists? Vlwr indi­
catlous are tbere of military training? Do rbey have conuTIlmkat;DI1S with an outside force
or support base? Do they have contact with the media?
~ext the host2ge rescue force,needs details about thc specific location and whetber
the te;Torists eu’f:..age moving vitt aU or a por,ion of flit: ho>;tages, To the extent possible
all details about the. physical site where the hostages m’c being held must be ohtained to
enable planning by the hostage :·e>;CUe force,
These include detmls ahont the construction ofthe lmiJding from top to hottom, with
particular emphasis on the floor plans where the hostag,.:o:s <~re being held; nIJmbe-rs and locations of '>vindows and doors; bnilding support systems SLlch as heariag, ventilating, air
eO!lditior.ing, and
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