01 April 2009

4GW: Irregular Warfare in the Homeland...

Why is the US House Armed Services Subcommittee holding a hearing soon that is entitled: "Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capability on Terrorism and the New Age of Irregular Warfare: Challenges and Opportunities"?

Here is one good reason:

Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban recently claimed responsibility for the deadly attack that took place at a police academy on Monday in Lahore, Pakistan. But that’s not all. According to Mehsud, the next attack is going to be much closer to home. In a phone interview with the Associated Press, Mehsud indicated that his terrorist organization was planning a devastating attack on Washington D.C. that would “amaze” the world. Heritage analyst James Phillips told Fox News:

It should be taken seriously because [Mehsud] has ordered the deaths of many Pakistanis and Afghans and has a close alliance with Al Qaeda. It’s not too much of a stretch to think he might be involved in an attack on the U.S. if he’s able to get his followers inside the United States. He’s a militant extremist whose threats cannot be ignored.

Though most Americans associate terrorist attacks with bombings, armed ground assaults can just as deadly and disruptive. The most dramatic recent example was the Terrorist attacks that took place in Mumbai, India last November, killing almost 200 people.

Ground assaults are not just a terrorist tactic that might happen over there. Over here, it has been less than two years since six terrorists were thwarted in their attempt to assault Fort Dix in New Jersey.

The 4GW (Fourth Generation Warfare) strategy is well over five years old. We are glad to see that one of the best on this topic will be at the Armed Services hearing on Capitol Hill. Let's hope John Robb gets an opportunity to outline the following:

Many of the methods used in 4GW aren't new and have robust historical precedent. However, there are important differences in how it is applied today. These include:

  • Global -- modern technologies and economic integration enable global operations.
  • Pervasive -- the decline of nation-state warfare has forced all open conflict into the 4GW mold.
  • Granularity -- extremely small viable groups and variety of reasons for conflict.
  • Vulnerability -- open societies and economies.
  • Technology -- new technologies have dramatically increased the productivity of small groups of 4GW warriors.
  • Media -- global media saturation makes possible an incredible level of manipulation.
  • Networked -- new organizational types made possible by improvements in technology are much better at learning, surviving, and acting.
Corporations, Government Agencies and owners of strategic critical infrastructures owned by the private sector are continuing their vigilance in light of the 4GW emergence. More than ever the need for effective OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) gathering at the street level is imperative. Yet all the Humint and sensor based collection of data will not change the myopia of insight unless there is a rapid adoption of the new mantra: "Responsibility to Provide."

The "Responsibility to Provide" statement is rapidly replacing the old and ineffective rule of "Need to Know". Our adversaries realize that our "Need to Know" mentality is one of our greatest vulnerabilities and they will continue to exploit this weakness. Washington, DC is has just emerged from a period of coordination, cooperation and unprecedented effectiveness across legal, political and jurisdictional boundaries. The fact is that the 44th Presidential Inauguration bound together thousands of people across the country to keep our Nations Capital safe and secure in January. This mission was accomplished and the result has been ever so felt by those who were in the middle of the operational command centers, such as WRTAC, the Washington Regional Threat and Analysis Center.

WRTAC provides DC Metro partner agencies and local jurisdictions with a watch command, plus an Open Source Daily Brief of current news articles relating to terrorism, homeland security, critical incident response and public safety. The key factor here is "Relevance" on the ground level to your own community and the local assets needed to raise situational awareness.

If Baitullah Mehsud is telling the truth, then it is not so much a matter of "what" 4GW tactics will be utilized, it is a matter of "when."

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