11 September 2016

9/11 2016: Remembering the Fallen...

"We Will Never Forget".  On 9/11 2016 as the names are read, we remember and we reflect upon the significance of this anniversary for each of us.  Fifteen years later from that horrific start of a new generation of Violent Extremism and International Terrorism we honor those who have fallen.

The First Responders from the ranks of the New York City Fire and Police Departments on that morning to the forward deployed from the CIA and our (AFSOC) Special Operations Forces a decade and a half later.  Four years ago today in Benghazi, we were attacked again at our U.S. Diplomatic Compound, 9/11 2012.

As we talk and discuss where we were and how we felt on that day in September 2001, it is vital we analyze what has changed and how we are now different.  Even today the kinetic war persists on the ground, in places like the Hindu Kush and Shabwah province to eliminate the threat of AQAP and ISIL or IS (Islamic State).

Meanwhile, millions gather at Mount Arafat in Saudi Arabia for the Hajj ceremonies, where Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad gave his last sermon.  Fifteen of the 19 attackers were Saudi nationals.

Fifteen years ago the attacks were planned and coordinated by a more central and organized set of leadership in al-Qa'ida.  The erosion of Middle East states after the Arab uprising has brought us an asymmetric threat commanded online through social media and more sophisticated video enabled communications strategies.  These tangents for recruitment and online command and control has created new challenges for our counter terrorism (CT) strategies.

Watching the dual beams of light shining over New York City at Ground Zero on this anniversary we must not forget.  We must seek to understand the behavioral components of "Homegrown Violent Extremism" (HVE) as the primary future weapon of al-Qa'ida leadership.  From Paris and Nice to San Bernardino and Dallas the variants of how and where HVE will erupt is unknown and even harder to detect in advance of a violent attack.
Now that women, young children and even four-wheel truck vehicles have been utilized as simple tools to perpetuate the stealth and low-tech / high-assurance approach to killing innocents, there is still no where to hide.  There is no place that is truly safe.
The primary solution for you, your company and a nation is to continue to enhance Operational Risk Management (ORM) and to seek even more robust levels of resilience.  We have learned years ago that the ability to adapt and to survive relies on this core strategic capability.

Whether you are preparing for that next hurricane, earthquake, cyber or explosive attack does not matter.  We must all seek to better understand Operational Risk and prepare even more than we ever have in the past.

On this fifteenth anniversary, we have learned so much and still have so far to go...Godspeed!

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