The Evolution of Special Forces in Counter-Terrorism: The British and American Experiences

The Evolution of Special Forces in Counter-Terrorism: The British and American Experiences

The Evolution of Special Forces in Counter-Terrorism: The British and American Experiences

The Evolution of Special Forces in Counter-Terrorism: The British and American Experiences

Synopsis

The threat of terrorism knows no borders, and, given the complexities of today's global system, no nation can afford to stand alone. This study considers the role that international cooperation plays in assisting elite military forces engaged in low intensity and counter-terrorist operations, particularly hostage rescue efforts. Using historical examples from the experiences of Great Britain and the United States, the author concludes that cooperation (ranging from shared intelligence, to forward base access, to the provision of observers) can provide significant advantages in dealing with low-intensity operations. However, the most fruitful joint efforts involve shared activities by countries that possess a similar threat perception, usually in part a result of a common "sociology" in their view of historical developments.

Excerpt

This book proposes to demonstrate that terrorism in its current form has resulted in government and military reactions that, when successful, are often so because of the high degree of cooperation with other countries. In addition, it appears from this research that elite forces, organized, armed, trained, and structured for the counter-terrorist role, can be an effective arm of governments in dealing with terrorism.

The experiences of Great Britain and the United States in low-intensity conflict are discussed in detail, following their most notable counter-terrorist operations. In order to underscore their respective responses to terrorism, two detailed case studies are included.

Terrorism is not a specific phenomenon: it is part of a continuum from low-intensity conflict, subversion, and guerrilla warfare tactics, to acts of spectacular violence designed to make a political, rather than a military, point. Similarly, counter-terrorist operations are also a part of a continuum and are employed appropriately and concomitantly as required by the authorities to meet each of these eventualities. Furthermore, the employment of elite military forces is a political decision and depends, for the most part, on the appropriateness of their use within the national and international context.

Based on these extended studies of British and American involvement in low-intensity conflict—particularly the terrorist dimension—the following conclusion is drawn: the importance of intelligence gathering and dissemination, the creation and organization and training of counter-terrorist forces, the requirement for forward-basing of these forces during international incidents, and the nature of the precrisis cooperation between the countries concerned are stark necessities if a counter-terrorist action is to be successful on the contemporary scene. All of these issues, including the technical and operational aspects of the problem, fit within an all- encompassing factor of intergovernmental cooperation in the struggle against terrorist activity. The problem of maintaining the national will to cooperate in the face of all political costs lies behind the failure to advance in what might be considered full security cooperation.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.