Stealing the Sword: Limiting Terrorist Use of Advanced Conventional Weapons

By James Bonomo; Giacomo Bergamo et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
Observations and Implications
This research started with two basic questions, which can now be answered:
What difference would it make if terrorists could use advanced conventional weapons in their attacks?
What could the United States do to reduce this threat?

Most advanced conventional weapons are not discussed in depth in this monograph because they do not appear to be particularly attractive to terrorists. In many cases, terrorists already have roughly equivalent weapons at their disposal, and incremental improvements will not significantly increase their attack capabilities. For example, although an improved explosive might enable terrorists to make a truck bomb smaller, existing truck bombs have been sufficient for most terrorists’ needs and desired targets. Therefore, acquisition of some types of advanced weapons by terrorists would not significantly change the balance of capabilities between terrorists and security forces.

But if terrorists gained use of some advanced conventional weapons, the competition would change significantly. This book has identified five types of advanced conventional weapons that would, in some sense, “change the game” between terrorists and security forces. These were precision indirect fire systems, improved squad-level weapons of several types, sniper rifles and instrumentation, long-range antitank missiles, and large limpet mines.

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