Corporate Alliances against Terrorism

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 19, 2003 | Go to article overview

Corporate Alliances against Terrorism


Byline: Yonah Alexander, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The latest controversy over a Defense Department project called the Policy Analysis Market, designed to predict future terrorist attacks through a market forum, has once again focused our attention on the public-private counterterrorism nexus. The outcry denouncing the plan cast an unwarranted shadow on the otherwise beneficial role of business contributions in combating terrorism.

A more accurate assessment of Corporate America's role is therefore in order as terrorism continues unabated worldwide, as demonstrated by the recent terrorist bombings at a Marriott Hotel in Indonesia, a grocery store in Israel, and the Jordanian Embassy in Iraq.

The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, whose second anniversary draws near, were the impetus for the active involvement of U.S. business in the war on terrorism. Almost immediately, U.S. companies rushed to offer a broad menu of products and services under the emblem of homeland security.

The panoply of corporate responses to terrorism have ranged from traditional defense products (e.g., jet fighters, unmanned aerial vehicles, and missiles), security and data storage software, biometric systems, biological-chemical-radiological detection devices and bomb-detection systems, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology products assuaging terrorist's use of pathogens, and diverse service providers (e.g., corporate security, risk management, political risk, and germ remediation consultants).

Initially, these companies often acted independently, trying to portray themselves as a stand-alone answer to terrorism. Not long after, a growing acknowledgement took hold. The multiplicity of terrorist threats, ease of initiating terrorist attacks, staggering costs in fighting terrorism, time constraints, finite human resources, and narrow expertise in disparate components of defending the population necessitated a shift away from unilateral, noncollaborative corporate responses drawn up in a vacuum to a different paradigm.

The newly crafted approach to fighting terrorism entailed an integrated, multifaceted, and communicative approach among firms. Illustrative of this new dynamic are informal alliances, formal links, joint ventures and outright mergers and acquisitions among homeland security manufacturers and service providers.

Selected acquisitions in this arena included:

c Integrated Defense Technologies, which offers electronic and technology equipment to defense and intelligence agencies, acquired a radio frequency surveillance equipment unit of BAE Systems.

c And L-3 Communications, a security and detection systems company, purchased the detection systems business of PerkinElmer.

Concurrently, there arose relationships between homeland security companies and firms outside that space though threatened by terrorism. …

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