Future Roles of Air and Space Power in Combatting Terrorism   [open pdf - 292KB]

Terrorism poses a growing threat to the United States, its interests, and its allies. The political, economic, and informational instruments of power play primary roles in addressing and eliminating the root causes behind terrorism attacks, but the military instrument will prevent some attacks and retaliate for others. Air and space power is one of the primary components of the military instrument in the battle against terrorism. This paper begins with an overview of US national and Department of Defense counterterrorist (CT) policies, performs a systems model analysis of a terrorist organization to better understand targeting of the same, reviews current air and space power CT capabilities, and concludes with recommendations for future ones. Air and space power contributes to current CT capabilities by providing global mobility for special operations forces, air superiority to protect those forces, and precision strike capability to target terrorist infrastructures. It also provides intelligence critical to deterring, preempting, and answering terrorist attacks, and provides psychological operations support to help erode terrorist will and popular support. Although there is no "silver bullet" to use against terrorists, future improvements in air and space power will enhance CT capability effectiveness and provide expanded options. This paper's research consisted of review of primary and secondary sources and interviews with terrorism and targeting experts.

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