The Lessons of Beirut

Testimony Before the Long Commission

by Brian Michael Jenkins

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Abstract

The attack on the Marine Headquarters in Beirut conforms to several trends in international terrorism: The volume of terrorist activity has increased in the last 15 years, terrorism has grown bloodier, and there is increasing use of terrorism by governments. Physical protection against terrorism poses a number of problems; it is costly and can only divert manpower from the primary mission. If more governments opt to use terrorism and the international community fails to impose effective sanctions, military force may become the only means of combatting terrorism. Security against terrorism must be a planning factor in any military operation. The collection and analysis of intelligence about terrorism can and should be improved to anticipate terrorist attacks, accurately assign culpability, and develop appropriate countermeasures. It would be a mistake to consign the problems of terrorism to special forces only; the entire armed forces must be able to confront diverse modes of conflict, including terrorism.

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