A Table-Top Game to Teach Technological and Tactical Planning in a Graduate Terrorism and Counterterrorism Course

Published in: Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management: v. 8, no. 2, article 3, 2011, p. 1-22

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2011

by Brian A. Jackson

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Although processes of tactical decision-making and technology choice occur in both terrorist groups and the security organizations opposing them, these topics are difficult to teach in a classroom setting. A table-top game is described where students play the role of a terrorist group seeking to attack an urban subway and then act as security planners charged with protecting it. The key trade-offs-risk that their plot will be discovered on the terrorist side, and the need to balance effective security measures with their public acceptability on the defense side- are built into the game through point systems that capture the basic dynamics that exist in such situations. Implementation of the game in a graduate-level security studies course is discussed. The game was effective in making abstract threat analysis and security planning concepts more tangible and also facilitated knowledge sharing within groups of students with different levels of knowledge about terrorism and counterterrorism.

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