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Preparing the Next Generation of Defenders
By Charles and Rebecca Loftus
F O B WA R H O R S E , Iraq (Sept. 10, 2008) Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Jordan, assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EOD MU) 12, practices reflexive firing during a periodic weapons assessment at Forward Operating Base Warhorse. The assessment allows EOD team members the opportunity to ensure optimal weapon performance while maintaining combat readiness. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Mario A. Quiroga/Released)

Vol.14, No.4 Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International

A study abroad seminar in Israel might not be the first choice for many college students, but the delegation from Arizona State University that traveled to Israel in July 2008 was not composed of the typical college students. In its first counter-terrorism class in Jerusalem, Israel, ASU’s goal was to introduce modern intelligence and counter-terrorism techniques to a select population of students: the next generation of defenders.

Need to Fill the Gap
The seminar was coordinated in partnership with the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR). This joint partnership provided a unique opportunity for students to learn from experts with hands-on experience in the field of counter terror. Moreover, students were given access to locations not normally accessible to citizens of Israel, let alone tourists or other student groups.

The ASU delegation included both traditional students and students who are current practitioners such as military officers, ROTC cadets and police officers. Many of this latter group attended to increase their skill level and see what they could bring back to their agencies. While counter-terrorism training is offered in the United States, it is rare for the facilitators to include international experts who have personally experienced this type of attack or dealt with its consequences. The program offered a different focus for students from the latter category (including weapons training and defensive tactics). Because of the sensitive nature of the material and because some students did not want to be exposed to this material, it was not offered to the traditional students.

Israel and Arizona share a number of characteristics including a warm, dry climate. But the two regions also face similar issues relating to infrastructure and border security, immigration, and scarcity of water resources. Many of the solutions the Israelis have implemented could be applicable in the Southwestern United States, even in non-security related fields. For example, the Israeli requirement for solar hot water heaters for all newly constructed residences could save tremendous amounts of energy. Issues related to security walls were also a consideration in selecting Israel as the destination for this study abroad program. With the present construction of the US-Mexico security wall, anticipation of similar threats and attempted breaches were examined during the course of the program. At a time in the US where crimes committed by illegal immigrants are increasingly in the news, Israel’s drop in violent crime after construction of its security walls made a strong argument in favor of similar structures at US borders. So, choosing Israel as the location for this study abroad program made sense for a number of practical reasons.

Why Israel?
Israel was chosen for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is the country’s long history of fighting terrorism. Israel’s defenders (e.g. police, military, intelligence) have been protecting the country against hostile forces for approximately 60 years. This time frame easily exceeds the professional career of over 3 generations. This delegation sought to tap into this vast reservoir of knowledge and experience because our generation of defenders in the US is close to or in the process of retirement. Indeed, in the seven years since the attacks on September 11, those who entered the fray are close to the midpoint of their careers. The ones already involved are close to retirement or already retired. Thus, there is a need to prepare not only the next generation, but succeeding generations of defenders. Israel was also selected because it is the only true democracy in the region, and its institutions and services are regularly tested by hostile forces. Seeing firsthand how the need for national security is balanced against civil liberties gave students insight into how the two concepts can co-exist. In addition, as a democracy, Israel exhibits some of the same weaknesses as the US (e.g. polarized politics, corruption, and vocal activists). Moreover, few civilian institutions provide specialized instruction to prepare students for the practical career. While this delegation of ASU students was granted unprecedented access to security operations not generally open to other student groups, this level of access is not available to similar groups in the United States. Thanks to ITRR’s connections in Israeli government and industry, access was made.

Focus on Suicide Attacks
Particular interest was focused on suicide bombers/attackers, a subject with which Jerusalem has unfortunately become all too familiar.

The Global War on Terror is unlike any other war the United States has fought. We are battling non-government combatants and the duration of this war will endure well past the careers of current defenders. Recognizing that the torch needs to be passed to the next generation, it is critical that experts in the field prepare the successive generation. Since the War on Terror is not limited to government agencies, the class was geared toward students from a variety of degree fields: emergency management, foreign service, military service, intelligence, political science, criminal justice, and victim services/grief management. Additionally, this struggle involves private industry and protection of infrastructure as well. Indeed, there is a demand for professionals in this area, so the need is not limited to military and government service. There is a strong need to create a bridge between academics and practitioners in this field. Although a solid background in the theories of aggression, political issues and history are important, a practical application is also necessary. Practitioners need to be given a sound transition into whatever field they choose, and this program provides unparalleled access to real-life examples. ITRR was able to fill these gaps with its treasure chest of experts.

Israel was also selected because it is the only true democracy in the region, and its institutions and services are regularly tested by hostile forces. Seeing firsthand how the need for national security is balanced against civil liberties gave students insight into how the two concepts can co-exist. In addition, as a democracy, Israel exhibits some of the same weaknesses as the US (e.g. polarized politics, corruption, and vocal activists).

www.iacsp.com Consequently, considerable time was spent on briefings by experts on suicide bombers, and the students visited many suicide attack locations. Particular emphasis was placed on motives, security breaches, and lessons learned. This particular element was highly valuable not only to the practitioners but in preparing the students for the likelihood of a wave of suicide bombers in the United States. The phenomenon of school shootings is, sadly, not new to the United States. But, if this type of violence was suddenly linked with Islamic extremists inside the continental US, the psychological impact would be much more serious. One aspect was very clear: the citizens of Israel have been battle-hardened, and their ability to rebound to a “normal” existence after such attacks is extraordinary. The ability of the US community to rebound as fast in similar attacks is yet to be determined. If the US was to experience an active shooter incident such as the March 2008 murder of eight students at a Jerusalem rabbinical seminary (Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav) or the 2002 bombing at Hebrew University which killed nine students, tremendous pressure would be placed on government resources to return the community to the status-quo. With weapons much more available in the US than in Israel, the probability of a bulldozer attack is not as high (although not beyond the realm of possibility), and the chances of active shooter and bomber situations quite high. The study of suicide attacks is of growing interest not only within academia but among practitioners as well. The ASU delegation was particularly interested in learning threat identification, detection, mitigation, detection, and neutralization. The students were very eager to obtain as much post-action analysis as possible. The American public has become accustomed to hearing about suicide attacks in Israel, Iraq, and Afghanistan; however, many did not recognize the potential for this type of attack to become a reality in the United States. Along with the multitude of other social issues that accompany our porous border situation, the opportunity for would-be suicide attackers to slip through the US border is an increasingly dire reality. With Iran’s continued development of nuclear technology, it is very likely to be the recipient of a pre-emptive attack to delay or destroy its nuclear program. Regardless of who attacks Iran, it is likely that its allies (including Hezbollah) will retaliate with suicide attacks within the United States and against its allies. American intelligence and law enforcement are recognizing this threat and are starting preparations. The demand for education and training in suicide attacks appears to be increasing, and for a student to already possess a basic toolbox for this threat helps increase their marketability.

Public-Private Partnerships
Among the many subjects ITRR introduced to the students was the importance of public-private partnerships. The underlying message was that government alone cannot protect the country; private industry must also play a large role in national security. In a time where governmental organizations are increasingly short of resources, this partnership with private organizations for the sake of security is particularly important. Students toured several infrastructure locations, all of which had very creative relationships with private industry to provide a high level of asset protection. The common thread among the locations was the emphasis that security is everyone’s responsibility. These experiences showed the students not only a functional security role in private industry but also a macro view of the security umbrella that Israel has created to protect herself.

Summary
The ASU delegation’s trip to Israel was considered a successful initial venture, and one in which the university plans to offer again. There is a great need to prepare the next generation of defenders, regardless of whether they are seeking employment in governmental service or private organizations. In a time when succession planning is a buzz word for industries across the globe, this particular type of planning is all made all the more important by the very real threats to freedom and democracy.

About the Author
Charles Loftus, Ph.D., is a veteran police officer in Arizona and teaches National Security, Intelligence, International Terrorism, Domestic Terrorism and Homeland Security. Dr. Loftus is heavily involved with research regarding the US Security Wall, Police Corruption and Local Preparedness for terrorist attacks. Charles.loftus@asu.edu Rebecca Loftus, Ph.D., is a veteran probation supervisor and policy advisor in Arizona. Her area of specialty includes violent sex crimes, Internet child pornography, and women in crime. This Dr. Loftus regularly teaches International and Domestic politics, Women, Crime and Justice, and Sex Crimes and Sex Offenders. Rebecca.loftus@asu.edu

FOB WARHORSE, Iraq (Sept. 10, 2008) Members of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EOD MU) 12 man the firing line during a periodic weapons assessment at Forward Operating Base Warhorse. The assessment allows EOD team members the opportunity to ensure optimal weapon performance while maintaining combat readiness. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Mario A. Quiroga/Released)

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Vol.14, No.4 Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International

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