A semi-truck plows through a Christmas market in Berlin, Germany, killing 12 and injuring 48. The Russian ambassador to Turkey is assassinated in Ankara by an off-duty Turkish police officer. German police are in a desperate manhunt for a Tunisian man as the likely perpetrator of the Christmas market attack.
President-elect Trump is met Wednesday with his incoming National Security Advisor to discuss counter terrorism after the events in Germany and Turkey.
Make no mistake. What we are seeing in Europe is the hard lesson of what happens when you put out the “welcome mat” to hundreds of thousands of refugees from known terrorist hotspots.
The Tunisian suspect had applied for asylum in Germany last year and received a temporary stay permit and reportedly has extensive ties to radical Islam.
We are also seeing the hard lesson of what happens as a result of the Western world devoting fewer and fewer resources to national security and less emphasis on protecting its citizens.
We should not be surprised by recent events. ISIS and Al Qaeda have both called on their followers to use trucks in particular to attack crowds.
ISIS now claims that it inspired the German market attack. Likewise, ISIS claimed responsibility for the July 14th Bastille Day attack in Nice, France, where a truck, driven by a Tunisian man, plowed into a crowd killing 86 people.
President-elect Trump was criticized during the campaign for calling for a 21st Century NATO, but he has been absolutely right.
Only 5 of the 28 members of NATO spend at least 2 percent of their GDP on national security as required by NATO guidelines.
Germany, one of the richest countries in Europe, is not even close to being one of the five.
We’ve got to be tough on the rest of NATO. There’s also a lot more we can be doing with newer NATO members like Estonia and Hungary. For example, Estonia is home to NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defense Centre of Excellence. The Estonians have a real understanding of some of the most disruptive cyber technologies available and we should work more closely with them.
President-elect Trump will step into the Oval office as Europe and other parts of the world are struggling with a terrorism crisis. It reminds us that radical Islam is now on American soil and much needs to be done to keep Americans safe here at home.
President-elect Trump has promised big changes to our terrorism strategy, but what exactly can he do in the near term? Here are six things that will go a long way to keeping America and her allies safe:
- We must truly transform NATO from fighting the Cold War to fighting terrorism. We must have many more patrols in the Mediterranean Sea and our NATO allies have got to step up to the plate.
- One of the president-elect’s most important appointments will be the new NATO ambassador. We must have someone who knows what they are doing and can work well with General Mike Scaparrotti, the NATO Supreme Allied Commander. I’ve watched General Scaparrotti over the years and he is definitely one of America’s very best officers.
- Remove our nuclear weapons from Turkey now. As the assassination of the Russian Ambassador in Turkey reminds us, Turkey is not a stable regime. Remember the failed coup attempt this past summer? Following the coup attempt, President Erdogan’s government cut power to the Incrilik Air Base and halted all movements onto and off the base. Erdogan’s autocratic regime also temporarily prohibited all U.S. Air Force planes stationed there from taking off or landing. Our nuclear weapons should be pre-positioned off of American soil only in those countries that are strong, reliable and stable allies. It’s time to get our nuclear weapons out of there now.
- Fund and enforce the Secure Fence Act of 2006 to secure America’s borders immediately. The law is on the books. Neither President Bush nor President Obama funded it or enforced it. The framework in place in the Secure Fence Act of 2006 is the most expeditious way to secure America’s borders.
- Mandate more use of open-source intelligence (OSINT) by our intelligence agencies, such as the CIA and NSA. There are more sophisticated search engines that we’re not using. As the Internet grows and big data increases, it is essential that we take full advantage of all OSINT through more sophisticated search engines.
- Establish a real “situational awareness hotline” to harness the power of social media to prevent a terrorist attack and to improve situational awareness during an attack. This will also help with the soft target scenario and empower the American people to keep their country safe.
As President-elect Trump prepares to take office, his most important responsibility will be to keep Americans safe. It’s time for bold, decisive American leadership once again.
Van D. Hipp, Jr. is the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Army. He is the author of the newly released book, "The New Terrorism: How to Fight It and Defeat It." All of the author's proceeds go to the National Guard Educational Foundation to fund scholarships for children of fallen Guardsmen. www.thenewterrorism.com Follow him on Twitter @VanHipp.