On June 28, the White House released its 2011 National Strategy for Counterterrorism. This twenty-six page document could be observed as an extremely narrowly focused strategy—possibly too narrow. Al Qaeda is the main focus within the plan and, for many reasons, rightly so. Most of our major command’s areas of operations are identified as well but one crucial region is missing—South and Central America.
First, it’s critical to understand the importance of a strategic plan and how it is developed. For starters, a Strategic Plan is created by Strategic Intelligence. Strategic Intelligence is defined as:
- Intelligence that is required for forming policy and military plans at national and international levels.
- Intelligence that is required for the formulation of military strategy, policy, and military plans and operations at national and theater levels. (DOD)
- “Intelligence employed in the formulation of policy and military plans at the national and international levels.” [Polmar, Norman and Thomas B. Allen. The Encyclopedia of Espionage. New York: Gramercy Books, 1997, p. 538]
- “Warning of the enemy intention to attack, and ‘tactical’ warning, i.e., the detection of actual physical preparations for an attack.” [Luttwak, Edward and Dan Horowitz. The Israeli Army. 1975]
So, in understanding the different types of definitions related to Strategic Intelligence, one can see that prior to a plan being developed, it is critical to have the proper collection and analysis of a broad range of insight globally to formulate plans to secure the nation--known as Strategic Plans.
One can easily argue that due to the continued “War on Terror” throughout the Middle East, Central and South Asia, and Africa, as a nation, we have lost focus on some serious geographic locations which are indeed terrorist “hot zones.”
Many organizations have been very keen on monitoring terrorist group’s advancements inside South and Central America. Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and even Al Shabaab have established bases in the Tri Border Region in South America—nothing new. Some of these groups have even established camps and small bases in the immediate vicinity of our own southern border in places like Tijuana, Mexico.
Congresswoman Sue Myrick has openly expressed her concerns about the possibility of Islamic terrorists operating on our doorstep. However, very little is being done to address her concerns.
So why are places like South and Central America not listed within the newest National Strategy for Counterterrorism? No one will truly know the reason. Maybe it was simply overlooked due to the killing of Bin Laden, the on-going wars abroad, or the recent statements made by our president about troop drawdowns in Afghanistan.
For some, maybe South and Central America was missing in the aftermath of the Clinton regime's plan to maintain peace with their large Latino support base—remember it was Bill Clinton who pardoned 16 FALN terrorists back in 1999.
But whatever the reason, the new National Counterterrorism Strategy is still flawed. It is missing one critical component—one which is too close to home not to be mentioned. No one will truly know the reason behind this missing piece of the strategic puzzle; however, that won't stop many from speculating about its omission.
Kerry Patton is co-founder of the National Security Leadership Foundation, a non-profit organization with a pending 501c (3) status. He has worked in South America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe, focusing on intelligence and security interviewing current and former terrorists, including members of the Taliban. He is the author of “Sociocultural Intelligence: The New Discipline of Intelligence Studies” and the children's book "American Patriotism." You can follow him on Facebook.