(Alistair Millar is the Director of the Center on Global Counterterrorism Cooperation.)
Has responsibility for counter-terrorism has fallen mainly under the purview of the military? This argument at least in terms of the perception created by the fact that many counterterrorism-related positions in the US Government are held by current and former military officials such as Gen. Michael V. Hayden CIA; retired Navy Vice Adm. J. Michael McConnell (director of national intelligence) and Dell L. Dailey, an Army lieutenant general as the State Department CT Coordinator.
Looking at the budget it is difficult to determine what is being spent specifically on counterterrorism. There is not a single counter-terrorism budget and comparisons across departments with different objectives are not easy to evaluate, especially considering that money spent for example on border security or anti-money laundering programs serves more than just counterterrorism objectives. Just looking at a few departments and programs dealing with CT, in FY 2008 the Pentagon’s counterterrorism budget was $142 billion for FY 2008. For the Department of Home Land Security the amount requested was just under $50Billion. For DOJ it was $3.8 billion for the FBI’s counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and intelligence programs, including $183 million for “critical national security enhancements”. Then there are a host of programs related to counter-terrorism by the Department of State, including its Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program which is around $170 million and its Regional Strategic Initiative, which requested around $100 million dollars in FY2007 has subsequently failed to attract sufficient funding. Public diplomacy programs designed to contribute to the prevention of terrorism are also part of the State Department budget.
No matter how much the US spends militarily or otherwise, America cannot be everywhere at once and shoulder by itself the immense burden of addressing a global threat. The Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have both acknowledged that more support is needed from other parts of the government. In June of this year Gates noted, for example, that “it has become clear that America’s civilian institutions of diplomacy and development have been chronically undermanned and underfunded for far too long — relative to what we traditionally spend on the military, and more importantly, relative to the responsibilities and challenges our nation has around the world.”
America needs the support of partnerships around world to build and sustain the capacities necessary to address the threat effectively, some of those partnerships do need to be military focused, but in other cases too much emphasis on the military can hinder cooperation, and sometimes alienate potential partners (especially those with negative past experiences involving foreign militaries on their territory).
A robust military is an important element of counterterrorism but it is not sufficient to address a multifaceted and adapting global threat. International cooperation on a broader range of approaches using a wide array of tools deserves greater attention and resources to improve collective efforts to address emerging threats such as radicalization and recruitment and to keep counterterrorism squarely on the international agenda. More seamless coordination and more effective capacity building are also vital to ensure the cross-border cooperation required to track funding, disrupt planning, and prevent future attacks, as well as to investigate, capture, and prosecute terrorists. More resources also need to be devoted to working other nations, especially in regions where the U.S. may lack access and leverage.
This week long terrorism salon will continue to be hosted by The Washington Note and UN Dispatch.