Defining the differences between Anti-terrorism and Counterterrorism?

Discussion in 'Leadership and Professional Development' started by JAB, Sep 14, 2011.

  1. JAB

    JAB Infantry Verified Military

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    We have several topics that dance around the subjects of terrorism, the anticipation and counter measures taken to defend against terrorism. I think it would be a good topic to debate the differences between Anti-terrorism and Counter-terrorism in order to further define the two.

    My personal understanding:

    Anti-Terrorism = the practice of using intelligence, political, social, psychological, criminal, analysis to predict where an attack is likely to happen and then using that anticipation to apply measure to harden against the possibility of the terrorism attack. Basically an effort to reduce the likelihood of the attack by making a target to difficult to attack.

    Counter-Terrorism = the same practices of “Anti-Terrorism” but instead of hardening in anticipation of the attack, the possible terrorist (or actors) are targeted for capture to gain further intelligence and to remove them from the equation. Or it can be the targeting for killing the terrorist (or actors) to eliminate the threat they posed. Basically an effort to stop an attack by going after the attackers or removing their ability to attack.

    This is my personal understanding of the two, I am not staying they are correct or that there is not more that goes into the two of them. My question is how would you personally define the two based on your understanding?
     
  2. SpitfireV

    SpitfireV Strike first, strike hard, no mercy! Member

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    The problem with defining them is that no one country is on totally the same page.

    In the "old days" AT was the guys sitting in the offices, maybe running informants, analysts, etc etc. CT was the guys in black (police or military) swinging through a doorway to shoot cunts in the face. This was a bit confused here because there was a police unit called the Anti Terrorist Squad who did the CT stuff (now renamed since 1991 or 92).

    These days anti terrorism is a term that's a bit by the wayside. Now everyone seems to do CT, whether that's stuff that Customs or Police might do or whether it's guys storming a building.

    I quite like the old definitions better, they're a bit more descriptive.
     
  3. JAB

    JAB Infantry Verified Military

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    I dont think that anti-terrorism methods are falling to wayside, there are numerous anti-terrorism units within the US and several organizations teach anti-terrorism in the corporate world. I do however agree that the terminology is widely used with different meanings in different countries. Israel comes to mind, what we normally consider CT they will use the term AT.

    I did some digging on the subject:

    Anti-Terrorism:Defensive measures used to reduce the vulnerability of individuals and property to terrorist acts, to include limited response and containment by local military forces. Also called AT. See also antiterrorism awareness; counterterrorism; proactive measures; terrorism.
    Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms. US Department of Defense 2005.

    Counterterrorism:Operations that include the offensive measures taken to prevent, deter, preempt, and respond to terrorism. Also called CT. See also antiterrorism; combating terrorism; terrorism.
    Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms. US Department of Defense 2005.
     
  4. SpitfireV

    SpitfireV Strike first, strike hard, no mercy! Member

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    I meant the term is falling by the wayside, not the methods.
     
  5. JAB

    JAB Infantry Verified Military

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    lol my bad, misread it... :-"
     
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  6. SpitfireV

    SpitfireV Strike first, strike hard, no mercy! Member

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    Well I guess we exhausted the topic? lol.
     
  7. HOLLiS

    HOLLiS Verified Military

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    Any time there is a line draw, it's location is never exact. So the meaning of terms can over lap and fluctuate. Best counter terrorism or anti terrorism term is dead terrorists.
     
  8. JAB

    JAB Infantry Verified Military

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    I kind of think this is one of the big problems we see within strategies, the misuse of terminology and overlapping of doctrines because of the loosely applied definitions to terminology. To me this is actually somewhat of a big deal, mainly due to the current theaters of war, where commanders have been forced to conduct operations under the “COIN blanket” when their particular A/O required a much more defined doctrine. Commanders saying “hey we have AT/FP mission here” but upper levels are pushing down a different strategy of “X” due to it is what was said in the last senior command strategy brief. Or even more common, you have a unit out getting jacked up because the unit commander thinks COIN is all about X & Y but fails to use Z. I am not trying to bring the COIN debate back, but I do think it’s a good example to support my theory.

    I believe that AT and CT needs to be separate doctrines altogether. Yes they will overlap and yes the distinction may not always be clear, but leaders should be fully educated in the fundamental differences between the two (i.e. Offensive or Defensive). If we lump it all into one term or doctrine, we will see commanders losing track of the defining lines within their mission scope. Much like how they have done with using the one size fits all COIN strategy. More or less using the right doctrine for the right environment and or perceived threat.
     

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