By William J. SharpJanuary 23, 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Lots of people like surprises. Lt. Col. Brian K. Numerick, however, is not one of them - not when he's working, anyway.
In fact, Numerick and his Army Antiterrorism Branch colleagues and business partners go to great lengths to avoid surprises, to expect the unexpected. After all, any time terrorists have breathing room to attempt attacks on U.S. interests, American lives are at stake.
January has been especially busy for the branch as it prepares for Army's 9th Annual Worldwide Antiterrorism Conference Jan. 26-30 in Orlando, Fla. More than 300 subject matter-experts from the private and DOD sectors are expected to attend.
"Everyone knows terrorists would take any opportunity to harm U.S. Soldiers, bases, or missions," said Numerick, chief of the AT branch here. "That's why the Army proactively prepares for terrorist attacks and that's why we are prepared to respond should an attack occur.
Antiterrorism is the Army's defensive component of combating terrorism. The AT program focuses on risk management, planning, training and exercises, resource generation, comprehensive program reviews, and random AT measures. Much of the work involves coordination with AT partners in law enforcement, physical security, intelligence, information operations, and other related fields.
"Antiterrorism succeeds when the entire Army community is involved," Numerick said. "Soldiers, civilians, contractors, and family members must understand their roles and responsibilities. All leaders must insist on effective antiterrorism measures. Through resourcefulness and careful planning, Army strengths will prevail over terrorist intentions."
The Office of the Provost Marshal General, in coordination with the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations, Plans, and Training Directorate (G-3/5/7), is hosting the conference. Expected participants include the Army War College, the National Joint Terrorism Task Force, North Carolina Central University, and the El Paso, Texas, Intelligence Center. In short, Numerick said, a successful AT program involves coordinated effort and focused partnerships.
"The biggest challenge to any antiterrorism program is preventing attacks, but that's not the only challenge," Numerick said. "We must take preventive measures everywhere the Army operates from Army National Guard armories in Indiana to Army Corps of Engineers dams in Oregon to Soldiers involved in combat overseas and any place in between."
The conference provides a forum for Army commands, Army service component commands, direct reporting units, and Army National Guard AT representatives to reinforce AT program improvements and changes over the last year. Further, it provides Army AT program officials with the opportunity to share knowledge, broaden perspectives, and exchange ideas and best practices.
"A lack of recent terror attacks against Army interests could lead some persons into a false sense of security that, ironically, is itself a vulnerability," Numerick said. "The best way to combat terrorism is to be unpredictable and to continually improve your security posture."
This year's conference theme is "Tempering the Weapon - Broadening Perspectives on Antiterrorism." Conference organizers seek to educate and professionally develop Army AT personnel, build synergy for AT strategic goals and initiatives, and involve AT officers in solving key AT issues.
The conference will feature training, briefings, workshops, and panel discussions. Planned discussion topics include unit and stand-alone facility programs, intelligence support, doctrine development, resource requirements development and validation, and AT measures in contracting.
Because of its proactive approach, Army's AT program enjoyed several successes in 2008. In September, the Army published a revision to its antiterrorism policy. This new policy broadens antiterrorism requirements and efforts inclusive of Army activities not located on installations.
In addition, the Army expanded its AT coordination and assistance program - or CAP. CAP assists those who have limited manpower and expertise with tasks like building antiterrorism strategies and plans.
But even with multiple successes, Numerick admits it's hard to evaluate the effectiveness of an AT program.
"If success is measured in terms of absence of attacks, then we've been very successful," he said. "Of course, collective efforts have likely interrupted some potential attacks this past year. So, we can never be sure if that is a direct result of the Army AT program or simply reduced or ineffective attempts by our adversaries.
"Still," Numerick said, "It's good to have success indicators, but to really evaluate the program we look for indicators that show we are staying ahead of terrorist actions. Our first priority is to build and sustain awareness through education and training, which we believe is key to preventing terrorist attacks."
(William J. Sharp serves with the Army Asymmetric Warfare Office.)