Kettering professor Jim Gover and colleague Paul Huray formulate an efficient and practical method for managing the nation's counter terrorism resources.

Kettering professor Jim Gover and colleague Paul Huray formulate an efficient and practical method for managing the nation's counter terrorism resources.

By Website Administrator | May 24, 2002

Jim Gover and Paul Huray are not FBI agents. These professors have an idea for managing counter-terrorism in the U.S.

Model of Terrorist Activities Required to Attack a U.S.-Based Target by Terrorist
Martyrs Recruited and Trained Outside the U.S.
 

1. Motivation to Create Terrorist Acts and Willingness to Lead Operation.

2. Obtain Financial Resources to Commit Act of Terrorism.

3. Establish Safe Haven to Build Terrorist Organization for Managing Training and Operations.

4. Recruit Terrorist Martyrs from Foreign Sources, Particularly Schools of Fundamentalist Religions.

5. Train Terrorist Martyrs for Attack on U.S.

6. Select U.S. Targets.

7. Transfer Terrorist Martyrs to U.S.

8. Establish Secret Communications Link between Terrorist Martyrs in U.S. and Management.

9. Send Funds to Terrorist Martyrs in U.S.

10. Send Terrorism Materials and Technology Needed to Commit Terrorist Act if Not Available in U.S.

11. Send Target Information and Instructions to Terrorist Martyrs in U.S.

12. Attack U.S. Target.

Jim Gover and Paul Huray are not FBI agents. They do not work for the Secret Service or CIA. True, both have many years of experience working with the country's nuclear weaponry and issues relating to science and technology. More importantly, these professors have an idea for managing counter-terrorism in the U.S.

Born and raised in the hills of Kentucky, Gover attended public schools and won a scholarship to the University of Kentucky. After earning his Ph.D. at the University of New Mexico in 1971, he spent more than 35 years at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, working on such projects as the W-88 nuclear warhead and other ballistic defense initiatives. He also was selected by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) to serve the United States Senate and Congress for a three-year term as an expert on such issues as science and technology policy, and industrial competitiveness. But the surprise he felt as he watched the events of Sept. 11, unfold came with a hint of recognition and unfortunate expectancy.

"My colleagues and I who worked for Sandia National Labs and on the Hill worried that something like this could happen," explained Gover, who is a professor of Electrical Engineering. "Perhaps it was just a matter of time. Paul Huray and I wrote of these possibilities in 1998." Huray is the Carolina Distinguished Professor of Engineering at the University of South Carolina.

Gover has long recognized the need for the United States intelligence community to reorganize its agencies to help identify and prevent terrorist attacks against U.S. interests. But like many critics skeptical of the Federal Government's attempts to reduce and potentially negate terrorism here and abroad, his research in this area, specifically on the way the U.S. Government manages its counter-terrorism activities, has fallen on deaf ears. Until now that is.

In a report released Wednesday, May 15, ABCNews.com reports that FBI director Robert Fuller is seeking to address flaws exposed by Sept. 11 by creating a new terrorism fighting team in Washington that will centralize all anti-terrorism efforts and ensure the evaluation of all intelligence and threat information. For researchers such as Gover, this effort, which he views as a promising step toward reducing the threat of terrorism, is still a little too late. In the weeks that followed the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center Towers, he and Huray had already initiated research into the Federal Government's efforts in recognizing and reducing the threat of attack on U.S. interests here and abroad. Gover's initial ideas evolved while he was teaching a problem-solving course at Kettering, which included examination of a terrorism case study. His and Huray's work has lead to the development of a paper titled "A Model for Managing Counter-Terrorism," which he authored with Huray, who is the Carolina Distinguished Professor of Engineering at the University of South Carolina.

In basic terms, Gover and Huray recognize terrorism as a sequence of events in which each event requires successful completion of a prior event. The importance of this paper has already drawn significant interest from various associations and journals. Recently, the International Engineering Management Conference of the IEEE accepted the paper for presentation in England in August and will publish it in the conference proceedings. Additionally, a version of the paper is under consideration for publication in the renowned IEEE journal "Spectrum."

Gover and Huray are pleased to receive such recognition, but both believe the solution they propose for managing counter-terrorism efforts offers the U.S. a unique opportunity to ensure the safety of U.S. citizens and interests here and abroad before an attack is imminent.

"What Professor Huray and I set out to do is to propose a kind of formula for reducing the total fallout from a terrorist attack before it happens," Gover said. He also added that terrorism, like other major activities, "requires a sequence of actions to take place in order to achieve success. One may characterize this sequence as a process much like the process of project management used by engineers. "

Based on their research, there are 12 actions that could lead to a terrorist event in the U.S. committed by what Gover and Huray term a terrorist martyr trained outside the United States, similar to those individuals who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks. But Gover points out that to combat terrorism, organizations should ideally examine all root causes for the terrorist acts. In classical problem-solving, it is imperative that the root cause be identified. These causes include, but are not limited to, the Israel-Palestine conflict, presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, widespread anti-Americanism partially fueled by U.S. support of corrupt authoritarian governments, declining economies in Middle East countries, and widespread growth in religious fundamentalism in Islamic states. Gover believes these root causes are extremely difficult for the U.S. to combat. "For example, if religion is found to be a leading cause for terrorism against the U.S., there is little we can do to stop it," he argued, but added, "the only real thing we can do is to help Middle Eastern governments promote more modern and moderate views of religion."

In specific terms, their research examines what a national counter terrorism organization should do in combating and planning for potential terrorist attacks. This is significantly different from previous attempts by the U.S. Government, which focused on examining the best organizational structure to manage the country's counter terrorism operations. Thus, Gover contends that the research he and Huray are currently engaged in will provide valuable insight into how the country should structure its counter terrorism organization.

"Other researchers, such as Dr. Ashton Carter of Harvard University, have shown that there is a fundamental managerial inadequacy in dealing with the issue of terrorism," Gover said. Previous anti-terrorism efforts focused on what he describes as threats related to high consequence events associated with weapons of mass destruction, such as a dirty nuclear bomb. "As Sept. 11 has shown, we must consider threats from many different sources and avenues," he added.

A major goal of Gover's and Huray's research in managing counter-terrorism efforts is to make the total probability of terrorist activity as small as possible. The model they have established frames terrorism as a combination of serial steps that can lead to a terrorist event. They believe that by driving the conditional probability of one or two of the steps in the terrorist process to zero, countries such as the U.S. could eliminate the threat of terrorism altogether. One way of doing this is by ensuring that all credible targets are "hardened," or secured enough to withstand an attack and prevent the loss of life or damage to property.

This, Gover believes, is perhaps one innovative idea the U.S. Government should consider more intently when dealing with the threat of terrorism.

"Our model provides a method for assessing the value of a wide variety of counter-terrorist activities," he said, "and provides guidance in the optimum allocation of resources to minimize the damage done to both humans and buildings."

Unfortunately, he believes that the complete elimination of terrorism may be unlikely, at least at this point in our country's history. However, it is possible to secure potential targets by adopting the management theory conveyed in the paper he and Huray authored. "If we expect to win this so called war on terrorism" he said, "we must really begin by reducing the opportunity for damage done by terrorists and terrorist organizations."

Written by Gary J. Erwin, director of Publications
(810) 762-9538,
gerwin@kettering.edu