New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Security Force Assistance: More Detailed Planning and Improved Access to Information Needed to Guide Efforts of Advisor Teams in Afghanistan. GAO-13-381, April 30.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654290.pdf
2. National Preparedness: Efforts to Address the Medical Needs of Children in a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, or Nuclear Incident. GAO-13-438, April 30.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654265.pd
Source: University of Nebraska Public Policy Center
This document represents the joint work efforts to date of a work group from the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals in partnership with the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center. (©Association of Threat Assessment Professionals; CRC Press, A Taylor Francis Group; University of Nebraska Public Policy Center.) The definition of those terms without a specific source reference is based on the common usage in the field of threat management.
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. Department of State Foreign Press Center)
Published reports have suggested that in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Pentagon has expanded its counterterrorism intelligence activities as part of what the Bush Administration termed the global war on terror. Some observers have asserted that the Department of Defense (DOD) may have been conducting certain kinds of counterterrorism intelligence activities that would statutorily qualify as “covert actions,” and thus require a presidential finding and the notification of the congressional intelligence committees.
Defense officials have asserted that none of DOD’s current counterterrorism intelligence activities constitute covert action as defined under the law, and therefore, do not require a presidential finding and the notification of the intelligence committees. Rather, they contend that DOD conducts only “clandestine activities.” Although the term is not defined by statute, these officials characterize such activities as constituting actions that are conducted in secret but which constitute “passive” intelligence information gathering. By comparison, covert action, they contend, is “active,” in that its aim is to elicit change in the political, economic, military, or diplomatic behavior of a target.
Some of DOD’s activities have been variously described publicly as efforts to collect intelligence on terrorists that will aid in planning counterterrorism missions; to prepare for potential missions to disrupt, capture or kill them; and to help local militaries conduct counterterrorism missions of their own.
Senior U.S. intelligence community officials have conceded that the line separating Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and DOD intelligence activities has blurred, making it more difficult to distinguish between the traditional secret intelligence missions carried out by each. They also have acknowledged that the U.S. intelligence community confronts a major challenge in clarifying the roles and responsibilities of various intelligence agencies with regard to clandestine activities. Some Pentagon officials have appeared to indicate that DOD’s activities should be limited to clandestine or passive activities, pointing out that if such operations are discovered or are inadvertently revealed, the U.S. government would be able to preserve the option of acknowledging such activity, thus assuring the military personnel who are involved some safeguards that are afforded under the Geneva Conventions. Covert actions, by contrast, constitute activities in which the role of the U.S. government is not intended to be apparent or to be acknowledged publicly. Those who participate in such activities could jeopardize any rights they may have under the Geneva Conventions, according to these officials.
In committee report language accompanying P.L. 111-259, the FY2010 Intelligence Authorization Act, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) expressed its concern that the distinction between the CIA’s intelligence-gathering activities and DOD’s clandestine operations is becoming blurred and called on the Defense Department to meet its obligations to inform the committee of such activities. Perhaps in an effort to bring more clarity to the covert action issue, Department of Defense officials early in the 112th Congress stated that current statute could be updated to reflect U.S. Special Operations Command’s list of core tasks and the missions assigned to it in the Unified Command Plan. But in doing so, they also noted that Section 167 includes “such other activities as may be specified by the President or the Secretary of Defense,” which, they argued, provides the President and the Secretary flexibility to meet changing circumstances.
Source: Home Office
Publishing the annual report for CONTEST, the government’s strategy for countering terrorism, the Home Secretary set out what has been done to keep the country safe and prevent terror attacks, including during the Olympics.
Since 2005 there have been no mass casualty attacks in Great Britain. But a number of serious attempted attacks have been foiled. In the 12 months to September 2012, 45 people were charged with terrorism-related offences. The principal terrorist threat to the UK and our interests overseas continues to come from Al Qa’ida, its affiliates, other groups and lone terrorists. Achievements
Since the publication of CONTEST in July 2011, we delivered a safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games that will be remembered as a spectacular sporting event.
Other achievements included:
- implementing a new Prevent strategy
- improving security arrangements at the border
- strengthening our capability to respond to ‘Mumbai-style’ terror attacks involving firearms.
New GAO Report
Source: Government Accountability Office
Additional Actions Could Help Ensure That Efforts to Share Terrorism-Related Suspicious Activity Reports Are Effective [Reissued on March 26, 2013]
Source: RAND Corporation
Department of Defense (DoD) installations rely on the commercial electricity grid for 99 percent of their electricity needs, but extensive energy delivery outages in 2012 have reinforced that the U.S. electricity grid is vulnerable to disruptions from natural hazards and actor-induced outages, such as physical or cyber attacks. In the event of a catastrophic disaster — such as a severe hurricane, massive earthquake, or large-scale terrorist attack — DoD installations would also serve as a base for emergency services. To enhance energy security, DoD has identified diversifying energy sources and increasing efficiency in DoD operations as critical goals. But how to enhance energy security across the portfolio of installations is not clear and several questions remain unanswered: Energy security for how long? Under what conditions? At what cost? The underlying analytical questions are, what critical capabilities do U.S. installations provide, and how can DoD maintain these capabilities during an energy services disruption in the most cost-effective manner? Answering these questions requires a systems approach that incorporates technological, economic, and operational uncertainties. Using portfolio analysis methods for assessing capability options, this paper presents a framework to evaluate choices among energy security strategies for DoD installations. This framework evaluates whether existing or proposed installation energy security strategies enhance DoD capabilities and evaluates strategy cost-effectiveness.
New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office
Effects of Budget Uncertainty from Continuing Resolutions on Agency Operations
GAO-13-464T, Mar 13, 2013
Additional Actions Could Help Ensure That Efforts to Share Terrorism-Related Suspicious Activity Reports Are Effective
GAO-13-233, Mar 13, 2013
Agencies Have Taken Steps Aimed at Improving the Permitting Process for Development on Federal Lands
GAO-13-189, Jan 18, 2013
Source: Perspectives on Terrorism
This article is based on the idea that lone-wolf terrorists may have characteristics in common with two other types of lone-actor violent offenders: assassins and school attackers. We used data from U.S. Government-sponsored reports to compare the characteristics of these two groups. Despite obvious demographic differences, results indicate four characteristics common for both school attackers and assassins: perceived grievance, depression, a personal crisis (‘unfreezing’),and history of weapons use outside the military. These characteristics may be useful in distinguishing lone-wolfs from group-based terrorists.
Source: National Research Council
We live in a changing world with multiple and evolving threats to national security, including terrorism, asymmetrical warfare (conflicts between agents with different military powers or tactics), and social unrest. Visually depicting and assessing these threats using imagery and other geographically-referenced information is the mission of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). As the nature of the threat evolves, so do the tools, knowledge, and skills needed to respond. The challenge for NGA is to maintain a workforce that can deal with evolving threats to national security, ongoing scientific and technological advances, and changing skills and expectations of workers.
Future U.S. Workforce for Geospatial Intelligence assesses the supply of expertise in 10 geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) fields, including 5 traditional areas (geodesy and geophysics, photogrammetry, remote sensing, cartographic science, and geographic information systems and geospatial analysis) and 5 emerging areas that could improve geospatial intelligence (GEOINT fusion, crowdsourcing, human geography, visual analytics, and forecasting). The report also identifies gaps in expertise relative to NGA’s needs and suggests ways to ensure an adequate supply of geospatial intelligence expertise over the next 20 years.
Source: Open Society Foundation
Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Central Intelligence Agency embarked on a highly classified program of secret detention and extraordinary rendition of terrorist suspects. The program was designed to place detainee interrogations beyond the reach of law. Suspected terrorists were seized and secretly flown across national borders to be interrogated by foreign governments that used torture, or by the CIA itself in clandestine “black sites” using torture techniques.
Globalizing Torture is the most comprehensive account yet assembled of the human rights abuses associated with CIA secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations. It details for the first time what was done to the 136 known victims, and lists the 54 foreign governments that participated in these operations. It shows that responsibility for the abuses lies not only with the United States but with dozens of foreign governments that were complicit.
More than 10 years after the 2001 attacks, Globalizing Torture makes it unequivocally clear that the time has come for the United States and its partners to definitively repudiate these illegal practices and secure accountability for the associated human rights abuses.
DoJ White Paper: Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a U.S. Citizen Who Is a Senior Organizational Leader of Al Qa’ida or an Associated Force
Source: U.S. Department of Justice (via MSNBC)
This white paper sets forth a legal framework for considering the circumstances in which the U.S. government could use lethal force in a foreign country outside the area of active hostilities against a U.S. citizen who is a senior operational leader of al-Qa-ida or an associated force of al-Qa’ida — that is, an al-Qa’ida leader actively engages in planning operations to kill Americans. The paper does not attempt to determine the minimum requirements necessary to render such an operation lawful; nor does it assess what might be required to render a lethal operation against a U.S. Citizen lawful in other circumstances, including an operation against enemy forces on a traditional battlefield or an operation against a U.S. Citizen who is not a senior operational leader of such forces. Here the Department of Justice concludes only that where the following three conditions are met, a U.S. operation using lethal force in a foreign country against a U.S. citizen who is a senior operational leader of al-Qa’ida or an associated force would be lawful: (1)an informed, high-level official of the U.S. Government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States; (2) capture is infeasible, and the United States continues to monitor whether capture becomes feasible; and (3) the operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles. This conclusion is reached with recognition of the extraordinary seriousness of a lethal operation of the United States against a U.S. citizen, and also of the extraordinary seriousness of the threat posed by senior operational al-Qa’ida members and the loss of life that would result were their operations successful.
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
The potential for terrorist use of chemical agents is a noted concern highlighted by the Tokyo sarin gas attacks of 1995. The events of September 11, 2001, increased congressional attention towards reducing the vulnerability of the United States to such unconventional attacks. The possibility that terrorist groups might obtain insecure chemical weapons led to increased scrutiny of declared Libyan chemical weapon stockpiles following the fall of the Qadhafi regime. Experts have expressed similar concerns regarding the security of purported Syrian chemical weapons, reportedly including stocks of nerve (sarin, VX) and blister (mustard gas) agents, and their potential use.
Military planners generally organize chemical agents, such as chemical weapons and toxic industrial chemicals, into four groups: nerve agents (such as sarin and VX), blister agents (such as mustard gas), choking agents (such as chlorine and phosgene), and blood agents (such as hydrogen cyanide). While the relative military threat posed by the various chemical types has varied over time, terrorist use of these chemicals against civilian targets is viewed as a low probability, high consequence event.
Chemical weapons and toxic industrial chemicals cause a variety of symptoms in their victims. These symptoms depend on the chemical agent used, and a victim of chemical exposure may exhibit a combination of symptoms. Some chemical agents cause death by interfering with the nervous system. Some chemical agents inhibit breathing and lead to asphyxiation. Other chemical agents have caustic effects on contact. As a result, effective chemical attack treatment depends on identifying at least the type of chemical agent used. Additionally, chemical agents trapped on the body or clothes of victims may place first responders and medical professionals at risk. Civilian protection from and detection of chemical agents is an area of federal concern. Whether terrorist groups are capable of using chemical agents as weapons of mass destruction is unclear.
Some experts have asserted that the volumes of chemicals required to cause mass casualties makes that scenario unlikely. They claim that chemical terrorism is more likely to be small in scale. Other experts have suggested that there has been an increase in terrorist interest regarding chemical agents, and that this interest could lead to their use in terrorist attacks. Some experts assert that insecure stockpiles of military-grade chemical agents would lower the barrier to terrorist acquisition of chemical agents and thus increase the possibility that terrorists might use them. The change of regimes in Libya and Egypt and recent events in Syria have increased concern that such military-grade chemical agents might transition into terrorist hands and then be used to attack U.S. sites either domestically or abroad.
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
As part of the conflict with Al Qaeda and the Taliban, the United States has captured and detained numerous persons believed to have been part of or associated with enemy forces. Over the years, federal courts have considered a multitude of petitions by or on behalf of suspected belligerents challenging aspects of U.S. detention policy. Although the Supreme Court has issued definitive rulings concerning several legal issues raised in the conflict with Al Qaeda and the Taliban, many others remain unresolved, with some the subject of ongoing litigation.
This report discusses major judicial opinions concerning suspected enemy belligerents detained in the conflict with Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The report addresses all Supreme Court decisions concerning enemy combatants. It also discusses notable circuit court opinions addressing issues of ongoing relevance. In particular, it summarizes notable decisions which have (1) addressed whether the Executive may lawfully detain only persons who are “part of” Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and affiliated groups, or also those who provide support to such entities in their hostilities against the United States and its allies; (2) adopted a functional approach for assessing whether a person is “part of” Al Qaeda; (3) decided that a preponderance of evidence standard is appropriate for detainee habeas cases, but suggested that a lower standard might be constitutionally permissible, and instructed courts to assess the cumulative weight of evidence rather than each piece of evidence in isolation; (4) determined that Guantanamo detainees have a limited right to challenge their proposed transfer to foreign custody, but denied courts the authority to order detainees released into the United States; and (5) held that the constitutional writ of habeas does not presently extend to noncitizen detainees held at U.S.-operated facilities in Afghanistan. Finally, the report discusses a few criminal cases involving persons who were either involved in the 9/11 attacks (Zacarias Moussaoui) or were captured abroad by U.S. forces or allies during operations against Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated entities (John Walker Lindh and Ahmed Ghailani).
For over a decade, the primary legal authority governing the detention of enemy belligerents in the conflict with Al Qaeda was the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (“AUMF,” P.L. 107-40. In December 2011, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2012 (“2012 NDAA,” P.L. 112-81), which contains a provision that is largely intended to codify the current understanding of the detention authority conferred by the AUMF, as has been interpreted and applied by the Executive and the D.C. Circuit. The full implications of the 2012 NDAA upon wartime detention jurisprudence remain to be seen. In any event, the act does not address many of the legal issues involving wartime detention that have not been squarely resolved by the Supreme Court. Among other things, these unresolved issues include the precise scope of the Executive’s wartime detention authority, including the circumstances in which U.S. citizens may be detained; the degree to which noncitizens (or in one case, U.S. citizens) held abroad are entitled to protections under the Constitution; the authority of federal habeas courts to compel the release into the United States of detainees determined to be unlawfully held; and the ability of detainees to receive advance notice and to challenge their proposed transfer to foreign custody.
Several rulings addressed in this report are discussed in greater detail in other CRS products, including CRS Report RL33180, Enemy Combatant Detainees: Habeas Corpus Challenges in Federal Court, by Jennifer K. Elsea and Michael John Garcia; CRS Report RL34536, Boumediene v. Bush: Guantanamo Detainees’ Right to Habeas Corpus, by Michael John Garcia; CRS Report RS21884, The Supreme Court 2003 Term: Summary and Analysis of Opinions Related to Detainees in the War on Terrorism, by Jennifer K. Elsea; and CRS Report R42337, Detention of U.S. Persons as Enemy Belligerents, by Jennifer K. Elsea.
Source: Council on Foreign Relations
Over the last ten years, drones have become a critical tool in the war against terrorist and militant organizations worldwide. Their advantages over other weapons and intelligence systems are well known. They can silently observe an individual, group, or location for hours on end, but take immediate action should a strike opportunity become available–all without putting a pilot at risk. This combination of capabilities is unique and has allowed the United States to decimate the leadership of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and disrupt the activities of many other militant groups.
Yet, as Micah Zenko writes in this Council Special Report, drones are not without their drawbacks, especially with regard to targeted killings. Like any tool, drones are only as useful as the information guiding them, and for this they are heavily reliant on local military and intelligence cooperation. More important, significant questions exist about who constitutes a legitimate target and under what circumstances it is acceptable to strike. There is also the question of net utility: To what extent are the specific benefits derived from drone strikes offset by the reality that the strikes often alienate the local government and population? And there is the reality that drones are proliferating but, as is often the case with new technologies, the international legal and regulatory framework is lagging behind.
Zenko puts forward a substantive agenda. He argues that the United States should end so-called signature strikes, which target unidentified militants based on their behavior patterns and personal networks, and limit targeted killings to a limited number of specific terrorists with transnational ambitions. He also calls Congress to improve its oversight of drone strikes and to continue restrictions on armed drone sales. Finally, he recommends that the United States work internationally to establish rules and norms governing the use of drones.
Reforming U.S. Drone Strike Policies raises an important and underexamined set of issues. It analyzes the potentially serious consequences, both at home and abroad, of a lightly overseen drone program and makes recommendations for improving its governance. The result is a provocative report that is well worth reading and contemplating.
Gangs in Central America (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)
Congress has maintained an interest in the effects of gang violence in Central America, and on the expanding activities of transnational gangs with ties to that region operating in the United States. Since FY2008, Congress has appropriated significant amounts of funding for anti-gang efforts in Central America, as well as domestic anti-gang programs. Two recent developments may affect congressional interest in Central American gangs: a truce between rival gangs has dramatically lowered violence in El Salvador and the U.S. Treasury Department has designated the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) as a significant transnational criminal organization (TCO).
MS-13 and its main rival, the “18 th Street” gang (also known as M-18) continue to threaten citizen security and challenge government authority in Central America. Gang-related violence has been particularly acute in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, which have among the highest homicide rates in the world. In recent years, some governments have moved away, at least on a rhetorical level, from repressive anti-gang strategies, with the government of El Salvador now facilitating a historic—and risky—truce involving the country’s largest gangs. The truce has resulted in a dramatic reduction in homicides since March 2012, but carries risks for the Salvadoran government such as what might happen if the gangs were to walk away from the truce and emerge stronger as a result of months of less-stringent prison conditions.
U.S. agencies have been engaged on both the law enforcement and preventive sides of dealing with Central American gangs; an inter-agency committee developed a U.S. Strategy to Combat Criminal Gangs from Central America and Mexico that was first announced in July 2007. The strategy focuses on diplomacy, repatriation, law enforcement, capacity enhancement, and prevention. An April 2010 study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommended that U.S. agencies consider strengthening the anti-gang strategy by developing better oversight and measurement tools to guide its implementation. U.S. law enforcement efforts may be bolstered by the Treasury Department’s October 2012 decision to designate and sanction MS-13 as a major TCO pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13581.
In recent years, Congress has increased funding to support anti-gang efforts in Central America. Between FY2008 and FY2012, Congress appropriated roughly $35 million in global International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE) funds for anti-gang efforts in Central America. Congress provided additional support in FY2008 and FY2009 for anti-gang efforts in the region through the Mérida Initiative, a counterdrug and anticrime program for Mexico and Central America, and, more recently, through the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI). Congressional oversight may focus on the efficacy of anti-gang efforts in Central America; the interaction between U.S. domestic and international anti-gang policies, and the impact of the Treasury Department’s TCO designation on law enforcement efforts against MS-13.
This report describes the gang problem in Central America, discusses country and regional approaches to deal with the gangs, and analyzes U.S. policy with respect to gangs in Central America. Also see: CRS Report R41731, Central America Regional Security Initiative: Background and Policy Issues for Congress, by Peter J. Meyer and Clare Ribando Seelke.
Source: Trust for America’s Health, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
In the 10th annual Ready or Not? Protecting the Public from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism report, 35 states and Washington, D.C. scored a six or lower on 10 key indicators of public health preparedness.
The report found that while there has been significant progress toward improving public health preparedness over the past 10 years, particularly in core capabilities, there continue to be persistent gaps in the country’s ability to respond to health emergencies, ranging from bioterrorist threats to serious disease outbreaks to extreme weather events.
In the report, Kansas and Montana scored lowest – three out of 10 – and Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Vermont and Wisconsin scored highest – eight out of 10.
Operation of police powers under the Terrorism Act 2000 and subsequent legislation: Arrests, outcomes and stops and searches — Great Britain 2011/12
Source: Home Office
There were 206 terrorism arrests in 2011/12, up from 126 in 2010/11 but close to the annual average of 207 since 1 April 2002. Approximately a third of the increase in 2011/12 related to the policing of a demonstration in the October to December quarter. Since 11 September 2001 there have been a total of 2,174 terrorism arrests.
Thirty-five per cent of terrorism arrests in 2011/12 resulted in a charge, down seven percentage points on 2010/11. A comparison with persons aged 18 and over arrested for recorded crime offences in 2010/11 indicates that 45 per cent are proceeded against at court. Forty-eight per cent of those arrested for suspected terrorism offences were released without charge and the remaining 17 per cent had alternative action taken against them. Since 11 September 2001, 36 per cent of those arrested for terrorism-related offences were charged, 54 per cent were released and ten per cent had alternative action taken.
Of the charges brought in 2011/12, 53 per cent were terrorism-related (excluding Schedule 7 charges), as compared with 59 per cent since 11 September 2001. The main offences for which persons were charged under terrorism legislation since 2001 were possession of an article for terrorist purposes, preparation for terrorist acts and fundraising. For terrorism-related offences under nonterrorism legislation the most common offences persons were charged for were conspiracy to commit murder and offences under the Explosive Substances Act 1883.
Of the 50 persons arrested under section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (TACT) in 2011/12, exactly half were held in detention for less than two days before charge, release or other action. All but three detainees were held in pre-charge detention for seven days or less; those held for longer were held for no more than 12 days, and were subsequently charged by the police. Since the extension of the precharge detention period from 14 to 28 days in 2006, 11 persons have been held for over 14 days and six for the full period of 28 days. The maximum period of pre-charge detention under TACT was reduced from 28 days to 14 days on 25 January 2011.
At the time of publication, 41 per cent of those charged with terrorism-related offences in 2011/12 had been convicted of an offence, with 44 per cent, or 17 defendants, awaiting trial. This compares with 61 per cent convicted for terrorism-related offences since 11 September 2001, a total of 283 persons.
Data provided by the Crown Prosecution Service show that 18 of the 23 trials completed in 2011/12 for offences under terrorism legislation resulted in defendants being convicted. For trials under nonterrorism legislation, one of the two persons tried in 2011/12 was found guilty. Eighteen defendants in total were sentenced to immediate custody, of which one received a life sentence. In addition, one defendant received a non-custodial sentence during this period.
As at 31 March 2012, 118 persons were in prison custody in Great Britain for terrorism-related offences, three-quarters of whom were UK nationals. Of the 118 prisoners, 19 were classified as domestic extremists/separatists and four were in custody with historic convictions pre-dating current legislation under TACT.
Source: Brookings Institution
The 9/11 attacks elevated Osama bin Laden and his group to mythical status in the American psyche. The two wars that followed during the next decade and his 4,300 day stay on the FBI’s Most Wanted List only added to bin Laden’s mystique, establishing him as the central figure in the post-9/11 chapter of violent global jihad. However, by the time of his death in May of 2011, paradigms associated with bin Laden and the group he left behind to Ayman al Zawahiri and other global jihadists were already shifting significantly. Collectively, these new realities transcend previous 9/11 paradigms and have led to a new chapter of global jihad.
This paper acknowledges the lasting impact of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden but looks beyond the 9/11 paradigms to examine the state of the next chapter of global jihad, which began to come into focus between 2009 and 2011, and is driving the threat calculations for 2013 and beyond. It examines the efficacy of the far enemy strategy absent its chief advocate, the shifting role of affiliates and allies, South Asia’s pivotal role, the Arab Awakening, and the threat of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) terrorism in the U.S. homeland and the West in general. No examination of the evolving threat would be complete without a discussion of the broad technological and societal trends underway that provide unique opportunities and challenges for global jihadists. The Postscript concludes with a cautionary tale of expecting the unexpected in this next chapter.
Source: U.S. Department of Defense
During the reporting period of April 1 to September 30, 2012, the Coalition and our Afghan partners blunted the insurgent summer offensive, continued to transition the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) into security lead, pushed violence out of most populated areas, and coalition member nations signed several international agreements to support the long-term stability and security of Afghanistan. In May, President Obama and President Karzai signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement, reflecting the two governments’ desire for an enduring partnership. At the May 2012 Chicago Summit, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) – International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) nations also pledged to support Afghanistan through 2017. This was followed in July by the Tokyo Conference, at which the international community declared its support for Afghanistan by linking specific reforms in governance and rule-of-law by the Afghan government with sustained financial assistance through 2015.
During the reporting period enemy-initiated attacks (EIAs) were up one percent compared to the same period last year, due in large part to a shortened poppy harvest employing low-level insurgents far less than in past years. However, EIAs are down 3 percent from January to September 2012 compared to the same period in 2011, after dropping nine percent in 2011 compared to 2010. EIAs are now disproportionately occurring outside of populated areas, and the security of many of Afghanistan’s largest cities increased substantially during the reporting period.
Security progress and the development of the ANSF during the reporting period have enabled the security transition process to continue in accordance with the framework agreed to at the 2010 Lisbon Summit. As of the end of September 2012, roughly 76 percent of Afghans are living in areas where the ANSF has begun to assume the lead for security.
Despite these and other positive trends during the reporting period, the campaign continued to face challenges, including a rise in insider attacks. The rise in insider attacks has the potential to adversely affect the Coalition’s political landscape, but mitigation policies and a collective ISAF-ANSF approach are helping to reduce risks to coalition personnel, and to sustain confidence in the campaign. The cause of and eventual solution to this joint ISAF and ANSF problem will require continuous assessment; it remains clear that the insider threat is both an enemy tactic and has a cultural component. The many mitigation policies recently put in place will require additional time to assess their effects, although the number of insider attacks has dropped off sharply from the peak in August.