Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 29:75–89, 2006 Copyright Taylor & Francis LLC ISSN: 1057-610X print / 1521-0731 online DOI: 10.1080/10576100500351342
Expatriate Games: Interorganizational Coordination and International Counterterrorism BRUCE NEWSOME RAND Santa Monica, California, USA Why is international counterterrorism so difficult? This article argues that international counterterrorism is practically impossible in the absence of interorganizational coordination. Unfortunately, interorganizational coordination does not arise spontaneously. The current “war on terrorism” is based largely on political partnerships, but political partnerships are neither necessary nor sufficient conditions of interorganizational coordination. Instead, managers should develop externally oriented cultures and cooperative institutional objectives, which, ideally, should be accountable to international institutions. Results from a controlled experiment within a topically designed simulated environment support the argument.
“Counterterrorism” (CT) describes defensive and offensive measures against political violence. (“Antiterrorism” is usually considered to mean defensive measures alone). Terrorists have dramatically increased their internationalism in the last decade or so and international counterterrorism has followed suit, yet the results have been imperfect, which is not unusual, in historic terms. Why is international CT so difficult? The first section of this article argues that international CT is practically impossible in the absence of interorganizational coordination. (Here, interorganizational coordination refers to deliberate cooperation between home public agencies and public agencies or private businesses abroad.) Unfortunately, interorganizational coordination is rare. Diplomatic pressure and financial aid have been used to elicit many bilateral partnerships in the “war on terrorism,” but interorganizational coordination does not automatically follow from political partnerships. Externally oriented organizational cultures, cooperative institutional objectives, and third-party accountability offer superior solutions to the coordination problem. The second section tests the author’s argument by presenting results from a topically designed simulation. A simulation was chosen because information on international counterterrorism tends to be little more than suggestive, given the predominance of secrecy and the anecdotal nature of the related press reports and memoirs. In the Received 25 May 2003; accepted 14 February 2005. The author thanks Christie Ansley, Annett Bartsch, Brian Goodall, Ioannis N. Vogiatzakis, Robert McKeever, Peter Waddington, and the anonymous reviewer for helpful advice. Address correspondence to Bruce Newsome, RAND, 1700 Main Street, P.O. Box 2138, Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138, USA. E-mail: [email protected]
language of gaming, the simulation is a seven-sided human-machine game. Real human players were distributed over seven teams, representing, respectively, domestic terrorists, international terrorists, a domestic CT unit, two foreign CT units, and two foreign tour operators. The units operated over seven days of simulated time within the terms of their mission statements, their budgets, market models, and the modeled infrastructure of a real island in Southeast Asia, which is currently considered at high risk of terrorism. All quantifiable inputs and outputs were known, while the players participated in an “after-action review” and then submitted confidential individual reports. The simulation was designed as a controlled experiment by including a U.S. and British version of every foreign functional unit type with otherwise identical attributes. The performance of each version could then be compared, with team behavior being the only causal explanation for differences in their outputs. The third section concludes that international counterterrorism is practically impossible in the absence of interorganizational coordination. Unfortunately, political partnerships, on which the current “war on terrorism” is based, are neither necessary nor sufficient for interorganizational coordination. Because coordination does not arise spontaneously, managers must deliberately pursue externally oriented cultures and cooperative institutional objectives, preferably accountable to international institutions.
Argument The U.S. administration of President George W. Bush declared the current “war on terrorism” immediately after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 (9/11). Although the geographical United States has not experienced another successful mass-casualty terrorist attack since 9/11, the “war on terrorism” has not been so successful abroad. Al Qaeda (Arabic: “the base”), a transnational Islamic-fundamentalist network guided by a dissident Saudi national named Osama bin Laden, has actually increased the frequency of its successful mass-casualty attacks during the “war on terrorism,” and all of these attacks have occurred in the target populations’ abroad. Historically, this imbalance between security at home and insecurity abroad is not unusual. Why is international CT so difficult? The next four subsections present four hypotheses: international CT is practically impossible in the absence of interorganizational coordination; political partnerships are neither necessary nor sufficient for interorganizational coordination; internal orientations have negative effects on interorganizational coordination; and institutional objectives that are competing across organizations also have negative effects on interorganizational coordination. Interorganizational Coordination Critics of the “war on terrorism” argue that it lacks genuine coordination, which is vital to international counterterrorism. The disagreement is somewhat semantic: defenders of the “war on terrorism” can counter that the world has never seen so many political partnerships in the name of counterterrorism, but critics argue that political partnerships are not the same as real coordination between the involved organizations. Previous research on interorganizational coordination during peace operations already suggests that coordination is not automatic but must be managerially pursued, but the topic of coordination during CT has received little attention.1 Historically, interorganizational coordination as defined here, beyond the formalities
or rhetoric of diplomatic coordination, is rarely achieved. CT, and domestic security generally, tends to be a defensive, reactive, domestic, and public enterprise. Some polities share information fairly routinely and they may be able to access regional informationsharing agencies. However, they share few other resources and their relationships are subject to many vagaries. Public agencies often come together for temporary cooperative operations when terrorism crosses borders but such temporary relationships do not necessarily benefit from the familiarity or incentives of permanent coordination. Some public agencies may choose to operate abroad without the cooperation of their foreign equivalents, but, in doing so, they usually violate local and international laws and they certainly forego local resources. Recent history suggests that international CT often suffers from inadequate interorganizational coordination, with tragic consequences. For instance, before the suicide bomb attacks in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on 13 May 2003, during which 26 mostly expatriate residents (as well as 9 attackers) were killed in their residential compounds U.S. agencies occasionally complained about the cooperation they received from Saudi agencies. Subsequently, the U.S. administration alleged that on 1 May 2003 it had warned Saudi Arabia of a specific threat to residential complexes. The recriminations bode ill for the joint investigation.2 International CT is usually associated with multinational public agencies but coordination between public agencies and private businesses is also vital. Unfortunately, anecdotally at least, public–private coordination appears to be weak. Most of the expatriate businesses targeted abroad during recent mass-casualty attacks clearly failed, in retrospect, to sufficiently coordinate with home CT agencies, to take notice of available home intelligence warnings, or even to compensate for local failings. For instance, just a couple weeks before the Riyadh bombings, U.S. and British authorities had warned their citizens in Saudi Arabia that they were likely to be the subject of an imminent Al Qaeda attack. Six days before the bombings, Saudi authorities had a violent encounter with the 19 alleged Al Qaeda bombers at their safe house, but they managed to escape. That safe house was only 400 yards from the Jedawal compound, one of the residential compounds bombed on 13 May. Nevertheless, despite all these signals, the targeted residential compounds generally failed to enhance their antiterrorist measures, whereas the foreign businesses employing the residents generally failed to properly advise their employees or instigate basic precautionary measures, such as bussing their employees from their residences to their workplace. And all this was true despite the high profiles, considerable experience, and, one would have thought, relevant expertise of the involved businesses. For instance, one of the residential complexes, the Vinnell complex, where seven U.S. citizens were killed, was a housing and training compound operated for the Saudi National Guard (and its U.S. military advisers) by Vinnell Arabia, a local subsidiary of the U.S.-based Vinnell Corporation, which is owned, in turn, by Northrop Grumman, a U.S.-based defense corporation.3 Naturally enough, targeted businesses have generally blamed public agencies for terrorist attacks, but local failings are invariably well known to expatriates in advance of the attacks, whereas prevention is usually beyond the capabilities of home agencies. For instance, an infamous event of direct concern to expatriate residents of Saudi Arabia had been Saudi detention of a group of Britons, a Belgian, and a Canadian for a bombing that killed another Briton in Riyadh in November 2000, a bombing that their home governments attributed to fundamentalist dissidents but the Saudis attributed to a dispute between alcohol traffickers. Some of the group had confessed, only to retract their confessions later, claiming torture. All were pardoned and released in August 2003.
One industry that inherently operates abroad but has come under frequent criticism for neglecting terrorist threats is the travel industry. Religious terrorists have increasingly targeted tourists over the last decade, but the travel industry has generally dismissed warnings as “scaremongering.” Critics claim that the industry is peculiarly conservative about risk or consequence management and that the travel industry subscribes to an idealistic distinction between private and public responsibilities. For instance, the chairman of the (British) Association of Independent Tour Operators recently stated: “It is not the responsibility of tour operators to counter the threat of terrorist action in holiday resorts—national security is the responsibility of governments.”4 Such a distinction seems somewhat unrealistic. Even the most reputable home agencies may fail their citizens abroad, as recent history has tragically proved. For instance, British intelligence and the British Foreign Office came under criticism from victims, the media, and eventually the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee for failing to issue warnings ahead of the Bali bombing similar to U.S. and Australian warnings. The British government effectively admitted that its whole system for advising Britons abroad was inadequate.5 Such an admission does not foretell future perfection because even the best agencies have limited capacities that ordinary citizens tend to overestimate. Although the Australian and U.S. intelligence agencies had raised the threat level before the Bali bombings, many citizens still criticized the warning as inadequate because it covered the whole of Indonesia (a polity comprising 13,500 islands with a combined population of more than 200 million), not the island of Bali in particular.6 This subsection suggests that interorganizational coordination is vital to international CT but does not arise spontaneously in line with needs. All sides tend to overestimate the capacities of the other parties and underestimate their own responsibilities. Private businesses, left alone, do not invest sufficiently in their own protection, even when one would think there should be sufficient self-interest and information, and they rely too heavily on public agencies to provide impossibly perfect advance warnings or protection. Public agencies are insufficiently engaged in training foreign partners abroad or in providing unsolicited advice to their nationals abroad. Foreign public agencies continue to complain about external criticisms but are resistant to coordination with public agencies from other polities, from which they could probably learn a great deal, whereas those outside public agencies are insufficiently proactive about seeking that coordination. Thus, the first hypothesis is that international CT is practically impossible in the absence of interorganizational coordination. Political Partnerships For an organizational behaviorist, none of this will be particularly profound. Organizations pass the buck. Risk management theorists also note that under conditions they call “interdependent security,” in which one entity’s security is a function of the behavior of at least one other entity, there is little incentive for proper coordination until cumulative losses or individual initiatives pass some tipping point. Researchers who have studied the problem advocate regulation and third-party inspections.7 This implies that accountability to an international institution is the best way to encourage multinational coordination but this remains largely historically untested and difficult to prove experimentally. Although the U.S. administration claims to lead an international “alliance” against international terrorism, the current “War on Terror” is best viewed as a collection of unilateral actions and bilateral relationships. The bilateral partners alone interpret the
performance of those relationships. U.S. counterterrorist aid usually comes with conditions but the United States is generally disinterested in coordinating the actions of its partners or holding partners accountable for their performance, which, consequently, tends to disappoint. For instance, Indonesia is the Bush administration’s most expensive partner in terms of aid paid in return for formal cooperation in the war on terrorism. The U.S. administration has publicly documented how some (the rest is secret) of its aid is supposed to be spent. For instance, some U.S. aid has been made available for a new CT unit within the Indonesian federal police force. However, none of the aid appears to be tied to coordination. This is unfortunate given that U.S. agencies had no formal relationships with their Indonesian counterparts between the U.S. suspension of aid to the military government in 1992 and the re-establishment of U.S. aid in late 2001. From this perspective, it is perhaps unsurprising that there has been little observable evidence for real coordination beyond the rhetorical. Some days before the bombings on the Indonesian island of Bali on 12 October 2002, which killed 202 people (most of them tourists from Australia, the U.K., the U.S., and other Western states), U.S. and Australian agencies publicly warned of an imminent attack within Indonesia and later complained of an inadequate Indonesian response as well as poor cooperation during the joint investigation. Indonesian amateurism is certainly partially to blame: Indonesian authorities had trouble properly evacuating and treating the wounded and even had trouble securing and preserving the dead.8 Having suffered another mass-casualty attack linked with Al Qaeda within 10 months of the Bali bombing (on 5 August 2003, 19 people were killed in a suicide bombing of a U.S.-managed hotel in the Indonesian capital), Indonesia is now, at the time of writing, Al Qaeda’s most successful (in terms of both frequency of successful mass-casualty attacks and average fatalities) operational polity of the “war on terrorism” period. Indonesia has passed tough legislation and prosecuted some suspects since the Bali bombing but has not enforced legislation consistently. Indeed, the Indonesian government demonized the United States in its domestic audience even as it pledged support to the U.S. administration. Even if Indonesia’s political leadership was unambiguously committed to the “War on Terror,” its concerned agencies have a history of mutual antagonism. One dissident theory is that the Bali bombers were assisted by parts of the Indonesian military. It is certainly true that, in past, some Indonesian agencies have sponsored violent ethnic and religious groups or participated in internecine violence themselves. Some parts of Indonesia have not been under the government’s effective control for several years and are supposed to still harbor terrorist training camps.9 Moreover, some of what passes for the “War on Terror” in rhetoric may have nothing to do with CT in practice. Indonesia and other explicit partners in the “War on Terror”—especially Egypt, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, and Turkey—have been accused of using the “War on Terror” to justify the repression of dissidents rather than terrorists. Because the U.S. administration itself has asserted its right to act unilaterally and outside of international law and opinion given the urgency of counterterrorism, it would have difficulty critiquing such repression, even if it wished to do so. The United States now has many alleged Al Qaeda agents in custody, but the vast majority was captured during the U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan. The United States has since arrested several Al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan, which seems to have been redefined by the “War on Terror,” but political partnership seems to have been largely irrelevant to arrests in other polities, such as Singapore and Malaysia. Meanwhile, cooperation between U.S. and French counterterrorist agencies has contributed most to U.S. criminal prosecution of Al Qaeda operatives since 9/11, despite the administration’s
claims that France is the main obstructionist of the “War on Terror.”10 Moreover, even though the British government has proved to be the Bush administration’s most active partner since 9/11, the British government denies the “War on Terror,” preferring the more literate phrase “campaign against terrorism,” while British and U.S. intelligence agencies recently admitted that they have withheld intelligence from each other.11 In other words, political partnerships are neither sufficient nor necessary for interorganizational coordination. This is the second hypothesis. Cultural Orientations One potential barrier to coordination, of particular salience to CT, is an internally oriented culture, or a value and belief system that stresses self-reliance within the organization rather than cooperation with external organizations. CT agencies are expected to be highly internally oriented. By self-selection and selection, CT personnel tend to be relatively patriotic or nationalistic. These values are associated with a preference for relative gains as opposed to absolute gains; relative gains are usually incompatible with a mutually beneficial relationship. CT agencies also condition their personnel in secrecy and internal reliance. Additionally, CT personnel receive all, or an unusually high proportion, of their training and conditioning within the organization, which means their skills and attitudes may not be compatible with, or valued by, external personnel. For instance, British CT personnel tend to be career civil servants on temporary assignment to a CT desk without any external or even internal training on CT. Such personnel have considerable loyalty to the civil service but little credibility with external CT specialists. Similarly, critics claim that the U.S. government’s protective employment practices, the backlog on security “clearances,” cultural conservatism, and leakage of newly qualified personnel to the private sector have excluded more externally oriented and externally qualified personnel. For instance, U.S. “force protection officers” are typically qualified by little more than prior military service, so their expertise may be considered parochial. Indeed, the concept of “force protection,” which, as a phrase at least, is largely American, is criticized as inherently insular and has been used to explain the U.S. military’s poor reputation for interorganizational coordination during peace operations.12 This leads to the third hypothesis: internal orientations have negative effects on coordination. Institutional Objectives There are also institutional reasons why CT agencies might have particular difficulties externally coordinating. Their objectives are often narrowly defined in terms of “national interest” or “homeland security.” The current U.S. administration may have further institutionalized this internal orientation by gathering most U.S. CT agencies under the new Department of Homeland Security. “Homeland security” can be a misleading phrase because it is unlikely that an attack by Al Qaeda, or any similarly capable international terrorist network, could be discovered and prevented by purely domestic means. Although some commentators preach self-reliance, the increased internationalism of terrorism over the last decade or so (led by Al Qaeda in particular) would seem to demand more, not less, internationalism in counter-terrorist operations. Of course, the agencies themselves may claim that their professionalism guarantees that there will be no cultural or institutional constraints on interorganizational
coordination when there needs to be. However, organizational behaviorists, at least, would not accept such an idealistic claim and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that occasional cooperation suffers plenty of practical constraints. For instance, after a masscasualty terrorist attack abroad, the United States usually sends investigation teams from the Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate. These U.S. investigation teams have historically created friction with local agencies, with which they usually have weak prior relationships and imperfectly compatible objectives. (The U.S. investigations of the Al Qaeda bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on 7 August 1998 are particularly salient here.) The U.S. teams are tasked with securing evidence of local terrorism against U.S. citizens and securing the perpetrators for home trial. Meanwhile, the local agencies must investigate all local terrorism, while they host the U.S. teams, and are not always willing to hand over suspects for trial in the U.S. when those suspects may have killed more local citizens than U.S. citizens. Whether or not United States CT agencies themselves regard the perception as valid, they have a reputation for particularly independent behavior, including a history of extraterritorial and extrajudicial investigation, arrest, and even, under the current U.S. administration, assassination,13 in defiance of local sovereignty and international law. Perhaps only Israeli agencies can rival this reputation. This leads to the fourth hypothesis: institutional objectives that are competing across organizations negatively affect coordination. To summarize the argument in this section, four hypotheses have been posited: international CT is practically impossible in the absence of interorganizational coordination; political partnerships are neither necessary nor sufficient for interorganizational coordination; internal orientations negatively affect coordination; and institutional objectives that are competing across organizations negatively affect coordination. The next section tests these four hypotheses using a topically designed simulation.
Evidence from the Simulation The simulation modeled 7 days of interaction between various organizations based on a real island in Southeast Asia, which has a population of about 14 million people, a land area of 73,000 square miles, and a coastline of about 3,400 miles. This island is a neighbor of Bali and, like Bali, offers a mix of cultural, environmental, and physical activities that suit group tours. Since the Bali bombings of October 2002, the U.S. and British governments, among others, have advised their citizens against traveling to the modeled island or to Bali. Two tour operators were modeled. Each was assumed to be re-entering the market after current travel restrictions have been rescinded. Unknown to the real-world teams playing the two tour operators, the tour operator’s attributes, down to the individual psychological profiles of each team’s 44 clients, are identical, except that one is registered in the United States, the other in Britain. Therefore, as in a controlled experiment, the teams’ respective behavior would be the only explanatory variable for differing outcomes. Each team was given a budget and expenses, all based on real-world data. Their expenses included: air travel; ground travel and vehicle hire; boat travel and boat hire; hotel rooms, apartments, and warehouses for rent; temporary personnel, including security personnel as well as drivers and other service personnel; and newspaper, radio, and television advertising. Each team’s mission statement was written with certain objectives, such as the number and type of locations the tourists should visit, based on typical
tours used by real tour operators operating on the real island modeled in this simulation. Each team could, under prefect conditions, achieve the mission objectives and satisfy the clients, whose satisfaction was modeled using a psychometric profile, and still make a profit. The teams were given complete liberty to spend their budget as they saw fit, so they could also find money for antiterrorism expenses by cutting down on typical expenses elsewhere. For instance, the teams could book cheaper, less-satisfying hotels or means of transportation for their clients, in which case they would have to compensate in other areas for their shortfall in client satisfaction. For most tour operators, antiterrorist expenses are paid out of the profit margin or by foregoing other expenses. A typical tour operator spends 40% of the tour’s budget on flights, 35% on board, 10% on the travel agent’s commission, 9% on office and promotion costs, and 3% on services and transfers, leaving 3% profit. To avoid an outcome where a simulated tour operator simply ceases to operate once it had spent its margin, each team’s profit margin was increased by assuming that it was a direct-sell tour operator. A direct-sell operator does not have to pay any travel agent commissions, thereby raising the potential profit margin, within this simulation, to 13%. One of the three CT units represented a CT division of the local police force (a division that exists in the real world). This team controlled five simulated units, with the following respective functions: intelligence gathering; searching for bombs; tapping and tracing communications; “special weapons and tactics” (SWAT); and interrogating or plea-bargaining with terrorists. Two foreign CT teams were formed, each controlling, unknown to each other, an identical collection of five units with the following respective functions: intelligence gathering, SWAT, Civil Affairs/Psychological Operations, financial investigations, and interrogation. One of these two teams was assumed to control U.S. units; the other was assumed to control British units. As with the tour operators, because the attributes of the U.S. and British CT units were otherwise identical, human behavior could be the only explanation for differences in performance. The CT units had no budgets and no expenses, so they, unlike the tour operators and the terrorists, were not tested on their efficiency, only on their effectiveness. All the CT units had partially contradictory instructions to cooperate fully with their foreign equivalents because their governments were formal partners in the War on Terror, but to support their own nationals first and to arrest terrorists for trial under their home legal systems. All CT units were told that the local CT unit could request restriction or even expulsion of the foreign CT units, whereas the foreign CT units could request suspension of the financial aid that supported the local CT unit’s operations. Two terrorist units were modeled. One terrorist unit was a secular nationalist group, the other a fundamentalist Islamic group funded from abroad with a budget double that of the former but only four virtual personnel to the former’s eight. Each unit had to contend with exactly the same expenses as the tour operators and also had access to a weapons market. The terrorist teams were unknown in number and type to all the other teams. The terrorist teams sat together in an open-plan computer room. The tour operators and the CT teams sat together in a separate open-plan computer room, so there was no practical reason for a lack of coordination on either side. The tour operator teams were played by graduate students of terrorism and undergraduate students of geography (a discipline, which, in Britain, studies travel and tourism), all of them studying at a major English university. Graduate students of terrorism or international studies at the same
major English university played each of the three CT units. Graduate students of policing and crime prevention at a second major English university played the two terrorist teams. Each tour operator team was composed of 6 players, each CT team had 3 players, and each terrorist team had 4 players, for a total of 29 players. Of the 29, 4 were U.S. citizens and were assigned to U.S. units; British citizens made up the remainder of the U.S. units. One Nigerian, one Russian, and one Sri Lankan were among the terrorist players, with British citizens making up the unfilled positions. British citizens and one French citizen played the British tour operators. The island was modeled by geographical imaging software (GIS), which displayed a main map of the island embedded with larger scale (street level) maps of all major urban areas, showing the locations of all the modeled hotels, apartments, and warehouses, as well as railway stations, bus stations, airports, and ports. Units were represented within the GIS by icons, which the playing teams could move around the physical environment once each day of virtual time; these locations were sent digitally, along with orders, to a control team, which determined whether any field units where coincident in time and space with something they were capable of discovering, in which case the playing team was informed either through a news service (available to all teams) or by confidential means, depending on the nature of the event. The control team was made up of geography and terrorism faculty. This brief review of the mission parameters and resources should give an idea of the realistic challenges faced by the teams. After the simulation, all teams came together to explain the events to each other—a process that is usually called an “after-action review.” All participants were then given one week to submit confidential, undefined reports on their individual “lessons learned.” These individual reports and the data on the quantifiable inputs and outputs were used as the main evidence for unit performance. The first subsection reviews the performance of the CT units, taking each of the four hypotheses in turn, then the second subsection reviews the performance of the tour operators. The CT Units At first the CT units did not fully share their resources but this changed dramatically after the third day of simulation time, a day on which the terrorists achieved their first mass-casualty bombings. (All the terrorist units’ attacks harmed local citizens or tourists from outside any of the modeled units.) Consistent with the first hypothesis, the CT units were much more effective after they routinely coordinated. Coordination led directly to the CT units’ most observable success—the arrest of the entire nationalist terrorist unit after its safe house was discovered on the fifth day of the simulation. Coordination allowed the CT units to share resources, which were usually complementary and therefore interacted synergistically, as recalled by this member of the U.S. CT team: Coordination and sharing of info[rmation] between the CT groups was essential. We were able to coordinate where our units were, inform them of other CT units in the area, and the field units were able to share information among themselves, which was helpful. With each set of orders, we asked the other CT teams where they were going, and a couple times we covered for each other in various cities. The [local] CT [unit] also had wire tapping devices that helped us find the terrorist cell in [a named city]. . . . We knew the local authorities may or may not be reliable, but in this case we were able to work with other CT teams.14
Within the parameters of this particular simulation, at least, the CT units found their most effective methods to be information gathering and misinformation fed to the terrorists through either informers or statements deliberately leaked to the news media. These methods were practically useless unless coordinated, otherwise the CT units could find themselves leaking contradictory information. Information gathering relies on military intelligence units. Misinformation relies on Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations units. These are a type of military unit very different from SWAT-type units, which are too often associated with military CT to the exclusion of other forms of military unit. At first, the CT units mishandled their military resources, an error at least partially rectified by coordination. The tour operators saw the SWAT units as defensive units and the CT teams tended to get sucked into that misperception, even though their mission briefs had described the SWAT units as secret four-man units suitable for limited arrest or hostage rescue missions only. “I was disappointed with our use of the [SWAT] military units. We nullified them because we didn’t realise that they were reactive—they could have been used to pre-empt terrorism by apprehending suspects, rather than acting as an ineffective group of security guards.”15 Consistent with the first hypothesis, effective coordination mitigated these misperceptions because coordination allowed the different CT units to align their expectations, as recalled by a member of a different CT team: It was also important for us to understand our resources and their capabilities—what they should be used for—and then use them to their fullest. The SWAT team was a classic example. I think some just saw it as a general security force, without knowing the particulars of what a SWAT team does. Once we figured out what a SWAT team actually does, it was pretty clear to me where it needed to be. When there was some disagreement at the end we had to explain what the team should be used for. There had to be interaction between each of the teams and we all explained what our needs were.16 Consistent with the second hypothesis, political partnerships and financial aid had no observable relationship with CT effectiveness or coordination. None of the CT units ever invoked political obligations or financial aid in return for certain behavior. Consistent with the third hypothesis, external orientations improved coordination, as recalled by this member of the U.S. CT team, who happened to benefit from prior social–emotional relationships with certain identified members of the other two CT teams: From the beginning it seemed quite natural to me to share information; I figured that would be the most efficient and effective. In real life (as here) I’m sure trust plays a big role—not just of national groups, but of individuals who are in charge. Sharon, Audrey[,] and Erin and I didn’t have qualms about sharing information with each other because we felt like we could trust each other, and we could see how important it was. . . . There were some interpersonal aspects, as well. Trust, as I mentioned, and teamwork— the willingness to work together and find joint solutions. I think at some point, groups also have to be willing to cut certain losses.17 One of the persons named, serving in the British CT team, put it very similarly: I feel that an effective CT team begins with team-players. Terrorists are effective because they are team-players working in a destructive group. If
the CT team isn’t just as unified, action against terrorists will be less effective, possibly bogged down by disagreements, mistrust, and frustration.18 Consistent with the fourth hypothesis, coordination was impossible under the competing institutional objectives assigned to each of the CT teams. During the period of enhanced coordination after the first mass-casualty attacks of the third simulated day, each CT team chose to ignore its individual mission objective to secure terrorists for home trial. Instead, the teams presumed that some arrangement would be achieved after the end of simulated time. One CT team even admitted to deliberately exploiting other teams: At times, the pressures of co-operation—coupled with a lack of theoretical understanding and a clear strategy—led to petty bureaucratic squabbling. . . . Though we needed to co-operate with other CT units to achieve our goals, such was the knife’s edge mission directive that we had no conscience in deliberately endangering and exploiting other teams to achieve our results.19 This all suggests that the typical institutional objectives are so inherently competitive that the concerned organizations must abandon them completely if they are to coordinate effectively. The Tour Operators Each of the foreign CT units initially attempted to establish exclusive relationships with whichever tour operator they shared nationality. However, the tour operators themselves quickly found such conditions dissatisfying. Consistent with the first hypothesis, each of the tour operators, after the second simulated day, abandoned the exclusive relationships and coordinated with all three CT units. As one tour operator recalled: At first we were hesitant to talk to other groups in case they were the terrorists, but without coordinating with all the counter terrorist groups, we wouldn’t have done as well.20 Financial resources did not determine effective CT performance. One tour operator was able to make its clients feel a little more satisfied and a lot more secure, yet spend only 91 percent as much as was spent by its competitor—a huge difference in any industry. The less effective and less efficient team’s higher expenses were not attributable to higher antiterrorist expenses but rather to expensive reactive measures. It hired armed guards later and with less frequency, instead relying on CT units to deter terrorist attack or to volunteer their protection whenever deterrence would be insufficient. It did spend slightly more on amenities, such as more expensive hotels, but, in the final accounting, the failure to achieve security was much more salient in the clients’ perception. The less efficient team ended up ordering expensive (and, for the clients, infuriating) reactive measures after its road movements were easily observed by the terrorists. On one occasion the team cancelled a bus tour between cities and opted for domestic flights at the last minute. On another occasion, the team escaped a perceived threat by returning to spend the night in a city already visited earlier. On a later occasion, the team made an unplanned change of hotel in the same city because of a perceived threat to the first hotel.
Meanwhile, the superior operator opted for less road travel, a strategy not as expensive as one might expect. Although domestic flight transfers were expensive compared to road travel, ferries were not. The superior team made two separate ferry trips to the other team’s none and it found other ways to save money. “We realised that the modes of transport used would be key to the safety of our tourists and hence decided to use ferries as much as possible to avoid detection. . . . We avoided expensive internal flights and often housed our reps in cheaper accommodation to cut costs.”21 Consistent with the first hypothesis, the superior operator’s ability to coordinate effectively helped it achieve higher security with lower expenses. It benefited from an earlier and more intimate relationship with the CT teams. Thus, it was privy to more of the intelligence available and was able to avoid much of the reactive behavior of its competitor, as recalled by this team member: Co-ordination with other groups was essential. By communicating with other interests (e.g., British intelligence, [local] intelligence[,] and the American tour operators) we [the British tour operator team’s members] were able to glean as much information as possible before making concrete plans. It also meant that intelligence services were constantly aware of where our tourists were and could keep an eye on them or provide the terrorists with disinformation. By liaising with the American Tour Operators we were able to ensure that at no point were both groups of tourists in the same place.22 The superior team hired more guards than the other team as the perceived threat level increased. It increased its security further by outsourcing more of its security needs to the CT units. Successful outsourcing was purely an interpersonal outcome: all the CT teams reported that the superior tour operator had coordinated earlier and more intimately than the other tour operator. The role of the CT teams was vital to the tour operators: Once a potential target such as ourselves is aware of the threat and works in combination with security services the job of the terrorist becomes considerably more difficult. . . . [I]n the end the terrorists had to resort to extreme, maybe unrealistic[,] acts in a desperate attempt to strike successfully.23 Consistent with the third hypothesis, internal orientations contributed to the initial misperceptions, as the following team member admitted: On top of what was said in the debrief, for me what was most noticeable was the array of misperceptions that occur during a situation like we encountered. For example, from the perspective of the package tour operator it was very easy to overestimate the level of threat that we faced. I suppose it is very common of individual actors in a situation to develop a very insular scheme of thought, considering your needs and interests to be the most important, in spite of the actual realities. We assumed that the terrorists were fanatics, bent solely on the murder of Americans tourists. What therefore resulted was our pestering of the intelligence agencies for SWAT team protection for our tourists(!), hauling the tourists from one end of the island to the other etc., causing them frustration and annoyance. It turned out of course that we were under far less threat than we believed. This illustrates a fundamental dilemma at the heart of CT: choosing the nature and scale of the reaction, where there is equal risk from
inaction and overreaction. It was easy to sacrifice the long-term goals for shortterm successes. Our mission brief included ensuring customer satisfaction and convenience, making a profit[,] and so on. However, we tended to think purely in terms of how best we were going to get through the next day of the tour, and not get our tourists blown up and so on. Therefore, as I said before, we resorted to extreme measures, and forgot that we had tourists who were there to have a good holiday. In this way I suppose you could say that we let the terrorists win.24 Consistent with the fourth hypothesis, competing organizational objectives negatively affected CT performance. An example of counterproductive institutional objectives in the private sector is simple competition. Until the third day of simulated time, the tour operators did not share security information, such as the location of their clients, even though that information turned out to be beneficial to both operators without risking much competitive information.
Conclusion This article investigated why international CT may disappoint, despite unprecedented political and economic investment, and also investigated how to improve international CT. The Argument section posited four hypotheses: international CT is practically impossible in the absence of interorganizational coordination; political partnerships are neither necessary nor sufficient for interorganizational coordination; internal orientations negatively affect coordination; and objectives that are competing across organizations also negatively affect coordination. Results from a topically designed simulation of international CT, modeling multinational public agencies and private tour operators based on a real island considered at high risk of international terrorism, support these hypotheses. Interorganizational coordination is vital to international CT. Coordination leads to synergies between complementary capabilities, as illustrated in the simulation by a foreign CT team using a local CT team’s wiretapping unit to find and arrest a terrorist cell. Unfortunately, interorganizational coordination tends to be poor because too much is expected of political partnerships. Left to themselves, the involved organizations overestimate their partners’ capabilities and underestimate their own responsibilities, even when coordination is mandated by political partnerships or supported by financial aid. This is not to say that politics and money are irrelevant to international CT, but it is to say that political and financial capital should be tied to tangible measures to improve and then measure coordination, otherwise partnerships remain largely rhetorical. How can the coordination problem be solved? Managers need to take deliberate steps to encourage interorganizational coordination. Culturally, external orientations must be developed. Public agencies need to devote more attention to the capacity of their personnel for coordination, just as militaries have had to re-evaluate the capacity of their personnel for coordination during peace operations over the last decade or so. This means selecting personnel with, and conditioning personnel in, an external orientation that, although still cognizant of secrecy and national interest, is capable of proper coordination in mutual self-interest. Sometimes self-interest includes absolute gains, not just relative gains, as illustrated by one of the simulation’s participants, who observed that CT agencies must “be willing to cut certain losses.”
Managers also need to temper institutional objectives that may be competitive with supposed partner organizations. Narrowly defined institutional objectives, such as those defined in terms of national interest or domestic security, are inherently competitive, however cooperative a partner might wish to be. Institutional objectives need to be redefined in less competitive ways. For instance, the parties might choose to agree that a terrorist should be prosecuted by the party representing the nationality most overrepresented among the terrorist’s victims or by the party with jurisdiction over the territory where most of the victims were attacked. The details of such agreements would involve international lawyers as well as agency representatives and perhaps politicians, so the details are beyond the scope of this article. This article’s message is simply that coordination would benefit from institutional objectives agreed on by the involved parties— political objectives are not sufficient. The most effective way to mandate public agency coordination would be to make coordination accountable to an international organization so that performance is not interpreted subjectively by the participating organizations or by their political leaders. For example, if member states were committed to handing over international terrorists to an international court for prosecution, there would be none of the existing incentives for CT units to compete over who gets to prosecute. As for public–private coordination, both sides have overestimated the other’s capabilities and have been insufficiently proactive. Public CT agencies should routinely send public–private coordination teams to high-risk polities with the sole purpose of advising the private sector. A culture of uninvited oversight is needed. Meanwhile, the private sector should pester the public agencies for assistance, especially if they represent industries with low profit margins. Targeted expatriate private businesses have generally blamed public failings for terrorist attacks, but the former were aware of local public failings before becoming targets of terrorism and had unrealistic expectations of home public agencies. In the absence of local reliability, expatriate businesses have generally expected their home public agencies to intervene every time the need arises and to intervene with decisive capabilities, but this is clearly unrealistic. Further research should be devoted to the importance of coordination to domestic CT. Coordination is not necessarily less important to domestic CT. For instance, U.S. CT agencies are often criticized for their redundancy and lack of coordination. The United States has now formally gathered many of those agencies under the new Department of Homeland Security but without consolidating many of those agencies or solving many of the interorganizational cultural and institutional barriers identified by critics. Given that political partnerships and financial relationships are no guarantee of coordination, domestic CT is not necessarily more coordinated than international CT just because domestic agencies formally share the same political and financial master.
Notes 1. For instance: Lisa Witzig Davidson, Margaret Daly Hayes, and James J Landon, Humanitarian and Peace Operations: NGOs and the Military in the Interagency Process. Workshop Report (Washington, DC: National Defense University, 1996); Robert M. Schoenhaus, Training for Peace and Humanitarian Relief Operations: Advancing Best Practices (Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace, April 2002). 2. Associated Press, “Saudis Report Arms Seizure and Foiling of Terror Attacks,” Washington Post (8 May 2003), p. A18; Glenn Kessler, “U.S. Asked Saudis to Increase Security,” Washington Post (15 May 2003), pp. A1.
3. Glenn Kessler, “Sudden Blasts, Wide Devastation,” Washington Post (14 May 2003), p. A1. 4. Martin Garland, quoted in Robin Gauldie, “Industry Told to Minimize Risks,” Travel Weekly, no. 1660 (24 March 2003), p. 30; See also: Louise Longman, “Postcards from the Edge: Terror Expert Puts Trade on Red Alert for 2003,” Travel Weekly no. 1650 (13 January 2003), p. A1; Compare the correspondence in the following issue and: John Lavabre, “Security Tops Travel Agenda,” Travel Weekly no. 1664 (21 April 2003), p. 23. 5. Intelligence and Security Committee, Inquiry into Intelligence Assessments and Advice prior to the Terrorist Bombings on Bali 12 October 2002, Cm 5724 (London: The Stationery Office, 2002); Michael Evans and Greg Hurst, “MPs Condemn MI5 for Failing to Sound Alarm Over Bali Bombing,” The (London) Times (12 December 2002), p. A1; [British] Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Foreign Policy Aspects of the War Against Terrorism: Response of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (London: The Stationery Office, 2003); Tom Templeton, “Terror Threat Now Priority,” The (London) Observer (9 February 2003), p. B4. 6. Mark Forbes, “No Warning of Bali Bombing,” The Melbourne Age, (11 December 2002), p. A1. 7. Howard Kunreuther, Geoffrey Heal, and Peter R Orszag, Interdependent Security: Implications for Homeland Security and Other Areas (Washington, DC: Brookings Institute, October 2002). 8. Jennifer Hewett, “There are Many, Many More Victims,” Sidney Morning Herald (15 October 2002), p. A1; Andrew Stevenson and Mark Baker, “Volunteers Dig Deep to Help the Dying and Injured,” The Melbourne Age (15 October 2002), p. A1. 9. Tom Huxley, Disintegrating Indonesia? Implications for Regional Security, Adelphi Paper 349 (London: Oxford University Press for the International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2002); Jacqueline Koch, “Indonesia and its Leader Rocked by Bali Bombing,” San Francisco Chronicle (30 October 2002), p. A8; Catherine Porter, “Bali Bombing Theories Point to Military Link,” Toronto Star (3 November 2002), p. A1. 10. Tim Reid and Charles Bremner, “France Hits Back at White House Over ‘Media Lies,’” The (London) Times (16 May 2003), p. A1. 11. Glenn Frankel, “Allies didn’t Share all Intelligence on Iraq,” Washington Post (17 July 2003), p. A14. 12. Theo Farrell, “Humanitarian Intervention and Peace Operations,” in John Baylis, James Wirtz, Eliot Cohen, and Colin S Gray (eds.), Strategy in the Contemporary World: An Introduction to Strategic Studies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), pp. 286–308; Dominick Donald, “The Doctrine Gap: The Enduring Problem of Contemporary Peace Support Operations Thinking,” in Colin McInnes and Nicholas J. Wheeler, eds., Dimensions of Western Military Intervention (London: Frank Cass, 2002), pp. 107–139. 13. On 3 November 2002, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency used an unmanned Predator aircraft firing Hellfire missiles to destroy a vehicle traveling in Yemen. U.S. officials claimed that one of the six passengers killed was Qaed Senyan al-Harthi, also known as Abu Ali, and claimed that he was linked with the attack on the U.S.S. Cole in October 2000. 14. Amy W. Millet, e-mail of 21 March 2003. 15. David Clayton, e-mail of 18 March 2003. 16. Amy W. Millet, e-mail of 21 March 2003. 17. Ibid. 18. Audrey Bastian, e-mail of 20 March 2003. 19. David Clayton, e-mail of 18 March 2003. 20. Sarah Payne, e-mail of 19 March 2003. 21. Fred Banning, e-mail of 19 March 2003. 22. Ibid. 23. Garry F Hindle, e-mail of 18 March 2003. 24. James David Hamilton, e-mail of 18 March 2003.