Armed Hostilities

Policy on National Security and Terrorism in the USA

Table of Contents
  1. Background to the Public Administration Issue
  2. RAND Corporation
  3. Description of Policy Issue
  4. Policy Outcomes and Variables
  5. Tools of Democracy in Policy Enactment
  6. Conclusion
  7. Reference List

Background to the Public Administration Issue

On September 11, 2001, the world woke up to the devastating news of a major terrorist attack on the USA soil that claimed over 5,000 lives and numerous injuries. At the time, the USA was viewed as the most secure country. It never crossed the minds of many public and government officials that a terrorist attack of such magnitude would ever occur on the USA soil. In the wake of this attack, the world was ushered in an era of transnational terrorism where terrorist groups from far fledged locations would launch successful and often devastating attacks on installations and people of countries that they regarded as ‘enemies’ who threatened their operations. Osama Bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda was the perpetrator of this heinous act. His group was well organized, well-funded, and able to launch terrorist attacks in any country of the world (Freeman, 2008). The United States, which is actively engaged in many peacekeeping missions abroad, is a major target for these terrorist attacks. It had suffered from previous attacks on its installations in Kenya, Tanzania, and the Middle East. The successful attack on its own soil was a wake-up call for the country to revisit its public policy on national security in the light of the transnational terrorist activities that had proven the new biggest threat to public security in the country. In light of these events, there have been major policy changes that relate to the public administration on national security. Major organizations and stakeholders have lobbied and advocated for these changes. Hence, they have been successfully enacted into laws that guide how security in the country is undertaken (Bayley & Perito, 2010). In this paper, an analysis of the efforts by Rand Corporation, a policy organ in the USA, to influence public policy on security will be discussed using the approach of Public Administration Genome Project (PAGP).

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RAND Corporation

RAND Corporation is an American-based non-governmental research organization that dedicates itself to developing public policy solutions that relate to challenges that the world is facing, especially on matters that relate to peace and security in the USA and across the world. Since the successful Al-Qaeda terrorist group’s attack on the USA soil, the American government recognized the importance of overhauling its national security system to put in place new mechanisms that would allow the country to defend itself from such attacks in the future (Pillar, 2013). The focus was on the enactment of national security policies that would be geared towards the prevention of any terrorist events that targeted the United States and its installations across the world. One of the policy and research organizations that have been instrumental in the process of putting in place good policies on security and counterterrorism is the RAND Corporation, which works closely with the USA government. Indeed, the RAND Corporation has three programs, which are federally funded in the USA. The programs ensure the formulation of policies that are majorly focused on national security. The goal is to certify that they are effective and responsive to the needs of American society (Freeman, 2008). The organization receives more than 50% of its funding from the government to operate the three Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs). The FFRDCs provide temporary, long-standing, critical assistance, and procedures for serious problems that affect the USA.

In one of the most important policy issues, RAND Corporation works closely with the US government and international organizations such as the United Nations. The organization has championed for close consideration of the evolving nature of terrorist groups and their implications for the US policy on national and international security. Further, the organization has made important suggestions to policy approaches that can ensure that the United States is well prepared to secure its borders and its citizens from attacks that the rapidly changing terrorist groups may plan or launch. In a research titled, A Persistent Threat: The Evolution of Al-Qaeda and Other Salafi Jihadists, the organization examines how terrorist groups in the Middle East and Asia are evolving and/or presenting continued threats to the national and international security. In other words, the US requires robust policy changes that can adequately address the threats that these groups pose. However, such policies have to be reviewed periodically or on a needs basis to ensure that they can address new challenges whenever they arise.

Description of Policy Issue

Following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon in the US, the government of the day waged a major war with its allies on Al Qaeda, the terrorist group led by Osama Bin Laden. The goal was to crumble down the highly organized and sophisticated organization that had reached a global scope in its operations and influence (Jones, 2014). At the time of the major onslaught on Al-Qaida, the prevailing thinking was that the world, and most importantly, the US, would be safer after crippling the organization. Within the following decade, the US together with its allies managed to reduce the group’s ability to launch attacks or obtain financing. The killing of Osama bin Laden, the group’s leader in May 2011, marked the ultimate win over Al Qaeda. However, while the win over Al-Qaeda was a major breakthrough in the fight against cross-border terrorism, it was a win on one side. It was a win over Al Qaeda, but not the death of the organization.

Between 2010 and 2013, a 53% increase in Al Qaeda-styled or affiliated groups was witnessed majorly in Syria and North Africa (Jones, 2014). The groups whose ideologies are almost the same as the Al-Qaeda group, which focuses on extremist Islamic ideologies and a strong hatred for the US and Western World nations, pose a new challenge. The US cannot be comfortable just because Al-Qaeda has been seriously damaged. With the increase of the Al Qaeda-affiliated groups, the USA has to find new policy approaches to addressing the security challenges that the new extremist and jihadist groups are posing.

In addressing the challenges that the US now faces in the wake of the increased activities of new jihadist outfits across the world that are connected to the Al-Qaeda group, the RAND Corporation, in conjunction with the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) carried extensive research on the terrorist groups. In the research, the main agenda was to identify the mode of operations of these groups, the threat they pose to the USA and allies, and their financing, and ultimately come up with new approaches that would allow the US to address the new challenges. In this case, the main aim was to propose important strategic policy actions for enactment to address the security threats that were posed by the jihadist groups.

Policy Outcomes and Variables

The RAND Corporation carried out an intensive project to bring forth important insights into the growing problem of new jihadist groups in the Middle East, North America, and other places that may be affiliated with Al Qaeda. The goal was to come up with four important policy outcomes, which will be discussed later in this section. It is important to understand the policy of the USA towards terrorist groups that have posed significant threats to the country and its allies (Pillar, 2013). Following the events of September 11, 2001, the US took an aggressive policy approach that was aimed at apprehending Osama Bin Laden and/or disabling the Al Qaida group. In this process, the US used all means possible, including covert operations and army deployments in the hunt for the leader of the terrorist groups and its senior officials. Within the duration of 10 years, the US government and its allies had succeeded in reducing the Al Qaida group into a very weak organization that had no capacity to pose significant threats to the USA, hence marking the end of US’ aggressive approach to the group (Johansen, 2014). The policy had served its purpose. In the realization of the achievement of the US operations that had been targeted at the Al Qaida, the US had put a deadline of 2016 by which it would have withdrawn its army from Afghanistan.

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The changing forces of the Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist groups that operate in regions such as Syria, Afghanistan, North Africa, and other regions have been an issue of concern to the US and the world at large. The forces have changed the situation to the extent that the group has become even worse and hence calling for a review of the timelines and approaches that the USA has put in place in its war against terrorism and most importantly, the Al Qaeda. As such, the policy outcomes emphasized the reviewing of the USA’s approach and strategies for the growing menace of the proliferation of Al Qaeda-linked jihadist groups. Three policy areas, which include engagement, forward partnering, and offshore balancing were suggested.

In the enactment of such a policy, various variables affected the process of making the policy. The first variable is political goodwill. In this case, while it was necessary for the RAND Corporation to come up with the policy recommendations that would give the US a better understanding of the situation on the ground and hence inform the policymaking decisions, the political goodwill was a very important part of any policymaking process (Freeman, 2008). It is worth noting that the passage of the previous policy on terrorism was also carried with the goodwill of the political class that acts as the legislator. At the time, the policy was sensible since it was focused on eliminating Al Qaida. If there had not been new jihadist outfits, this fete could have been achieved within the timeline that was previously set in 2016 (Dickey, 2009). However, new facts about the situation on the ground cannot be ignored and hence the need for the legislators to review the changing environment and situation that relates to the jihadist groups in the Middle East and North Africa to come up with policy approaches that will not leave the United States more vulnerable.

The second most important variable is public. It is important to note that any policy that is put in place must be aimed at the best interest of the population by which the authority of the government is given. Firstly, in the recent past, there has been an increasing outcry of the government’s untenable expenditure that is dedicated to defense and security, and most importantly, on peacekeeping or war missions abroad. With the rising cases of unemployment and poverty in the US, it is important for the public to support the policy changes, which may indeed lead to more commitment and engagement of the US in foreign lands in the quest for securing itself (Bayley & Perito, 2010). On the other hand, it is also important to understand that the public relies on the government for protection from terrorist attacks. In this case, it is important for the public to feel that the government is doing enough to protect the people. For example, during the close of 2001, the public felt that the government had not done enough to avert the attacks. People demonstrated an increasing lack of confidence in the government (Jones, 2014). Any lack of confidence in the government of the day by the public is a major problem that any administration must avoid. In this case, pleasing the public is not easy. It requires close engagement with the public to ensure that people understand the motivation of various policy considerations, which must be geared towards the best interest of the population.

The third most important variable is other policy think tanks and their opinions on the policy recommendations that have been advanced by the RAND Corporation. Numerous opinion groups in the US, as well as the international arena, have been established since the policy not only affects the US citizens but also the populations where the jihadist groups are operating. While the most important interest is that of the US citizens, it is very important to consider the views of the international and national policy think tanks and stakeholders (Jones, 2014). Such consideration will warrant goodwill from international players that develop the activities that the US may undertake to address the issue of the increasing number of jihadist groups and the threats that they pose to the US and its important allies.

Lastly, it is very important for the government to consider the resource implications that the policy changes will have on the US. The defense is the most expensive single expenditure in the US government. Any policy approaches that may lead to the up-scaling of its activities abroad may have serious implications on the US budget. The situation may affect the delivery of other critical services to the population. In this case, it is important to find ways through which the budget may be reduced, including collaborating with other nations to ensure that the expenditure is shared among various entities (Dickey, 2009). Other activities may include covert operations where deployments can only be carried once adequate intelligence has been done to support further actions. In this case, the government can be in a better position to ensure that the budgetary implications do not negatively influence the government’s ability to deliver crucial services to the population of the US, even in the light of the increased involvement of different countries in the tireless fight against terrorism.

The policy recommendations by the RAND Corporation were based on three critical strategic options for the US, which include engagement, forward partnering, and offshore balancing. Commitment involves “the use of intelligence, law enforcement, and special operation forces to target jihadist groups and their financial, logistical, and political support networks” (Jones, 2014, p. 53). Engagement is the most expensive policy option since it involves the direct involvement of the government in the fight against terror groups that it views as posing a serious threat to the security of the United States. Commitment includes various undertakings such as the planning of underground procedures to seizure or murder extremists, invading their investments, snatching their provisions, performing air assaults using drones, airliners or permanent wing jets, destabilizing guerrilla funding, gathering acumen concerning the assemblies, and involving indigenous players to back the maneuvers (Jones, 2014). However, it is important to note that while engagement is a good approach, especially when there are serious threats to US security, such operations often lead to more radicalization. They give jihadist groups the fire for propaganda.

Therefore, such operations may be counterproductive and hence should be used on very limited occasions. Indeed, some of the most successful operations against terrorist groups have been carried through covert operations (Freeman, 2008). For example, the capturing and killing of Osama Bin Laden was possible through covert operations. Hence, such operations should be well supported and implemented before the deployment of forces can be considered a last resort. One of the areas or countries where the government should be engaged directly is Yemen where the jihadist groups have been actively engaged in planning assaults against the US and its embassies amid a weakened local government that has minimal attacking capacity (Johansen, 2014). As such, the US should focus on such a nation to crush the terrorist groups and eliminate the threat they pose.

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The second policy option is the forward affiliation that encompasses the distribution of a few armed US soldiers, representatives, aptitude technicians, and other administrative workers for the purpose of teaching the native defense officers, gathering acumen, and rejecting guerrilla sponsorship. In forward partnering, the US forces do not actively engage in strikes or fights with the terrorist groups (Dickey, 2009). Their only mission is to build the capacity of the local military and security officials to increase their capacity and capability to launch attacks, crush the local terrorist groups, and hence reduce the threat to the US. Now, the North African region is a viable location for forwarding partnering, especially to increase the weakened governments’ capacities to act against the accumulative threats of militia groups (Freeman, 2008). The outcomes of such a policy approach may or may fail to achieve the desired results. However, the move is a good step towards the right direction in ensuring that local governments have the ability to protect their interests by crushing the terrorist groups and in extension, reduce any threats to the US government and its installations.

The third policy option is the offshore assessment, which encompasses associates and administrations, which join hands to fight extremist assemblies without an unswerving involvement of forwarding affiliation. The offshore balancing depends on “offshore air, travel, and naval forces, rather than ground forces” (Jones, 2014, p. 58). The approach is very important since it allows minimal entanglements with foreign powers. For instance, by stationing the US Naval forces on offshore regions, yet near the locations where there might be threats to the US, the US can be prepared for any eventuality, which not only reduces the financial costs but also the blood costs to its military.

Tools of Democracy in Policy Enactment

The enactment of the policies that relate to US security after September 11, 2001, has drawn many participants in the process, including government officials, policymakers, think tanks, international human rights organizations, and other governments from abroad (Dickey, 2009). In this case, much engagement and discussions have been carried out among the key partners in this process where major democratic processes are followed. For instance, the enactment of the policy requires the goodwill of the populations and the approval of relevant government bodies such as the legislation and the executive.

The process of enacting such policies requires a close interaction between the variable and a close working of the actors to guide the enactment of the policy. The think tanks are important in giving expert opinions on the policy options that may be considered by the various actors (Pillar, 2013). On the other hand, the government is very important in implementing the recommendations of the actors relating to the policy. Lastly, international organizations, governments, and human rights groups are important in ensuring that the policy not only protects the rights of people but also adheres to local government requirements to ensure goodwill and success of the programs that are undertaken in implementing the policy.

The policy enactment process by RAND Corporation has been exposed to involve very rigorous processes that go behind the scenes before a policy is enacted and/or implemented. It is evident that policy enactment involves in-depth research that considers all variables and factors that are critical to the success of such policies. A good policy must respond to a need in the society as RAND Corporation does in its process of coming up with the key policy strategic options.


The coming up with the policy towards terrorism following the September 11, 2001 events highlights the depths to which the US will willing to undergo to ensure that it is secure and that it does not face such an event again. The involvement of RAND Corporation as a major think tank is a clear indication of the USA’s dedication to this process. The RAND Corporation makes important recommendations towards policy amendments as evidenced via its policy research document A persistent threat: The evolution of al Qa’ida and Other Salafi Jihadists. The document has highlighted important dynamics that are evident because of the proliferation of jihadist groups in the Middle East, North America, and other locations where the Al Qaida-affiliated groups thrive. The policy document has made important policy recommendations that have considered the input of major actors while at the same time considering the variables and relationships that are necessary for the success of the policy enactment process. The policy recommendations, which were based on three strategic options, provide the US with options to undertake depending on the prevailing situations with reference to each case and/or the approach has the best outcomes as far as securing the US or reducing threats by terrorist groups is concerned.

Reference List

Bayley, D., & Perito, R. (2010). The police in war: Fighting insurgency, terrorism, and violent crime. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Dickey, J. (2009). The Public Administration (P.A) Genome Project: Capturing, Mapping, and Deploying the” Genes” of PA. Charlotte: Information Age Publishing.

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Freeman, M. (2008). Democracy, Al Qaeda, and the causes of terrorism: A strategic analysis of US policy. Studies in conflict & terrorism, 31(1), 40-59.

Johansen, R. (2014). The national interest and the human interest: an analysis of US foreign policy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Jones, S. (2014). A Persistent Threat: The Evolution of Al Qa’ida and Other Salafi Jihadists. Washington DC: RAND Corporation.

Pillar, P. (2013). Intelligence and US foreign policy: Iraq, 9/11, and misguided reform. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

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