To Strike Such Terror: Post 9/11 U.S. Counterterrorism Strategy

Date of Graduation

Fall 2004


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

C. Walton


The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 changed the U.S. strategic environment by focusing national security policy on the strategy and practice of terrorism rather than on a rival state and its military force. Counterterrorism measures are a core element of the overall national security strategy to combat terrorism, yet traditionally U.S. counterterrorism efforts have been decentralized and misunderstood. This project will seek to examine the threat environment created by the rise of apocalyptic terrorism. This project will also examine the current U.S. counterterrorism structure. Four key components make up both traditional and current U.S. efforts: diplomacy, law enforcement, military, and intelligence. In the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, some of these components have come under scrutiny. While the individual elements composing U.S. counterterrorism undoubtedly require reform, the basic failing of U.S. counterterrorism is the lack of a coherent strategy and centralized, authoritative body to implement that strategy. The current round of reforms and reorganization may not be sufficient to create an efficient U.S. counterterrorism program. The U.S. government's fixation upon surface reform of the individual components in the U.S. counterterrorism structure may lead it to ignore the fundamental problem plaguing overall counterterrorism strategy.


counterterrorism, terrorism, intelligence, reform, special forces

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


© Karen L. McCaulley