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The US Response to the Terrorism Threats

“Where the tactics of the weak confound the tactics of the strong?” (Wilson and Kempfer, 2003).

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The statement “where the tactics of the weak confound the tactics of the strong” is used for the new non-technical tactics used by terrorists to make an attack. The devices used in the 9 / 11 attacks were box cutters, ceramic knives, and men who were ready to die for a cause. The new form of warfare faced by the American military is not based on the popular ways of warfare for which the American army is trained; it is based on unconventional tactics. Western warfare is completely dependent on technology and the weapons failed against the tactics and strategies of the asymmetric warfare followed in 9-11 by Al Qaeda (Wilson & Kemper, 2003). The new tactics are mostly low-tech approaches that are considered far stronger as compared to conventional methods of warfare.

Rethinking Asymmetric Threats (Blank, 2003).

Symmetrical warfare is disappearing, and it is replaced by nonconventional asymmetrical conflicts in which the technology-based equipment fails to detect threats. Therefore, the system of defense needs to update the theories to find a solution to the dangers posed by the new methods of warfare. Dr. Stephen J. Blank assessed the importance of asymmetrical threats which are nonconventional threats faced by the defense mechanism of the state (Black, 2003). These threats are critical for the state’s strategies and defense system. The nature of the threat cannot be determined in the case of asymmetrical threats. Blank wrote US warfare is based on the belief that it alone is aware of the answers to most of the possible threats, and this form of thinking could be self-destructive. Some of the examples of asymmetrical threats posed by U.S. ports are – an explosive attack on chlorine tank, attack using biological disease agent, underwater explosive, etc.

“Dirty Bomb” concept and its relationship to port security (Council on Foreign Relations, 2002 and Federation of American Scientist, 2002).

A dirty bomb is a radioactive weapon that is made from radioactive substances and conventional explosives. The main purpose of the weapon is to cause mass destruction to people and resources. It is believed crude radioactive material such as Cobalt- 60 and Cesium -137 is accessible to terrorist agencies through various commercial and non –commercial means, and terrorists may try to smuggle such bombs into U.S. borders through U.S. ports (Federation of American Scientist, 2002). Yearly more than 9 million containers enter the U.S. through sea routes. It is believed the metal boxes which are moved through tractor trailers or ship or car rail can carry radioactive materials and ports are vulnerable to such attacks.

The reality of the terrorist nuclear threat to America’s seaports (Congressional Research Service, Medalia).

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Security experts suspect the terrorist groups can smuggle weapons of mass destruction into the U.S. border through American seaports. These radioactive elements can cause long-term damage, and strong measures are needed to be taken to improve the security of the radioactive material holding agencies and U.S. ports. Custom and border protection agency screens the data of containers, and it inspects 6% of the data which raises the chance of container holding a nuclear weapon. In 2002 and 2003 ABC News shipped radioactive material to U.S. port, which was not detected. Various international and domestic programs have been identified to improve the security of U.S ports (Medalia, 2005). Bilateral agreements with the government of foreign ports should be made to detect danger and improve technology to detect threats. Resources are needed to prevent overcrowding and to hire more workers on ports to improve security.


Black, S. (2003). Rethinking asymmetric threats. Web.

Federation of American Scientists. (2002). Dirty Bombs: Response to a Threat: Federation of American Scientists. Web.

Medalia, J. (2005). Terrorist Nuclear Attacks on Seaports: Threat and Response: Congressional Research Service. Web.

Wilson, S., & Kemper, H. (2003). Tactics of the weak confound the strong: US Military and Security Response to the so-called “War on Terror. Web.

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