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Evaluating Novel Threats to the Homeland

Evaluating Novel Threats to the Homeland: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Cruise Missiles

Brian A. Jackson
David R. Frelinger
Michael J. Lostumbo
Robert W. Button
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 128
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  • Book Info
    Evaluating Novel Threats to the Homeland
    Book Description:

    Changes in technology and adversary behavior will invariably produce new threats that must be assessed by defense and homeland security planners. An example of such a novel threat is the use of cruise missiles or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) by terrorist groups. Individual threats cannot be assessed in isolation, however, since adversaries always have many options for staging attacks. To examine this threat, RAND utilized a ?red analysis of alternatives? approach, wherein the benefits, costs, and risks of different options are considered from the point of view of a potential adversary. For several types of attacks, the suitability of these systems was compared against other options. This approach can help defense planners understand how the capabilities that different attack modes provide address key adversary operational problems. Given the insights this analysis produced about when these systems would likely be preferred by an attacker, RAND explored defensive options to address the threat. UAVs and cruise missiles represent a ?niche threat? within a larger threat context; therefore, defenses were sought that provide common protection against both this and other asymmetric threats. The monograph concludes with a discussion of cross-cutting lessons about this threat and the assessment of novel threats in general.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4487-7
    Subjects: Technology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-xx)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    Adoption of new technology by adversaries—whether hostile states or violent nonstate groups—frequently requires that security planners assess and respond to novel threats. The development of nuclear weapons in World War II required major adjustments in thinking by military tacticians, because the shift in environment produced by the proliferation of those weapons changed the security landscape. The attacks of September 11, 2001, wherein the use of airliners as weapons to produce mass casualties shocked traditional views of the capabilities of nonstate organizations and the nature of the threat they posed, have similarly challenged established security concepts. In the wake...

  10. CHAPTER TWO UAVs and Cruise Missiles as Asymmetric Threats: How Do These Systems Compare with Alternative Attack Modes?
    (pp. 11-26)

    The cruise-missile and UAV industries are very dynamic. New systems and new applications are designed each year for commercial and military applications. Terrorist groups have not ignored these systems; however, that only a few examples of terrorist experimentation and use have come to light to date suggests that interest is not widespread. In this chapter, we outline the UAV and cruise-missile markets and their distinguishing characteristics and describe the use of these weapons in three broad attack modes. Finally, we compare these three modes generally with other attack modes to highlight their distinguishing attack characteristics.

    The demonstrated utility of cruise-missile...

  11. CHAPTER THREE What Adversary Operational Problems Can UAVs and Cruise Missiles Best Solve and How Do UAVs and Cruise Missiles Compare with Alternative Solutions?
    (pp. 27-60)

    When theeffectsthat can be produced by payloads delivered by UAVs or cruise missiles are examined against those produced by the range of alternative attack modes available to adversaries, UAVs and cruise missiles do not appear to stand out as meriting particular attention for use against undefended targets. As long as options such as suicide operatives or vehicle bombs can be used, these more-basic and more-reliable means will generally make it possible to deliver more potent payloads to desirable targets.

    Their destructive similarities notwithstanding, the fact that UAVs and cruise missiles enableaerialattack does make them stand out,...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR What Are the Terrorist Group Characteristics and Preferences Relevant to the Acquisition and Use of Technology?
    (pp. 61-70)

    Comparing the capabilities and applications of different attack technologies is just one part of an effort to anticipate an adversary’s choices and future tactics, and the uses that technologies can be put to are only one driver of organizational decisionmaking. The preceding discussion has focused largely on the likely benefits of UAVs, cruise missiles, and potential alternative-attack technologies. Important as well are the costs and risks that organizations must bear when they choose one technology or tactic over another.

    In contrast to the broader conclusions that can be drawn about technological capabilities, assessing how these costs and risks might shape...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE Considering Defensive Strategies and Options
    (pp. 71-96)

    Our examination of the attractiveness of UAVs and cruise missiles for attacks in the homeland has significant good news for defense planners. The functional capabilities of these platforms are comparable or inferior to many options currently available to terrorist groups; thus, no strong incentives exist for widespread adoption of UAVs and cruise missiles. In most cases, the level of threat to most targets of concern was driven by the payload delivered to the target, whether conventional or unconventional, not by the fact that these systems allowed delivery of that payload from the air. As our analysis of alternatives suggests, under...

  14. CHAPTER SIX Conclusions
    (pp. 97-100)

    In this monograph, we examined the use of UAVs and cruise missiles for attacks within the United States. Whereas our examination of these systems from the adversary’s point of view showed that they are viable options for a variety of attacks, they distinguish themselves from other potential options in only a few ways:

    Cruise missiles and UAVs stand out as an added threat to the few defended targets that currently exist in the United States.

    They enable the physical separation of the attack team from the site of an attack, which would allow an attacker to

    carry out a campaign...

  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 101-106)