By Michael Daniels
APCSS Deputy Public Affairs Officer

 HONOLULU – Thirty-eight counterterrorism professionals gathered at APCSS April 18-20, 2006 to examine the roles of the U.S. military in combating the underlying conditions of terrorism.   

The Joint Staff Conference was co-sponsored by the U.S. Pacific Command, the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, and the Center for Strategic Leadership of the U.S. War College (USAWC).  Conducted for U.S. government officials, participants dealt specifically with the role and contributions of combatant commands within an interagency framework in countering the ideological support to terrorism.

In the last year a new National Strategy for Combating Terrorism has been written that identifies three ways for defeating terrorism: Protect the Homeland; Attack Terrorist Networks; and Counter Ideological Support for Terrorism.  The effort to counter terrorist ideology has not received the priority of the other two NSTC pillars.  However, as many speakers noted, the war against terrorism will be long, and if it is to be successful, must address the conditions that terrorists seek to exploit. The centers of gravity for the war on terror are the populations that can provide sanctuaries, safe havens, or recruitment for terrorists.

This conference brought together key interagency representatives from the Combatant Commands to analyze the use of the military element of national power in supporting U.S. efforts to Counter Ideological Support to Terrorism.  A significant outcome of this conference was that it allowed CoCom representatives to learn the latest interagency programs that address CIST and the implementation challenges. The interagency representatives learned how the military element of power has been successfully used to support interagency efforts to address local conditions that terrorists seek to exploit. This synergy resulted in valuable recommendations for improving the process by which the U.S. directs its CIST efforts.  The military element of national power will rarely lead these efforts, but it can provide substantial and invaluable support to the interagency mechanisms, processes and programs needed to effectively counter the ideological support to terrorism.

 “With these conferences, in addition to our courses and networking opportunities, APCSS is helping to build a framework for countering the ideological support to terrorism,” said Jim Hirai, APCSS deputy director.  “Providing the vehicles for these types of sessions is a unique value that the regional centers add in the global war on terror.” 

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