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Tactical Approach to Counter Terrorists in Cities

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Improving counterterrorism tactics

The EU is working to develop a more capable and efficient strategy for combating terrorism as threats rise in urban areas. The ultimate TACTICS system will mitigate civilian risk and enhance counterterrorism efforts at the local, national and regional levels.

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Intense focus on counterterrorism efforts has been somewhat evident in recent years as a result of traumatic events in urban areas, such as 9/11. Urban areas are specifically targeted due to their high population density and cultural significance. It is difficult in urban areas for security forces to detect unusual behaviour or control access to urban locations. These forces have to navigate a balance between privacy and security. To enhance security and mitigate the consequences of terrorism, techniques for recognising the signs of attacks, and for quickly assessing responsive capabilities, must be improved. The 'Tactical approach to counter terrorists in cities' (TACTICS) project is focused on such improvements. TACTICS aims to create a more effective counterterrorism system that prevents any bias and avoids false negatives or false positives when assessing threats or attacks. It does this by separating analysis of the threat into three parts and assigning different security forces to each part. The first part is threat management, which looks at decisions based on the overall operational picture. TACTICS aims to provide expert knowledge at the time of the actual threat to allow for quicker and more precise orders. The second part is threat decomposition, improving preparedness by decomposing threats into observable terrorist behaviours that can be detected in urban environments. The third part is capability management, which will provide improved knowledge of capabilities for responsive action immediately after the event. By dividing and improving on these three aspects, TACTICS proposes a more efficient team effort through which to detect, assess and respond to threats. TACTICS has held an end user workshop, where possible attack scenarios were discussed and the concept of operations simulated. This and the analysis of historical attacks in a structured non-biased way are being used to improve the system. Ultimately, TACTICS will improve the effectiveness of security forces in counterterrorism efforts in urban areas. Local forces will be able to better maintain public order and national forces will more efficiently analyse threats and risk as well as coordinate anti-terrorist security accordingly. Such contributions will be crucial in the overall fight against terrorism.


Counterterrorism, terrorism, urban areas, civilian risk, tactics

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