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War Plan Part 3: North American Theater of Operations
STRATFOR ^ | 2355 GMT, 010926 | Staff

Posted on 09/26/2001 5:56:51 PM PDT by Axion

War Plan
Part 3: North American Theater of Operations
2355 GMT, 010926


Although the United States has renewed its focus on homeland defense following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, true security will require the United States to implement a continental defense system with Canada and Mexico. In the meantime, Washington must face the challenge of countering what may be a more rapid tempo of terrorist operations.

The Sept. 11 attacks on the United States effectively created a North American theater of operations. There are three goals in this theater: the identification and capture or liquidation of the remaining members of the attacking group; the determination of whether other attack groups are currently present within North America; and the prevention of penetration of North America by other groups.

A North American theater of operations is a more useful concept than focusing only on the United States. The United States has vast, virtually unprotected borders with Canada and a long, ineffectively protected border with Mexico. Access to either Canada or Mexico creates innumerable opportunities to penetrate the United States.


Any attempt to create an effective defensive perimeter along these two frontiers would, apart from issues of cost and economic efficiency, take an extremely long time to put into effect and would divert substantial manpower from other missions. Therefore, a perimeter defense of the United States is untenable.

In a sense this was already recognized during the 1950s, when the United States established its air defense system. It was understood that a defensive perimeter that began at the Canadian frontier would be entirely ineffective. Therefore, the United States induced Canada to join in the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD), which move the air defense perimeter farther north to include Canada, essentially creating a continental perimeter.

NORAD is conceptually a model for the current situation. The significant entry points into North America are at airports where international flights are permitted to land. Those airports, along with some maritime facilities, are North America's interface with the world.

There are a finite number of such facilities, and it would be possible to reduce the number if need be. These airports are the control points through which attackers pass. They are the primary security screening point, and once past them attack teams can rapidly disappear into the general population and move into the United States almost at will.

If Canada and Mexico are unwilling to integrate their international arrival security systems with that of the United States, the situation rapidly becomes unmanageable. True frontier security is impossible in the United States in any meaningful time frame. Any airport that accepts international flights but is not part of an integrated screening process immediately obviates the ability of the United States to effectively screen attackers prior to entry.

Creating a notional North American theater of operations -- instead of focusing on a definition of homeland defense that is concerned mainly with the United States -- therefore removes any possibility of a perimeter defense. It is then necessary to think and operate continentally rather than nationally.

With the concept of NORAD as a model, a continental defensive system against Al-Qa'ida and other groups needs to be implemented. Obviously, this interacts with other issues dividing the United States and its neighbors. Canada is deeply concerned about protecting its sovereignty, while Mexico has fundamental issues concerning migration with the United States.

These are serious challenges in transforming the notion of continental defense into an operational entity. It may even become impossible to implement a full system because of these issues. Implementing such a system, however, will become the first test of the coalition the United States is seeking to construct. Inducing Canada and Mexico to create a continental screening system for entrants is the foundation of any workable system of homeland defense. It is unclear that such a model would be sustainable for an extended period of time without a substantial shift in Canada's and Mexico's political culture. Nevertheless, it is the essential prerequisite for American homeland defense.

Attacking North America

The first and most obvious question is whether Al-Qa'ida intends to launch further attacks against the United States and, if so, when these attacks might occur and what their targets might be. This is a question that involves not only intentions but capabilities, and also creates an interesting reversal. In warfare, capabilities are normally far clearer than are intentions. In this case, the reverse is true. Al-Qa'ida's intentions are fairly clear. Much less clear are their capabilities.

The most striking fact to consider is that the Sept. 11 attack involved 19 people who were prepared to go to their certain death. That is a large number of people demonstrating a willingness that is normally exceedingly rare. The operation was obviously risky. If defeated it could lead to the loss of all 19 to no effect. One would expect Al-Qa'ida to hedge its bets to some degree. Certainly, we would think that they would hold some reserves in place for alternative or follow-on operations.

If that assumption is true, then it would be reasonable to suspect that there are other groups available for follow-on operations, also manned by some number of suicidal operatives. The alternative theory, that this was a single-shot attack, does not cohere with the operational style we have observed from bin Laden in the past.

His previous strikes have utilized limited operatives and have been designed to use up all resources in one fell swoop. Thus, in planning for possible failure, Al-Qa'ida would have had to create multiple units. This is an unsettling thought, since if the additional units approximate the first unit in size and expertise, then we can assume that follow-on operations could be on the same order of magnitude.

On the other hand, in planning for a successful operation we would expect that the additional units were already in the United States. We know that the first cell entered the United States quite some time ago, married up with its cash supply and proceeded to obtain resources.

We also know, as Al-Qa'ida had to know, that entering the United States following a successful or even failed attack would become enormously more difficult. In addition, the time needed for planning follow-on operations meant that there could be little control over the tempo of operations.

Given this, there are two assumptions that must be made for North American defense at this time:

TOPICS: News/Current Events

1 posted on 09/26/2001 5:56:52 PM PDT by Axion
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To: Axion
Saved for later. BTTT
2 posted on 09/26/2001 6:02:17 PM PDT by looscannon
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To: Axion
Can you post parts 1 and 2 or at least a link. You could even freepmail them to me, I guess? I missed them. Thanks!
3 posted on 09/26/2001 6:05:35 PM PDT by freedom4ever
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To: Axion
Bumped for midnight read! Yes, please post the first two parts so I can stay up all night reading this...
4 posted on 09/26/2001 6:11:36 PM PDT by dandelion
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To: freedom4ever
Do a search on title: "war Plan" War Plan part 1
5 posted on 09/26/2001 6:18:16 PM PDT by F-117A
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To: freedom4ever
6 posted on 09/26/2001 6:19:40 PM PDT by F-117A
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To: Axion
Bump for later reading!
7 posted on 09/26/2001 6:25:50 PM PDT by MizSterious
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To: Axion
Interesting article. Combine the incompetent, overpaid CIA and FBI, with our liberal immigration policies, and we might as well call it the North American Theater of the Absurd. Maybe if the the Feds spent less time surfing the internet on our dime this crap wouldn't have happened. They blew it.....and 6,000 Americans are dead. So what do we do?........instead of finding out who was responsible for dropping the ball, we give them more of our tax dollars to waste. What a friggin' joke.
8 posted on 09/26/2001 6:26:40 PM PDT by Godebert
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To: Axion
This is an excellent analysis which echoes many of my own thoughts. At this point I believe it's a race against time to track down the remaining terrorist cells in this country before they launch follow-on attacks. The longer they hold off on those attacks the better, because the entire country as well as all levels of law enforcement have been sensitized to the danger and are on the lookout for potential terrorists. While they have demonstrated their competence, these terrorists are no geniuses, and they cannot possibly cover all their tracks in the face of the intense investigations now underway. There will also be information leakage no matter how well they've tried to isolate each cell, so cracking cells and individuals will have a cumulative rippling effect of dismantling their organization and reducing the magnitude of the threat.
9 posted on 09/26/2001 6:37:22 PM PDT by dpwiener
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To: Godebert
Well, buffoonery is all relative. Now we are finding there were single pionts of weakness, like single money-handlers, etc. in their system, and that the dedication of their operatives was highly variable. But against our laughable airport security they succeeded brilliantly.

We have managed to round up hundreds of Islamic malcontents through a big game of "Six Degrees of Separation" and, golly gee, most of them had something to do with some aspect of this operation. That does not sound like a world-class compartmentalization of knowledge. Yet, because we let our airports become cesspools of political hackdom and corruption, and our LEAs highest accomlishment to date was burning a bunch of 7th Day Adventist heretics in the Texas desert, we get 7000 dead people and Lower Manhattan in ruins. If the only dead were the towelheads and our LEA buffoons they would just deserve each other.

Bottom line: STRATFOR is making these people out to be smarter than they are, and boy were we dumb!

10 posted on 09/26/2001 6:49:37 PM PDT by eno_
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To: dpwiener
Liked your response! I think we should round up all people from known terrorist countries and deport them if they are non citizens. People come in here on so called "student visas" and then disappear. Violators of our immigration law from those parts of the world are potential terrorists unless proven otherwise. To proceed on any other basis is really dumb. We will have really done most of them a favor because, if there are anymore terrorist incidents.....they might not be safe here, even if innocent.
11 posted on 09/26/2001 7:08:38 PM PDT by TheLion
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To: Axion
Stratfor seems to expect further attacks, and perhaps it's right in that. But it doesn't really discuss how further attacks would merely steel America's resolve.
12 posted on 09/26/2001 7:17:20 PM PDT by aristeides (
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To: eno_
Here's an article that does not suprise me:

While the Terrorists Plotted, CIA Officers Were Making "Diversity Quilts"

So it appears that the CIA officers were working on their "diversity quilts" while Bin Laden's operatives were working on their pilot's licenses. Like I said earlier.....what a friggin' joke.

13 posted on 09/27/2001 3:10:24 AM PDT by Godebert
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To: Miss Marple;Chairman_December_19th_Society;M Kehoe;ABG(anybody but Gore);Bitwhacker
Take the time ....please read this and click on the links for the other parts of the War Plan...1 and 2..
14 posted on 02/24/2002 7:40:33 AM PST by Dog
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To: Axion
Worth thinking about in light of the DC shootings - if not Al-Qa'ida, maybe Iraqi's:

In the meantime, Al-Qa'ida, if its units are in place, retain the advantage of stealth, and therefore the advantage of determining the time, place and tempo of operations. It is imperative that this advantage be taken from them.

15 posted on 10/08/2002 11:08:00 AM PDT by GOPJ
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