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Counterterrorism of USA Essay

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Updated: Dec 29th, 2019


Terrorism is one of the global commons that is of great concern to many countries, particularly the developed states, such as the United States, which is always the target of terrorists. Based on this, the United States was forced to enter into a joint military operation with the government of Philippine in order to reduce the chances of attack on the American citizens and property given the fact that Philippine border the US.

The US government came up with a decision to engage in joint venture instead of going it alone because of constrained resources. The government established that terrorists pose a serious threat in Philippine, but it could not launch military strikes to flush them out. It decided to offer technical assistance through training and provision of resources to the government of Philippines.

Through this partnership, some of the basic objectives pertaining to peace and security have been achieved. This paper looks at the ways in which the US armed forces used the rudiments of operational design to build up and improve the operational approach.

Additionally, the paper discusses some of the factors that shape the planning and execution of the operation (Sewall, & Lambert, 2011). It is noted that the operation was successful since terrorism reduced tremendously in the region.

Operational Design

Operational design employs a number of rudiments to expand and improve the approach in which the commandant in charge chooses. Operational design elements play a critical role in helping the military in understanding the environment, defining the problem, and generating an approach that guides and shapes operations.

The three major operational designs that are often employed in any military operation include the end state, the center of gravity, and line of effort. In the case provided, the US military utilized the three operational designs effectively in helping the Philippine military achieve its counterterrorism objectives.

End state refers to the condition in which the head of state does not need to use force to achieve the national interests. In other words, the military is ordered not to use force in dealing with the perceived enemy, but instead use diplomacy. Through this operational design, the military is able to facilitate a smooth termination process. The strategy helps in strengthening partnerships between the US government and the population.

The US military shifted from engaging terrorists directly to offering advice and assistance to various agencies in Philippine charged with the role of preserving peace. The US government could only train the personnel in Philippine, but it could not engage in direct war with insurgent groups.

The US Special Forces no longer engaged in fights, as their role was simply to monitor the performance of the trained units. For instance, the JSOTF-P only supported certain counterterrorism operations, including the fusing intelligence and developing targeting approaches.

This was upon realization that the population was willing to cooperate with well-wishers that were concerned with ending terrorism and instituting socio-political and economic development.

An attempt by the US military to trace the origins of terrorism in the counterterrorism efforts was be viewed as an end state operational approach since the efforts aimed at addressing the root causes of terrorism, such as marginalization, discrimination, poverty, and hopelessness. Through the strategy, the military won the support of the population, as well as the support of the Philippine government.

The use of non-combat operations proved effective to an extent that the US government promised to employ an 80/20 approach whereby 80% of all operations would be technical in nature while only 20% would be dedicated to combat operations to deal with extremists who were unwilling to surrender (Sewall, & Lambert, 2011).

Center of gravity in combat operations refers to the source of power that offers a moral support to fighting soldiers. This implies that soldiers should be given adequate training in order to deal with any threat that the enemy might pose in the battlefield. Center of gravity dictates that the military should be in a position to evaluate the strength of the enemy before engaging in war.

Through a clear understanding of the center of gravity, all capabilities, weaknesses, and strengths of the military are easily established. Without proper analysis of the strengths and weaknesses, the military might not achieve its desired strategic goals and objectives. Before engaging in combat operations, the understanding of the actions of friendly and adversary militaries is of great importance.

The US government came up with an idea of involving the Philippine government in the operation since it was not aware of the capabilities and the weaknesses of the terrorist groups in the country. In fact, the first task of the US military in the joint operations in Philippine was to train, fund, and empower the host security agencies.

The first task was to build partner tactical proficiency in capture/kill operations. This was aimed at boosting the host’s military capability in order to deal with the threats that internal insurgents posed effectively.

Role of Geopolitics and Society in the Joint Operations

The United Sates was able to collaborate with the government of Philippine mainly because of the ideological relationship that the two countries enjoy. The regime in Philippine was friendly since it saw the help that the United States extended as critical in dealing with the threats that insurgent groups posed. In fact, various terrorist groups were perceived as a threat to the survival of the government.

Such groups demanded to be included in policy formulation and distribution of national resources. Some of the terrorist groups embraced communism hence posing a threat to the capitalist government. The US controls all forms of politics in the region, which gave it an advantage over terrorist groups. Additionally, the society was of the view that insurgent groups were a threat to the very survival of society.

The population had no option, but to support all efforts aimed at flushing out illegal groups (Maxwell, 2008). Geopolitics is an attempt to evaluate the relationship between political authority and the physical space. The United States is endowed with natural resources, such as the sea and inland waterways, which are used in distributing goods to its neighbors, including Philippine.

Based on this, the government of Philippine had no option, but to cooperate with the United States as far as ending terrorism is concerned. Philippine has poor road and rail network implying that it relies on the United States for the supply of important products. Without proper cooperation, the economy of the country could have collapsed.

The populace in Philippine was of the view that terrorism and extremism could have affected their relationships with the US merchants and business executives who have invested heavily in the country. Therefore, the United States military had to be given maximum support to end the activities of terrorists who threaten the stability of the region.


  1. Maxwell, (2008), see pages 28-32 to synthesize joint military operations
  2. Sewall & Lambert, (2011) evaluate pages 2-6 to understand how the US applied end state element of operational design to strengthen operational approach.


Maxwell, C. D. (2008). Considerations for Organizing and Preparing for Security Force Assistance Operations. Small Wars Journal, 2(3), 28-53.

Sewall, S., & Lambert, G. (2011). Operation Enduring Freedom – Philippines: The Salience of Civilian Casualties and the Indirect Approach. SOCOM, 1(1), 1-11.

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