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Community planning essentially involves the use of political and technical planning techniques as means to ensure the development and protection of the community in question.
The technical angle includes building dwellings that cater for the resident population’s housing, infrastructural, and security needs sufficiently, while the political angle involves the development and implementation of policies that foster and promote the wellbeing of the population (Kelly & Becker, 2009).
Although most governments do their best to ensure proper, efficient, and effective execution of these aspects, external forces sometimes create challenges. One such challenge is the threat to national security by external elements and terrorism is one such element.
Terrorism is the use of random acts of violence on civilian populations as part of a war strategy. Such use of terror primarily applies in war situations between combatants as a means to reduce or end attacks from opponents.
Although the international community frowns on the use of terror on civilian populations as a war strategy, some people still employ this cowardly method. However, circumstances have changed in the past decade.
Nowadays, some individuals and groups use terrorism as a means of forcefully attaining power, thus creating the need to incorporate advanced community planning measures that respond to the potential threat of terrorism (Mazetti, 2013).
A case study of the United States reveals how the government attains such planning as explored in this paper.
When dealing with a potential threat of terrorism, certain factors came into play. In essence, response to terrorism comprises three phases, viz., pre-attack measures, measures applicable during attacks, and post-attack responses.
Pre-attack measures entail the prevention of terrorist activities within a territory and reduction of a community’s vulnerability.
During attacks, governments mainly focus on reducing panic and mitigating the effect of a terror attack while post-attack measures involve increasing a community’s adaptation to post-terror aftermath.
One of the main factors that affect the paths that governments choose in advanced community planning in response to terror threats is the assessment of government policies. Most governments prioritize their policies according to urgency and relevance.
For instance, governments that rely mainly on international trade to support their economies, implement policies that support such trade while protecting their interests.
In the same way, most governments consider national security a pertinent matter that requires appropriate policies to ensure efficiency in execution without creating huge dents in their expenditure.
Most governments also divide budget allocations for security between internal and external security depending on perception of threat and government stability (Mazetti, 2013, p.56). However, terrorism complicates perception of threat due to its characteristic unpredictability.
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As mentioned earlier, terrorism traditionally involved attacks from outside forces as part of ongoing wars. Although the objective for terror attacks and their execution largely remain the same, reasons for such attacks have changed to include theft, plain vengeance, and control of territories.
This aspect requires governments to assess their security policies equally, both internal and external. Through such assessment, governments may then take appropriate steps to modify weak policies and create additional ones where necessary (Scahill, 2013).
For instance, in 2001, the United States experienced two simultaneous terror attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center on September 11.
The infamous Islam extremist group, Al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attacks by stating that they served as a response to the United States’ involvement in Arab countries.
The government formed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as part of its response to increase protection on its territory. The department’s main objective was to enhance the country’s internal security, thus leaving other security forces such as the army to handle external security.
The second main factor that governments consider is the community. Advanced community planning requires the inclusion of the community in question as a party to the problem and possibly the solutions.
Social norms that form a key element in the everyday life of each community determine the type of strategies that governments develop and methods of execution (Heywood, 2011, p.67).
For instance, implementing curfews on a community that prides itself on its nightlife experiences is a measure in futility, as it would require every individual to restructure routines that form a major part of his or her life.
Proper analysis of social behavior is thus necessary when establishing measures and policies that suit the community.
Factors such as diversity of cultures and vulnerabilities specific to certain groups in the community are relevant in establishing appropriate protection from terror attacks and responses after attacks.
The United States, as a country, hosts people from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds. The 9/11 attacks left Muslim communities in the U.S. vulnerable to persecution, thus requiring more government protection (Marshall, 2012).
Similarly, targeting the Pentagon and the World Trade Center created the impression that the terrorists had high profile members of the American society in mind as main targets.
This aspect thus meant that politicians and political meetings created target areas for terror attacks hence prompting additional security every time such meetings occurred. The American government also noted crowded venues as favorite targets for terror attacks.
In response to these observations, the government made policies that enhanced security checks on such venues without interfering with the activities that form the main attraction for people to the venues.
For instance, the Department of Homeland Security initiated a program that enables the department to go through passenger information as a means to identify high-risk travelers without inconveniencing them on the actual day of their flight.
Through liaison with the airport authorities, the department gets passenger information in advance, thus enabling it to take appropriate action in time. The department also strives to ensure secure flights by providing airport authorities with lists of suspects on terrorist watch lists.
Airport personnel crosschecks the names on the list with those of passengers boarding flights before issuing boarding passes (Department of Homeland Security, 2013).
Analyzing the community also enables the government finds appropriate ways in which individuals can participate as part of the planning without compromising civilians’ security. Acts of terror vary in nature from kidnappings to creating homemade explosives.
Allowing community members to participate, albeit mostly anonymously, allows the government to have a broader scope on surveillance activity without creating spikes in expenditure costs (Sanoff, 1999).
It also reduces the vulnerability of residents by giving them an avenue to protect themselves without endangering their lives. Such community policing techniques are indiscriminate and increase protection to community members regardless of their occupation or types of venues they visit.
The main reason for involving community members is that as people interact, they sometimes obtain information that may not be easily available to the authorities.
People also tend to witness activities in their everyday lives that appear suspicious and bear the potential to be valuable to security officials.
Since security officers cannot be everywhere at once, giving members of the community an opportunity to forward valuable information on suspicious activity goes a long way in countering terror attacks.
Trade routes and immigration corridors form some of the most famous crossing points for external terrorists to invade a country. The Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative is one of the ways through which the American government strives to involve its citizens.
The government trains federal and national law enforcement officials to recognize and report suspicious activity using standardized recording methods and sharing reports with other law enforcement authorities.
Thirdly, the versatility of the nature in which terrorism occurs forms another factor that greatly influences the nature and intensity of response by a country’s security team. Originally, people commonly thought that terrorism was an external threat with international reach.
However, the perspective has changed due to incidents of country residents participating in terrorism activities through the formulation of attack plans, training attackers, financing such attacks, and volunteering as attackers.
Currently, the main threat to the U.S. in terms of terrorism, viz. Al Qaeda, comprises Islamic extremists from all over the globe, including individuals from unlikely places such as the United Kingdom (Mazetti, 2013).
For instance, Samantha Lewthweite, a British national, attracted the international spotlight over suspicion of being the mastermind behind an attack on an upscale mall in Kenya on September 21 this year, which left more than sixty people dead and over a hundred and fifty injured.
The woman, who is known to the world as “The White Widow” is one of the individuals on America’s blacklist for terrorist activities all over the globe. This example is proof of the versatile nature of terrorism as a phenomenon and the unlikely link between an attacker and a victim.
In addition, weapons of choice vary according to the nature and level of harm that the terrorists desire. Such examples prove the need for countries to formulate and enforce community-planning responses that possess similar versatility and possess room for adaptability.
The Department of Homeland Security has a Visa Security Program that works by sending specialized agents abroad where the agents patrol high–risk visa activity posts and identify terrorists and possible terror threats before they reach the U.S.
The Visa Program is a legal yet unconventional method that exhibits versatility and adaptability owing to the mobility of the agents.
The Visa Program also provides local law enforcement authorities with information on possible terror threats with possible links to individuals at the high-risk posts, thus unearthing possible terror networks (Department of Homeland Security, 2013).
The main challenge with the methods that governments choose to address the various factors lies in the versatility of terrorism as a phenomenon.
Constant changes in terror strategies and results require governments to accept the possibility of constant revision and possible enhancements in countering the same. The plans also vary according to various regions depending on the existing population in the region.
Although this aspect mainly requires government authorities to be thorough in their research on the issue, the costs for the same are hefty, and thus they present possible consequences on other sectors of the economy.
For instance, the United States’ cultural diversity requires the government to implement policies that cater for various communities that coexist in the American society.
In dealing with this issue, the government authorities in play use convergence, which is a technique that involves control of security issues at the federal level before sharing pertinent information with authorities from other regions and forming a common pool of information for national application.
The method is efficient, cost-effective, and it caters for the needs of individual communities in the American society appropriately. However, there is a possibility of surprise attacks, which keeps community-planning agencies alert in terms of security.
Secondly, the implementation of measures that cater for the aftermath of terror attacks in terms of disaster preparedness creates a policy issue.
It is difficult for any government to factor in the extent of the damage that a terror attack is likely to cause and employ adequate measures that cater for the same. As a result, the effect of terrorist activities largely remains significant.
The international dimension of the vice also limits the level of preparedness that a country may have at any given time. Most governments have centers of representation outside their territories in the form of consulates and embassies.
It is the job of governments from such countries to ensure that their representatives receive adequate protection from acts of terrorism through cooperation with law enforcement agencies from the host country.
However, such a role requires dependence on another country’s security detail and may thus have shortcomings.
In 1998, the Al Qaeda terror group bombed the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, thus leaving some American citizens injured and others dead, alongside citizens from the host countries and visiting guests to the embassies from other states.
One of the ways through which the United States government has tried to limit the reoccurrence of such incidents is the establishment of grant funding.
Money from the grant enables the government to boost preparedness coupled with procuring equipment and facilities for use during an attack and covers recovery measures after an attack even outside the territory through assisting host nations to enhance their own security measures.
Community education is one of the ways that a government can reduce its people’s vulnerability and increase adaptability after terror attacks. It would also afford civilians knowledge on how to behave during attacks to give law enforcement agencies maximum space to deal with terror situations.
Although most governments try to cover all bases and avoid the uncertainty that community involvement creates, such involvement may prove priceless with regard to obtaining tips in the right direction on matters concerning terror attacks.
It would also make it easier for the government to obtain help from civilians in situations that require the advantage of numbers.
Secondly, by developing policies that allow adaptability in situations that necessitate the same, most governments would negate the need for constant policy review.
Enacting policies specific to the issue, such as anti-terrorism legislation, narrows down the breath of operation that a government would require when reviewing policies.
Governments would only need to deal with policies specific to the problem, unlike most cases where an interrelation between separate policies exists.
Lastly, governments need to allocate sufficient funding to disaster preparedness, including terrorism specific programs. Like the American government’s outlook, such programs may focus on projects within a country’s territory as well as programs abroad.
This aspect ensures that the government applies specialization by dividing issues into smaller units for efficient and effective response.
Advanced community planning measures depend on the nature of potential terror attacks and effects of the same on the society.
Involving the community in advanced community planning programs in response to the threat of terrorism lets citizens and residents play their part in assisting the government in dealing with the menace.
However, governments have the prerogative to ensure that their policies address the versatile nature of terrorism and evolve as the potential threats evolve in form.
Department of Homeland Security. (2011). Preventing Terrorism and Enhancing Security: Implementing 9/11 Commission Recommendations. Web.
Heywood, P. (2011). Community Planning: Integrating Social and Physical Environments. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons.
Kelly, E., & Becker, B. (2009). Community Planning: An Introduction to the Comprehensive Plan. Covelo: CA: Island Press.
Marshall, P. (2012). The Big Bamboozle: 9/11 and the War on Terror. Seattle, WA: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
Mazetti, M. (2013). The Way of the Knife: The CIA, A Secret War at the Ends of the Earth. New York, NY: Penguin Press.
Sanoff, H. (1999). Community Participation Methods in Design and Planning. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons.
Scahill, J. (2013). Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield. New York, NY: Nation Books.