Friday, May 20, 2011

ERM-BC-COOP: Terror targets


According to a Global Security Newswire headline on May 20 (, Antiterrorism Program Cuts Funding for More Than 30 U.S. Cities,  "More than 30 U.S. cities have been informed by the Homeland Security Department that they will not receive terrorism preparedness funding under one top grant program in this budget year due to budget constraints, the Associated Press reported on Friday"

Naturally all the communities on the chopping block are asking "Why us?"

The Big Cities are getting the dollars, but the cities in the hinterland are not. The article states that "Some of the cities that will lose out on program funding include Providence, R.I., Hartford, Conn., Bridgeport, Conn. and three Texas cities -- Austin, El Paso and San Antonio. Those Texas population centers were awarded roughly $14.5 million from the funding initiative in fiscal 2010."

Human life in Austin TX is as valuable as human life in New York City, so why one place and not the other?

Ignoring politics, consider the purpose of terrorism: Not (just) to kill and maim, but to strike fear into the population.

As a terrorist, where could I do the most damage?

Austin TX where the folks likely would take up arms and hunt me down?

Or unarmed New York City, which not only strikes at Americans but at visitors to these shores as well.

Compare Columbus OH with San Francisco. The California city, like Greater New York, has a high density population assuring a bigger bang for the buck, the bang being both death and injury as well as panic and lingering fear.

Also consider that some of the communities that will receive the Fed's largesse are port towns - New York, Boston, LA, San Francisco, Seattle - and some of the towns with reduced or eliminated funding are port-free, Bridgeport CN and San Antonio TX being two examples.

It is possible that the terrorists will attack wherever an opportunity is presented, but both domestic and imported terrorists typically go for the greatest exposure.

Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are more often the scene of suicide murderers than Bet Shean and Zefat, both "tourist" towns but off the main roads.

As with all things "risk management," avoidance and mitigation measures must be focused on the greater risks, the more probable risk with the greatest impact if allowed to occur.

I don't live in any of the communities mentioned in the article, but I do live close to several major sea and air ports and in an area with more possible threats than anyone dare count.

While it would be nice if money to defend against terrorists was unlimited, that is not the case so the standard probability vs. impact matrix we routinely use needs to be applies to anti-terrorist funding.

Basic risk management.

No one like it, but its the reality of budgets.

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