Since the devastating 9/11 terrorist attacks nearly 10 years ago, the United States has undergone unprecedented changes in relation to homeland security and military missions abroad. The U.S. has experienced two significant military engagements and created a new infrastructure and innovative technologies to help keep the nation and its citizens safe.
Without a doubt, the intelligence community (IC) was the behind-the-scenes contributor of the majority of these efforts—especially in regard to U.S. presence in both Iraq and Afghanistan. As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 draws near, the U.S. is facing extensive budget cuts while also managing troop withdrawal in these nations.
With these massive changes occurring, many may be wondering about the IC’s role in this new frontier. The reality is that the IC has always played a vital role in national security, and will continue to do so in the face of these changes by contributing in the following ways:
- Post-Conflict Stabilization: In any post-conflict nation, a tremendous amount of work is required to fully stabilize the nation. From financial systems to host armies and security forces, there must be a path to true stabilization, or localized turmoil could erupt all too quickly and easily.
- Supporting Host Nations: The IC will continue to play an advisory role for host nations attempting to implement more stabilized governments. The IC often provides security strategies to help host nations keep their citizens safe in ways that help local governments function properly.
- Training Local Forces: Without proper training and guidance, localized forces can easily fall back into old tribal warfare methods. The IC helps host nations “demobilize” local forces in ways that will prevent them from falling back into long-running tribal feuds.
- Logistics: The U.S. will need to handle the removal and/or management of key U.S. military equipment and assets. In addition, because there is potential for future military engagements in nations such as Libya, the IC must help manage this equipment to keep it “at the ready” for any future conflicts in the region.
- Demining and Other Safety Measures: Ensuring the safety of local citizens rests mainly in the ability to demine former war zones. While the U.N. often plays a major role, the IC also helps in these efforts.
While significant numbers of U.S. troops may be leaving Iraq and Afghanistan, the reality is that nation-building will be a longer-term effort. The IC is the key player, helping the State Department, NATO, the U.N., and others tackle the often daunting challenge of creating long-term stability in volatile regions.
Keeping these regions stable is critical to U.S. security and will help ensure that another 9/11 never occurs. Because of this, the IC will continue to perform meaningful work and always strive to keep the nation and world safe.