The use of the military in counterterrorism presents a number of problems. The use of military organizations in counterterrorist missions generates unintended consequences on three different levels

  • Terrorist organizations
  • Military Institutions
  • Civil Society and Politics

The high level violence created by the military leads the terrorist to respond with the same level of violence. The consequence of military involvement in counterterrorism also increases the group cohesion and strengthens terrorist organizations.

Militaries are required to make fundamental changes in their organizational structures to counter terrorism.

These changes in the military may cause a diminishing effectiveness in the conventional fighting abilities. Also the issue of resources and expenditures creates a priority problem for militaries which forces military employment either in conventional duties or in counter terrorism.

Civil society usually suffers of losing their supremacy in the ruling of their country if military is employed in counter terrorism role. The classic question of civil-military relations becomes more serious. Terrorism is also a political problem which needs political solutions. But if militaries and violence take priority over political solutions for a long period of time, there may grow a tendency in society to deal with all political problems through the use of arms.

Engagement of Armed Forces

The government of Bangladesh, at various times, has either directly or indirectly relied on the use of military forces to counter terrorism. The use of the military in counterterrorism presents a number of problems.

In the past, a militarized counterterrorist response paved the way for authoritarian rule. It has a certain impact on military, society and the terrorist as well.

Wing Commander M Ataur Rahman , Mirpur Papers, Volume 22, Issue 23, November 2016

However, the need to operate in a complex and dynamic operational environment has forced Bangladesh Armed Forces to build new capabilities and allowed the military to execute operational concepts which can be adapted to use against Terrorism. How and in what role the Armed Forces of Bangladesh will be employed to counter Terrorism will depend on the state of development, competency and capability of the other national agencies vis-a-vis the nature of threat Bangladesh is facing. Generally, when the other national agencies are well developed; the military is likely to be employed in a supporting role. Likewise, immature national agencies will necessitate the military to be employed either in a leading or augmenting role. At the end it may be concluded that “The Armed Forces of Bangladesh can be engaged to counter Terrorism as the lead agency or as a supporting agency”

To employ the military to Counter Terrorism as lead agency or supporting agency, the following recommendations are made:

  1. The military can be employed as a supporting agency in remote border regions and territorial waters to curb illegal migration, drug and arms trafficking, for intelligence collection and early warning to help the police.
  2. In the event that terrorist groups become capable of conducting large scale military operations, the military should be the lead agency. The military can also assist the Police to protect national key installations and also can be the lead agency against bio-terrorism threats.
  3. The military can be a lead agency to find out the extremist groups, their hideouts, exposing groups’ motives, targets, command, control and support infrastructure. They may engage in supporting role in responding effectively, efficiently and rapidly to arrest and bring the terrorist under law, profiling extremist individuals and by gathering critical information.

Written by –

Wing Commander M Ataur Rahman

Instructor Pilot of 11 Squadron, 18 Squadron, 31 Squadron, and 1 Squadron, Flight Commander (Operations) of 11 Squadron, 18 Squadron, 31 Squadron and GSO-2 (Special Investigation Wing) in Directorate General Forces Intelligence. He has served in UN Mission in DR Congo (MONUSCO) as a Pilot in Command (PIC)

Extract From : Mirpur Papers, Volume 22, Issue 23, November 2016

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