The remaining sections of this chapter discuss in greater detail the seven crosscutting issues listed above. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the kinds of research and development efforts that are needed, together with their associated structural and funding considerations—particularly within the U.S. government—to make an effective and aggressive science-and-technology agenda for counterterrorism a reality.
Our nation’s infrastructures are individually complex and tightly linked, so a terrorist attack has the potential to produce manifold effects in multiple seemingly independent systems. This means that in modeling the nation’s infrastructures and assessing any threats against them we must take a methodical and coordinated approach, not only to exploring each system’s vulnerabilities but also to analyzing the overall picture.
Modeling and simulation are especially useful for these purposes, and they could make important contributions to counterterrorism research at both the macro and micro levels. At the largest scale, simulations might be able to reveal the vulnerability of whole infrastructures—and of networks of infrastructures. For example, the air transportation system depends heavily on fuel supplies (for airlines and for ground transportation for getting people and resources to/from airports), power (electricity for the airport concourses, ground maintenance, general lighting, and air traffic control), and communications networks; what happens when one (or two) of the elements are disengaged from the system? Many such examples exist: What exactly will the effects be on the transportation system if a major petroleum refinery is put out of commission? How severely will firefighting capabilities be limited if part of a city’s water system is shut down?
Even on smaller scales, modeling and simulation are important tools that can provide useful perspectives on how chemical plumes, radioactive fallout, or spore clouds might disperse through the air and how hazardous material spills might spread over land or in water.1 A particularly important area will be modeling relevant to bioterrorism, as there are a large number of potential biological agents, and a great deal of terror could be generated by a biological attack. Modeling can help examine how diseases would spread for a range of different incubation periods and transmission dynamics, as well as take into account key variables like climate, population, and migration. Understanding realistic as well as worst-case circumstances is essential. For this work, the expertise in building these kinds of