During crises there are those who take the opportunity to spread chaos and confusion, thus fighting back against terrorism is essential in these times.

Countries and governments around the globe are desperately dealing with the coronavirus. As of now, there are already over 11million cases with more than 500,000 deaths. The world pandemic has already affected millions of lives. Thousands of businesses have close leaving millions unable to continue their work, industries are losing billions with the transport and tourism currently shutting down businesses. All over the planet, there is anxiety, depression, and discontent. In some places, riots and civil disobedience are starting to become a normal part of people’s lives. If governments are not careful, these can be used by terrorist organizations to further their political agendas. That is why now more than ever there is a greater need for governments and their respective agencies to ensure order and security while battling an enemy we cannot see.

For Jungle Rules author and former national security expert retired captain (USN) Paul Shemella, governments must be able to plan ahead and react to current and future terrorist attacks. While small scale riots and demonstrations are not acts of terror, they can escalate into civil disobedience that may result in disruption of peace, destruction of public properties, and looting. And since we are also dealing with a health crisis brought by an infectious disease, governments must strictly uphold strict protocols in order to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus. In his blog article Fighting Back Against Terrorism, Shemella mentions these precepts to help keep the governments be on the right track in fighting chaos and terror. That said, we believe that Paul Shemella’s ten “precepts” for responding to the fight against terrorism, can also be applied in our war against the coronavirus pandemic.

Pandemic response exercise in Eglinimage
Pandemic response exercise in Eglin Air Force base. Source: https://www.eglin.af.mil/

Ten “Precepts” for Terrorism Response by Paul Shemella

  1. Develop a set of strategies for offense, defense, and prevention. The most important of these should be prevention.
  2. Prepare to use coercive force. This is not normally the first response, but it must be part of the package. Law enforcement and military forces that have the capacity to respond effectively can have a deterrent effect as well.
  3. Build consensus all around. We must fight the terrorists, not each other.
  4. Hold the moral high ground. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Terrorists want us to be just like them. Don’t fall into that trap.
  5. Strengthen social cohesion. All human beings wish to belong to something larger than themselves. We must channel that desire into productive group participation, making the nation-state the ultimate group to be proud of.
  6. Build the institutional capacity needed to function quickly and effectively. This means adequate funds, training, equipment, and coordination with the rest of the government. Individuals cannot beat terrorism; only high-capacity institutions can win this fight.
  7. Improve all border security. There are many borders beyond the physical realm—airports, seaports, aero-space, maritime spaces, and cyberspace.
  8. Educate everyone. Citizenship comes with responsibilities. Public education inculcates those attitudes and actions all citizens must adopt in order to help their governments win the fight.
  9. Control the narrative. Successful terrorism relies on clever messaging. Governments must have better messages than the thugs who threaten them.
  10. Govern well. Terrorists wish to portray governments as corrupt and dysfunctional. Many governments help them do just that. The better a country is governed, the more prepared it is to prevent, defend, and respond.

While many might think that these postulates can only be applied to armed conflict or terrorist plots, I personally find these “tips” as an effective strategy in fighting the pandemic. These “precepts” encourage the authorities and even ordinary people to be organized, vigilant, proactive, and resourceful. The qualities embodied in these guides can set the tone on how we can effectively get out of this mess. Fighting terrorists and pandemics requires unity, security, stability, intelligence, and timely response. And these are all stipulated above. We may not be fighting religious fanatics, extremist groups, or local militias, but we are definitely fighting a global enemy that is crippling economies, limiting our movements and capacity as individuals and nations, and killing innocent people. The coronavirus is as much an enemy as those we mentioned above, and therefore we must respond accordingly.

Paul Shemella is a retired captain of the US Navy. He spent most of his career with the Navy SEALS, planning and executing Special Operations in Europe, The Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. Shemell is also a national security expert and has conducted lectures, seminars, and workshops on civil-military responses to national security threats in various parts of the globe. He authored several books on national security, maritime conflicts, and counter-insurgency. Currently, he is working on his non-fiction series The Jungle Rules Trilogy which includes Jungle Rules, A More Perfect Union, and The Dictator’s Revenge.