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Magno, 4 August 2011
Mercyhurst College, Erie PA
Advanced Analytic Techniques Course
The purpose of this paper is to assess the value of Risk Analysis as an analytic technique. The method used for the assessment will be a set of evaluation criteria and a Personal Test Case.
The test case will examine risk analysis as a tool to identify terrorist threats to a potential target and to identify the target’s vulnerabilities to an attack. The ultimate goal of the assessment is to give decision-makers the basis to make-cost effective decisions that will ultimately reduce the threat and mitigate its consequences. The four criteria used for the evaluation of the technique are its ability to:
1. Identify credible threats. Has the technique been successful in indentifying groups or entities with the motivation and capacity to do harm to the target?
2. Identify vulnerabilities of the target to attack. Has the technique identified weaknesses in the target that make it vulnerable to attack?
3. Provide information to formulate countermeasures. Has the technique been able to provide the basis to develop countermeasures to the threat?
4. Reduce target vulnerability. Has use of the technique resulted in the reduction of the target’s vulnerability to the threat?
The analytic question posed for the personal test case is:
What is the likelihood that the joint US - Pakistani Police Intelligence Center at Rawalpindi will be the target of a terrorist attack within the next 6 to 12 months?
A literature review of eight reliable sources gave a comprehensive critique of risk analysis and its value as an analytic technique to support decision-making. All of the sources were peer reviewed or reliable based on academic or professional standing, subject matter expertise, or proximity and appropriateness. On line sources were evaluated using the Trust Scale and Website Evaluation Worksheet by Dax Norman.
All of the authors with the exception of Douglas Hubbard, in his book “The Failure of Risk Management: Why Its Broken and How to Fix it”, believe that the technique of risk assessment is a valuable tool for decision-makers. The sources consider the technique to be an aid in the efficient management of resources in the avoidance or mitigation of the consequences of threat. The authors presented a wide range of methods to conduct and apply risk assessment.
Douglas Hubbard’s dissent regarding the use and value of the technique was his assertion that users of the technique did not use accurate measurements and mathematically sound computations to assess and manage risk. Further, Hubbard believed that risk assessment was a relatively new concept, without sufficient “best practices” and industry wide proven processes to establish its validity.
Each of the sources presented a slightly different methodology and application of the technique. Jean-Paul Chavas’ Risk Analysis in Theory and Practice examined the use of mathematics and probability theory to increase the accuracy of risk assessments rather than focusing on the use of the technique to develop broad-spectrum risk assessments.
Michael Ronczowski, in his book Terrorism and Organized Hate Crime, explored the use of risk and threat assessments as a result of changes in law enforcement in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks. He believes that terrorism is a law enforcement problem and that risk assessment is a factor in the use of intelligence analysis as a means of forecasting and deterring terrorist activities and events.
Thomas Broder presented a very narrow perspective of risk assessment as it relates to physical security; however, his work Risk Analysis and Security Survey provides the reader with detailed instructions about how to identify the vulnerabilities of a potential terrorist target.
Estimating Terrorism Risk is a work sponsored and published by the Rand Corporation. Its authors are expert analysts and specialists in international relations. The article provides the reader with a technique for an assessment of risk and risk management at the strategic level. The source differs greatly from Broder’s Risk Analysis and the Security Survey, which has a very narrow tactical focus, assessing risk to mitigate threat and enhance security for a specific target.
Robert Clark’s, Intelligence Analysis: A Target Centric Approach, Richards Heuers’ and Randolph Pherson’s, Structured Analytic Techniques for Intelligence Analysis, and Heather Wynen’s, Structured Analytic Techniques for Intelligence Analysis, are all “ How to” guides presenting analytic techniques to industry professionals. Each source presents a slightly different approach to risk analysis and taken in total offer a broad view of risk analysis.
In spite of variations in methodology and focus, the sources present systematic approaches to risk analysis. All of those approaches include the identification of a threat or threats, analysis of the vulnerabilities of the object of the threat, and consideration of its consequences or impact.
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