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Post-9-11 U.S. Military Considers Terrorism 'An Act of War'

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2003 – The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States were watershed events that altered the American military's philosophy and role in regard to terrorism, a senior DoD official said here Jan. 28.

"Since 9-11, from a military perspective, there has been a sea change, I think, in the way we've looked at terrorism, itself," Navy Capt. T.L. McCreary, spokesman for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told about 50 business and community leaders at the Pentagon.

McCreary provided Joint Civilian Orientation Conference alumni an update on the global war on terrorism. The civilians later also received briefings on military transformation, Afghanistan reconstruction and other topics.

The U.S. military now looks at terrorism as an act of war, as well as a crime, McCreary continued. "That's what's allowing your military to go look for al Qaeda, to operate against terrorist organizations, because we've basically classified them as enemy combatants," he noted.

Enemies of the United States and U.S. interests abroad, McCreary said, include al Qaeda and other terrorists, but also state and nonstate entities that support terrorists and their actions."

Eliminating terrorism is especially challenging in terms of timelines, the captain noted, "because as long as there is one deranged person out there" there is always the possibility of an attack resulting in mass casualties.

However, U.S. authorities, including the military, have implemented a more proactive, aggressive game plan for use against terrorists, McCreary pointed out.

"There is no way we can play defense alone anymore" against terrorist threats, he emphasized, noting that previous anti-terrorism strategy meant "we won't attack unless we're attacked."

Achieving military victory against global terrorists means going out and stirring up the pot, McCreary declared. Keeping terrorists on the move through military action, he noted, has provided much of the intelligence on their plans after Sept. 11.

"When people move, they make more mistakes. It gives us an opportunity to track down and find these guys," he emphasized.

Started in the late 1940s when DoD was created, JCOC educates civilian business and community leaders about the military through briefings, troop visits, and other activities.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageNavy Capt. T.L. McCreary, spokesman for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, briefs the war against global terrorism to about 50 business and community leaders at the Pentagon. The visitors were taking part in the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference on Jan. 28, 2003. Started in the late 1940s when DoD was created, JCOC educates civilian business and community leaders about the military through briefings, troop visits, and other activities. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore.   
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