Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 08/2009

Fighting the Pre-eminent Threats with Intelligence-led Operations

Fred Schreier

January 2009

Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces


This paper discusses the role of intelligence, intelligence services and intelligenceled operations as crucial components of the efforts to counter the new risks, dangers and threats to states and their population. The end of the Cold War and globalisation has not only brought a multiplication of actors, sources of conflict and means to fight. Indeed, globalisation, accelerating techno-logical innovation, growing interdependence and vulnerability of modern states has dramatically enhanced the number and diversity of risks, dangers and threats. The fact that these are increasingly transnational in nature, originate more and more often from non-state actors and appear and mutate ever more quickly, renders the fight against them more difficult. This is particularly true for the unholy trinity of transnational terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and transnational organised crime (TOC) that have become the pre-eminent security challenges confronting the world and the new intelligence priorities. TOC is growing in volume, geographic reach and profitability, and is well positioned for further growth because it does, in many ways, have the most to gain from globalization. Growth and spread of TOC increase the risks of proliferation of WMD and, with it, of catastrophic transnational terrorism as proliferants and terrorists collude ever more symbiotically with TOC groups to move money, men and materials around the globe.