By DoD News
By David Vergun
The terrorist threat to the U.S. homeland has been significantly degraded over the last 20 years due to sustained pressure on those groups worldwide, Milancy D. Harris, the Defense Department’s deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations and combating terrorism, said.
Testifying Tuesday before a House subcommittee on national security, Harris said the United States still faces a number of terrorist groups committed to targeting U.S. interests and personnel abroad. “These groups seek to take advantage of instability and ungoverned spaces, and have a new and evolving set of tools readily available,” she said.
Those tools include new technologies, agility in the information environment, and creativity in the circumvention of traditional financial systems, Harris said.
Often, the most effective counterterrorism approach is a mix of kinetic and non-kinetic capabilities and working with partners and allies, Harris said.
Collaborating with allies and partners on operations includes providing education and capacity-building programs to help them develop increased counterterrorism capabilities in critical regions. It also includes ensuring that security cooperation efforts are integrated with complementary U.S. government efforts, she said.
“As we process the lessons from our time in Afghanistan and set the conditions for a new counterterrorism mission, we will seek to leverage intelligence, diplomacy and military capabilities to ensure Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorist organizations,” she said.
That approach will not be static, Harris said. The department will continue to adjust its capabilities and responses based on the terrorist threat in that region, she said.
The department will also rely on a whole-of-government approach to deepen security relationships in the region, she said.
“Our withdrawal from Afghanistan does not diminish the department’s vigilance in our counterterrorism mission, and our full attention remains on protecting our homeland, citizens and interests from the continued threat that terrorism poses not only from Afghanistan, but around the world. We will never waver in that mission.”