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Counterterrorism: Education and Training

Terrorism, Old Problem with New Twists

The dominating imperative for every country is to protect its citizens. Americans have answered the call of national security from the revolutionary Minutemen to those modern-day patriots who join the US intelligence community, the US military and the ranks of law enforcement. Every American generation has faced security threats; the primary threat today is the scourge of radical Islam terrorism. The US counterterrorism response includes a complex mix of military, political, and cultural issues. On the ground, we still face the old style, Ninja-like threats but also see high-tech cyber terrorism, car bombs, weapons of mass destruction, and large scale Jihadi ground combat such as the ISIS in Syria and Iraq. These terror threats present individuals with opportunities for counterterrorism jobs.

Terrorism is not a new phenomenon. Experts trace terrorism from the earliest human times to daily terror events around the 21st-century globe.1 However, there is no universal agreement on a basic definition of terrorism. Over 100 different definitions and perspectives circulate in academic and political domains.1 Many terms have been used over the years to describe or define terrorism including guerrilla, irregular, insurgent, rebel, revolutionary, partisan, freedom fighter, renegade, subversive, underground fighter, and terrorist.2 Today, the U.S. government documents various radical Muslim groups as terrorist groups; however, these same groups declare the U.S. a terrorist nation based on drone strikes and invasions of Muslim nations. These countervailing views only exacerbate the terror threats to the U.S.

Join the Ranks to Combat the Terror Threat to the U.S.

An individual contemplating the opportunities available for counterterrorism jobs should understand two essential points: working to support national security is a commitment as well as a job. To become qualified, an individual must prepare through education and anti-terrorism training. The distinction between education and training is important in perspective and the preparation to serve in counterterrorism jobs. Education deals with gaining knowledge about principles, theory, and concepts; training deals with developing specific skills and capabilities for particular counterterrorism tasks.3 A successful applicant for a position in the counterterrorism community needs to have a solid educational background that supports gaining practical skills through anti-terrorism training.

Opportunities for counterterrorism jobs involve a broad array of skills and knowledge requirements; these opportunities are available through many government and private organizations including the CIA, DIA, Homeland Security, FBI, National Counterterrorism Center, the military services, law enforcement, and specialized private security firms.

Among the wide array of counterterrorism jobs, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is recognized as the premier law enforcement agency in the world. While the FBI responsibilities are primarily domestic law enforcement, the FBI has extensive worldwide responsibilities in the Global War on Terror. FBI agents serve in American embassies as legal attachés supporting international operations and liaisons with foreign police agencies. Counterterrorism is a major part of the FBI mission. As such, the FBI Counterterrorism Division offers a variety of career opportunities to serve the nation. The Counterterrorism Division is charged with the tasks to detect and eliminate foreign and domestic terror sleeper cells, disrupt terror networks, detect and arrest lone wolf terrorists, and support overall intelligence efforts against the terrorism threat. FBI counterterrorism jobs include special agents who conduct law enforcement in the field and professional staff performing jobs within the division as intelligence analysts, technical information specialists, or financial analysts.4

Gain the Knowledge and Capabilities to Secure a Counterterrorism Job

The competition for a career in national security is stringent. An individual must carefully prepare to present a resume that shows competence, initiative, and an existing level of capability based on a solid education foundation and anti-terrorism training. Only a few institutions offer this blend of education and training. Select online schools that specialize in intelligence, counterterrorism, protection, and strategic security provide this unique blend. These schools provide a faculty that has experience in real-world field operations and a command of the security principles and theory. The resulting education experience blends knowledge and training through realistic practical exercises to produce graduates that are prepared to take a national security job serving the country.


1. Martin, G. (2013). Understanding Terrorism, Fourth Edition: Characteristics, Perspectives, and Issues. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. ISBN 978-1-4522-0582-3.
2. Source: http://www.powerthesaurus.org/guerrilla#ixzz3LMG2q6LJ
3. Education and Training, What is the Difference. Retrieved: www.elearninginductry.com
4. Counterterrorism Division. (2014). Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved: www.fbijobs.gov

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