Measuring Success in Countering Terrorism: Problems and Pitfalls

  • Peter S. Probst
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 3495)


One of the major problems in Intelligence analysis and counter-terrorism research is the use or, more precisely, misuse of metrics as a means to measure success. Such quantification may be admirable and necessary when dealing with rocket motors or physical phenomena but can be self-defeating and unrealistic when dealing with people and human events which, after all, are the ultimate underpinnings of terrorism, insurgency and political instability. Human behavior is notoriously hard to predict and outcomes without historical perspective difficult to assess. Measures of success that are touted as useful and accurate so often in the real world prove to be little more than intellectual snake oil. Hard quantifiable data that is meaningful is hard to come by, and so we often willingly settle for data that are easily accessible and quantifiable, hoping that our extrapolations are sufficiently accurate to guide or assess a course of action or the conduct of a conflict.


Terrorist Attack Terrorist Group Rocket Motor Short Term Success Terrorist Operation 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter S. Probst
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence 

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