Joint Global Counterterrorism Detachment (JGCTD)

by Major Ricky J. Harper, USAR AGR; Chief Warrant Officer Three Wendy R. Ryberg, USAR AGR;                                                 and Sergeant James D. Higday, USAR

During the past decade, terrorist attacks have breached force protection measures throughout the world accomplishing their objectives—to generate casualties and garner media attention. At the request of Secretary of Defense William Perry, General Wayne Downing (USA, Retired) examined the circumstances of the Khobar Towers bombing to establish a corrective, antiterrorism action plan.

The Downing Report’s assessment reoriented the Department of Defense (DOD) approach to force protection and established commitments to improve the protection of U.S. Forces from the growing threats of terrorism. One significant finding  was that “we will improve the use of available intelligence and intelligence collection capabilities.”

Assessing  Counterterrorism Initiatives

To focus and execute the initiatives, the DOD established the Joint Staff position of Deputy Director for Operations, Combating Terrorism (J-34), and directed this DDO to act as the point of contact for antiterrorism and force protection. Great emphasis on force protection exists and continues to evolve throughout new concepts and implementation within all the Services. The operational focus includes aspects of physical security, explosives, information security, communications, and  counterintelligence (CI).

Since we have currently established a focal point for antiterrorism and force protection, we must not stop, but keep progressing. The mission of DOD in meeting the security challenges of a new century with ever-changing security conditions and evolving security paradigms is essential to supporting future national security interests. The end of the Cold War brought about changes, which continue to reshape military strategy and doctrine. Downsizing the U.S. Armed Forces through the post-Cold War era has increased our reliance on Reserve forces and required multiple-unit rotations in support of operations ranging from war to situations short of war.

In looking to the 21st century and as a follow-on of the Quadrennial Defense Review, Congress mandated that an independent body known as the National Defense Panel further study strategies and structures to meet future challenges. The National Defense Panel identified the requirement for a transformation strategy to lead beyond current security structures and to build on the Nation’s 2020 requirements.

Challenges encountered through deliberation required the panel to shape security structures to best deal with issues and to develop a better strategic future. Eight issues initially required further exploration, of these we would direct your attention to the following three:

The range of security issues for 2020 extends beyond traditional military strategies.

Structuring Intelligence to Fight Terrorism                     

The National Defense Panel issues as well as the findings of the Downing Report identify the necessity of intelligence data to effectively combat terrorism. To structure an organization in times of diminishing resources and Service end-strengths requires commitment and dedication. The result is an organization that would enable the receipt of real-time credible data to the lowest level, thus avoiding “stovepiping.”

The restructuring of current U.S. Army Reserve (USAR) MI personnel could conceptually provide this critical data by forming the Joint Global Counterterrorism Detachment (JGCTD). Its mission is twofold. First, the JGCTD will provide continuous coordination and monitoring of global terrorism- related events with worldwide agencies. The Detachment will also provide counterterrorism analytical expertise and credible data expeditiously to combat forces to lowest echelon while maintaining overall data integrity.  

The specific goals and objectives of the JGCTD are to—

Note that this is not a duplication of the efforts by the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Counterter- rorism Center (CTC)1, or the Army CI Center (ACIC)2 but an extension of information and support down to the lowest echelons.

JGCTD Set-up

Organization. The Joint Detachment comprises intelligence analysts from multi-Service intelligence branches that expeditiously collect, develop, and provide real-time intelligence data to the combat commander for all CT and force protection operations. Figure 1 shows a proposed JGCTD structure. The second figure shows the composition of the four CT analytical teams.

Location in Dedicated Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF). The existing SCIF at Fort Gillem, Georgia, could provide the short- and long-term operational platform. There would be less impact on the budget without having to get recertification for new SCIF construction.

Customers or Clients. The Detachment’s customers would be DOD units with a valid “need to know” the information provided by the JGCTD. The goal of the CT unit is to eliminate “stovepiping” in the transmission of valuable and highly perishable CT information to the tactical, operational, theater, and strategic users.

Equipment. The Detachments’ equipment would include the Joint Deployable Intelligence Support System (JDISS) with a built-in video teleconferencing (VTC) capability, UNISYS, generators, television sets, STU-III (Secure Telephone Unit-Third Generation) , facsimile machines, satellite dishes, INTELINK (Intelligence Link), and local-and wide-area networks.  

The previous structure and organization would allow the DOD to remedy concerns identified by both the Downing Report and the National Defense Panel. It would better enable our forces to meet future national security interests.

Force Protection is Essential

The U.S. military is unrivaled, and this undisputed superiority means that terrorists or even nations may resort to attacking our forces or symbols through acts of terrorism rather than using conventional military operations. Today’s sophisticated technology has increased this destructive capability to global applications. Terrorists are interested in employing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and in attacking continental United States- based U.S. forces or cities.

Frame7.jpg One constant in dealing with terrorism continues to be the terrorists’ need for publicity and media manipulation. Terrorists may try to attack our highly interdependent economy and critical infrastructure (such as energy and governmental or private emergency services) using cyberterrorism tactics. In this way, they could bring the attack directly into most U.S. citizens’ lives and homes.

We must do everything we can to fight the very real possibility that international or domestic terrorist groups, or even individuals, could cause massive disruptions to U.S. government and private information systems and possibly conduct attacks using WMD. Such attacks would cause massive failures of crucial infrastructures, such as banking, utilities, and modes of transportation and communication. These threats are of concern to every soldier.


The Joint Global Counter- terrorism Detachment will be DOD’s newest CT tool for providing crucial information in a form and classification level appropriate to all combat units. The JGCTD will maintain accurate and credible terrorism-related information and disseminate it to combat commanders and staffs, who in turn will use the information to protect their personnel and other critical assets.

The JGCTD’s design permits it to function in a new and more systematic approach to fighting terrorism. By maintaining a highly accurate and credible database, it will allow our combat forces to swiftly detect and deterterrorist attacks, regardless of the attack method.


1.  The Counterterrorism Center is under the National ground Intelligence center.

2.  The ACIC is an element of the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command.

Major Rick Harper, U.S. Army Reserve Active Guard and Reserve (USAR AGR), is the Joint Training and Operations Officer for the Joint Training Reserve Unit (JTRU), U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM). His previous assignments include Battalion Commander, Executive Officer, and S3 of the 337th MI Battalion (Tactical Exploitation) (Airborne); MI Staff Officer at the 125th U.S. Army Reserve Command (USARC); Assistant Operations Officer in the G2 of the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized); and Electronic Warfare Officer in G3 Plans at 4 ID (M). MAJ Harper obtained his commission through the Reserve Officer Training Corps. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Mining, Reclamation, and Energy Studies from Moorhead State University. Readers may contact him via E-mail at [email protected]  

Chief Warrant Officer Three Wendy Ryberg, USA AGR, is the active duty full-time Training and Operations Officer for B Company, 323d MI Battalion at Fort Meade, Maryland. She has served as the Chief, U.S. Army Central Command (USARCENT) Counterterrorism Crisis Action Team and has been in the CI field almost 20 years. She holds a Juris Doctor degree from LaSalle University. CW3 Ryberg is a graduate of the MI Warrant Officer Advanced Course. You can reach her via E-mail at Wryberg

Sergeant Higday is the Information Systems Security Sergeant for the 505th MI Group (RC). He has had assignments with the 651st MI Company (RC), 337th MI Battalion (RC) and has also served with the former Sixth Army Counterdrug Task Force, and the 3d U.S. Army G2, Counterterrorism Crisis Action Team (two tours). Sergeant Higday holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from National University. He can be reached via E-mail at [email protected]