Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Operational Sciences

First Advisor

Richard F. Deckro, PhD


Since the September 11th terrorist attack, there has been an increased emphasis on understanding and modeling terrorists groups. While several efforts have focused on identifying transnational terrorists' centers of gravity (COGs), most of these efforts have proposed COGs using a traditional nation-state paradigm. In today's "global village", terrorist groups are no longer limited by locality and national boundaries. With the increasing threats from transnational terrorist groups, new paradigms and models are necessary to properly analyze today's, and tomorrow's, conflict. Analysis should be based on the identified and quantified transnational terrorists' COGs and their associated interactions. Unfortunately, not all of the transnational terrorists' COGs and their interconnected cause and effect relationships are fully known or understood. This research effort suggests a single COG, Public Support as the transnational terrorists' key driver. An influence diagram-like approach was used to collect, organize, and display the COG and its key elements of value. These qualitative influence diagrams serve as a basis to develop a system dynamics model where quantitative measures were applied to the interactions. A prototype model capable of capturing and utilizing time-persistent and higher order effects that provides insight to decision makers regarding alternative strategic policies and courses of action (COA) against transnational groups has been developed and illustrated against a notional transnational terrorist group.

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