Leveraging rural America in the fight against terrorism in America through the use of conservation districts
Eller, William L.
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A vast, untapped resource is available to the federal government and the Department of Homeland Security in the war on terror. The citizens that comprise rural America have long been ignored by the efforts to wage the war on terror, and have been told, along with their urban counterparts, that the government would wage the war on terror, not citizens. Homeland Security's message of vigilance in the war on terrorism and of prevention, mitigation, and recovery after terror events and natural disasters is not taking root in rural America because the communication methods are not effective. Terrorists are increasingly targeting rural America and using rural America for operational support and training. The special demographics, skills and abilities of rural Americans warrant further consideration by the Department of Homeland Security as a front on the war on terror. The findings and recommendations of this research advocate the creation of a domestic intelligence-gathering network, which utilizes the nation's 2,946 local conservation districts to interact with rural citizens. Conservation districts, as a unit of local government, occupy a unique place in their local communities due to their nonregulatory nature. As a result, they have a high degree of trust in their local communities. Conservation districts would forge a partnership with rural Americans and state fusion centers for information gathering purposes. Intelligence analysts would analyze that information at the state fusion center and use it to support the war on terror. In this way, the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. intelligence community could leverage rural America as a force multiplier.
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