Aptitude for Destruction 1 - Organizational Learning in Terrorist Groups and Its Implications for Combating Terrorism (RAND)
If a terrorist group lacks the ability to learn, its effectiveness in achieving its goals will largely be determined by chance—the chance that its members already have the necessary skills to carry out operations and support activities; the chance that its current tactics are effective against desirable targets and against current antiterrorism measures; and the chance that shifts made by the group will prove to be beneficial. Similarly, in a dynamic environment, a terrorist organization that cannot learn will not be able to effectively adapt to new developments in intelligence gathering and law enforcement.
But when a terrorist group can learn—and learn well—it can act systematically to fulfill its needs, strengthen its capabilities, and advance its strategic agenda. The ability to learn allows a terrorist group to purposefully adapt to ever-evolving circumstances by • Developing, improving, and employing new weapons or tactics that can enable it to change its capabilities over time • Improving its members’ skills in applying current weapons or tactics • Collecting and utilizing the intelligence information needed to mount operations effectively • Thwarting countermeasures and improve its chance of surviving attempts to destroy it • Preserving the capabilities it has developed even if some of its members are lost