Forschungsgruppe ORCOS
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Optimal Design of Counter-Terror Operations

OeNB (08.2006 - 04.2009) Project leader: G. Feichtinger

Keywords: public security, terrorism, optimal control, dynamic games, terror networks, optimal mix of counter-terror measures


Economics has made great practical and intellectual contributions by studying a rather abstract model of business, a model that speaks of labor supply, perfect competition, and rational expectations. The real world of terrorism is similarly complicated, but we aim to make practical and theoretical contributions to counter-terror efforts by studying comparably abstracted models of terrorists organizations, incentives, and actions by marrying basic principles from the economics of crime with the powerful tools of optimal dynamic control theory. From this perspective, public security, particularly curtailing terrorist threats, is a public good.

The resources of a terror organization constitute a public bad. The power of such an organization rests in the accumulation of a stock of resources that includes human capital, physical aspects such as weapons, and financial capital, but includes also the approval of parts of the population and a network of supporters. The purpose of this research proposal is to study efficient measures to combat terror. Using intertemporal optimization we intend to analyze the optimal mix of available instruments to fight terrorist terrorism. To choose efficient actions against terror organizations, the response of terrorists as well as the public has to be taken into consideration. An appropriate framework to study the strategic interactions of government, terror organizations and the public is optimal control theory and dynamic games.