National Security: Armstrong professor fights terrorism at U.S. Army War College.


Counterinsurgencies, transnational organized crime and classified government research projects may sound like James Bond movie plots, but in fact, they are part of a typical day for Armstrong professor of political science Dr. José de Arimatéia da Cruz at the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute in Carlisle, Pa.

Dr. da Cruz spent the Fall 2013 and Spring 2014 semesters at the War College with a Visiting Research Professorship, an appointment given to only two individuals in the entire country. He gives lectures to our military leaders and conducts critical research concerning our country’s national security.

“The War College provides future leaders of the U.S. government the expertise to be good policy makers,” says Dr. da Cruz.

Dr. da Cruz’s work at the war college spans far beyond the walls of a single classroom and the outcomes have the capacity to influence security decisions across the country and throughout the world. The Department of State, the Department of Defense, the U.S. Army, and even policy makers in Washington, D.C. have all utilized his research to make pivotal decisions concerning the security of the United States.

“Day to day, I work on my own research agenda, but if something urgent is occurring in the national agenda, I do that instead,” he explains.

When Washington became concerned about Iran’s growing influence in Latin America last fall, Dr. da Cruz was tasked with analyzing Iran’s reported recruitment of Latin American converts. However, when he isn’t interpreting the motives of the Iranian regime, Dr. da Cruz spends his time focusing on transnational organized crime.

“These are criminal organizations that are operating across borders,” he explains. “Organized crime has become international.”

The danger of these criminal organizations is that they have ties to terrorist organizations all over the world. Transnational criminal organizations survive through their ability to grow from a localized law enforcement problem to a potential national security issue as they attempt to become a more global enterprise.

“There are some serious implications,” he says.

Additionally, Dr. da Cruz spends his time researching global cyber security, a topic that is closely related with his work with transnational organized crime.

“I look at how terrorist and organized crime organizations use the Internet to advance their cause,” he explains.

In the 21st century, terrorists and criminals can recruit and spread their ideology with the click of a mouse. The U.S. is part of a globally connected society, which makes us vulnerable to cyber-terrorism. Acts of terrorism are no longer exclusively defined by acts of physical violence, but rather, by an infiltration of our nation’s infrastructures via computer, which can be as equally destructive.

As criminal and terrorist organizations grow, so must our knowledge of them, and that is why Dr. da Cruz’s work at the War College plays a pivotal role in our country’s national security. While he may not be fighting crime and terrorism with his bare hands, he is working hard to help keep America safe, and he will continue to do so as he has been asked to return to the War College for the 2014-2015 academic year.