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Security Brief: NORTHCOM Week of December 13, 2021

Updated: Jan 11

Week of Monday, December 13, 2021 | Issue 40

Dyuti Pandya, NORTHCOM Team


Uncertainty prevailing in the American schooling system[1]


Date: December 17, 2021

Location: USA

Parties involved: School administrative bodies; US law enforcement; Local police authorities

The event: On December 17, 2021, schools across several US states canceled classes over TikTok threats that have yet to be confirmed and deemed credible. High schools in Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Montana, New York, and Pennsylvania increased police presence, whilst schools in California, Minnesota, Missouri, and Texas remained shut for the day in response to the anonymous bomb and shooting threats.[2]

Analysis & implications:

  • It is likely that schools and educational institutions will continue to remain under heightened security. This could very likely contribute to a fearful experience for the students and make it difficult for them to focus on learning. Regular school proceedings will almost certainly be disrupted and law enforcement resources will almost certainly be focused on the hoaxes. The public will likely start to believe that attacks will occur on a more frequent basis in communities that have not previously been targeted.

  • Anonymized threats of shootings and bombings will likely increase fear and uncertainty amongst children and parents amid a time when such threats are increasingly taking place online. The public will likely start distrusting the schooling system and even opt to homeschool their children. The facilitation of the threats on online platforms will very likely publicize school shootings’ occurrence in the US and create fears within the international community. Parents who previously wished to send their children to study in US schools will likely refrain from doing so due to uncertainty about the security and safety of educational facilities.

  • Threats may likely come from the students themselves as a result of increased anonymity features and encrypted platforms. Due to differing laws and lack of communication between states regarding federal charges, charges against instigators will likely be ambiguous.

  • It is likely that these hoaxes will instill fear and create distrust within the public regarding the addressing of these problems by law enforcement.

  • False alarms and doubtful information will likely lead cities to deploy public service announcements aiming to make students pledge to stop making threats and jokes about school shootings on social media platforms. It is likely that such a move would incite a portion of the individuals to take precautions and keep them on alert for such threats.

  • Individuals posting threats could likely incite interest amongst other individuals to perpetrate violence.

Date: December 17, 2021

Location: NATO headquarters, Brussels, Belgium

Parties involved: North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) officials; Russian officials

The event: On December 17, 2021, Russia made a demand to the US and NATO allies to stop all military activities taking place in parts of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. NATO officials dismissed the proposals and deemed them unacceptable; instead, they laid an emphasis on establishing a diplomatic dialogue.[3] The Russian influence, violations, and military efforts in Ukraine together compose the “gray zone” operations that create a threshold of open conflict.[4]

Analysis & implications:

  • Russia’s demands and the subsequent NATO rejection will likely make the move to establish diplomatic dialogue challenging. NATO’s dismissal of the demands will likely lead Russia to adopt measures to advance its presence in Ukraine. In order to counter a potential military action, NATO and its allies will likely consider moving more troops to the Ukrainian border.

  • The presence of a “gray zone,” an area where countries can adopt strategies to influence their presence between the unnegotiated stands of NATO and Russia, will likely contribute to growing insecurity in the region, and will likely upset Euro-Atlantic stability. Concerns will likely continue to grow amid Russia’s violations, non-implementation of obligations, and security-building measures. It is likely that Russia’s actions and policies may go beyond Ukraine and they could very likely increase their military activities near NATO’s borders.

  • The conflicting perspectives will likely contribute to a lack of trust between the US and Russia in an already deteriorating environment for security measures. It is unlikely that Russia will negotiate with NATO, but measures to minimize Russian influence will likely continue. This will likely lead to an unstable relationship between the West and Russia in upcoming years. It is likely that the US and NATO’s concerns will increase in response to Russia’s improvements in military forces.

  • The growing conflict on the Eastern European side will likely cause an escalation of tensions in Western Europe. The presence of power politics by Russia and the weakening of liberal institutions in Europe likely have the ability to undermine US security on a global front. As Western Europe contains some of the US’ strongest allies, it is likely that the preservation of the Western liberal order depends on the stands taken by various allies in a stage of conflict.

  • Russian-sponsored actors could likely perform actions to further destabilize US security, such as interfering in US election processes or conducting disinformation campaigns and cyberattacks.

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[1]About school shootings” by Scott licensed under Creative Commons

[2] School threats posted on TikTok deemed not credible; security beefs up across nation, USA Today, December 2021, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2021/12/16/tiktok-violence-threats-schools-united-states-security/8933323002/

[3] Russia Lays Out Demands for a Sweeping New Security Deal With NATO, New York Times, December 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/17/world/europe/russia-nato-security-deal.html

[4] Russian Influence and Unconventional Warfare Operations in the “Grey Zone”: Lessons from Ukraine, US Senate hearing, 2017, https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CHRG-115shrg28945/html/CHRG-115shrg28945.htm


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