U of U students took part in counterterrorism simulation last weekend

Apr 12, 2023, 5:00 AM | Updated: Jan 5, 2024, 11:30 am

university of utah stadium and campus...

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — As part of their law education, students at the University of Utah participated in a counterterrorism simulation on Friday, April 7.

U of U law professor Amos Guiora created the exercise to help educate students studying national security and foreign policy. Guiora was trained in counterterrorism while serving in the Israeli military.

On Tuesday, Guiora joined Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson to discuss how the simulation went and what was learned. 

How the counterterrorism simulation got started

Matheson started off by asking, “How did this come about?”

Guiora says he has been involved in simulations for nearly 30 years.

“When I served in the Israel Defense Force, participation in the job that I was a candidate for was a condition for promotion,” Guiora said. 

He says that he spent two or three days around the clock in a simulation with a one-star general, literally looking over his shoulder.

“It was a brutal experience,” Guiora said. “When finished with it, I said to myself ‘this is an extraordinary skill tool, never wanted to be simulated again.'”

Guiora says when he arrived in America as an educator in 2004, he began to prepare and create counterterrorism simulations. 

“And when I came here in 2007, it became an integral part of the course I teach, global perspectives on counterterrorism,” he said.

Course expansion

Guiora says the topic has been expanded into two courses. The first, is a semester-long course that deals with global perspective. Those students are the ones who took part in the simulation, according to Guiora.

The second course is a year-long class called simulation design. These students took the first course previously. They now work closely with Guiora to create simulations.

“It’s a huge operation,” he said. “The law school is all in.”

In addition to students in both classes, Guiora says he had about 20 volunteers, who also helped with the simulation. He says four simulations were conducted throughout the day.

Guiora says they started at 6 a.m. and were finished by 11:30 p.m.

“No other law school in the United States of America that does this,” Guiora said. 

He says during each three-hour simulation each student had to perform a superior briefing. This requires a student to stand on their feet for 10 minutes and discuss a particular issue to two people. According to Guiora, these individuals are “super prepared” and push back on the person.

Additionally, each student had to perform an oral articulation in front of a camera on a specific issue. 

He says after the three-hour simulation, a 45 minute-debriefing panel with former students was held. The former students ask the current students questions about the decisions they made and the decisions their team made.

Students defend decisions

Guiora says the simulation is part of two-part final examination. The other portion of the exam requires students to meet with him one-on-one to defend their decisions. 

This will help his students be better prepared for real-life situations.

“Anybody who’s been involved in counterterrorism knows, sometimes you get it right,” Guiora said. “Sometimes you get it wrong, and you got to be able to own it and explain why you made what was clearly the wrong choice.”

Listen to the entire segment.


Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app. 

Read more: University of Utah researchers unveil Utah Bionic Leg

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U of U students took part in counterterrorism simulation last weekend