June 4, 2010
The Washington Post

U.S. 'Secret War' Expands Globally

by Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe

Beneath its commitment to soft-spoken diplomacy and beyond the combat zones of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Obama administration has significantly expanded a largely secret U.S. war against al-Qaeda and other radical groups, according to senior military and administration officials.

Special Operations forces have grown both in number and budget, and are deployed in 75 countries, compared with about 60 at the beginning of last year. In addition to units that have spent years in the Philippines and Colombia, teams are operating in Yemen and elsewhere in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia.

Commanders are developing plans for increasing the use of such forces in Somalia, where a Special Operations raid last year killed the alleged head of al-Qaeda in East Africa. Plans exist for preemptive or retaliatory strikes in numerous places around the world, meant to be put into action when a plot has been identified, or after an attack linked to a specific group.

The surge in Special Operations deployments, along with intensified CIA drone attacks in western Pakistan, is the other side of the national security doctrine of global engagement and domestic values President Obama released last week.

One advantage of using "secret" forces for such missions is that they rarely discuss their operations in public. . . .

The Obama administration has rejected the constitutional executive authority claimed by Bush and has based its lethal operations on the authority Congress gave the president in 2001 to use "all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons" he determines "planned, authorized, committed, or aided" the Sept. 11 attacks.

Many of those currently being targeted, Bellinger said, "particularly in places outside Afghanistan," had nothing to do with the 2001 attacks.


Realpolitik and Terrorism

Parveez Syed, "CIA: Covert US Warriors Examined," Shanti RTV News Agency, March 28, 1997

Eric Margolis, "CIA Claims of Cancelled Assassination Campaign are Hogwash," Toronto Sun, July 19, 2009

[The US has authorised a sweeping expansion of covert military operations in the Middle East and Africa, aimed at destroying terrorist networks in the region, and preparing the ground ahead of any presidential decision to attack Iran.--Rupert Cornwell, "US to launch covert strikes on terror targets," Guardian, May 26, 2010]

Tim Reid and Michael Evans, "Obama secretly deploys US special forces to 75 countries across world," Sunday Times, June 5, 2010

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, "How Somalia's civil war became new front in battle against al-Qaida," Guardian, June 7, 2010

Jacob Sullum, "License to Kill: Obama blurs the line between warfare and summary execution,", June 9, 2010

Rod Nordland, "NATO Carries Out Air Strikes Inside Pakistan,", September 27, 2010

Sheldon Richman, "U.S. Covert War Provokes Terrorism in Yemen,", November 2, 2010

Declan Walsh, "US embassy cables reveal elite American troops secretly embedded with Pakistan military to hunt down militants,", November 30, 2010

James Glanz and John Markoff, "U.S. Underwrites Internet Detour Around Censors,", June 12, 2011

[This global presence - in about 60% of the world's nations and far larger than previously acknowledged - provides striking new evidence of a rising clandestine Pentagon power elite waging a secret war in all corners of the world.--Nick Turse, "A secret war in 120 countries,", August 5, 2011]

Craig Whitlock and Greg Miller, "U.S. assembling secret drone bases in Africa, Arabian Peninsula, officials say,", September 20, 2011

[The Special Operations Command now numbers just under 66,000 people - including both military personnel and Defense Department civilians - a doubling since 2001. Its budget has reached $10.5 billion, up from $4.2 billion in 2001--Eric Schmitt, Mark Mazzetti and Thom Shanker, "Admiral Seeks Freer Hand in Deployment of Elite Forces,", February 12, 2012]

[While SEAL Team 6 has received extensive coverage, what could be considered the military story of the twenty-first century, the massive, ongoing expansion of a secret force (functionally the president's private army) cocooned inside the U.S. military - now at almost 70,000 personnel and growing - has gotten next to none.--Nick Turse, "A Secret War in 135 Countries,", September 24, 2015]

[DOD has spent at least $122 billion arming and training foreign partners in the past 15 years.--Lora Lumpe and Jeremy Ravinsky, "The Pentagon's secret foreign aid budget,", March 8, 2016]

[on any given day, more than 8,000 exceptionally well-equipped and well-funded special operators from a command numbering roughly 70,000 active-duty personnel, reservists, and National Guardsmen as well as civilians are deployed in approximately 90 countries.--Nick Turse, "The Global Growth of U.S. Special Operations Forces,", July 17, 2018]

[a new document obtained through the Freedom of Information Act offers the first official confirmation that at least 14 127e programs were also active in the greater Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region as recently as 2020. In total, between 2017 and 2020, U.S. commandos conducted at least 23 separate 127e programs across the world.--Nick Turse and Alice Speri "HOW THE PENTAGON USES A SECRETIVE PROGRAM TO WAGE PROXY WARS,", July 1, 2022]

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