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
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.
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,"
reason.com, June 9, 2010
Rod Nordland, "NATO
Carries Out Air Strikes Inside Pakistan," nytimes.com, September 27, 2010
Sheldon Richman, "U.S.
Covert War Provokes Terrorism in Yemen," fff.org, November 2, 2010
Declan Walsh, "US embassy cables reveal elite American troops
secretly embedded with Pakistan military to hunt down militants,"
atimes.com, November 30, 2010
James Glanz and John Markoff, "U.S.
Underwrites Internet Detour Around Censors," nytimes.com, June 12,
[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," atimes.com, August 5, 2011]
Craig Whitlock and Greg Miller, "U.S. assembling secret drone bases in Africa,
Arabian Peninsula, officials say," washingtonpost.com, September
[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," nytimes.com,
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,"
tomdispatch.com, 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,"
politico.com, 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," tomdispatch.com, 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," theintercept.com, July 1, 2022]