American troops now operating in 75 countries. President Obama has secretly sanctioned a huge increase in the number of US special forces carrying out search-and-destroy missions against al-Qaeda around the world. The dramatic expansion in the use of special forces, which in their global span go far beyond the covert missions authorized by George W. Bush, reflects how aggressively Obama is pursuing al-Qaeda behind his public rhetoric of global engagement and diplomacy.
When Obama took office US special forces were operating in fewer than 60 countries. In the past 18 months he has ordered a big expansion in Yemen and the Horn of Africa — known areas of strong al-Qaeda activity — and elsewhere in the Middle East, central Asia and Africa.
Obama has also approved pre-emptive special force strikes to disrupt terror plots, and has given the units powers and authority beyond that of former President Bush. The aggressive secret war against al-Qaeda and other radical groups has coincided with a surge in the number of US drone attacks in the lawless border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Obama has asked for a 5.7 per cent increase in the Special Operations budget for the 2011 fiscal year — a total of $6.3 billion — on top of an additional $3.5 billion he requested this year. Of about 13,000 US special forces deployed overseas, about 9,000 are evenly divided between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Their use, and the increase in drone attacks, is a strategy that has been strongly advocated by Joe Biden, the Vice-President, but criticized by the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Hundreds of civilians have died as a result of there special operations.
The order also allowed for US special forces to enter Iran to gather intelligence for a possible future military strike if tensions over its alleged nuclear weapons program escalate dramatically.
Title: Obama Secretly Deploys US Special Forces to 75 Countries Across World
Source: The Times (London) June 5, 2010
Authors: Tim Reid and Michael Evans, (Washington)
Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips, Sonoma State University