Since 9/11 we have seen a revolution in how the entire US defense structure approaches and deals with the issue of terrorism. While the Clinton administration introduced some legislation that would pave the way for “targeted” killings in instances where there was an Executive Finding, the Clinton administration took a limp-wristed approach to intelligence gathering and counter-terrorism for the bulk for the 1990s, including missed opportunities to kill Al Qaeda head honcho, Osama Bin Laden.
The post-9/11 Bush Administration not only swung US Special Operations forces into action, along with Para-Military and Clandestine Services, but also pushed hard for an expansion of these capabilities. Then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld played a large role in expanding the Special Forces Regiment and personally visited the Delta Force compound on Ft. Bragg to get a better understanding of how counter-terrorist forces operate.
Obama stepped into the White House during a transition period where America was withdrawing from Iraq and attempting to hash out an exit strategy for Afghanistan. While timelines were debated, shifted to the right, and a number of phony withdrawals were staged for the media, the US military did pull out of Iraq and is currently working towards doing the same in Afghanistan. No doubt this action has increased support from both the Pentagon and the American public with the near total lose of credibility of US Counter-Insurgency strategy with the so-called “insider” or “green on blue” attack where our Afghan allies suddenly turn on and kill American soldiers.
In the face of this withdrawal, the War on Terror seems to be decreasing in over all troop deployments while simultaneously expanding in all directions with low-visibility operations in places like Yemen, Somalia, Iran, Mali, and Libya. Meanwhile, other long standing operations have continued in places like Colombia which have been largely ignored by a media, and perhaps a Pentagon, that has a fixation on the Middle East.
With SEAL Team Six eliminating Osama Bin Laden during Obama’s watch, the Special Operations community has received unprecedented popularity in the public arena. Reportedly, the Obama Administration has delegated responsibility for counter-terrorist operations to JSOC and his National Security Council, leaving them more or less to their own devices.