Since the beginning of last year the Obama administration has embraced the hunter-killer mission with vigor, noted the Wall Street Journal.
Three days after the commando raid in Pakistan, the U.S. military launched a drone missile strike in southern Yemen aimed at killing New Mexico-born Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen. The targeted Muslim cleric was not killed, but two other purported al-Qaeda members were.
The Pentagons Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which also directs the Seals, is in charge of the attacks against Yemen, with help from the CIA. Over the past two years Washington has launched cruise missiles at Yemen from Navy ships and munitions from Marine Harrier jets.
On May 6 the CIA unleashed another CIA Predator drone attack in North Waziristan in Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan, killing at least 15 people. The missiles damaged a restaurant and nearby home. It was the 195th CIA drone attack against Pakistan since Obama took office.
The current administration has increased Predator assassination attacks fivefold, killing four times as many terrorist suspects by Predators in 27 months than the George W. Bush White House did in eight years, wrote National Review columnist Victor Hanson.
In the days since the bin Laden killing, media reports and accounts from the Seal assault team have made clear that the only shots fired at the Seals came from the guest house shortly after the U.S. squad landed. A man and woman in that outbuilding were killed. Nobody in the main house where bin Laden resided was carrying a weapon.
The policy was to kill any adult male while neutralizing women, wrote William Saletan in a May 5 Slate article titled Their Fates Were SEALed. Bin Ladens son coming down the stairs was shot dead, while a woman who reportedly rushed toward the Seals as they entered an upstairs bedroom was shot in the leg. Then without hesitation the same commando put two fatal bullets in a man standing in pajamasbin Laden.
Only one woman killed, one wounded, and no children dead or injuredthats more than can be said for most U.S. drone attacks.
The raid involved secretly crossing the border from Afghanistan and flying over more than 120 miles of Pakistani airspace. It was conducted without informing Pakistani authorities beforehand, in violation of the countrys sovereignty.
Prior to the assault, Obama gave the go-ahead to engage Pakistani troops in an armed confrontation if they interfered with the operation. The president doubled the size of the attack force traveling to the compound. Four Black Hawk helicopters instead of the original plan of two were sent to Abbottabad, one of which was damaged while landing.
The U.S. military dubbed the mission Operation Geronimo, leading to calls by Native Americans for Obama to apologize for using this name. Equating the Apache leader, who led resistance to the dispossession and genocide of Native Americans, to Osama bin Laden was insulting, Suzan Shown Harjo, a member of the Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, told a Congressional hearing May 5. Geronimo EKIA!enemy killed in actionwas the Seals radio message after they fired two shots, one into bin Ladens left eye.
Since 2009 the Obama administration has increased the number of U.S. strike teams in Afghanistan from 4 to 20. Each has 10 to 100 men, unnamed U.S. officials told the Journal. Over the past year special operations forces have conducted some 11,500 operations in Afghanistan, killing some 3,200 insurgents and capturing 8,000.
Plans are in the works to increase the number of such missions in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and beyond under JSOCs command. JSOC controls the Pentagons three classified special-mission units: the Armys Delta Force and the Air Forces 24th Special Tactics Squadron, in addition to the Seals.
There are currently 61,000 U.S. special operations troops, up from 45,500 in 2001. This accounts for about 5 percent of all U.S. active duty forces. Over the past decade Special Operations Commands budget grew from $2.3 billion to nearly $10 billion today.
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home