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6 - America’s Small-Footprint Wars

Asia, Africa, and the Middle East

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 December 2021

Thomas H. Henriksen
Affiliation:
Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, California
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Summary

This chapter takes up the pursuit of the global war on terrorism, as the Pentagon deploys small teams of Special Operations Forces, who work with CIA professionals and State Department or Agency for International Development officials to contain the spread of terrorist groups in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. These mini-conflicts focus on counterterrorism operations where the US Green Berets or other SOFs work “by, with, and through” local partners to combat terrorists/insurgents fighting under the banner of Salafi jihadism. They train, mentor, and equip locally recruited fighters to act as force multipliers for the US detachments of between 500 and 700 personnel in each country. Underpinning this form of warfare are high-tech surveillance, along with airstrikes from drones, helicopters, and missiles. American forces have proven to be masters of eliminating key terrorist facilitators, bomb makers, and clerics who foment violent extremism. They have so far kept countries from being overrun by Islamist militants as partially took place in Syria and Iraq in 2014. While cost-effective in sparing America lives and financial expenditures, plus safeguarding the homeland and most allied countries from ravages of major terrorism, the small-footprint operations in remote non-Western lands have incurred rancor from journalists, pundits, and some elected officials. Presidents Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and now Joseph Biden have campaigned and made moves to pullout US forces from what are termed “forever wars.”

Type
Chapter
Information
America's Wars
Interventions, Regime Change, and Insurgencies after the Cold War
, pp. 176 - 213
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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