ISIS forces in Iraq
CORRECTION: The following piece was mislabeled as an analysis piece rather than opinion.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order last week that bars citizens from Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Syria from entering the United States for 90 days, suspends refugee admission programs for 120 days and indefinitely bans Syrian refugees. Many questions have been raised about this controversial executive action. Since this action is characterized as a national security measure, this analysis will examine two questions: first, will such a policy measurably contribute to U.S. national security interests at home and abroad? And second, why the sudden change in strategy? Read More
Members of Boko Haram
The State Department has launched a pilot program to prevent the growth of terrorism – set to complement the ongoing U.S. counterterrorism efforts in Africa. Read More
An F/A-18F Super Hornet launches from the flight deck of aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) on Jan. 2, 2016. The Navy said operations in the Middle East have continued unimpeded despite diplomatic tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Sudan. US Navy photo.
PENTAGON – Tensions in the Middle East stemming from the Jan. 2 execution of a prominent Shiite cleric in Saudi Arabia have not yet affected operations in U.S. 5th Fleet, Navy and Defense Department spokesmen said today. Read More
SS Barry (DDG-52) launches a Tomahawk cruise missile to support Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn. Odyssey Dawn near Libya in 2011. US Navy
When looking for insights and answers to the complex problem the United States confronts in Syria, there is no shortage of examples of punitive military operations against bad actors from which to draw lessons. In the past 30 years the United States and its allies have launched punitive airstrikes against, to name a few: Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Bosnia, Kosovo, Sudan and Afghanistan. Clearly the “measured military response” is a favored approach for American leaders when dealing with rogue actors. What is interesting this time around is the unprecedented public debate about whether or not such tactical measures actually work. Read More
On the 11th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, al Qaeda affiliates staged a series of attacks against U.S. diplomatic missions in the Middle East. Inciting protests against the film, “Innocence of Muslims,” or possibly taking advantage of existing demonstrations, militants with alledged links to Al Qaeda burned the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service information management officer Sean Smith and two contracted American security personnel. Within days, violent protests sprung up in over two dozen countries across the Muslim world. In Sana’a, Yemen, protestors forcibly entered the U.S. Embassy compound and burned the American flag, replacing it with a black flag bearing the Islamic shahada.
Since the Benghazi attack, Al Qaeda and Hezbollah have threatened U.S. personnel and facilities. In light of Ambassador Stevens’ death, and remembering the 52 Americans held hostage for 444 days by “protestors” in Iran, there is growing concern about the ability of Americans to protect themselves inside diplomatic missions. While Marines from Fleet Anti-Terrorist Security Teams (FAST) have been deployed to Yemen, questions remain as to why Marines or other U.S. military forces have not been sent to other embassies. Before we discuss the operational details of what U.S. forces are available, it is imperative that we understand the political context in which our military is used to protect U.S. diplomatic missions abroad.
Fleet Anti-Terrorist Security Team during an international training exercise. U.S. Marine Corps Photo
First, chiefs of mission, usually ambassadors, are the President’s personal representative to a given country. As such, the chief of mission has authority over every executive branch employee in that country except military personnel assigned to a theater commander. Also, according to the Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual, “The Secretary of State shall develop and implement policies and programs to provide for the safe and efficient evacuation of United States Government personnel, dependents, and private United States citizens when their lives are Endangered.” So, all activities related to diplomatic security and evacuation are under the purview of the State Department. Any U.S. military forces used to protect/evacuate diplomatic missions must be activated at the request and approval of both the secretary of State and the chief of mission.