A new report out today has revealed that President Trump has stepped up attacks on both ISIS and al-Qaeda in the Middle East and Africa. The combination of airstrikes and drone attacks are now being supported by commandos on the ground in terrorist hotspots.
The new campaign against terrorist strongholds is the first indication President Trump is ramping up military efforts against terrorists. It seems the military is eager to oblige the President’s wishes. Most are eager for payback after the death of Navy SEAL Ryan Owens.
The moves appear to signal that the U.S. military is kicking off a more aggressive counterterrorism campaign — with the encouragement of President Trump — in a stepped up effort against the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) terror group in lawless Yemen, as well as ISIS strongholds in Syria and areas in North Africa where both groups have spread to in recent years, current and former special operations veterans said.
The Trump administration in late January launched the first known ground force operation in Yemen in two years followed by an unprecedented two-dozen or more airstrikes this week targeting al-Qaeda’s most dangerous affiliate, including airstrikes Thursday night. This week also saw the killing of al-Qaeda’s overall deputy leader in a U.S. drone strike in northwestern Syria.
A veteran of 20 years of secret military operations said authority to broaden counterterrorism operations overseas had occurred in recent months.
“Authorities have changed in special operations’ favor with the new administration,” he told ABC News. “We’re doing work on the bad guys.”
It appears the changes are a departure from the Obama administration, who seemed unwilling to get aggressive with terror.
Retired Army Special Forces Col. Mark Mitchell, an Obama National Security Council counterterrorism director and recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross in Afghanistan, said the chaos and lack of a functioning government in Yemen has “eliminated any real pressure on AQAP.”
“The increased counterterrorism operations are compensating for the absence of a Yemeni counterterrorism capability and highly restricted operations under the Obama administration,” Mitchell said today.
Un-announced fresh deployments of elite American commando units from the Army’s Delta Force and Navy SEAL teams continue, officials told ABC News, to Syria and Iraq to strike ISIS, and to the Horn of Africa region to target al-Qaeda, with some in the military welcoming Trump’s tough talk on counterterrorism.
“We don’t know for sure what will happen, but the boys really think we’re going to see a lot of action on this deployment — because of the new administration,” said one member of a special mission unit that deployed overseas recently.
Contrary to media reports, the Yemen raid that claimed Ryan Owens’ life is being considered a success. It revealed key intelligence, and in addition, it is now being put to good use.
Senior military officials comment on the raid and the intelligence recovered.
A senior official told ABC News on Thursday that one computer hard drive and phones containing a wealth of contact information for al-Qaeda operatives around the region were recovered by the SEALs — which was their primary objective, not the killing of senior leadership, many officials have said.
While the Yemen operation has become politicized in Washington as having “failed,” with some Democrats questioning whether any intelligence gains were worth the high cost of SEAL Ryan Owens’ life, a $75 million aircraft crashed and children killed in crossfire, military analysts continue “docex” — document exploitation — in an eavesdrop-proof sensitive compartmented information facility.
A senior official yesterday insisted, however, that, “the raid produced valuable intelligence.”