Boko Haram kidnaps hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls to be used as sex slaves. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb guns down dozens of victims at the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Still other terrorists attack the Radisson Blu in Mali, just one week after the Islamic State attacked Paris. Africa has been suffering from still more terrorist shootings, bombings and suicide attacks, regularly.

How should the United States respond to these increasing Islamist attacks in Africa? The U.S. command there has figured out a clever way to make a significant difference without overstepping its orders. But as the problem of Islamist insurgencies continues, the United States will have to watch out for mission creep.

How the U.S. usually approaches insurgencies

Currently, U.S. military policy tilts back and forth between counterinsurgency and counterterror operations (or COIN and CT, in military parlance).