Since 9/11 we have seen a revolution in how the entire US defense structure approaches and deals with the issue of terrorism. While the Clinton administration introduced some legislation that would pave the way for “targeted” killings in instances where there was an Executive Finding, the Clinton administration took a limp-wristed approach to intelligence gathering and counter-terrorism for the bulk for the 1990s, including missed opportunities to kill Al Qaeda head honcho, Osama Bin Laden.

The post-9/11 Bush Administration not only swung US Special Operations forces into action, along with Para-Military and Clandestine Services, but also pushed hard for an expansion of these capabilities. Then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld played a large role in expanding the Special Forces Regiment and personally visited the Delta Force compound on Ft. Bragg to get a better understanding of how counter-terrorist forces operate.

Obama stepped into the White House during a transition period where America was withdrawing from Iraq and attempting to hash out an exit strategy for Afghanistan. While timelines were debated, shifted to the right, and a number of phony withdrawals were staged for the media, the US military did pull out of Iraq and is currently working towards doing the same in Afghanistan. No doubt this action has increased support from both the Pentagon and the American public with the near total lose of credibility of US Counter-Insurgency strategy with the so-called “insider” or “green on blue” attack where our Afghan allies suddenly turn on and kill American soldiers.

In the face of this withdrawal, the War on Terror seems to be decreasing in over all troop deployments while simultaneously expanding in all directions with low-visibility operations in places like Yemen, Somalia, Iran, Mali, and Libya. Meanwhile, other long standing operations have continued in places like Colombia which have been largely ignored by a media, and perhaps a Pentagon, that has a fixation on the Middle East.

With SEAL Team Six eliminating Osama Bin Laden during Obama’s watch, the Special Operations community has received unprecedented popularity in the public arena. Reportedly, the Obama Administration has delegated responsibility for counter-terrorist operations to JSOC and his National Security Council, leaving them more or less to their own devices.

SEAL Team Six. Probably not hurting for work during Obama’s second term.

This can be good or bad depending on your perspective. While many will applaud taking the training wheels off our Special Operations units and letting them do what they do best, we sometimes see chinks in the armor when things go wrong. One well publicized incident is the debacle in Benghazi, Libya.

Another, less publicized incident occurred when a van with two JSOC operators and one Civil Affairs Officer went over the side of a bridge in Mali. Sources indicate that they would have been transporting local nationals to a safehouse on the opposite side of the river that was used for clandestine operations.

What Obama’s Re-Election Means for US Counter-Terrorism Strategy

The question on the minds of many of our readers will be what the re-election of President Obama means for US counter-terrorism programs, units, and operations. Historically there is a feeling that the military benefits during a Republican administration but is defunded and ignored during a Democratic administration.