US President Barack Obama says American military personnel are carrying out “counter-terrorism” operations in 15 countries across the world.
In a biannual statement to Congress released on Monday, Obama laid out Washington’s strategy in its so-called War on Terror, indicating that the war had no specific timeline.
“It is not possible to know at this time the precise scope or the duration of the deployments of US Armed Forces necessary to counter terrorist threats to the United States,” the president said.
Obama noted that he ordered the operations in accordance with public law, as well as the War Powers Resolution, which allows him to commit the country to an armed conflict without mandate from Congress.
He has tasked American combat forces with specific missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Somalia, Yemen, Djibouti, Libya, Cuba, Niger, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Egypt, Jordan, and Kosovo,
Preventing attacks against the US mainland, stabilizing overall security and dealing “significant blows” to terror groups were among major objectives Obama said American forces were seeking in those countries.
The American head of state noted that if necessary, he was ready to “direct additional measures to protect US citizens and interests” in response to “terrorist threats.”
The announcement comes as a surprise to many because President Obama won the White House battle seven years ago after pledging to end the wars started by his predecessor, George W. Bush.
But now the country’s first ever black president, who won the Noble Peace Prize in 2009, is about to leave his office as the only president in US history to have served two complete terms with the nation at war.
According to New York Times, Obama managed to reduce troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan from Bush’s 200,000 to nearly 15,000, but still opened new fronts in Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.
“Obama thinks of war as an instrument he has to use very reluctantly. But we’re waging these long, rather strange wars. We’re killing lots of people. We’re taking casualties,” says Eliot Cohen, a military historian at Johns Hopkins University.