(Saagar Enjeti, The Daily Caller News Foundation) – The U.S. has carried out at least 74 counter-terrorism strikes outside of declared combat zones in the 74 days since President Donald Trump took office, Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations notes.
The majority of the strikes Zenko notes occurred in Yemen, where Trump has relaxed the targeting process. Trump declared Yemen an “area of active hostilities” after taking office, which allows the military to carry out counter-terrorism strikes without going through a White House-led approval process.
Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis confirmed Monday that the U.S. has struck Yemen more than 70 times since Feb. 28 alone. Zenko’s tally does not even include the hundreds of U.S. airstrikes the U.S. carried out in Iraq and Syria since Trump took office as part of the counter-Islamic State mission.
Yemen serves as sanctuary to militants from al-Qaida in the Arabian peninsula, who have hatched multiple complex plots to target the U.S. homeland. Trump also recently declared Somalia an area of active hostilities, which will loosen U.S. targeting restrictions on al-Shabaab, an active al-Qaida affiliate.
“The additional support provided by this authority will help deny Al-Shabab safe havens from which it could attack U.S. citizens or U.S. interests in the region,” Pentagon Spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told The New York Times in a statement.
Somalia’s reclassification will likely be accompanied by the same dramatic rise in counter-terrorism strikes, which will only raise Trump’s average number of strikes per day as president. Marine Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, commander of AFRICOM, told reporters the reclassification “allows us to prosecute targets in a more rapid fashion.”
Zenko further notes that Trump is far outpacing former President Barack Obama in his average strikes per day. By his tabulation, Obama carried out approximately one strike every 5.4 days through his eight years in office.
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