In a signal the White House intends to remove restrictions on fighting extremism, President Trump has signed a directive which gives the Pentagon more authority to carry out military strikes against militants operating in Africa and the Middle East by declaring territory in Somalia as “area of active hostilities.”
It is believed the new power aims to target al-Qaeda-linked terrorists operating in the Horn of Africa.
“The president has approved a Department of Defense proposal to provide additional precision fires in support of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali security forces operations to defeat al-Shabaab in Somalia,” said Pentagon spokesman, Captain Jeff Davis.
The move follows a White House authorization in mid-March in which the CIA gained more independence to act when conducting drone strikes in the Middle East, and is yet another departure from Obama-era military policy, which was rigidly centralized within the White House.
Similarly, Trump has recently ordered more troops to the region, including a battalion-sized unit to Syria, which is believed to be the first deployment to assist in the expected offensive to retake the city of Raqqa from ISIS.
Frequent Trump critic, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), supports the directive which gives on-the-ground commanders more leeway to run their own operations.
“We don’t have to ask the 30-something-year-olds for permission to respond to an attack in Afghanistan,” McCain said, in a reference to the micromanaged approach to fighting during the Obama administration.
[AP] [The Hill] [Middle East Eye] [AFP via Yahoo] [Photo courtesy Stars and Stripes]