Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC)

Latest in Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC)

Annals of the Trump Administration

Annals of the Trump Administration #7 (Prequel Edition): Shaping the War Obama Will Leave to Trump

With less than two months to go before it hands over power to the Trump administration, the Obama administration is continuing to fine-tune the legal, policy, and institutional architectures that guide its approach to the ongoing conflict with al Qaeda.  Under that heading, I want to flag some important recent developments.

1. AUMF expansion: al Shabaab is now a full-fledged "associated force" 

NDAA

Oversight of DOD Kill-Capture Missions Outside Theaters of Major Hostilities: What May Change Under the Next NDAA?

Despite the substantial overlap between counterterrorism activities undertaken by the CIA and JSOC, we tend to pay a lot more attention to the details of the congressional oversight framework for the former as compared to the latter.  The NDAA often addresses CT oversight relating to DOD activities, however, and this year is no exception. What follows below is an attempt to provide a user-friendly guide to the proposals on the table.

 

I. Increasing the pace of quarterly operational briefings regarding CT:

Somalia

Boots on the Ground in Somalia: Acting "By, With, and Through" a Local Partner to Minimize Friction

These days, when the United States plays the lead role in using lethal force or detaining and interrogating prisoners, the force typically involves only airpower and detention-and-interrogation typically are just transient.  This has the effect of tamping down the political, legal, and diplomatic headaches that follow from using boots-on-the-ground to conduct raids and from holding detainees for the long term.  But these are not the only means by which to tamp down those frictions.

detention

The Expeditionary Targeting Force in Iraq: Putting the Short-Term Military Detention Model to the Test

It is commonly said that the Obama administration rejects the use of military detention, and understandably so.  Many factors support that characterization, after all: no new detainees have been brought to Guantanamo under this administration; President Obama himself has depicted GTMO as inconsistent with our values and the rule of law (despite the fact that his Justice Department has been defending the legality of the GTMO detention model for seven years and counting); and in recent years we ended U.S.

targeted killing

Storifying the Oversight System for JSOC Kill/Capture Ops

I'm not certain this adds value, but I've decided to give Storify a shot.  My first shot at it uses the platform to pull together my posts on the ongoing development of the statutory regime for oversight of kill/capture ops conducted by the military outside of theaters of major ongoing hostilities, along with some accompanying commentary from others and links to news articles and the statute itself.  Not particularly different from my regular post here at Lawfare a few hours ago, but a different packaging.  My sense is this will be useful in some contexts much more than others.

Targeted Killings

Eliminating the Afghanistan Exception to the Oversight Regime for Military Kill/Capture Ops

A little-noticed provision of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 might expand Congressional oversight of kill/capture operations conducted by the U.S. military.  The change arguably reflects the ongoing process whereby U.S. involvement in Afghanistan is coming to resemble our involvement in Yemen and Somalia (and we now might add Libya), and constitutes the latest development in the long-running process whereby we are evolving a legal architecture for kinetic operations in situations that are not obviously full-fledged combat operations. 

Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC)

SEAL Team 6 in the Spotlight: Takeaways from the Times' Article

This weekend the New York Times ran a lengthy piece about SEAL Team 6, with the dramatic subtitle “A Secret History of Quiet Killings and Blurred Lines: The unit best known for killing Osama bin Laden has been converted into a global manhunting machine with limited outside oversight.” With that framing, I anticipated the story might reveal operations involving the use of lethal force against groups or individuals not obviously within the sco

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