U.S. Is Said to Order Further Clandestine Military Action

The New York Times reports that he top American commander in the Middle East has ordered a broad expansion of clandestine military activity in an effort to disrupt militant groups or counter threats in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and other countries in the region, according to defense officials and military documents. The secret directive, the Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force Execute Order, signed on 30 September 2009 by Gen. David H. Petraeus, authorizes the sending of American Special Operations troops to both friendly and hostile nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa to gather intelligence and build ties with local forces. Officials said the order also permits reconnaissance that could pave the way for possible military strikes in Iran if tensions over its nuclear ambitions escalate. It may also have helped lay a foundation for the surge of American military activity in Yemen that began three months later.

While the Bush administration had approved some clandestine military activities far from designated war zones, the new order is intended to make such efforts more systematic and long term, officials said. Its goals are to build networks that could “penetrate, disrupt, defeat or destroy” Al Qaeda and other militant groups, as well as to “prepare the environment” for future attacks by American or local military forces, the document said. The order, however, does not appear to authorize offensive strikes in any specific countries.

General Petraeus’s order is meant for small teams of American troops to  fill intelligence gaps about terror organizations and other threats in  the Middle East and beyond, especially emerging groups plotting attacks  against the United States.

Unlike covert actions undertaken by the C.I.A., such clandestine  activity does not require the president’s approval or regular reports to Congress, although Pentagon officials have said that any significant  ventures are cleared through the National Security Council. Special Operations  troops have already been sent into a number of countries to carry out  reconnaissance missions, including operations to gather intelligence  about airstrips and bridges.

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2 Responses

  1. http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2010/05/obama-gives-commanders-wide-berth-for-secret-warfare/57202/

    The Times did not report its original classified codename, “Avocado.” The name has since been changed.

    Other “ex-ords” signed by combatant commanders include provisions for secret American bases and operations in countries like Georgia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and in the Dagestan region of the North Caucuses. In the latter space, U.S. soldiers were tasked with tracking down members of identified separatist groups with loose ties to Al Qaeda. One of those groups was responsible for the March 31 bombings in Kizlyar, according to American intelligence officials.

  2. […] General Petraeus informed Saleh.  Saleh reacted  coolly, however, to the General’s proposal to place USG  personnel inside the area of operations armed with real-time,  dire….  “You cannot enter the operations area and you must stay in  the joint operations […]

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