Small Wars Journal

In Libya Strike, Military Shows New Lethal Powers Under

In Libya Strike, Military Shows New Lethal Powers Under Trump by Paul D. Shrinkman – U.S. News & World Report

U.S. forces in Africa this week staged what would have been an otherwise unremarkable attack against Islamic State extremists but for one key detail: The operation was the first to rely on authorities granted under the Trump administration that allow the military to conduct lethal strikes outside a designated war zone and without explicit White House approval in advance.

An airstrike carried out on Tuesday in Libya killed "several" fighters from the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, according to a Thursday statement from U.S. Africa Command. It followed a similar drone attack last week that Trump personally approved, the first in Libya since the one President Barack Obama authorized in January the day before he stepped down from office.

But the latest operation is unique in that it did not take place in an "area of active hostilities," a term the Obama administration used to clarify where the U.S. is and is not at war and, perhaps more importantly, where military commanders – not the president or his immediate team – would determine whether a drone strike or other deadly operation was appropriate.

The rules that governed Tuesday's strike show how much more power the military now has to determine where it can go after terrorist networks, and it follows recent reports that the administration seeks to to increase the authority of the military and the CIA to conduct drone operations…

Read on.