U.S. Special Operations Forces’ Changing Mission in the Middle East

Despite former President Barack Obama’s efforts to cut U.S. military commitments in the Middle East, events quickly drew his Administration back into the region. Civil war in Syria, Libya, Yemen, and, particularly, ISIS’s 2014 expansion into Iraq combined to keep Washington militarily involved the region.

However, the nature of this involvement has changed significantly. Rather than commit regular troops, the U.S. has increasingly relied on elite special operations forces (SOF) to accomplish its goals. In Syria alone, SOF deployments have grown steadily from roughly 300 in early 2016 to over 700 today, and reports suggest further increases as the Trump Administration ramps up its anti-ISIS strategy.

“The Cipher Brief has become the most popular outlet for former intelligence officers; no media outlet is even a close second to The Cipher Brief in terms of the number of articles published by formers.” —Sept. 2018, Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 62

Access all of The Cipher Brief’s national security-focused expert insight by becoming a Cipher Brief Subscriber+ Member.


Related Articles

How Safe Would We Be Without Section 702?

SUBSCRIBER+EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW — A provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that has generated controversy around fears of the potential for abuse has proven to be crucial […] More