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Fighting wars in 7 countries

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The U.S. military is officially fighting wars in seven countries, according to the White House’s latest war report. Known formally as the «Report on the Legal and Policy Frameworks Guiding the United States’ Military Force and Related National Security Operations,» the unclassified portion flags ops in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Niger — all under the banner of the same war authority granted in the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force to fight al-Qaeda-linked militants.

Groups the U.S. military is fighting: AQ, ISIS, the Houthis in Yemen, the Taliban, the Haqqani network, the Assad regime (with the April 2017 cruise missile strikes), al-Shabab, and «elements [in Niger] assessed to be part of ISIS.» The report’s classified annex goes into the groups in more detail.

The largest section is reserved for Syria, not that that makes it any easier to say which of these conflicts might wrap up first, as they still encompass the «arc of instability» referenced by Obama-era officials — and even President George W. Bush almost exactly 12 years ago.

Reminder about why all these conflicts are legal: the 2002 AUMF «contains no geographic limitation on where authorized force may be employed… to defend the national security of the United States.»

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Also in the report: confirmation «that the U.S. is sharing intel with the Saudis in their Yemen bombing campaign, though U.S. military officials continue to deny that they’re doing so,» Breaking Defense‘s Paul McCleary noted Wednesday on Twitter. Read the full report, here.

One more thing about Yemen: Defense Secretary Mattis is a big fan of the U.S. military’s Saudi support for its war in Yemen. So much so that he’s pleading with Congress (PDF) ahead of a Senate vote on whether to end U.S. assistance for a meandering conflict now its 1,087th consecutive day. The Washington Post has the rest of that story, here.


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