The first year of the administration of US President Donald Trump saw a reinvigoration of US military operations in Libya and Pakistan, as well as a record number of airstrikes launched against both Somalia and Yemen.
The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a nonprofit foreign policy and national security think tank, released their Long War Journal on Thursday. The report tracks US airstrikes in Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.
The FDD found that US air campaigns have intensified since Obama’s presidency ended and Trump’s began.
The Obama administration’s policy for “areas outside of active hostilities” was limited airstrikes partnered with support to the local government. Trump meanwhile has loosened the rules of engagement and given the military more decision-making power.
In 2017, the US launched 120 strikes in Yemen, more than the entirety of strikes launched during Obama’s second term. US airstrikes in Yemen began in 2007.
However, US Central Command (CENTCOM) has been dodgy in their reporting of the specifics of the strikes. Only four strikes were accompanied with detailed reports about who CENTCOM was targeting and why.
Meanwhile, the US launched an additional 35 strikes in Somalia after Trump greenlit US Africa Command to use military force against al-Shabaab, a local group. The Defense and State Departments upped al-Shabaab’s threat assessment as the group expanded its territory in southern Somalia, overrunning African Union forces in the process.
The US launched airstrikes in both Somalia and Yemen for the first time in 2017.
The heyday of the US bombing campaign in Pakistan has seemingly passed: 117 strikes were launched during the campaign’s peak in 2010, compared to just three in 2016 and eight in 2017.
Libya was infamously the site of a concerted US bombing campaign in 2011 as Washington threw its weight behind groups fighting against President Muammar Gaddafi. However, Gaddafi’s fall triggered the collapse of Libya’s entire government .
The US launched 497 airstrikes in Libya in 2016 — all but two were part of the the Battle of Sirte. The other two strikes were part of counterterrorism operations.