Micah Zenko

Politics, Power, and Preventive Action

Zenko covers the U.S. national security debate and offers insight on developments in international security and conflict prevention.

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You Might Have Missed: Terrorist Attacks, Victory 206, and U.S. Armed Forces

by Micah Zenko
December 20, 2013

An Afghan policeman keeps watch on October 18, 2013, at the site of a car bomb attack launched by Taliban fighters on a convoy of vehicles in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Mohammad Ismail/Courtesy Reuters) An Afghan policeman keeps watch on October 18, 2013, at the site of a car bomb attack launched by Taliban fighters on a convoy of vehicles in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Mohammad Ismail/Courtesy Reuters)

Despite Fewer Attacks in Western World, Global Terrorism Increasing,” National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, December 19, 2013.

Although terrorism touched 85 countries in 2012, just three – Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan – suffered more than half of 2012’s attacks (54%) and fatalities (58%), according to new data released today by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) Global Terrorism Database (GTD), based at the University of Maryland. The next five most frequently targeted countries were India, Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen and Thailand.


Exclusive: How Diplomacy Helped Cause an F-18 Crash,” ForeignPolicy.com, December 19, 2013.

VICTORY 206 inquired about diverting to Muscat, but was denied. Muscat, although 84 miles closer than Masirah (from the end of the Boulevard), is not the “diplomatically preferred” divert. CAG OPS stated that, per .the Defense Attac—to the US Embassy in Oman—there are significant sensitivities regarding diverting US military aircraft, even unarmed, into Muscat. Tactical aircraft diverts are almost always sent to Masirah, which is about twice as far away as Muscat, even though Muscat is briefed as an option. Thus, when it was thought that VICTORY 206 was “just a normal divert” and could make it to Masirah with at least 2,000 lbs of fuel, Muscat was not considered as an option.

(3PA: The above passage comes from a letter to the commander of the carrier air wing seven on the subject of “Command Investigation Into The Facts And Circumstances Surrounding The Aviation Mishap That Occurred On 08 April 2013 In The Northern Arabian Sea,” which Foreign Policy reporter Dan Lamothe obtained through a FOIA request. It is an important internal account of how diplomatic sensitivities impact U.S. military operations )


H.R.3304 — National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014, 113th Congress.

SEC. 1043. REPORT ON PROCESS FOR DETERMINING TARGETS OF LETHAL OR CAPTURE OPERATIONS.

Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense shall submit to the congressional defense committees a report containing an explanation of the legal and policy considerations and approval processes used in determining whether an individual or group of individuals could be the target of a lethal operation or capture operation conducted by the Armed Forces of the United States outside the United States and outside of Afghanistan.


Yemen’s Reeling Following Last Drone Blunder,” Yemen Post, December 15, 2013.

Keen to defuse popular anger, military officials confirmed this Saturday that the coalition government had already paid the families an estimated $140,000 notwithstanding traditional gifts, such as guns as per tribal customs.


Message to the Congress—Report Consistent with War Powers Resolution,” White House, December 13, 2013.

There are approximately 55,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and the United States Armed Forces are on track to meet the Afghanistan Force Management Level of 34,000 by February 12, 2014…

These forces joined U.S. forces already in Jordan for a total of approximately 1,500 U.S. military personnel…

Approximately 715 military personnel are assigned to the U.S. contingent of the Multinational Force and Observers, which have been present in Egypt since 1981…

Currently, 23 NATO Allies contribute to KFOR. Eight non-NATO countries also participate. The U.S. contribution to KFOR is approximately 670 U.S. military personnel out of the total strength of approximately 4,900 personnel…

The total number of U.S. military personnel deployed to Niger is approximately 200
The number of U.S. military personnel deployed to the central Africa region, including advisors deployed for this mission and personnel providing logistical and support functions to this and other missions, is approximately 120.

(3PA: Exact numbers were not provided for Libya or Yemen.)


10 Years Later, Many Think Cost Outweighed Benefit of Saddam Capture,” CBS, December 12, 2013.

Most Republicans think toppling the Iraqi dictator was worth the loss of American life but majorities of both Democrats and independents disagree.

CBS Poll

CBS Poll

(3PA: It was “worth” 180,000 Iraqi and 4,400 U.S. troop deaths, and $2.2 trillion in costs.)

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