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Operational Principles in the US War Against Terror

The US war against terror has intensified aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, and to that day, remains one of the most contested and protracted US military operations abroad. The US war against terrorism included several operations in Afghanistan and Iraq against Taliban and al-Qaeda. Although the US military has significantly succeeded in its security aspirations, it also failed to uphold the principles of security, surprise, restrain, and legitimacy.

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In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, and other significant US buildings, the US has begun an intensive war against terrorism worldwide. As part of the broader war on terror, the US has initiated several military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq (Stewart, 2010). One of the principles violated across these operations was security and surprise principles. The security principle posits that the army should prevent the enemy from acquiring unexpected advantages. The surprise principle requires the military to attack at a time or place for which the adversarial side is unprepared. US army violated these principles because then-President Barack Obama announced the exact number of troops left in the Afghan territory and the date by which they will be retracted (Wilson, 2011). Such information permitted the enemy side to have unexpected advantages, allowing them to prepare beforehand for further attacks.

The US military violated restrain and legitimacy principles on several instances during these military operations. The restrain principle denotes that the army should limit collateral damage and prevent the excessive and unnecessary deployment of force. The legitimacy principle requires an army to maintain legal and moral authority in the operation process. The US army violated the former code because the US repeatedly fought with disregard for civilian lives. Despite “flying 64% fewer sorties over Afghanistan than NATO in the Kosovo war, the US navy and air force caused two to three times more direct civilian deaths” (Burke, 2004, p. 343). Moreover, the US military violated the legitimacy principle because the US government and the army embarked on targeted killings against individuals merely on the basis that they were “suspected combatants” (Kretzmer, 2005, p. 205). Thus, the US frequently failed to uphold principles of restraining and legitimacy during its war on terror.

References

Burke, A. (2004). Just war or ethical peace? Moral discourses of strategic violence after 9/11. International Affairs, 80(2), 329-353.

Kretzmer, D. (2005). Targeted killing of suspected terrorists: Extra-judicial executions or legitimate means of defence? European Journal of International Law, 16(2), 171-212.

Stewart, R. W. (2010). American military history, Volume II: The United States Army in a global era, 1917-2008. Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History, U.S. Army.

Wilson, S. (2011). Obama hugs the center in pulling troops from Afghanistan. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Operational Principles in the US War Against Terror'. 1 December.

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