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Navy SEALs Aren’t Enough to Win War on Terror

Author: Max Boot, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow for National Security Studies
October 6, 2013
New York Post


The paradox, and saving grace, of the Obama presidency is that while the president is indecisive about big things — the Afghan surge, intervention in Syria, entitlement reform, repealing the sequester, reopening the federal government, even the fast disappearing "Pacific pivot" — he is very decisive about ordering drone strikes and raids by Special Operations Forces (or SOF) on terrorist targets.

Indeed, Obama may well be the most SOF-friendly president we've ever had.

This weekend, acting on the president's orders, Special Operations teams came ashore in both Somalia and Libya. In Libya, the operators captured Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, alias Abu Anas al-Liby, who is wanted for the bombing of two US embassies in Africa in 1998.

In Somalia, SEALs targeted a senior leader of the Shabab, the Islamist terrorist group responsible for the massacre at the Westgate mall in Nairobi. It is unclear if they killed their target because the team had to withdraw under fire, but even if the raid was not entirely successful, it sent a welcome message to terrorist plotters that they cannot hide from the long arm of the US Special Operations Command.

That is a much-needed message to send, and it helps in a small way to begin undoing some of the damage from Obama's vacillation over Syria, which signaled American confusion and retreat.

But, while important and welcome, Special Operations raids and drone strikes will not by themselves win the War on Terror.

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