President Barack Obama on Friday sent to Congress his biannual report on just where he’s deployed U.S. military personnel without their direct approval, including several locations that might surprise most casual observers.
The president is required under the War Powers Act of 1973 to detail to Congress any ongoing activities occurring without a declaration of war from the legislature. In the five page letter, Obama described several highly reported military operations taken over the last few months, including a daring raid into Somalia and the capture of a suspected terrorist in Libya. Alongside these feats and descriptions of the progress in Afghanistan, several lesser-known engagements are detailed, where hundreds of U.S. forces are currently stationed. Here’s five of them:
The United States’ desire to see the Assad regime removed in Syria is no secret, nor is their support for several of the rebel groups working to oust the Syrian president. Friday’s letter to Congress served as a remind of just how much the U.S. is doing to bring this about, having left behind at the request of Jordan “a combat-equipped detachment of approximately 700 U.S. personnel remain in Jordan following participation in a training exercise that ended on June 20, 2013.” Among the equipment they are stationed along the Syrian border with includes “Patriot missile systems, fighter aircraft, and related support, command, control, and communications personnel and systems.” Their presence brings the total number of U.S. troops in Jordan to 1,500, among which are U.S. Special Forces of them are engaged in training Syrian rebels in tactics and providing military advice as needed.
“As indicated in my report of June 14, 2013, U.S. military personnel in Niger continue to provide support for intelligence collection and to facilitate intelligence sharing with French forces conducting operations in Mali and with other partners in the region,” Obama wrote to Congressional leaders. According to the White House, there are currently approximately 200 personnel deployed there at the time. The Sahel became noted as a prime area for counter-terrorism operations following al-Qaeda affiliate group Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) managed to takeover of most of northern Mali last year. In the aftermath of France’s intervention, the region has faded off the radar again, but the Washington Post in March of this year reported that the U.S. was establishing a drone base to conduct surveillance operations in West Africa.
Even though the intervention in Kosovo was more than a decade ago, the United States still has a sizable number of forces still in the former Serbian enclave. Once former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic capitulated, ending the ethnic cleansing of Albanians in the region, NATO opted following combat operations to leave behind a force known as KFOR to help keep the peace. “The U.S. contribution to KFOR is approximately 670 U.S. military personnel out of the total strength of approximately 4,900 personnel,” Obama informed Congress.
Made infamous through the social media campaign #Kony2012, the Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony has been dubbed a primary target of the United States, leading to the deployment of military personnel to aid African nations in the hunt for him. First deployed in 2011, the U.S. contingency of approximately 120 personnel is spread across the Republic of South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Central African Republic in the hunt for Kony and other senior LRA leaders. “These forces, however, will not engage LRA forces except in self-defense,” Obama made clear in his letter.
As part of the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt, a multinational force has been deployed between the two along the Sinai peninsula for decades. Originally meant to be a United Nations peacekeeping force, the U.N. was unable to comply due to the threat of a veto from the Soviet Union. In response, the U.S. worked with Egypt and Israel in setting up the Multinational Force and Observers. The U.S. joins Australia, Canada, Norway, Italy, Canada, the Netherlands, Fiji, Hungary, New Zealand, Columbia, Uruguay, and France in patrolling the region. 715 military personnel are assigned to the MFO currently, according to Obama.