US sets up center for ‘secret war’
The US administration is ramping up a “secret war on terror groups” in hot spots around the globe by establishing a new military targeting center, officials say.
According to incumbent and former US officials, the center, run by the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), keeps an eye on the growing use of special operation strikes against individuals.
“The new center would be a significant step in streamlining targeting operations previously scattered among US and battlefields abroad and giving elite military officials closer access to Washington decision-makers and counter-terror experts,” the officials revealed to the Associated Press.
“The center is staffed with at least 100 counter terror experts fusing the military’s special operations elite with analysts, intelligence and law enforcement officials from the FBI, Homeland Security and other agencies,” they said.
The new military center focuses on “the offensive end of counter-terrorism, tracking and targeting terrorist threats that have surfaced in recent years from Pakistan to Yemen and Somalia and other hot zones.”
The revelation comes while the US military has already increased the number of special operations and commando raids in Afghanistan.
A surge in unauthorized CIA-operated drone attacks in Pakistan along with NATO operations along the the country’s border has sparked criticism from officials in Islamabad and given rise to the anti-US sentiment in the affected tribal regions.
“We’ve gone from 30-35 targeted operations a month in June 2009 now to about 1,000 a month,” said NATO spokeswoman Maj. Sunset Belinsky.
The raids, which Washington claims to be aimed at weeding out pro-Taliban militants, often come at night and often claim many civilian lives in Pakistan.
US officials noted that several other centers dubbed military intelligence “fusion” offices are already operating in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The creation of the center, according to military officials, was an idea of JSOC’s current commander, Vice Adm. Bill McRaven.
Previously McRaven had set up a military system called “counter-network” using unmanned planes, satellites and human intelligences to carry out ground operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“While directly run by JSOC, the center’s staff is overseen by the Pentagon, while congressional committees have been briefed on its operations,” officials said.