Global War on Terrorism 2001 - Present
The US Global War on Terrorism, ignited by the September 11, 2001 attacks, represents a multifaceted response to combat global terrorism. President George W. Bush declared the campaign on September 20, 2001, and on October 7, 2001, Operation Enduring Freedom was launched with the invasion of Afghanistan. This operation aimed not only to dismantle the Taliban regime but also to eliminate al-Qaeda, the group responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Less known is the fact that the US also employed covert operations and Special Forces missions in various countries, including Yemen and Somalia, to target terrorists.
In 2003, the focus expanded to Iraq with the controversial Iraq War. While the primary justification centered on the presence of weapons of mass destruction, a lesser-known fact is that intelligence reports were not definitive. The subsequent power vacuum led to insurgency and sectarian strife. Amid this turmoil, figures like General David Petraeus emerged, implementing effective counterinsurgency strategies. Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader, played a pivotal role in the War on Terror. In 2011, a significant achievement came with his located and killing by US Navy SEALs in Pakistan. Meanwhile, the war's tactics evolved to include targeted drone strikes, a method garnering both praise for precision and criticism for civilian casualties. By underscoring the importance of intelligence sharing and international cooperation, the campaign adapted to changing dynamics. However, lesser-known groups like Boko Haram and al-Shabaab gained prominence in Africa, highlighting the war's far-reaching complexities.
In the following years, the US shifted its approach, moving away from large-scale military operations towards targeted drone strikes, intelligence sharing, and international cooperation. Despite the death of Osama bin Laden, various terrorist organizations persisted, and the war on terrorism evolved into a complex and ongoing challenge, with extremist ideologies continuing to inspire attacks globally. The campaign's legacy includes debates over the balance between security and civil liberties, the effectiveness of military interventions, and the enduring struggle to address the root causes of terrorism.