DronesNumber of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen significantly reduced

Published 26 September 2013

In the past several months, the United States has reduced the number of drone strikes on terrorist targets in Pakistan and Yemen. The United States launched 117 drone strikes in Pakistan in 2010, compared to twenty-one so far this year. Representative Mike Rogers (R-Michigan), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, is concerned. “[The threat of terrorism is] not diminishing,” he said. “There have been counterterrorism changes made by the administration that have concerned us all, things that we’ve been working on for a period of months that we’re trying to work through that are very, very concerning. This is no time to retreat.”

In the past several months, the United States has reduced the number of drone strikes on terrorist targets in Pakistan and Yemen, and some security experts are worried.

Fox News reports that new statistics from the West Point Combating Terrorism Center show that since 1 July this year, there have been more than sixty terror attacks around the world, the last one in Nairobi, Kenya earlier this week.

The number of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, however, has decreased over the same period.

The Long War Journal reports that there were twenty-two drone strikes in these two countries since May.

Representative Mike Rogers (R-Michigan), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, is concerned.

“[The threat of terrorism is] not diminishing,” he told Fox News on Tuesday. “There have been counterterrorism changes made by the administration that have concerned us all, things that we’ve been working on for a period of months that we’re trying to work through that are very, very concerning. This is no time to retreat.”

Fox News notes that the White House has not commented directly on the reasons behind the reduction in drone strikes, but has instead referred reporters to President Obama’s 23 May speech at the National Defense University in which he outlined an evolving U.S. counterterrorism strategy.

The United States will continue to “dismantle [terror] networks that pose a direct danger to us,” the president said, while also saying that the United States should no longer define the efforts as a “boundless global war on terror.”

Obama noted that the fight against terrorism was entering a “new phase” in which drone strikes – which he said were both legal and necessary — will be more narrowly focused to avoid civilian casualties.

“By narrowly targeting our action against those who want to kill us and not the people they hide among, we are choosing the course of action least likely to result in the loss of innocent life,” Obama said.

Bill Roggio, managing editor of the Long War Journal, told Fox News that Obama’s speech shows the administration “has a very narrow view of what makes up al Qaeda and believes that killing a handful of legacy leaders involved in 9/11 will cause the collapse of the group.”

Roggio said that there were few strikes in June and July, but a spike in August, which he explained was the result of the temporary closure of twenty-two U.S. embassies and consulates in the Middle East and North Africa.

“But they were reactive strikes,” he said.

Roggio noted the United States launched 117 drone strikes in Pakistan in 2010, compared to twenty-one so far this year.

In his speech at the UN on Tuesday Obama reiterated the U.S. position, saying the county has shifted away from “a perpetual war-footing.”

“We have limited the use of drones so they target only those who pose a continuing, imminent threat to the United States where capture is not feasible, and there is a near certainty of no civilian casualties,” he said.

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