Pleased with the 2011 assassination raid against Osama bin Laden, US officials say President Obama has been consistently expanding the authority of elite special forces units under the JSOC command to plan and launch similar attacks worldwide.
Though special forces have played an ever-increasing role in US wars in several war zones, this authority expands worldwide, allowing the forces to launch attacks against “terrorist threats” anywhere on the planet, including countries not seen as necessarily part of any war.
The creation of this new “elite” force with this broad new authority included Obama defining “best practices” for special forces killings outside of conventional conflict zones. The details of this are totally unclear, though officials say these rules are distinct from the rules for the CIA’s own assassination programs worldwide.
The big shift is to transition this active assassination force away from its traditional position underneath geographic military commands into its own distinct command with worldwide purview. This allows them not only to have a more unilateral structure, but to have access to intelligence across the world for deciding on such operations.