US Drone Strikes Decline in 2013, But Ground Raids Grow

Strikes Slowed Around Pakistan's Elections

Drone strikes remained a huge issue in 2013, but the number of strikes and fatalities actually declined significantly over the previous year, with 55 attacks instead of 92 and around half of the deaths.

Though on the one hand this is being presented as a shift in policy by President Obama, much of the decline centered around lulls in the summer, particularly in Pakistan, where strikes all but ended in the lead-up to and the immediate following of the national elections.

Opposition to US drone strikes was the centerpiece issue of the Pakistani vote, and saw the PPP ousted in favor of the PML-N, which promised to end the strikes. Within a few months US strikes resumed, with high profile attacks assassinating Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud less than 24 hours before he was scheduled to begin peace talks and attacking a religious school in Hangu the day anti-drone protests were to begin in that province.

Even as the drone strikes on the whole were down, the US also launched more ground raids than in previous years, particularly in Somalia and Libya.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.