With just weeks left on his presidency, Barack Obama created an organization to expand the reach of the executive office in the fight against terrorism.
According to the Washington Post's Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Dan Lamothe, Obama created an organization within the existing Joint Special Operations Command they describe as a "new multiagency intelligence and action force."
Called the "Counter-External Operations Task Force" – and dubbed "Ex-Ops" in the Pentagon – it takes the JSOC targeting model and expands it to a global scale, bypassing regional combatant commanders, answering to the Special Operations Command, to expedite the U.S. efforts to attack global terror networks, the story says.
Previously, methods used to target and kill individual terrorists or small cells involved deploying a unit under SOCOM command to regional combatant commands, who would direct the SOCOM assets. The new changes under the Obama administration will, in practice, elevate SOCOM to a regional combatant command.
President Barack Obama and members of the national security team receive updates on Operation Neptune's Spear in the White House Situation Room, May 1, 2011 (White House photo)
The Post cites anonymous sources who say the new task force is the "codification" of the U.S. military's best practices honed over the past 15 years in the War on Terror.
Some fear that elevating SOCOM authority and allowing its mission to bypass existing commanders will cause friction between commands, but reducing layers of authority and red tape is the purpose of the Ex-Ops mission.
"Layers have been stripped away for the purposes of stopping external networks," a defense official told the Washington Post. "There has never been an ex-ops command team that works trans-regionally to stop attacks."