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Supporting Our Missions Formally Across the Globe

October 30, 2017
Weekly Columns
The United States is fortunate to have the world’s strongest and most capable military force. Each day, thousands of men and women in uniform put their lives on the line to protect our nation and our fundamental freedoms. Beyond our own borders, they are working all over the world to ensure our country remains secure on the international stage. And we were all saddened and shocked to hear of the deaths of four U.S Army Special Operations soldiers killed in Niger earlier this month. Although questions remain unanswered, it is a sobering reminder of the United States’ role and mission in the fight against terrorism.
For 16 years our nation has been engaged in the fight against terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts of the Middle East. We have had a military presence in the Middle East since the first battles against our enemies in 2001, but the nature of the conflict has changed dramatically. After two presidential administrations, our country is being challenged by a new face of terrorism in every corner of the world. Warfare and technology has changed, and so has the enemy. Beyond the central groups of terrorism like ISIS and Al-Qaeda, there are arms of radical Islam across the globe that exist with the same mission - to wage jihad against the West.
Many have questioned why the United States has sent troops to Africa when the highest levels of concern lie in other places like the Middle East. Offshoot groups of radical Islamic terrorism are capable of performing just as much damage as ISIS to innocent civilians and nations. The U.S. troops fighting in Niger certainly had a mission. But it is worrisome that some of my colleagues and many Americans were unaware of its nature and the risks that it entailed.
A renewed strategy and a formal Authorization of the Use of Military Force (AUMF) is the best answer to preventing another situation where questions remain unanswered. For the past several years, I have advocated for the President and Congress to revisit the process to establish a new AUMF. This will ensure that all legislators are cognizant of the purpose of sending our troops into conflict. It also solidifies the validity of our mission overseas. In this year’s National Security and Defense appropriations bill, my amendment directing the President to ask Congress for a new AUMF and a new strategy was included. Should President Trump do so, I am certain that Congress will give him a new AUMF.
The four soldiers killed in Niger did not die without a purpose. They paid the ultimate price to protect our freedoms. We owe it to them and all of our service members fighting in conflict zones to make it clear that Congress supports their mission. A new AUMF enacted by Congress and signed by the President will clarify America's role in the ongoing battle against terrorism. It will also provide our men and women in uniform with the clear legal authority and national support they need and deserve when undertaking dangerous missions on behalf of the American people.