From the jungles of Vietnam to the deserts of Afghanistan - - -
Credit Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images
The United States has been at war continuously since the attacks of 9/11 and now has just over 240,000 active-duty and reserve troops in at least 172 countries and territories. While the number of men and women deployed overseas has shrunk considerably over the past 60 years, the military’s reach has not. American forces are actively engaged not only in the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen that have dominated the news, but also in Niger and Somalia, both recently the scene of deadly attacks, as well as Jordan, Thailand and elsewhere.
An additional 37,813 troops serve on presumably secret assignment in places listed simply as “unknown.” The Pentagon provided no further explanation.
There are traditional deployments in Japan (39,980 troops) and South Korea (23,591) to defend against North Korea and China, if needed, along with 36,034 troops in Germany, 8,286 in Britain and 1,364 in Turkey — all NATO allies. There are 6,524 troops in Bahrain and 3,055 in Qatar, where the United States has naval bases.
Active and reserve service members stationed overseas ;
Japan - 39,980, more troop reside here than in any other foreign country.
Afghanistan - 11,965 The US is engaged in training and counter terrorism operations.
Ieaq - 7,602 The US combat missions here ended in 2010, so remaining troops are officially advising and training Iraqi forces.
Note: as of June 30, 2017. Source: Defense Manpower Data Center (NY Times)
The U.S. Has Troops in Nearly Every Country - - -
America’s operations in conflict zones like Africa are expanding: 400 American Special Forces personnel in Somalia train local troops fighting the Shabab Islamist group, providing intelligence and sometimes going into battle with them.
One member of the Navy SEALs was killed there in a mission in May. On Oct. 14, a massive attack widely attributed to the Shabab on a Mogadishu street killed more than 270 people, which would show the group’s increased reach.
About 800 troops are based in Niger, where four Green Berets died on Oct. 4.
Many of these forces are engaged in counterterrorism operations against the Taliban in Afghanistan, for instance; against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria; against an affiliate of Al Qaeda in Yemen.
Total military personnel worldwide - 1,302,941. The figures reported here include personnel serving in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps. and Air Force. However they do not include military contractors or private army personnel.
So far, Americans seem to accept that these missions and the deployments they require will continue indefinitely. Still, it’s a very real question whether, in addition to endorsing these commitments, which have cost trillions of dollars and many lives over 16 years, they will embrace new entanglements of the sort President Trump has seemed to portend with his rash threats and questionable decisions on North Korea and Iran.
For that reason alone, it’s time to take stock of how broadly American forces are already committed to far-flung regions and to begin thinking hard about how much of that investment is necessary, how long it should continue and whether there is a strategy beyond just killing terrorists.
During earlier wars, including Vietnam, the draft put most families at risk of having a loved one go to war, but now America has all-volunteer armed forces. Less than 1 percent of the population now serves in the military, compared with more than 12 percent in World War II. Most people simply do not have a family member in harm’s way.
Since 9/11, American leaders have defined the fight against terrorism as a permanent struggle against a permanent threat. But the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria and a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan led to renewed engagement, though at lower troop levels. Terror attacks here and in Europe, have reinforced the public’s sense of siege.
The military is essential to national security, but it is not the only thing keeping America safe. So do robust diplomacy and America’s engagement in multilateral institutions. The Pentagon, by contrast, thrives. After some belt-tightening during the financial crisis, it has a receptive audience in Congress and the White House as it pushes for more money to improve readiness and modernize weapons. Senators who balk at paying for health care and the basic diplomatic missions of the State Department approved a $700 billion defense budget for 2017-18.
Whether this largess will continue is unclear. But the larger question involves the American public and how many new military adventures, if any, it is prepared to tolerate.
A version of this editorial appears in print on October 23, 2017, on Page A20 of the New York edition with the headline: America’s Forever Wars.
And people are beginning to question - Where is the Threat?The 2000 Global Report published in 1980 had outlined “the State of the World” by focusing on so-called “level of threats” which might negatively influence or undermine US interests.
Twenty years later, US strategists, in an attempt to justify their military interventions in different parts of the World, have conceptualized the greatest fraud in US history, namely “the Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT). The latter, using a fabricated pretext constitutes a global war against all those who oppose US hegemony. A modern form of slavery, instrumented through militarization and the “free market” has unfolded.
Major elements of the conquest and world domination strategy by the US refer to:
1) the control of the world economy and its financial markets,
2) the taking over of all natural resources (primary resources and nonrenewable sources of energy). The latter constitute the cornerstone of US power through the activities of its multinational corporations.
Secret drone bases are proliferating on foreign soil, flying devices like armed MQ-9 Reapers and a myriad of others. The progress of the covert agenda seems to be going as planned.