Michael Sheehan, the Pentagon’s chief of irregular warfare, caused some consternation at a U.S. Senate hearing recently by stating, when asked, that the war on terrorism – that is, against Al-Qaeda – could last “at least 10 to 20 years” from now.
While other U.S. officials have said that Al-Qaeda is greatly battered, Sheehan, assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, noted there is no geographical limitation to the war that began after 9/11 with passage of the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF).
“Thanks to that relatively terse authorization,” Wired.com reports, “U.S. counterterrorism stretches ‘from Boston to the FATA,’ Sheehan said, using the acronym for Pakistan’s tribal areas. Sheehan told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he believed ‘associated forces’ of Al-Qaeda can be targeted anywhere around the world, including inside Syria, where the rebel Nusra Front recently allied itself with Al-Qaeda’s Iraq affiliate, or even what Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called ‘boots on the ground in Congo.'”
Members of the Armed Services Committee appeared chagrined that AUMF was being given such an extended prospect.