Special Report

The 15 Secret Wars the US Government is Involved in Right Now

Source: peeterv / iStock via Getty Images

11. Nigeria
> Recent & ongoing U.S. military operations & conflicts: Objective Voice, Juniper Shield
> Known terrorist organization in country: Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa

As recently as 2019, Nigeria was one of 22 African countries home to U.S. special operations forces. Operation Juniper Shield – a sweeping counterterrorism campaign targeting ISIS-West Africa, Boko Haram, and al-Qaeda – accounts for much of the American military activity in the country. The U.S. is also reportedly operating an information campaign known as Objective Voice out of a base in Nigeria to combat extremist propaganda.

The most populous country in Africa, as well as the continent’s largest economy and top oil producer, Nigeria has been a strategic ally of the United States for over five decades. Along with joint military exercises combating terrorism, the U.S. obligated $6 million for military education and training from fiscal 2016 to fiscal 2020. In 2022, the U.S. sold the Nigerian military 12 AH-1Z Attack Helicopters for $997 million and provided $25 million for institutional and technical assistance, which included money to better ensure the nation’s military complies with humanitarian laws in conflict scenarios.

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12. Somalia
> Recent & ongoing U.S. military operations & conflicts: Exile Hunter, Jupiter Garret, Mongoose Hunter, Oblique Pillar, Paladin Hunter, Ultimate Hunter, Kodiak Hunter, Justified Seamount, Octave Shield, Octave Soundstage, Octave Stingray, Octave Summit
> Known terrorist organization in country: Al-Shabaab and ISIS-Somalia

Over the past decade and a half, the U.S. military has repeatedly targeted militant group al-Shabaab with airstrikes in Somalia. American special forces have also been directly involved in combat raids in the country, and in 2017, a Navy SEAL was killed fighting alongside Somali security forces against al-Shabaab militants about 40 miles outside of Mogadishu.

Since Trump withdrew American troops from Somalia in the final weeks of his presidency, al-Shabaab strengthened its foothold in the country. However, under the Biden administration, U.S. troops returned to Somalia in May 2022 and are still struggling to re-attain the stability they had achieved prior to their withdrawal.

Previous and ongoing joint American-Somali counterterrorism operations in the country include Exile Hunter, Jupiter Garret, Mongoose Hunter, Oblique Pillar, and Paladin Hunter. The U.S. is also working with Kenyan and Ugandan troops to fight in Somalia under operations Ultimate Hunter and Kodiak Hunter. Justified Seamount is a counterpiracy campaign run by U.S. special operators in Mogadishu, and psychological and intelligence operations in the country include Octave Shield, Octave Soundstage, Octave Stingray, and Octave Summit.

Source: John Moore / Getty Images News via Getty Images

13. Syria
> Recent & ongoing U.S. military operations & conflicts: Inherent Resolve
> Known terrorist organization in country: Multiple, including Hezbollah, ISIS, al-Qaeda, and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps

Beginning with nationwide anti-government protests during the Arab Spring of 2011, Syria has descended into civil war and become a safe haven for ISIS militants. To destabilize the terrorist group, the U.S. and coalition forces carried out 11,235 airstrikes in Syria between 2014 and mid-2017 alone, and as of mid-2022, there were an estimated 900 American troops in northeastern Syria.

The American forces deployed in Syria assist the Syrian Democratic Forces fight Islamic State militants by providing air support, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and military advice. Experts warn the SDF’s efforts would collapse without U.S. support. According to U.N. estimates, over 10,000 Islamic State fighters were active in Iraq and Syria as of August 2020.

To date, over 100 American troops have been killed in fighting ISIS in Operation Inherent Resolve, which spans several countries, including Syria.

Source: Séverine Sajous / Getty Images

14. Tunisia
> Recent & ongoing U.S. military operations & conflicts: Juniper Shield, Odyssey Resolve
> Known terrorist organization in country: ISIS and al-Qaeda

In February 2017, an American Marine was wounded in a battle with al-Qaeda militants in Tunisia near the Algerian border, even though the Tunisian Ministry of Defense claimed U.S. troops were only in the country for training purposes. According to a retired Army Brigadier General, Tunisia is one of several African countries in which American forces engaged directly in combat between 2013 and 2017.

The extent of American military involvement in Tunisia is shrouded in secrecy amid fears that publicity could incite further extremist violence. What is known is that U.S. military activity in Tunisia falls under the umbrellas of Operation Juniper Shield, a far reaching counterterrorism campaign, and Operation Odyssey Resolve, which used a base in the country to launch airstrikes and reconnaissance missions against the Islamic State group in Libya.

Source: Andrew Renneisen / Getty Images News via Getty Images

15. Yemen
> Recent & ongoing U.S. military operations & conflicts: War on Terror, Yemeni Civil War
> Known terrorist organization in country: ISIS, al-Qaeda, and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps

Yemen has been roiled by civil war since 2015. The U.S. is backing the Yemen government, and a small number of American military personnel are deployed in the country to conduct operations against al-Qaeda and ISIS fighters operating in the region. In June 2015, a U.S. drone strike killed the leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. U.S. airstrikes in Yemen continued to degrade al-Qaeda through 2018 but strikes have fallen sharply since 2019, totalling only two in 2021.

The U.S. is also providing military advice and intelligence to a Saudi-led coalition, and until recently, was supplying the Saudis with arms to use against rebel forces in Yemen. American involvement in the Yemeni civil war, though indirect, has been subject to criticism. Some prominent legislators claim the U.S. has no legal authority to act there without congressional approval, as anti-government rebel fighters in the country are not affiliated with terrorist groups like al-Qaeda.

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