peaking to the Senate Armed Services early Thursday, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations Michael Sheehan said the Pentagon wasn’t yet planning to wrap up its "war on terror.” When asked how long it might take the US to beat down terrorists, the official said: "At least 10 to 20 years.”
The Senate committee on Thursday lashed out against Michael Sheehan over these prospects and the fact that the Bush-era anti-terror bill called the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) gave its commander-in-chief overboard powers that justified a widening war against insurgents, reaching out as far as to Yemen and Somalia.
In 2012, the National Defense Authorization Act updated this law to grant the President power not just to target overseas terrorists, but suspects believed to be "associated forces.”
Sen. Angus King stressed Thursday the AUMF was kept in place largely because it justified a war that would otherwise be illegal.
"You guys have invented this term, associated forces, that’s nowhere in this document…It’s the justification for everything, and it renders the war powers of Congress null and void,” Mr. King said. "[The AUMF] does suit you well because you’re reading it to fit everything, and it doesn’t, the general rule of war applies.” he added.
US troops are officially to pull out of Afghanistan in 2014. But if estimates are true, the actual "war on terror” may extend through the 2030s.