Leon Panetta , the current U.S. Secretary of Defense, told influential Washington think tank ‘Center for a New American Security’ that the fight against al-Qaeda would take U.S. Special Forces and ever-more drones to geographically-dispersed regions of the planet that are “outside declared combat zones” and “in areas beyond the reach of effective security and governance”.
“We have slowed the primary cancer, but we know that the cancer has metastasized to other parts of the global body”, said the former head of the CIA.
While noting that advances made by AQAP in Yemen had been reversed, U.S. military intervention was far from over:
“But the al Qaeda cancer has also adapted to this pressure by becoming even more widely distributed, loosely knit, and geographically dispersed. The fight against al Qaeda has taken a new direction – one that demands that we be especially adaptable and resilient as we continue the fight.”
“If we turn away from these critical regions of the world, we risk undoing the significant gains they have made. That would make us all less safe over the long-term. This is not a time for retrenchment and isolation. It is a time for renewed engagement and partnership.”
This global campaign will likely focus on Boko Haram Islamic militants in Nigeria, extremists in northern Mali, and Libya — the latter a hub for “violent extremists and affiliates of al-Qaida”.