President Joe Biden tightened rules on conducting drone strikes outside of war zones, requiring that he sign off on the list of eligible targets, The New York Times reported Friday.
The policy Biden signed Friday, which remains classified, says that both Biden and the State Department’s top official in the country of operation must approve targets, signaling that the White House intends to pare down the number of drone strikes, the NYT reported, citing a senior administration official. Previous policy for eliminating terrorist threats using unmanned aerial vehicles afforded greater latitude to field commanders in determining who to target.
Mistakes like the ones that led to the deaths of 10 civilians by a U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan will continue without a ground presence, experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“Now that we don’t have an on-the-ground presence, it’s going to be harder to target people and know they’re the right people,” Mick Mulroy, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) for the Middle East and veteran of Afghanistan, told the DCNF.
Mulroy said the diminished U.S. human intelligence network in the country would severely impact the ability of the military to monitor terrorism. “We had an intelligence service. We had bases all over the country. We had the ability to move about, to meet with people. Now, we don’t have any of that,” he said.