Congresswoman Martha McSally

Representing the 2nd District of Arizona

McSally Questions AFRICOM Commander on Improved Counter-Terrorism Authorities

March 6, 2018
Press Release
Highlights Improved Authority & Effectiveness Under Trump Administration

WASHINGTON, DC—U.S. Representative Martha McSally today questioned General Waldhauser, the Commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) on the ability of the U.S. military to execute time-sensitive and targeted strikes on known terrorists in Africa, specifically to prevent terrorist activity carried out by Al Shabaab in Somalia and the Sahel region.

As a Colonel in the Air Force, Congresswoman McSally was part of the initial cadre responsible for standing up AFRICOM and handling counter-terrorism operations in Africa under the Obama Administration. During the hearing, she described the frustration of watching “hundreds, probably thousands of Al Shabaab trainees being trained and graduated” and ramping up and preparing for an attack, “only to have to do a video teleconference with political appointees who would tell us that we had no permission to execute” attacks on confirmed targets. “That’s a perfect example of how not to do time-sensitive targeting when you have to put PowerPoint slides together and brief Washington D.C. on it,” she said. 

“I think of one in particular who was involved in the embassy bombings in Africa in 1998, and we were asked the question, ‘well what have they done lately’ as if they were now a Sunday school teacher or boy scout leader,” the Congresswoman said, highlighting one example.

Congresswoman McSally asked the General, “We were only ultimately allowed to schwack one terrorist while I was there, while we worked up for dozens, and we watched hundreds, maybe thousands, being trained by Al Shabaab. Has something shifted, as far as decentralizing the decision-making so that you can actually go after some of these terrorists when they do pop up so that we can take them out?”

General Waldhauser responded, “The bottom line is, we have the authorities that we need. The scenario that you described is not the way it is today, and I am very comfortable with how this is being done.”

The Congresswoman followed up to ask if the change is a result of the Trump Administration’s new counter-terrorism policies. “Do you have additional authorities and decentralization over the last year?”

General Waldhauser: “To be honest, we had some authorities under the previous administration, but they were for a specific period of time. What we have now aren’t bound by time--there are some bounding of geography and that type of thing, but we have the ability, and again to support, not just on our own, but a strategy for a federal government and president that we are trying to assist.”

Click HERE or below to watch the full interaction below.