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Authorization for Use
of Military Force (AUMF)

After almost a half year of combat operations in Iraq and then in Syria the President has decided to go to the U.S. Congress to ask for an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) against the Islamic State. This will provide fodder for much debate within Congress and the American public at large. At one end of the sprectrum are liberal Democrats who oppose any further committment to the conflict and at the other end are some Republicans who see an AUMF as putting limitations on the use of ground troops in the conflict.

Expiration Date? The current Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) is over 13 years long and the fight is still not over. We are in our fourteenth year of confict with al Qaeda and there is no end in sight. The AUMF provided to Congress by President Obama includes a three-year 'sunset clause' which may be deleted by Congress.

Restriction on Ground Troops? With SOF units already operating in Iraq and Advisors working at brigade level some would say ground troops are already committed. Many worry that an AUMF might restrict ground combat troops (beyond SOF and Advisors) thereby reducing options for the current President (Obama) and any future President (come 2017).

Associated Groups. The AUMF provides for the engagement of 'associated groups' or 'affiliated groups' that are allied with or fighting alongside or on behalf of the Islamic State. This is an ambiguous area and could be a slippery slope - extending combat operations and counter-terrorism missions to parts of the world beyond Iraq and Syria. This lack of a geographic region is worrisome to some observers and critics.

Oversight. The 2001 AUMF provides for very little oversight and no reporting requirements to Congress. The proposed AUMF will likely see some type of reporting requirement by the Defense Department to Congress similar to the 1230 reports submitted every six months to Congress by the DoD about the war in Afghanistan.

Path to Passage of the AUMF. The AUMF must be pondered by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee before going to both houses of Congress for passage.

Papers and Publications on AUMF

February 19, 2015. The Obama Administration's Proposed AUMF against the Islamic State: Some Immediate Takeaways, Legal Sidebar, Congressional Research Service (CRS).

February 11, 2015. Letter from the President -- Authorization for the Use of United States Armed Forces in connection with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, The White House, Office of the Press Secretary.

News Reports about the AUMF

July 9, 2015. "An Authorizaton for the Fight Against the Islamic State". The RAND Blog.

February 27, 2015. "Consensus on the Way Forward for an ISIL AUMF". Lawfare Blog.

February 20, 2015. "Six Questions Congress Should Ask the Administration about its AUMF". Lawfare Blog. 1) What is the strategic military objective? 2) What is an "enduring" "offensive" ground combat operation? 3) What's wrong with Jeh Johnson's definition of "associated forces"? 4) What "specific actions" will the Administration report to Congress? 5) Will ISIL still be covered by the 2001 AUMF once this bill is enacted? 6) What happens in 2018?

February 12, 2015. "Obama's Forever War Starts Now". By Ryan Goodman - Foreign Policy. Much of the information on this page came from this article.


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