President Obama has secretly sanctioned a huge increase in the number of US special forces carrying out search-and-destroy missions against al-Qaeda around the world, with American troops now operating in 75 countries.
The dramatic expansion in the use of special forces, which in their global span go far beyond the covert missions authorised by George W. Bush, reflects how aggressively the President is pursuing al-Qaeda behind his public rhetoric of global engagement and diplomacy.
When Mr Obama took office US special forces were operating in fewer than 60 countries. In the past 18 months he has ordered a big expansion in Yemen and the Horn of Africa — known areas of strong al-Qaeda activity — and elsewhere in the Middle East, central Asia and Africa.
According to The Washington Post, Mr Obama has also approved pre-emptive special forces strikes to disrupt terror plots, and has given the units powers and authority that was not granted by Mr Bush when he occupied the White House.