News / USA

US Has Long History of Overseas Military Operations

U.S. soldiers from the 2nd battalion, 32nd Field Artillery brigade listen to their superiors' orders before going on a patrol in Baghdad Aug. 14, 2007.
U.S. soldiers from the 2nd battalion, 32nd Field Artillery brigade listen to their superiors' orders before going on a patrol in Baghdad Aug. 14, 2007.
VOA News
If the United States launches missile attacks on Syria in retaliation for its suspected use of the nerve agent sarin against anti-government rebels, it will be just the latest in a long series of U.S. foreign military operations. What would be unusual is that President Barack Obama is seeking congressional approval ahead of the attack. 
 
Previous presidents have gone to Congress for declarations of war after the country was directly attacked, such as by Japan at the start of WW II.  But more often, American presidents have acted on their own, using their authority as the country's constitutionally designated commander in chief. In that capacity, they have acted without congressional approval to send troops abroad, engage in bombing attacks, or dispatch U.S. military personnel to work with international allies.
 
By some counts, the U.S. has been involved in more than 50 significant military actions in the last half century - an average of more than one a year - ranging from significant fighting in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan to lesser incursions in such far-flung countries as Kuwait, Bosnia, Pakistan, Libya, Grenada, Haiti and Panama.
 
That total does not count more limited U.S. actions, such as drone strikes it now is carrying out against suspected Taliban insurgents in the Middle East.
 
In its 237-year history, the U.S. has often deployed its troops. History has recorded the U.S. as the victor in two world wars, but its overseas military ventures have not always been as successful. 
 
U.S. forces fighting under the U.N. flag in Korea in the early 1950s left with the peninsula split into a communist North and a democratic Korea, a tense outcome that endures to this day. In Vietnam, the U.S. withdrew its last troops in 1975 after more than a decade of military involvement, allowing a communist government to seize control.
 
History has yet to cast a verdict on this century's U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
 
U.S. troops ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in the Iraq War from 2003 to 2011, but allied forces never found the weapons of mass destruction they believed he was harboring. U.S. and allied forces are still fighting insurgents in Afghanistan, but Obama plans to withdraw American military personnel by the end of 2014 even as the country remains in turmoil.
 
Various studies show that U.S. military and security spending dwarfs that of other countries, but has fluctuated in recent decades depending on the priorities of individual presidents and the extent of U.S. fighting overseas.
 
Defense spending rose during the Vietnam War, during the administration of President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s and in the last decade as the U.S. initiated its global war on terror in the aftermath of the 2001 al-Qaida attacks on the U.S. that killed nearly 3,000 people. At other times, U.S. defense spending has been curtailed.

U.S. Military Assets - September 2, 2013
U.S. Military Assets - September 2, 2013
 
Here are some of the significant U.S. military operations since the 1960s:
 
1961 to 1975 -- The Vietnam War, a conflict that resulted in more than 58,000 U.S. battle deaths and let communists in control of the country.
 
1962 - In the Cuban missile crisis, the U.S. deployed a military blockade in the waters around Cuba to keep the Soviet Union from installing missiles on the island nation, prompting fears of nuclear warfare.
 
1980 - A U.S. commando raid inside Iran failed to rescue 52 American hostages being held by Tehran, although they were subsequently freed as Ronald Reagan assumed the presidency in early 1981.
 
1990 to 1991 - The U.S. confronted Iraq after it invaded Kuwait in a fight over oil riches.  American troops forced Iraq to withdraw after a short ground war.
 
1992 to 1995 - U.S. troops joined NATO forces in fighting in the Balkans, a lengthy battle that resulted from the breakup of the former Yugoslavia and widespread ethnic confrontations.
 
2001 - U.S. launched war in Afghanistan to fight Islamic insurgents in response to the al-Qaida attacks on the U.S. on September 11 that year.
 
2003 - U.S. invaded Iraq on the premise that it had weapons of mass destruction that could be used against the U.S. 

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid