Stohl: Trump's Drone Policy Could Lead to Increased Number of Strikes

September 22, 2017

For Immediate Release
September 22, 2017
Contact: Jim Baird; [email protected]; 202.478.3413

In light of reporting by The New York Times that the Trump administration is preparing to dismantle several Obama administration limits on drone strikes and commando raids outside conventional battlefields — Rachel Stohl, Director of the Conventional Defense program at the nonpartisan Stimson Center — released the following statement:


The revelation of the Trump administration’s approach to U.S. drone policy is surprising in that it retains many elements of the Obama Presidential Policy Guidance on counterterrorism operations. The most significant changes – the elimination of “imminent threat” and the expansion of active conflict zones – could lead to an increased number of strikes. An essential element of the Obama policy was kept in place – the “near certainty” principle to avoid civilian casualties. How these policy changes are implemented will indicate whether the Trump administration is expanding the use of force. What should not be lost in this discussion, however, is that the Obama policy framework was not sufficient and did not establish a transparent, responsible, and accountable U.S. drone policy. There is still a long way to go to create a comprehensive U.S. drone policy that is consistent with domestic and international legal frameworks. The Trump drone policy review provides an opportunity to renew discussions to ensure that U.S. policy conforms with international legal principles and sets high standards for drone use.
Rachel Stohl, Director, Conventional Defense Program, Stimson Center