The War on Terror is a commonly used term in reference to the global military campaign that began in response to the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. The general goal of these campaigns were to defeat al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.
This term was first used by United States President George W. Bush shortly after 9/11. It has now evolved into a very vague, umbrella term that represents a global military, political and conceptual battle with al-Qaeda, militant Islamists and other groups that support jihad.
Some theorists, including Richard Jackson argue that the ‘War on Terror’ is actually a set of practices including wars, covert operations, agencies and institutions with an accompanying series of assumptions, beliefs, justifications are narratives.¹
It is important to note that War on Terror’ is a colloquial term and is no longer used by the Presidential administration. The military term for this is ‘Overseas Contingency Operation.’ It is usually politicians, the media and consumers that use ‘War on Terror.’
There is no specific battleground or front for the War on Terror. It has taken place in parts of the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Europe and North America.
Specific Operations that took place in the War on Terror are Operation Active Endeavour, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.²
The George W. Bush administration defined the following objectives in the War on Terror²:
- Defeat terrorists such as Osama bin Ladin, Abu Musab al-Zarqwi and demolish their organizations.
- Identify, locate and demolish terrorists along with their organizations.
- Deny sponsorhip, support and sanctuary to terrorists.
- Diminish the underlying conditions that terrorists seek to exploit.
- Defend US citizens and interests at home and abroad.
This is a helpful resource from the Central Intelligence Agency website with an accurate timeline.