Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Friday that U.S. global counter-terrorism operations are set to expand and become more aggressive following a meeting with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis about troop deaths in Niger.
That will include more operations in Africa where four soldiers were killed this month after being ambushed by Islamic State-aligned fighters and a loosening of the military's rules of engagement to allow the killing of those considered part of a terrorist group, even if they do not present an immediate threat to the U.S., Graham said after emerging from his Senate office with Mattis.
"The war is headed to Africa. It's beginning to morph. As we suppress the enemy in the Mideast, they are going to move. They are not going to quit," he said.
Mattis came to Capitol Hill to meet with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., after weeks of pressure by the Armed Services chairman aimed at getting the Trump administration to discuss its military strategy around the globe. Both men met briefly in McCain's office and emerged after about 10 minutes shaking hands and promising better communication.
"I think what Sen. McCain is trying to do here is as the war expands, as the military has more authority that Congress is going to require more information," Graham said.
The meeting and disclosure by Graham of an expanded global war effort comes just a week before Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are scheduled to testify in the Senate about a new war authorization.
Congress has not authorized war since 2002, though the debate has been simmering for years, and calls for a new war vote could be reignited if the Trump administration moves to fight ISIS in Africa and elsewhere.
"There'll be a lot of members of Congress who'll say, ‘Well, wait a minute, if you can go anywhere you want to go and start killing people, you know, anybody you want to kill, then we need to rein you in,' and that's not the way it works," Graham said.