The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Darcey Rakestraw,

Far From Over, Post-9/11 Wars Continue in 78 Countries Under President Biden

New Costs of War Research Examines the U.S. “Counterterror Footprint” Between 2021 and 2023

Between 2021 and 2023, the U.S. government conducted counterterrorism operations in 78 countries, according to a new report and map from the Costs of War Project at Brown’s Watson Institute. These operations include ground combat in at least nine countries and air strikes in at least four countries during the first three years of the Biden administration. Though the total number of countries with U.S. counterterrorism operations has decreased slightly from 2018-2020 – from 85 countries – the counterterrorism footprint remains remarkably similar to what it was under the Trump administration.

The research was reported exclusively in USA Today.

“Taken altogether, this map’s data highlights that the expansive global counterterrorism apparatus grinds ever onwards,” notes the report, written by Stephanie Savell, co-director of the Costs of War Project. “This contrasts starkly with claims or assumptions on the part of the U.S. public and policymakers that the U.S. war on terror is over. “

Many U.S. military operations are not included in the report – notably, those aimed at what U.S. officials and media identify as the military threat posed by Russia and China, the focus of much current U.S. foreign policy; military bases that have housed counterterrorism operations; arms sales to foreign governments; and all deployments of U.S. special operations forces and Central Intelligence Agency operations. Further, the map does not display “military information support operations,” or “psychological operations,” which the U.S. military carries out in many countries on the map and beyond, such as in Iran. All of these are significant elements of the bigger picture of U.S. counterterrorism strategy but beyond the scope of the current data set, notes the report.

“The map displays an enormous footprint of U.S. military operations – and that’s just a slice that’s focused on counterterrorism,” says Savell, on the implications of the report. “What’s more, in the new geopolitical context of the Middle East since the October 7, 2023 Hamas attacks in Israel, this increases the potential for attacks against U.S. forces.”

“As of this paper’s publication,” continues Savell, “militias have conducted dozens of attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria since October, injuring over 60 U.S. service members. Our overseas counterterrorism strategy increases the risk of the U.S. engaging in an even more active, aggressive war in the Middle East.”

Read Savell’s op-ed today in Newsweekn Newsweek.

The Costs of War Project is a team of 50 scholars, legal experts, human rights practitioners, and physicians, which began its work in 2010. We use research and a public website to facilitate debate about the costs of the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the related violence in Pakistan and Syria. There are many hidden or unacknowledged costs of the United States' decision to respond to the 9/11 attacks with military force. We aim to foster democratic discussion of these wars by providing the fullest possible account of their human, economic, and political costs, and to foster better informed public policies.