US Expands Secret Mideast Operations
Petraeus authorizes special ops in friendly, unfriendly Mideast nations
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 25, 2010 6:03 AM CDT
The deaths of three American special operations soldiers in a roadside bombing in Pakistan earlier this year drew unwanted attention to secret US operations in the region.   (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
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(Newser) – The head of US Central Command has green-lighted a huge expansion in American secret operations in the Middle East, the Horn of Africa, and Central Asia, according to documents obtained by the New York Times. Gen. David Petraeus has authorized the sending of special forces to both friendly and hostile nations—including Iran—to gather intelligence and build local ties, according to the classified documents.

The directive, the Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force Execute Order, states that the goal is to "penetrate, disrupt, defeat or destroy" militant groups and "prepare the environment" for future attacks. It does not authorize offensive action. A CIA spokesman declined to confirm the existence of the directive, but stressed that the agency had a "close relationship" with the Pentagon and that operations were usually closely coordinated. "There’s more than enough work to go around,” he said.