Expert Voices

Trump facing imminent deadline on lethal force policy

American Predator drone on tarmac
A U.S. Predator unmanned drone armed with a missile stands on the tarmac of Kandahar military airport. Photo: Massoud Hossaini / AFP / Getty Images

When President Trump signed the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, he agreed to report to Congress by March 12 any changes to President Obama’s rules governing the U.S. use of military force and related operations. These changes began in secret last fall with the dismantling of Obama-era limits on drone strikes and commando raids outside conventional battlefields.

Why it matters: Even if the administration meets the deadline, which appears unlikely, it may not make its report public. Human rights groups consider the failure to release and explain changes to a previously public policy a dangerous step backward.