Current and former officials have told Wednesday's Wall Street Journal that after a decade of land wars, the United States is promoting advanced drones, elite special forces and intelligence resources as a less expensive source of military power.
The new strategy for extending U.S. influence relies heavily on close cooperation with allies.
The downside of such an arrangement is that countries can use U.S. intelligence in ways the Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency can't control.
An example of this was December's bombing of a civilian convoy by the Turkish military that was based on information supplied by a U.S. drone.
The drone spotted a caravan of men and pack animals at the Turkish-Iraqi border, and Turkey launched the bomb attack killing 34 civilians, a senior U.S. defense official said.
Turkey said it thought the caravan involved Kurdish rebels but later determined the civilians were smuggling oil.
"The Turks made the call," the official said. "It wasn't an American decision."
The Turkish incident illustrates the risk of entrusting our allies with this technology, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee points out.
"What happens if this information gets to the (foreign) government and they do something wrong with it, or it gets into the hands of someone who does something wrong with it?" Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said.
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