Foreign Policy Legislation Analysis – McConnell’s draft AUMF: “Islamic State and its Associated Forces”


Crosspost: Khalil Dewan

Having just written my analysis of Congressman Representative Adam Schiff draft Islamic State AUMF last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) along with four other Republican co-sponsors introduced a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against the Islamic State and its associated forces two days later. McConnell triggered Rule 14 to fast-track the Islamic State AUMF draft straight to Senate for debate and bypassed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee full process – this can now be considered at any time.

The Islamic State AUMF draft:



This joint resolution may be cited as the ‘‘Authorization for Use of Military Force Against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and its Associated Forces’’.


(a) IN GENERAL.—The President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force in order to defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, its associated forces, organizations, and persons, and any successor organizations.


(1) SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION.— Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1457(a)(1)), Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.

(2) APPLICABILITY OF OTHER REQUIREMENTS.—Nothing in this joint resolution supercedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1541 et seq.).


(a) REPORTS.—Not less frequently than once every 60 days, the President shall submit a report to Congress on matters relevant to this joint resolution, including actions taken pursuant to the exercise of authority granted under section 2. 

(b) SINGLE CONSOLIDATED REPORT.—To the extent that the submission of any report described in subsection (a) coincides with the submission of any other report on matters relevant to this joint resolution otherwise required to be submitted to Congress pursuant to the reporting requirements of the War Powers Resolution, all such reports may be submitted as a single consolidated report to Congress.  

McConnell’s draft Islamic State AUMF law authorizes the President to “use all necessary and appropriate force in order to defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by [Islamic State], its associated forces, organizations, and persons, and successor organizations”. The proposal fails to define “associated forces” and “successor organizations.” Such terminology is ambiguous and can be read to apply on non-state armed groups that the U.S does not intend to classify as an enemy or target – such as the Free Syrian Army, Ahrar ash-Sham and the Khorasan Group. The draft does not clearly define the enemy, who “successor organizations” are and who can be targeted with military force.

McConnell’s draft does not state whether it is the only AUMF law to authorize force against Islamic State, so as to prevent confusion on the applicability ofAUMF 2001. There are groups on the ground affiliated to al-Qaeda – such as Jabhat al-Nusrah and others – and such groups can potentially be covered by AUMF 2001 as (al-Qaeda) associated forces. On the ground these groups are in combat with the Islamic State, and it should be clear who the U.S intends to target or even form an alliance with from a conflict analysis lens.

McConnell’s draft does not mention any locational boundaries in its application, and it is thought that Islamic State has received a pledge of allegiance from groups in Afghanistan, Libya, Nigeria and other war zones. Will McConnell’s AUMF draft apply beyond Syria and Iraq?

In any attempt to ink down an Islamic State AUMF, a sunset date must be set to avoid a never-ending war as witnessed with AUMF 2001 – authorized to use force against those responsible for the attacks on 9/11. More importantly, the broad draft does not state how military force will be executed as a matter of military objectives against Islamic State. As the AUMF debate introduces this new draft to the table, non-state armed groups in Syria and Iraq are similarly debating alliances and foes, not just between themselves but with Gulf States too – a line of thinking the AUMF will inevitably influence.

DISCLAIMER: Cross-posting/guestposting is not an endorsement. As this article has not been written by CoolnessofHind, the views expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the views of


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