And now Obama can point to the impotence of al Qaeda's central cell as evidence that a smaller U.S. presence can get the job done.
Drone Wars & Commando Raids. The Obama administration has increased the use of stealth and lethal special operations forces raids in Afghanistan to nab and kill al Qaeda and Taliban leaders and operatives. Raids similiar to the one that killed bin Laden, which was carried out by a small team of Navy SEALs, allow U.S. officials to capture valuable terrorist leaders with—almost always—little collateral damage. Meantime, Obama is waging a very different kind of war in Yemen, using aerial drone strikes to take out Al Qaeda leaders and operatives.
Experts say the bin Laden letters show the special forces raids and drone strikes are taking a collective toll on al Qaeda's central cell in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as its affiliates in places like Yemen.
"The bin Laden raid was a big for the president," Preble says. "On top of the raid, you have his drone strikes and other special ops raids—and that means no U.S. troops on ground, which Americans really like."
John T. Bennett covers national security and foreign policy for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BennettJohnT.