The United States was hit in 1993, 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2001. The United States has not been hit since 9/11. When I say this, the qualifications that I am using are that the U.S. mainland has not been hit, or any U.S. positions outside of any known combat zone. A colleague and I differed about why the attacks on London and Madrid are not counted. By this standard, I would not be able to count the attack on the barracks in Saudi Arabia in 1996, nor would I be able to count the attack on the U.S.S. Cole.
In my view, any attack on our military anywhere in the world is counted, unless it is already within a known combat area. Our protectorates are included, such as Guam. I do not include attacks that were not targeted at the United States directly. The attacks in Madrid was aimed at Spain and influencing the elections there. The attacks in London were aimed at England. For myself, their is a difference between setting off a bomb in London and attacking an aircraft carrier. Organizations that are setting off bombs in cities are less of a danger than those who are directly engaging our military are. The very nature of these organizations is that they are decentralized. The same ideology is at root although the actual organizations that perform the attacks will vary. This is why it is vital to force the Islamic ‘extremist’ to engage our military on ground of our choosing.
Our best chance with winning the war lies in our ability to force our enemy to engage our military instead of our civilian population. This applies to our allies as well. Pakistan is a very important area to watch. The capability to deliver nuclear weapons there is of vital concern. The war will flare up from time to time and the areas where the open warfare is worst will vary. This is in part because our enemy cannot maintain constant combat operations for any extended period. This is where we need to draw them out. Now that we know that they find it hard to maintain combat like in Iraq for a full year tells us a great deal about how well we match up stamina wise. Watching this will enable us to more accurately see how the war is really going.