The deployment of American troops to foreign lands is not solely at the President’s discretion. The Congress must approve any decision to deploy troops abroad for war or for peace maintenance purposes. This is clearly indicated in the US constitution under Article I, section 8, clause 11. This clause gives the Congress power to declare war. Consequently, it emanates that the Congress must be involved in any decision to deploy American troops abroad and must indeed approve the decision when the proposal has been made by another part such as the President. Examples of where a sitting President has been forced to seek the approval of the Congress in the deployment of troops include the two Gulf wars where President Bush Senior and President Bush Junior had to seek the approval of the Congress before deploying troops. The Congress approved the president’s proposal for troop deployment in both instances.
The War Powers Act of 1973 requires the president to consult widely with the Congress before taking a decision to deploy troops. The act also stipulates an interesting restriction in that it limits the use of United States troops in foreign lands and before any sought of legislative authorization.
These restrictions in terms of unauthorized military actions as well as the president’s power in troop deployment are indeed very realistic. This is because they are aimed at preventing abuse of power by the President and also avoiding engagement in unnecessary wars such as the Vietnam War where America suffered massive casualties.
There are some who, however, question the legality of such restrictions. A perfect example of this is a recent situation whereby the current President, Barrack Obama had to employ legal advice to find out if h constitution gave him enough power to overrule the government’s decision to not invade Syria. The course of action that should be employed in this situation is the re-defining of all constitutional clauses regarding troop deployment to determine who has the final say.
Conforti, Daniel A. Congressional Vs. Executive War Powers: a Political History of the War Powers Resolution of 1973. Thesis (M.A.)--California State University, Fullerton, 1985, 1985.
Westerfield, Donald L. War Powers: The President, the Congress, and the Question of War. Westport, Conn: Praeger, 1996.
Mann, Thomas E. A Question of Balance: The President, the Congress, and Foreign Policy. Washington: Brookings Institution, 1990.