WASHINGTON - The United States is giving the elite Joint Special Operations Command - the organization that helped kill Osama bin Laden in a 2011 raid by Navy SEALs - expanded power to track, plan and potentially launch attacks on terrorist cells around the globe, a leading American newspaper reported Saturday, citing US officials.

In a dispatch posted on its website, The Washington Post said the Obama administration’s move was driven by concerns of a dispersed terrorist threat as Islamic State militants are driven from strongholds in Iraq and Syria.

The missions could occur well beyond the battlefields of places like Iraq, Syria and Libya where Joint Special Operations Command has carried out clandestine operations in the past, the report said. When finalized, it will elevate JSOC from being a highly-valued strike tool used by regional military commands to leading a new multiagency intelligence and action force.

Known as the “Counter-External Operations Task Force,” the group will be designed to take JSOC’s targeting model - honed over the last 15 years of conflict - and export it globally to go after terrorist networks plotting attacks against the West.

The creation of a new JSOC entity late in President Barack Obama’s tenure is the “codification” of best practices in targeting terrorists outside of conventional conflict zones, the Post reports, citing officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss administration deliberations. It is unclear, however, if the administration of President-elect Donald Trump will keep this and other structures set up by Obama. They include guidelines for counterterrorism operations such as approval by several agencies before a drone strike and “near certainty” that no civilians will be killed. This series of presidential orders is known as the “playbook.”

The new JSOC task force could also offer intelligence, strike recommendations and advice to the militaries and security forces of traditional Western allies, or conduct joint operations, officials said, according to the Post. In other parts of the world, with weak or no governments, JSOC could act unilaterally.

The global focus is reminiscent of when US forces first went after al-Qaida in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. As approaching US troops forced militants to flee their safe havens in Afghanistan and scatter across the globe, the United States followed in pursuit, using CIA assets to grab suspected al-Qaida operatives in dozens of countries, sometimes capturing, imprisoning and torturing them under murky legal authorities.

Some in the Pentagon hope to see the new task force working in tandem with the CIA, elevating a sometimes distant relationship to one of constant coordination to track and go after suspected terrorists outside of traditional war zones.

In recent years the agency’s involvement in global paramilitary operations has waned - with fewer strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, and its armed drones in Syria transferred to the Pentagon. It’s still unclear how much the CIA may be willing to cooperate with JSOC and more broadly with the Pentagon following the White House’s decision.

The agency, with its broad contacts overseas, espionage networks and long experience in covert operations still has much greater reach than JSOC.

The CIA declined to comment, the paper said. Citing US military officials, the Post reports that the new JSOC task force will report to the Pentagon through the US Special Operations Command, creating a hybrid command system that can circumvent regional commanders for the sake of speed.

In the past, units such as the Army’s Delta Force - which is part of SOCOM and its subordinate command JSOC - were usually deployed under those regional commanders, known as geographic combatant commands. The new task force, however, will alter that process by turning SOCOM’s chief, Army Gen. Raymond “Tony” Thomas, into a decision-maker when it comes to going after threats under the task force’s purview.

The White House, asked to comment on the plan, issued a statement that did not use JSOC’s name, but acknowledged the role Special Operations forces play in tracking foreign fighters away from the battlefield.

“These forces on the ground, operating in close concert with our partners, have gathered critical intelligence off the battlefield, and have shared that information with our coalition partners and allies,” the statement said. “This information is helping us ramp up actions against Islamic State leaders and operatives planning attacks, track foreign fighters returning to their home countries and improve law enforcement actions aimed at interdicting potential plotters.”