The U.S. is buying even more hardware for Yemen’s military

 

U.S. drones have been battering Yemen, killing at least 28 people, and American spy planes watch from overhead. And now, Yemen’s skies are looking to get even more crowded. The U.S. Navy is helping the Yemeni air force buy 12 light spy planes, adding to the hundreds of millions of dollars worth of military aid the U.S. given to the Sana’a regime.

The Navy’s Light Observation Aircraft for Yemen program aims to buy 12 small planes — or maybe choppers —equipped with infrared and night vision cameras and the ability to beam the images collected by those cameras back to a ground station.

“The contractor shall also provide pilot, sensor operator and maintainer training and associated training materials all in Arabic,” reads an Aug. 8 U.S. Navy notice to potential suppliers.

The Navy wants to buy the aircraft on the cheap, too. This is a “Low Price Technically Acceptable source selection, “ which means the lowest bidder who meets the bare minimum technical requirements for the Yemenis will get the contract.

As FP’s Gordon Lubold and Noah Shachtman reported last week, the U.S. has recently reopened to the door to military aid to Yemen following a yearlong suspension over concerns about human rights abuses by the government of Yemeni’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The U.S. currently gives the Yemeni military everything from light spy planes, night vision goggles, weapons and tiny Raven drones to hunt terrorists. In addition to the hardware, the U.S. spends millions of dollars to train Yemeni terrorist hunters to use the gear.

As Lubold and Shachtman note, one of the big problems with all this is that the U.S. has few people on the ground to oversee the use of all this gear it’s providing to Yemen due to the dicey security situation there.

“Because of leadership and coordination challenges within the Yemeni government, key recipients of U.S. security assistance made limited use of this assistance until recently to combat (al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula) in support of the U.S. strategic goal of improving Yemen’s security,” states a March 2013 GAO report.

Then there’s the ring of American around Yemen that U.S. aircraft and special operators can launch missions into the country from. Remember, the U.S. had thousands of troops along with a rotating fleet of bombers, drones and spy planes at its regional hub at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. It’s also got secret airfields deep — and we mean deep — in the Saudi and Yemeni deserts said to host CIA drones. There are also airfields used occasionally by U.S. forces and drones further away in places like the Seychelles, Ethiopia and Oman.

It remains to be seen whether this small arsenal is enough to stem the growth of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula there. After all, four years of drone strikes in Yemen and AQAPs numbers are rising.

© 2013, Foreign Policy

Read more From Our Inbox stories from the Miami Herald

  • West must organize faster to stop spread of Ebola

    In the late 1960s, U.S. Surgeon General William H. Stewart said it was “time to close the book on infectious diseases” and “declare the war against pestilence won.”

  • ISIS plan needs Congress’ O.K.

    Before he goes to war, Barack Obama should go to Congress.

  • A challenge for Redskins team owner

    If Dan Snyder is so sure that the vast majority of Native Americans supports his use of a racial slur to name his football team, then I challenge him to visit the American Indian Society of Washington, D.C., and ask its members their opinions.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category