Special Operations Command (Forward) - Yemen (SOC [FWD] YEM)
The primary mission of Special Operations Command (Forward) - Yemen (SOC [FWD] YEM) is to provide training and other support to the Yemeni military, including the Yemen Special Operations Force. The Command provides direct oversight of all special operations in support of US Central Command (CENTCOM) in the Republic of Yemen. The Command supported a broader effort to bring stability to Yemen and stamp out al-Qaida and other terrorists in the region, which also included the use of unmanned aerial vehicles to launch attacks against known terrorists in the country.
Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT) had been conducting Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) functions in Yemen since at least 2004. In September 2004, the US Embassy in Yemen reported that the Department of State possessed no credible information of gross violations of human rights by the Yemen Central Security Force Counter Terrorism Unit or other members of this unit at that time, which would have prevented them from participating in such a JCET. Such approval was given for trainings in 2005 and 2006 that also involved members of the Yemen Special Operations Force and Yemen Coast Guard.
On 26 April 2012, the Department of Defense said officials were assessing what US national security role they were called upon to perform in Yemen. The Defense Department had suspended military assistance activities in Yemen in 2011 because of political instability there. With a new administration governing Yemen, defense leaders were beginning to reassess, and to start up again, some elements of military assistance. On 8 May 2012, the US Department of Defense announced that US military personnel were again training Yemeni forces.
On 15 May 2012, it was reported that US forces in Yemen were assisting Yemeni forces in operations against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The US Defense Department acknowledged having trainers in Yemen, but would not go into detail about whether these operations were specifically stationed in Lahj province where raids and ground fighting reportedly killed more than 40 people, including al-Qaida militants and civilians.
On 16 May 2012, President Obama signed an Executive Order authorizing sanctions to be imposed on individuals and entities who threaten the peace, security, and stability of Yemen by disrupting the political transition. This Executive Order allowed the United States to take action against those who seek to undermine Yemen's transition and the Yemeni peoples' clear desire for change. Yemen's transition represented an important step forward for the Yemeni people and the United States said it strongly supported Yemen's political transition. The US said it would continue to work with international partners, including the Gulf Cooperation Council, to help Yemen chart a more secure, democratic, and prosperous path forward.
On 17 May 2012, Yemeni officials said US forces were assisting Yemeni troops in launching a wide air and land offensive against militant groups, including Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in the south of the country. Yemeni officials said the most recent assault on militants was carried out by Yemeni warplanes and troops with direct guidance from a small number of US personnel in the country. Anonymously sources reported that US forces were helping Yemenis with intelligence, including satellite imagery, pictures from drones, and other means to help them locate targets.
On 15 June 2012, President Obama sent a letter to the US House of Representatives summarizing the 2012 War Powers Resolution 6-Month Report. In the letter President Obama said that the US military had been working closely with the Yemeni government to operationally dismantle and ultimately eliminate the terrorist threat posed by al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula. Joint efforts had resulted in direct action against a limited number of that organization's operatives and senior leaders in Yemen who posed a terrorist threat to the United States and its interests.
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