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Yemen-US Military Assistance

Although no U.S. troops were based permanently in Yemen, the United States has provided military assistance and technical support in recent years. According to the U.S. Department of State, the resumption of International Military Education and Training (IMET) assistance and the transfer of military equipment and spare parts to Yemen have improved defense relations between the United States and Yemen. In FY 2006, Foreign Military Financing for Yemen was US$8.4 million, IMET was US$924,000, and Non-Proliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining and Related Programs received US$1.4 million. Nongovernment sources report that in addition to this aid, U.S. military advisers have trained Yemeni troops in counterterrorism techniques, and the United States has contributed to Yemen's border security by installing advanced technological immigration control systems.

Defense relations between Yemen and the United States improved rapidly, with the resumption of International Military Education and Training assistance and the transfer of military equipment and spare parts. In FY 2011 approximate funding for U.S. Foreign Military Financing (FMF) for Yemen was $20 million, International Military Education and Training (IMET) was $1 million, and Non-Proliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining and Related Programs (NADR) was $4.5 million. In FY 2011 Yemen also received approximately $26.6 million in Economic Support Funds (ESF).

Of the $497 million in total security assistance allocated to Yemen between fiscal years 2007 and 2012, DOD allocated over 70 percent ($361 million) to its Section 1206 and 1207(n) programs. DOD has assisted several components of the Yemeni MOD. For example, DOD has provided vehicles, communications equipment, and other support to the Yemeni Border Security Force to enhance Yemens capability to detect and detain terrorists along its borders; helicopters, maintenance, and surveillance cameras to Yemens Air Force to support counterterrorism operations; and weapons, ammunition, and boats to Yemens special operations forces to build their counterterrorism capacity.

Although Yemen has received more Section 1206 and 1207(n) assistance than any other country, as of early 2013 DOD had yet to evaluate these programs to determine their effectiveness in developing the counterterrorism capacity of the Yemeni security forces receiving assistance. DOD headquarters officials attributed this to safety and security concerns, explaining that, given the unstable security environment in Yemen, it was not feasible to send officials to Yemen to observe or interview members of the individual units receiving Section 1206 or 1207(n) assistance.

Before the unrest of 2011, DOD personnel were embedded with the Yemeni units receiving U.S. training and equipment, which facilitated their ability to collect real-time information on the units capabilities. However, no DOD personnel have been embedded with Yemeni security forces since 2011. While security-related constraints on providing training remain, DOD has taken steps to mitigate the effect of the security environment on its training activities by conducting training outside of Yemen. For example, DOD arranged for Yemeni personnel to receive helicopter training in Texas and plans to provide training on a fixed-wing aircraft in Spain in early 2013.

President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi was sworn in on 25 February 2012 and on 27 February 2012 former President Saleh officially resigned from his post. Interim President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi of Yemen hoped to rebuild his government by purging remnants of the Saleh family that ruled the country more than 30 years. Among those remnants of Saleh family are high-ranking army generals who have refused to step down. After becoming interim president, Hadi bided his time before making his first moves to weed out elements of the Saleh government.

Lucas Winter of the US Army Foreign Military Studies Office noted in December 2012 that "Ali Abdullah Saleh may have renounced the presidency, but his and his familys influence is deeply embedded in the system. The degree to which the presidents family, as of late 2011, is in control of key security institutions is astounding. These include the Republican Guard and Special Forces (the presidents son and one-time purported heir Ahmed), the Central Security Forces (nephew Yahya Mohammed Saleh), the National Security Bureau (nephew Ammar Mohammed Saleh), the Air Force (half-brother Mohammed Saleh al-Ahmar), and the Presidential Guard (his nephew Tariq Mohammed Abdullah Saleh). His younger son Khaled Ali Abdullah Saleh was put in charge of a newly created division shortly after graduating from Sandhurst. His nephew Tayseer Mohammed Saleh al-Ahmar is the military attach in Washington. Other relatives and kinsmen hold important political, economic and military leadership positions."

Two counterterrorism units one each within the Yemeni MOD and MOI have been among the largest recipients of U.S. security assistance. However, US DOD officials noted that MOIs counterterrorism unit played a limited role in attacking AQAP strongholds in southern Yemen, while MODs counterterrorism unit did not make any contribution to those operations. DOD officials stated that this limited involvement was due in part to the nature of the conflict against AQAP an effort to regain control of territory that was more suited to a response by conventional military forces. However, the MOI and MOD counterterrorism units were under the leadership of the former presidents supporters at the time of the operations against AQAP and were consequently unwilling to strongly support the new presidents counterterrorism initiatives. Recent actions by the Yemeni government have addressed some of these challenges.

US support for the military and security sector in Yemen continued to be a priority for funding in the FY 2014 budget to support regional peace and security in Yemen. Yemens transitional government has made substantial gains in extending security in the country, both through military operations against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and its affiliates and through a challenging process of reorganization in both the Ministries of Defense and Interior.

Yemens population faced high unemployment, rendering youth susceptible to recruitment by violent extremist organizations, and it was essential to spur the economy by expanding private sector activity. This growth required additional assurances of secure movement of goods and personnel throughout the country. U.S. funds will support Yemens growing ability to deny territory to terrorists; modernize its security forces in concert with American goals, and to sustain critical equipment; extend the rule of law throughout areas influenced by tribes, sects, and adverse political groupings; aggressively work against corruption in all sectors; clear areas rendered unlivable by AQAP land mines and booby traps; improve Yemeni anti-terrorism capacity; and to reduce the availability of arms to unauthorized users. These efforts together will set the stage for the ongoing democratic political transition and revitalization of Yemens economy and its positive links to the region.

US assistance efforts in Yemen faced two significant types of challenges. First, Yemens high-threat security environment complicated U.S. efforts to train and assess the capability of Yemeni security forces, restricted oversight of civilian assistance projects, and endangered Yemeni staff who play a key role in providing assistance. Second, because of political divisions within the Yemeni government, key recipients of U.S. security assistance initially made limited use of this assistance to combat AQAP in support of the U.S. strategic goal of improving Yemens security.



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Page last modified: 03-02-2017 15:55:22 ZULU