As Senate probes Yemen role, US quietly continues strikes

As the United States Senate probes America’s role in the Yemen conflict, the US military continues to strike Al Qaeda’s official branch in the Gulf state. In the past month, the United States conducted three strikes against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP.)

US Forces Central Command (CENTCOM) has not released details for any strikes in 2018, continuing the military’s limited transparency from the year prior. Without the press releases, the location and results of these strikes remains unknown.

The United States has conducted 25 strikes in Yemen in 2018, LTC Earl Brown at CENTCOM Media Operations said this week. A strike in Jan. 2018 targeted the Islamic State, but the 24 others have all targeted Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen.

The current operational tempo is lower than last year’s record rate, but is still poised to be higher than any other year in the decade-long air campaign. Last year, the United States conducted a record 131 strikes in Yemen.

Today, the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee heard testimony on the American role in the Yemen conflict. Officials from the Department of Defense, State Department, and USAID testified before the committee. The hearing focused on the humanitarian situation and America’s support toward the Saudi-led coalition. The counterterrorism mission is a separate line of effort from US support to the Saudi campaign against the Houthis. Nonetheless, terrorist groups thrive as the Yemeni government battles the Houthis for control of the country.

Alexandra Gutowski is the senior military affairs analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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