By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 1, 2010 - A Defense Department spokesman today praised Yemeni officials for their stand against the terror group al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and called the group a serious threat in Yemen and around the world.
"It's a serious threat, and it's a threat not only to Yemen, but the U.S. and other regional interests," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.
Officials in Great Britain and in the United Arab Emirates last week intercepted in transit packages rigged to explode. A search is under way for any other packages that may have been mailed, officials at the Department of Homeland Security said.
DOD officials have been working with Yemen to implement "a holistic approach" to address security and counterterrorism concerns in the nation, Whitman said, and the U.S. government also is working with Yemeni authorities to address political, economic and social challenges in the country.
But the department is not considering any overt move in Yemen, Whitman said. The United States has a modest training mission in the country, and works with the Yemeni military to build capabilities to counter al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. "We work very closely with the government of Yemen on our counterterrorism assistance activities," Whitman said.
The United States has recognized the problem for years. U.S. baseline assistance to Yemen increased from $17.2 million in fiscal 2008 to $40.3 million in 2009 and around $72.3 million in 2010. President Barack Obama has requested $106.6 million in assistance for fiscal 2011. These totals do not include counterterrorism or humanitarian assistance.
Overall, Yemen received $155.3 million in fiscal 2010. This included a $34.5 million special operations force counterterrorism enhancement package. The program is designed to improve the tactical effectiveness and operational reach of the Yemeni special operations force, officials said. It provides equipment and training to improve the Yemeni military's mobility, situational awareness, survivability, communications and tactical proficiency.
Yemen has received Humvees, weapons, ammunition, radio systems and night-vision goggles. In addition, the United States is providing $82.8 million for medium-lift helicopters.
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