AUMF

Yemen Conflict Update: Expanded US Military Role on the Way?

By Robert Chesney
Thursday, May 8, 2014, 9:54 AM

An interesting tidbit today regarding US involvement in Yemen, from Politico's first-rate briefer Morning Defense:

MORE MILITARY SUPPORT COULD BE COMING: Shy of putting boots on the ground, the U.S. government is receptive to additional military cooperation with the Yemeni government if requested, a DoD official told Morning D.

Currently, the U.S. military and the CIA attack suspected terrorist targets inside Yemen with drone strikes, but U.S. Special Operations troops are also known to provide additional assistance, including helicopter transport for Yemeni forces.

Additional logistics and direct fire capabilities could be provided, but neither the Yemeni nor the U.S. government would like to see U.S. troops involved on the ground, not even in an advise and assist role, the DoD official said.

It's not entirely clear to me where the line lies between providing the role of SOF "troops ... provide additional assistance, including helicopter transport for Yemeni forces" and the idea that we do not plan to have "troops involved on the ground, not even in an advise and assist role".

But nevermind that; the precise role played by US personnel who have boots on the ground is at some level a distraction given the long-running practice of using force directly (albeit from the air).  From that perspective, the interesting part of this exchange is the suggestion that we might be open to expanding that role, a position that (if true) might be in tension with Obama administration statements about the use of force outside Afghanistan in general, and the supposedly-limited nature of our involvement in Yemen in particular (i.e., the notion that we are not using force to help them fight off insurgents but instead strictly to head off imminent terrorist threats).  Stay tuned....