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Report: Pentagon Secretly Trained UAE Fighters for Combat in Yemen — Then Lied About It

Published: January 18, 2019
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Source: Mint Press

Alternet — On Wednesday, Yahoo News revealed new documents from late 2017 that show, contrary to the Defense Department’s insistence that it is neutral in the bloody conflict in Yemen perpetrated by a coalition of Saudi Arabia and its allies, the U.S. appears to have provided training to forces from the United Arab Emirates, which is part of the coalition:

The United States is “not a participant in the civil war in Yemen nor are we supporting one side or the other,” Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said last month, echoing a long-held position in the Pentagon.

[…]

The files, obtained from Air Forces Central Command via the Freedom of Information Act, appear to tell a different story. “Escorted 6 UAE F-16s to RED FLAG” — reads a December 2017 Air Force document referring to an advanced aerial combat training exercise held for U.S. and allied pilots — “assisted 150 airmen in challenging ex[ercise] to prepare for combat ops in Yemen.” The document goes on to detail additional support provided by the U.S. Air Force’s Air Warfare Center at Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates. “Unit fighter personnel advanced the UAE’s F-16 fighter pilot training program; 3 pilots flew 243 instructor sorties/323 hrs that created 4 new instructors & 29 combat wingmen who immediately deployed for combat operations in Yemen.”

 

A CENTCOM spokesman, Lt. Col. Earl Brown, flatly denied the contents of the document, saying that U.S. forces have not “conducted exercises with members of the [Saudi-led coalition] to prepare for combat operations in Yemen.” He claimed that the U.S. gives “limited non-combat support” to forces in the region to counteract “the destabilizing effects of terrorism and other threats”  despite the fact that the documents clearly say the training is for “combat ops in Yemen.”

The Saudi attacks on Yemen, in response to a civil war between the government of Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and the Shi’a Houthi rebels, have stunned the world with their brutality. The coalition has been accused of deliberately bombing farms and food storage sites, triggering a famine that has killed 85,000 children  and they are using bombs supplied by the United States.

In November, the Pentagon announced it would no longer refuel Saudi coalition aircraft conducting the air raids. In December, the Senate voted to formally forbid U.S. support for the war. But these documents suggest our military has been more intimately involved with this war than they cared to acknowledge, and the public deserves answers.

Top Photo | A U.S. Marine teaches Saudi Naval Forces how to use a MG-42 machine gun during exercise Red Reef 15. Rome M. Lazarus | US Marine Corps

Source | Alternet

Stories published in our Daily Digests section are chosen based on the interest of our readers. They are republished from a number of sources, and are not produced by MintPress News. The views expressed in these articles are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

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