Assisting Yemen

By Jason Sherman / December 29, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Al Qaida's Yemen branch claim of responsibility for the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a commercial airliner approaching Detroit is evidence of what U.S. military commanders have long suspected -- that the Middle Eastern nation could become a base for launching attacks against the United States.

In FY-09, U.S. Central Command in conjunction with the State Department, designed four counter-terrorism programs worth $67.2 million to improve aerial surveillance, border security, maritime patrol capability and U.S. and allied forces’ ability to counter improvised explosive devices, first reported on Sept. 21.

These projects in Yemen are being carried out using so-called Section 1206 authorities, designed to finance security assistance operations that bolster the capacity of partner nations to conduct stability and counterterrorism operations. In FY-09, the Pentagon funded projects in 16 nations worth $344 million.

The four projects in Yemen collectively represent the second largest allocation of Section 1206 resources in FY-09; $112.9 million is going to fund five projects in Pakistan, including one to provide four Russian-built Mi-17 helicopters.