By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON – U.S. military personnel are again training Yemeni forces, Defense Department officials said today.
U.S. officials had suspended the training mission in Yemen due to political instability in the nation. The United States recently began reintroducing a small number of trainers into the country, Navy Capt. John Kirby, Pentagon spokesman, said.
Kirby, speaking to reporters, said the United States has been working for years with the Yemeni government and military to combat the growing al-Qaida threat in the nation. That threat doesn’t just threaten the Yemeni people but also Americans, he said.
“There was a suspension of some of that activity in Yemen for a while due to the political instability in that country,” the spokesman said. “We are now beginning to resume more of that routine military-to-military cooperation.”
Pentagon officials will not discuss operations in Yemen, Kirby said. “And I'm certainly not going to provide specific details on the numbers of individuals that we have there,” he said.
Kirby also addressed questions about an American airstrike in Afghanistan that mistakenly hit a civilian target, killing six members of an Afghan family. Kirby reiterated that the United States finds civilian casualties unacceptable.
Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, took responsibility for the raid and promised a thorough investigation. “We take each one very, very seriously; they’re all a tragedy,” Kirby said of civilian deaths.
The coalition goes to enormous lengths to avoid civilian casualties and collateral damage, Kirby said. “When it happens, as tragic as it is, it’s by mistake; it’s an accident,” he said. “We own up to it, we take responsibility, we investigate it.”