Thursday, December 24, 2009

Yemen: The Next Afghanistan?

I was thinking of giving the Blog two weeks off. After all, it’s Xmas Eve when the pace of government and business slows to almost a halt in the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Well – that was my plan until I came across an article in the December 24, 2009 Arizona Sun: “Airstrike illustrates ballooning US involvement in Yemen” (

Map Source: University of Missouri – St. Louis:
The article talks about increased US military activity in Yemen to bolster the effort of the Yemeni government against Al Qaeda. Yemen is nestled to the south of Saudi Arabia and across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia and Djibouti. Little bells should be going off in your head about the volatility of this situation and the particularly interesting nuances in dealing with the neighbors.

First of all whenever there are ‘drones’ there are ‘accidents’ and civilian casualties or at least the allegation of them cannot be far behind. Failure to deal with the backlash will result in negative opinions of the US and the Yemeni government and a decrement of US status in world opinion in general.

In today’s world there are few secrets, US military involvement is not one of them. This is clearly a case where PSYOP needs to be involved. Drones and military action means PSYOP plans, programs and materials need to be in play BEFORE the eventual accident or allegation.
This particular part of the world has gotten it share of notoriety from US involvement in Somalia, pirate activity and even an episode of the adult cartoon series, South Park. The economic clout of Saudi Arabia and their deep connections to Al Qaeda are well known; consequently US actions in this area cannot be successfully accomplished without some type of coordination with the Saudi’s.

Rounding out the mix is Djibouti which has long been under the influence of the French and is considered a strategic bulwark in the area. Actions which poison a potential ally in the region must be considered with caution and long range strategy in mind.
So we find ourselves coming in to the movie theater in the middle of the feature. This playing feature is “US in Yemen” although it seems strangely like the movie we just saw: “US in Afghanistan” and we didn’t much care for that one.

My best wishes to my brothers and sisters in the PSYOP Community and a special thank you to those of you who are serving in harm’s way at this time of year. May 2010 be a breakthrough year that sees a trend to calmness in the world and a reduction in PSYOP Optempo.

Look for the next PSYOP Regimental Blog entry after the 4th of January 2010.

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