The US military launched nine counterterrorism strikes in Yemen against al Qaeda so far in 2016, including previously undisclosed strikes in February and March, a spokesman for US Central Command said Friday. “As part of Central Command’s commitment to transparency, we will endeavor to release information about counterterrorism strikes in places like Yemen as soon as possible after a strike is conducted,” Col. Patrick Ryder told Pentagon reporters in a phone conference from Tampa, Fla. The latest strike in Yemen was May 19,which killed four al Qaeda operatives, he said. The previously undisclosed strikes were conducted Feb. 3, Feb. 29, and March 30, and killed a total of 11 al Qaeda operatives, Ryder said. None of them were known to be high-value targets, he said. CENTCOM has been in “response-to-query mode” as far as strikes in Yemen, Ryder said, but has recently attempted to be more transparent. Public affairs did previously know about the strikes, but did not have the authority to release information about them, Ryder said. When pressed by reporters about whether CENTCOM may be more forthcoming about future strikes in Yemen, Ryder acknowledged that while the command’s “definition of timely may sometimes be at odds,” with that of the media, “it will be as soon as we can.” Going forward, he said, “We will look to put out a release on our counterterrorism strikes against al Qaeda operatives in Yemen.” (See also: US Continues Support for Saudi Offensive in Yemen)
Rumored cuts to the F-35 from the fiscal 2025 defense budget—six from Air Force plans—would not be offset by recent Foreign Military Sales, and will disrupt ongoing Lot 19 negotiations, Pentagon and industry sources said.