A Navy SEAL captain and former commander of a special operations team in Yemen said in a recent interview that a U.S. counterterrorism approach there reliant on drone strikes and special operations raids is a “fantasy.”
“The solution that some people champion where the main or whole effort is drone strikes and special operations raids — is a fantasy,” said Capt. Robert Newson in a Feb. 27 piece in the CTC Sentinel, published by the U.S. Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center.
“It may be cheaper and safer, but without broader efforts it is like mowing the grass in the jungle,” said Newson, who is currently a military fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “You cannot hold the jungle back with a weed whacker, you need to partner with the locals to get after their own problems.”
While Newson did not name any names, the White House had maintained before the collapse of the Yemeni government in January that its counterterrorism approach in Yemen, which was mostly reliant on drone strikes, special operations raids, and a small number of U.S. forces on the ground to train Yemeni forces, was working.