The US Government has been cagy about the degree to which the US is assisting Saudi Arabia in its war on Yemen; a war which includes area bombing and terror-strikes against civilians. And, because the US has managed to lull its population into accepting anything “anti-terror” as acceptable, there has been hardly any public outcry at all.
In order to manipulate public opinion, the US Government has delivered carefully mixed messages around what “support” means. For example, a year ago, there was some pro-forma hand-wringing about maybe curtailing weapons sales because of civilian deaths. [reuters]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States has decided to limit military support to Saudi Arabia’s campaign in Yemen because of concerns over widespread civilian casualties and will halt a planned arms sale to the kingdom, U.S. officials told Reuters
The United States will also revamp future training of the kingdom’s air force to focus on improving Saudi targeting practices, a persistent source of concern for Washington.
The decision reflects deep frustration within President Barack Obama’s government over Saudi Arabia’s practices in Yemen’s 20-month-old war, which has killed more than 10,000 people and sparked humanitarian crises, including chronic food shortages, in the poorest country in the Middle East.
That was back in 2016. Notice how it sounds like the US is trying to get the Saudis to stop using their US-made F-16s to drop US-made bombs on towns in Yemen? What actually happened was that the Saudis bought a $750 million “training package” from the US, to help teach their pilots to drop bombs better. If that sounds to you a bit like a payoff, it sounds that way to me, too.
WASHINGTON — Saudi Arabia is engaging in a $750 million, multiyear training program through the American military to help prevent the accidental killing of civilians in the Saudi-led air campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The additional training and new safeguards effectively amount to important new conditions on the $110 billion in proposed arms deals that the United States is preparing to seal with Saudi Arabia, which Mr. Trump announced during his trip.
These conditions may also have played a role in the Senate’s narrow approval of the first installment of Mr. Trump’s weapons sales — more than $510 million in precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia is also using cluster munitions – a particularly nasty area bombardment weapon – purchased from the UK, Brazil, and the US. If you recall your international humanitarian law, you’ll know that area bombardment is a war crime, which is why the US hasn’t indiscriminately dropped high explosives in any conflict since – oh – maybe a minute or two ago. It is not possible to believe that anyone is selling the Saudis these weapons with any expectation other that they will be used in war crimes. But: too much money at stake!
The Obama administration made a pro-forma block of a weapons sale for a large number of precision-guided munitions, which the Trump administration overturned on the basis that maybe giving the Saudis precision munitions means they will hit what they are aiming at. The whole argument is absurd because it’s pretty obvious that the Saudis are aiming at the civilians. That’s why they keep hitting them. Basically, the Saudis are using the same argument that the US uses when it bombs a hospital:
- We weren’t trying to hit the hospital
- OK, actually, we were, but we didn’t know it was a hospital, then
- Actually, we did know it was a hospital but we thought there were hostile troops nearby
- Because the hostile troops were nearby we unintentionally hit the hospital over and over again for an hour
- Thoughts and prayers!
Another piece the US has downplayed is that it has been providing intelligence support. Presumably that means satellite intelligence but it may also include a new pair of E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft. [washpo] We probably won’t sell them the E-8 JSTARS yet, because they’re still too new and besides we can tell them those for $20bn in another ten years. The Reagan administration already sold the Saudis two AWACs back in 1981 because: $8bn. [nyt] The Reagan administration said “it will help recycle petrodollars” – seriously, that was one of the excuses.
But that’s all in the past. Right now, the US Air Force is servicing the Saudi F-16s with in-air refuelling. [mil]
Since April 2015, the Air Force has logged 1,778 tanker sorties for the operation, Air Forces Central Command spokeswoman Capt. Kathleen Atanasoff told Military.com on Tuesday. That includes 1,069 over the past year, an increase of 360, or 50 percent, from the 709 in the previous period.
“These operations are ongoing, with aircraft refueling occurring daily,” Atanasoff said in an email.
The service’s tankers such as KC-135 Stratotankers and KC-10 Extenders participated in 7,564 refueling “events” with coalition aircraft, with “about 54 million pounds of fuel off-loaded in support of Saudi operations in Yemen,” Atanasoff said.
54 million pounds of fuel!? Yeah. But that’s not counting the operational cost of getting the fuel up into the KC-135s, keeping them maintained an in the air, etc.
It’s slicing hairs mighty fine to claim that the US is not participating in strike operations when it’s actually providing the backbone capabilities that make the strikes possible.
I checked and we haven’t sold the Saudi’s armed drones yet (note the carefully chosen words) – so the Saudis bought Chinese knock-offs. [disc] You know what’s coming next, don’t you? Naturally: it makes no sense to restrict drone sales now that everyone has drones, we’re just losing out on a lucrative market, says Lockheed Martin.
There have been attempts to rein in the madness, but they’ve been futile. The attempts weren’t even very big: lawmakers couldn’t even get a vote on an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to require that the military at least keep track of and report on how much fuel we’ve been providing to the Saudis. [intercept] In fact, it appears that the amount of fuel the US has been providing has nearly doubled in the last year.
The Saudi/UAE-led coalition is part of a religious war that has been going on for centuries, and the US has weighed in on the side of the guys with the petrodollars. And the guys with the petrodollars are spending them like proverbial drunken sailors on shore leave in Las Vegas: [warz]
- $13.5 billion for seven THAAD batteries, with an estimated delivery time of 2023-2026.
- $4.46 billion for 104,000 air-to-ground munitions, divided amongst five types (GBU 31v3, GBU-10, GBU-12, GBU-31v1, GBU-38).
- $6.65 billion for enhancements to Saudis’ Patriot anti-missile system, with a scope of work from 2018-2027.
- $2 billion for “light close air support” aircraft, with the aircraft and delivery date still unknown. It is possible that the winner of this contract could be related to the U.S. Air Force’s OA-X close-air support study.
- $2 billion for four new aircraft, of a to-be-determined variety, for “TASS & Strategic ISC.” TASS stands for “tactical airborne surveillance system,” similar in concept to the U.S. Air Force JSTARS system. It’s possible the replacement could be the same as the JSTARS replacement currently being considered by the Pentagon. Those would be delivered in 2024.
- $5.8 billion for three KC-130J and 20 C-130J new aircraft, along with sustainment through 2026. Those planes would start delivery in 2022.
- $6.25 billion for an eight-year sustainment deal for Saudi Arabia’s fleet of F-15 fighters, with another $20 million for an F-15 C/D recapitalization program study.
- $2 billion for an unknown number of MK-VI Patrol Boats, with an unknown delivery date.
- $6 billion for four Lockheed Martin-built frigates, based on the company’s littoral combat ship design. That order falls under the Saudi Naval Expansion Program II (SNEP II) heading, with planned delivery in the 2025-2028 timeframe.
- $2.35 billion to modify 400 existing Bradley fighting vehicles, along with another $1.35 for 213 new vehicles.
- $1.5 billion for 180 Howitzers, with an estimated delivery time of 2019-2022.
- $18 billion for C4I System and integration, with no further details given on what that means, nor with a delivery date offered.
They even bought 4 Littoral Combat Ships! If they are that stupid, they probably would have bought F-35s but weren’t allowed to, or something.
Let that old monster Smedley Butler summarize: [smed]
WAR is a racket. It always has been.
It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.
A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.
In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.
How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?
Observers of the war in Yemen point out that it’s not winnable using just air power. A resounding “duh” for that. [fp]
The Arms Export Control Act of 1976 is another of those pieces of legislation that the US Government files under “rule of law: ignore” – [wikipedia] it says that the US is only to sell weapons to foreign powers for their legitimate self defense. Congress is supposed to be monitoring this. But I’m sure they have much more important things to do.
Wow, the Fuel Rats seriously underpriced our services.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. House unanimously passed a non-binding resolution Monday asserting U.S. military assistance to Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen’s Shiite rebels is not covered by previous war authorizations.
A non-binding resolution? Give me a break, you cowards. Do your job!
Hauling fuel for Saudi Arabia is the most extreme case of “hauling coal to Newcastle” ever recorded.