13 May 2014

UK personnel stationed on US base from which drone strikes are launched

On 12 May, The Guardian reported that the British Ministry of Defence revealed that British officers are based on the US military base in Djibouti, from which drone strikes against presumed terrorists in Yemen are launched. According to the Minster of Defence Mark Francois, ‘[the three officers] work within the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) and are responsible for planning and supporting US military operations in the region. As embedded military personnel within a US headquarters they come under the command and control of the US armed forces, but remain subject to UK law, policy and military jurisdiction.’

In February 2014, Human Rights Watch reported that Abd Rabbuh Mansur, the Yemeni president, mentioned the existence of a ‘joint operations room’ with the US, the UK, Yemen, and NATO that ‘identifies in advance’ the persons who will be targeted by US drones. A senior MoD official denied that the UK is giving ‘any military support to the US campaign of Remotely Piloted Aircraft System strikes on Yemen’ and that it was ‘unaware of any multinational control centre’ the Yemeni president referred to.

Kat Craig, the legal director of human rights organisation, Reprieve, stated that ‘this is yet more evidence that the UK is deeply involved in the shady abuses of the “war on terror”. The stationing of UK personnel at a base which has been identified as playing a key part in the secretive, unaccountable and illegal campaign of drone strikes in Yemen raises serious questions, as does the Yemeni president’s statement that Britain is involved in targeting the strikes.’

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Source: The Guardian | UK troops working with US military at base for Yemen drone operations
Source: Human Rights Watch | A Wedding That Became a Funeral - US Drone Attack on Marriage Procession in Yemen | 2014

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