Faced with an increasingly alarming threat from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the US military will begin a new training program with Yemen's counterterrorism unit so it can move against militants believed to be plotting attacks on America from safe havens there. The effort will mark the first time the US has trained that unit, which has traditionally focused on protecting Yemen's capital, says an official.
Under the plan, the training would begin in the next few months, and the Yemenis could more than double the size of their counterterror force, which now numbers about 300. To date the US military, with about 100 trainers rotating in and out of Yemen, has been working with that country's special operations forces and their military, particularly aviation units. The new program, which will cost about $75 million, would become part of that overall training effort, but officials believe it will provide a critical step toward getting at militants in safe havens, particularly in the Abyan and Shabwah provinces.