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HSPI Issue Brief 16 PDF Logo
June 21, 2012
Clinton Watts and Frank J. Cilluffo


Today, HSPI released an Issue Brief entitled "Drones In Yemen: Is the U.S. on Target?" by Clinton Watts, HSPI Senior Fellow, and Senior Analyst with the Navanti Group; and HSPI Director Frank Cilluffo. Building on their past work on Yemen and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Watts and Cilluffo revisit the use of drones in Yemen, offering context to ongoing debates about U.S. counterterrorism strategy as well as recommendations regarding the way forward. The authors review what drones and Special Operations Forces (SOF) have accomplished over the past year, explore why AQAP has continued to thrive, and explain what critics of drones misunderstand about operations in Yemen. Watts and Cilluffo go on to urge continued improvement of intelligence to better the accuracy of drone strikes, and argue in favor of greater transparency and accountability in drone operations. The authors recognize that "drones alone cannot entirely defeat AQAP," and call for the development of "a larger, long-run strategy...for pursuing U.S. counterterrorism objectives in Yemen."

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Clinton Watts is a Senior Analyst with the Navanti Group and a Senior Fellow at The George Washington University Homeland Security Policy Institute (HSPI). He is also a former U.S. Army Officer and former Special Agent with the FBI.

Frank J. Cilluffo is the Director of the Homeland Security Policy Institute at The George Washington University.


Founded in 2003, The George Washington University Homeland Security Policy Institute (HSPI) is a nonpartisan “think and do” tank whose mission is to build bridges between theory and practice to advance homeland security through an interdisciplinary approach. By convening domestic and international policymakers and practitioners at all levels of government, the private and non-profit sectors, and academia, HSPI creates innovative strategies and solutions to current and future threats to the nation. The opinions expressed in this Issue Brief are those of the authors alone. Comments should be directed to hspi@gwu.edu