According to The Young Turks, the Pentagon is planning to train Saudi Arabian military pilots inside the U.S. Federal procurement documents show that the U.S. Air Force is looking for private contractors to lead the training, which will be “conducted in the U.S. at contractor’s facility.”
Saudi Arabia is currently engaged in a U.S.-backed war with Yemen, which has already reportedly killed 5,000 civilians, spread a million cases of cholera, and created a famine that has killed 50,000 children. The humanitarian crises triggered by the war have gotten little play in the U.S. media, but a Saudi airstrike on a school bus earlier this month that killed 44 children did spur some outrage against the ongoing conflict. It was later found that the bomb used in the attack was sold to the Saudis by America.
After the Saudi school bus attack, Congress members including Elizabeth Warren and Ted Lieu wrote letters asking for more information about U.S. involvement in the war. Even the Pentagon criticized he Saudi war effort earlier this week. Defense Secretary James Mattis warned the Saudis that U.S. support for the war was “not unconditional” and and encouraged them to “do everything humanly possible to avoid any innocent loss of life.”
But that doesn’t seem to have deterred the military from pressing on in our training of the pilots who are killing civilians like those children. As The Young Turks points out, these documents asking for contractors were filed on August 23rd, two weeks after the bus bombing.
“At a time when even the Pentagon has threatened to cut military and intelligence [support] for Saudi’s disastrous campaign in Yemen, it’s disturbing that the Air Force is ratcheting up its relationship by training more Saudi pilots, however veiled by the use of contractors,” Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch told The Young Turks. “Saudi pilots have shown a reckless disregard for human life in the countless atrocities they’ve caused in Yemen; at this point, we need accountability for war crimes, not more training.”