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Top U.S. Military Official Takes 'Full Responsibility' For Controversial Yemen Raid

Yemeni residents inspect a house that was damaged during a Jan. 29 U.S. raid on the tiny village of Yakla, in central Yemen.
Yemeni residents inspect a house that was damaged during a Jan. 29 U.S. raid on the tiny village of Yakla, in central Yemen.

A top U.S. military official told the Senate Armed Services Committee today that he accepts "full responsibility" for the widely criticized U.S. ground raid into Yemen in late January.

At the same time, Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of U.S. Central Command, said he was "satisfied" after a review found that the tragic outcome of the raid was not a result of "incompetence or poor decision-making or poor judgment."

As a result, he said that he has decided there is "no need for an additional investigation into this particular operation."


The raid has been repeatedly hailed by the White House as a success, because of intelligence that was gathered. A U.S. Navy SEAL, William "Ryan" Owens, was killed during the operation.

Votel was blunt: "We lost a lot in this operation. We lost a valued operator, we had people wounded, we caused civilian casualties, lost an expensive aircraft."

At the same time, he insisted that because of the raid, "we did gain some valuable information that will be helpful for us."

The value of some of this information has been questioned. As NPR's Philip Ewing has reported, "A terrorist video released ... by the Pentagon to show what it called intelligence gleaned by the recent raid in Yemen actually was made about 10 years ago."

There have been varying reports of the number of civilian casualties in the raid. One local man told NPR that 24 people were killed in the operation, including nine men, six women and nine children. It was not clear exactly how many of the dead were civilians. Among the children killed was the 8-year-old daughter of Yemen-American terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki.


Today, Votel stated that a "determination based on our best information available is that we did cause casualties, somewhere between four and 12 casualties that we accept, I accept responsibility for."

NPR's Alice Fordham and Tom Bowman have provided an account of the raid, based on conversations with local residents and U.S. military officials, which you can read here.

Votel said officials are still carrying out an investigation into the loss of the aircraft. As NPR has reported, the "$90 million Osprey, a tilt-rotor aircraft, was destroyed after crash landing."

The White House has said that planning for the raid began under the Obama administration. It was the first military operation authorized by President Trump.

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