Anwar al Awlaki’s death in Yemen was a “major blow” to al Qaeda and marked “another significant milestone” in the broader effort to defeat the terrorist network, said President Obama. CIA armed remotely piloted aircraft killed Awlaki, a US-born cleric and al Qaeda leader, last week in Yemen during a joint CIA-military operation. His death came nearly five months after US special forces killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. “This has been a bad year for terrorists,” said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Sept 30, the day Awlaki’s death came to light. Panetta added, “This country is much safer because of the loss of Awlaki.” Awlaki was the terrorist network’s leader for external operations in the Arabian Peninsula. Among his misdeeds, he was the primary planner behind the failed attempt to blow up an airplane over the United States on Christmas Day in 2009. He also repeatedly attempted to radicalize US citizens and others throughout the world. Obama, speaking Sept. 30 at the Pentagon, said this successful operation is “a tribute to our intelligence community” and to the close US-Yemeni cooperation. (Obama remarks) (Includes AFPS report by Lisa Daniel)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.