Reuters reported Wednesday U.S. officials are concerned such cutting-edge technologies as artificial intelligence and machine learning could be used by the Chinese to augment their military capabilities and achieve greater advancements in strategic industries. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are seen as key components of the military drone program, which is an integral part of the fight against the Islamic State group. Reuters said it had reviewed a Pentagon report that warns China is avoiding U.S. oversight and gaining access to sensitive technology as the debate continues on strengthening the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which reviews foreign acquisitions of U.S. companies based on national security considerations. An aide to Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told Reuters the lawmaker is working on legislation that would give the committee, which is composed by representatives from the departments of Treasury, Defense, Justice, Homeland Security, Commerce, State and Energy, more authority to block some technology investments.
The data shows just how much American forces have come to rely on the unmanned vehicles to carry out missions in the Middle East and abroad, even while human rights organizations and some foreign governments have raised concerns over what they call an unnecessary amount of civilian casualties. Drone account for a huge amount of air strikes, proportionally, compared to just five years ago, according to the data reviewed by Reuters, making up 56 percent of air attacks in 2015 compared to 5 percent in 2011. The use of drones to carry out American military interests has been a very divisive issue. While those in favor say the drones reduce risk for U.S. troops and requires less manpower in the region, critics say the tools -- which could theoretically be controlled from anywhere in the world -- cause unnecessary civilian casualties.
Yemeni forces backed by Apache helicopters from a Saudi-led coalition wrested the city of Houta from al Qaeda fighters after a gun battle on Friday morning, a local military official said. Their recapture of Houta, the regional capital of Lahj province which has been held by the militants since last summer, is one of the embattled Yemeni government's most important inroads yet against al Qaeda forces who have taken advantage of more than a year of war to seize territory. Government troops began their attack at daybreak and succeeded after several hours of air strikes and heavy combat, the military official told Reuters. Until the attack on Houta, AQAP has suffered few territorial losses despite a stepped-up American campaign of air strikes and drone attacks on its bases.