Statement by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III on Coalition Strikes in Houthi-Controlled Areas of Yemen

January 11, 2024


Lloyd J. Austin III

Author's Title: 

Secretary of Defense

In light of the illegal, dangerous, and destabilizing Iranian-backed Houthi attacks against U.S. and international vessels and commercial vessels from many countries lawfully transiting the Red Sea, today the militaries of the United States and the United Kingdom, with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands, conducted strikes against military targets in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen. This action is intended to disrupt and degrade the Houthis' capabilities to endanger mariners and threaten global trade in one of the world's most critical waterways. Today's coalition action sends a clear message to the Houthis that they will bear further costs if they do not end their illegal attacks.

Today's strikes targeted sites associated with the Houthis' unmanned aerial vehicle, ballistic and cruise missile, and coastal radar and air surveillance capabilities. The United States maintains its right to self-defense and, if necessary, we will take follow-on actions to protect U.S. forces.

Since November 19, the Houthis have launched more than two dozen attacks on vessels, including commercial vessels, creating an international challenge that demands collective action. Today, a coalition of countries committed to upholding the rules-based international order demonstrated our shared commitment to defending U.S. and international vessels and commercial vessels exercising navigational rights and freedoms from illegal and unjustifiable attacks.

We will not hesitate to defend our forces, the global economy, and the free flow of legitimate commerce in one of the world's vital waterways.