The Pentagon has lost track of more than $500 million in U.S. weaponry, aircraft and equipment donated to Yemen.
According to The Washington Post, the U.S. was forced to close its embassy based in Yemen last month due to the government turmoil in the country. The Department of Defense fears that the missing equipment and armory may have fallen into the hands of Iranian-backed rebels or al-Qaeda. Now that the embassy has closed, it has been even harder to track the items.
Yahoo News reported that during the evacuation of the embassy, U.S. Marines were ordered to destroy their weapons and depart the country unarmed. The move was met with criticism, as many argued soldiers were taught to never leave their weapons behind.
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford testified last Tuesday on Capitol Hill that the decision to get rid of the weapons was backed by the U.S. Central Command and the Department of Defense.
Congress has been conducting closed-door meetings with military officials for the last few weeks, discussing the accountability of the missing equipment. Officials have stated that there is very little information on where and who has the weaponry and supplies.
“We have to assume it’s completely compromised and gone,” said an unnamed legislative aide on Capitol Hill.
According to The Washington Post, the following is being recognized as missing:
- 1,250,000 rounds of ammunition
• 200 Glock 9 mm pistols
• 200 M-4 rifles
• 4 Huey II helicopters
• 2 Cessna 208 transport and surveillance aircraft
• 2 coastal patrol boats
• 1 CN-235 transport and surveillance aircraft
• 4 hand-launched Raven drones
• 160 Humvees
• 250 suits of body armor
• 300 sets of night-vision goggles
A shipment of $125 million in military hardware that included unarmed ScanEagle drones was scheduled to be delivered to Yemen later this year. The shipment has been cancelled and the items will be donated to other countries in Africa or the Middle East.
While U.S. officials have admitted that the lost weapons and equipment are an embarrassment, they said it is unlikely the missing items would tip the odds in favor of the enemy. The aid was restricted to small firearms and ammunition, even though Yemen had requested fighter jets and tanks as well.
A small group of U.S. military advisors have remained in the southern part of the country, despite the closure of the embassy. They are staying at Yemeni bases controlled by U.S. friendly leaders.