Ever wonder where your where your tax money goes?:
The Pentagon is unable to account for more than $500 million in U.S. military aid given to Yemen, amid fears that the weaponry, aircraft and equipment is at risk of being seized by Iranian-backed rebels or al-Qaeda, according to U.S. officials.With Yemen in turmoil and its government splintering, the Defense Department has lost its ability to monitor the whereabouts of small arms, ammunition, night-vision goggles, patrol boats, vehicles and other supplies donated by the United States….[.]
In recent weeks, members of Congress have held closed-door meetings with U.S. military officials to press for an accounting of the arms and equipment. Pentagon officials have said that they have little information to go on and that there is little they can do at this point to prevent the weapons and gear from falling into the wrong hands.
The tragicomedy of the apparent loss of these weapons has shined a light on our counterterrorism policy in now-collapsing Yemen, a subject few in our media care about, judging from the lack of coverage compared to, for example, burning questions about Hillary Clinton’s email server. Our supposedly representative Congress held “closed-door” meetings with DOD officials last week, asking the Pentagon to account for all of this hardware. The Pentagon brass essentially shrugged its shoulders:
“We have to assume it’s completely compromised and gone,” said a legislative aide on Capitol Hill who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Here’s what’s gone missing in Yemen, presumed lost and irretrievable:
• 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
Here’s a Huey Helicopter. Four of these were apparently misplaced:
Here’s a CN-235 Transport plane. Two of these are lying around somewhere, maybe with the two coastal patrol boats:
Here’s a Cessna 208A:
Here’s a Humvee (imagine 160 0f those):
In order to fight the “War on Terror” in Yemen, the Administration has pursued a policy of training and arming so-called “elite’ units of Yemen’s Republican Guard, by upgrading its air force and military. This U.S. taxpayer-funded largesse was originally provided to the Interior Ministry of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Aid was suspended and then reinstituted after Saleh was replaced by his Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi following the “Arab Spring” of 2011. Unfortunately, Mr Hadi was himself toppled in January of this year by Houthi rebels, largely financed by Iran (he claims he’s still President, but his “presidential compound” was reportedly bombed today, suggesting he might be mistaken). The Houthis, although financed by Iran, are also described as“allies” of former President Saleh, and have taken over some of the military bases in the country, while Al Qaeda fighters have taken over others. Since half the country is described as being within the “Al Qaeda sphere of influence,” and since Al Qaeda overran a government military base last month with little difficulty, it’s also at least even money that some of the weaponry has gone straight to Al Qaeda (The Al Qaeda branch in Yemen has been described as constituting the greatest potential threat for attacks on U.S. soil).
To make matters even more interesting, Saleh’s original “forced departure’ apparently did not sit well with the people Saleh had placed into important governmental positions. All of the Yemeni forces were supervised or commanded by the former President, Saleh’s, brothers, cousins, and nephews. After Saleh was forced out of office, most of these hangers-on were summarily dismissed. According to a UN report, one of Saleh’s sons became quite upset at his removal and looted a huge arsenal of weapons, transferring them to a “private” military base run by other “Saleh family members.” No one knows if the Saleh The Junior is the one who pilfered the huge cache of weaponry described above (he has denied involvement in any looting), but it is generally known that the Saleh family is angling to return to power. Since the Saleh gang weren’t willing “for political reasons” to fire on Al Qaeda despite all of the training and weaponry we provided them, it’s also a fair bet that those arms are ready to go to the highest bidder, regardless of who owns them right now.
In an era of satellite surveillance so acute that we can determine the brand of cigarette a potential terrorist is smoking, it’s difficult to fathom how 160 Humvees, 4 Hueys, two patrol boats and three transport aircraft could be unaccounted for in a tiny country like Yemen, no matter how much of a mess that country is internally. Not to worry, however. The “balance of power” in Yemen is unlikely to be altered by these armaments, as Yemen appears to be akin to some sort of NRA paradise, its bazaars replete with heavy armaments likely paid for by long-forgotten U.S. taxpayer dollars as well:
Although the loss of weapons and equipment already delivered to Yemen would be embarrassing, U.S. officials said it would be unlikely to alter the military balance of power there. Yemen is estimated to have the second-highest gun ownership rate in the world, ranking behind only the United States.
Republicans salivating to make this a political issue, however, may want to think twice. An October 2007 accounting from the DOD Inspector General’s office estimated 500,000 weapons went missing in Iraq. Auditors were unable to determine whether those weapons remained with Iraqi units or fell into the hands of the insurgency. In 2004, 380 tons of high-grade explosives disappeared from a facility supposedly under American control. Multitudinous examples of mammoth fraud, waste and abuse abound stemming from the failed Iraq venture, a fact that has quietly spiralled down the media memory hole. It would appear that the last thing the GOP would want is to rehash the colossal sums of taxpayer money squandered in the failed war on Iraq, instituted by Jeb Bush’s brother. And of course, the bottom line is that no Congressman wants to offend the military and risk turning off the spigot of lucrative, voter-friendly defense contracts in his/her district.
Maybe that’s why those meetings were behind “closed doors.”