In the chaos of the civil war besetting Yemen, the disappearance of a huge arsenal of new American military equipment long escaped notice (click HERE for the full-sized diagram).
The US has supplied more than $500 million in military aid to Yemen since 2007 through programs managed by the Defense Department and State Department for combating terror. But in January, President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, whose regime was recognized by the West and Saudi Arabia, was driven out of Sanaa, the capital, by Iran-backed Houthi rebels, partly in protest against US drone strikes against Al Qaeda in Arabia (AQAP) terrorists, which had set up bases in the country.
It was only belatedly that the valuable US weaponry and equipment was found to have been mislaid.
Why did it take so long?
The president’s flight put the government in Sanaa in total disarray, making it impossible for the Defense Department to track the whereabouts of the missing war equipment. US officials also explained that the volatility of the Yemen conflict is such that weapons move around unpredictably and at random among diverse combatants.
The equipment became harder than ever to trace after the US closed its embassy in Sanaa in February and withdrew its military advisers.
Challenged in Congress to account for the disappearing hardware, Pentagon officials were forced to admit in closed sessions that Al Qaeda in Yemen or the Houthis – or both – had walked off with enough gear to outfit a small army. Some may have been purloined for trading in the illicit weapons bazaars which do a roaring trade in the Middle East.
Here is a list of the items unaccounted for to date:
- 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