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Report: $500 Million Dollars Of US Military Equipment Vanishes In Yemen

U.S. officials know two things. First, Yemen is wracked by internal turmoil, and second, the Department of Defense has no idea as to the whereabouts of $500 million dollars worth of weapons and equipment sent to Yemen to help fight off al-Qaida and Shiite Houthi rebels.

There is little to nothing the U.S. can do at this point to either account for the weapons, or ensure they don’t fall into the wrong hands, The Washington Post reports, citing unnamed officials.

“We have to assume [the equipment is] completely compromised and gone,” an unnamed legislative aide on Capitol Hill told The Washington Post. Officials have avoided requests from the media to elaborate.

Unfortunately, the Yemeni branch, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), is the one group that provides the most direct threat to U.S. soil. Not only are they capable of planning and executing cross-regional attacks — like the attack recently on a French satirical magazine — but experts widely regard them as the single most dangerous militant group on the globe right now.

Ironically enough, much of the military and diplomatic efforts, to include all the money and equipment, were aimed at stemming the rise of AQAP.

The dollar figure is in dispute, though public estimates are placing the amount at around $500 million since 2007 because of the data available on the “Section 1206” train and equip program, Fox News reports. But the total amount is difficult to determine because the Pentagon and CIA also have classified programs at work in Yemen.

Discussion of the equipment has been kept quiet. The hearings, which have brought Congress together with the Pentagon, remain behind closed doors. The central problem started in January when Houthi rebels overthrew the Yemeni government. These rebels receive support from the Iranian government and have since taken over several military bases in the north of Yemen. In February, the U.S. closed down its embassy, though some military advisers have elected to stay behind in southern Yemen.

An additional $125 million dollars of gear was scheduled to be delivered to Yemen later this year, but the conflict prompted termination of existing plans. Officials shipped the ScanEagle drones, Jeeps, and aircraft to Africa and other countries in the Middle East, instead.

However, U.S. officials stated that the equipment is unlikely to make a major difference, anyway, as Yemen has the second-highest gun ownership rate in the world, falling just behind the United States. And though Yemen requested heavy gear, officials stuck to just small arms and ammunition.

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