Yemen’s Fake Army: 100,000 Strong and Paid

Half of Republican Guard and Quarter of All Troops Don't Exist

Militaries are pretty well the same the world over. Money goes in, disappears, and when questions are asked and embarrassing answers given, officials still insist the budget could never possibly be cut.

Yemen’s military, heavily subsidized by the US, is one of the more embarrassing examples, as new figures from unnamed figures close to President Abd-Rabu Mansour Hadi report that of the nation’s 400,000-strong military, 100,000 are entirely fictitious.

Fictitious but well-paid. The Hadi regime has been doing actual head counts to try to get a handle on just how big the problem is, and has discovered that a lot of those heads don’t exist beyond a name on a list and a paycheck that keeps disappearing, likely into the coffers of some commanding officer.

The majority of the fictitious soldiers have done well for themselves, getting positioned in the elite Republican Guard, a much better paid branch in which nearly half of the soldiers simply don’t exist.

While Hadi has ordered investigations, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to do anything, and watchdog groups say the US-backed ruler, a former military leader himself, has not actually changed the rules allowing this sort of massive fraud, and the Defense and Finance Ministries say they can’t actually do anything about the budget of the Republican Guard, saying the group is above oversight.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of