The US military is more deeply involved in the Saudi War in Yemen than officials ever admitted. In fact, new evidence suggests the Pentagon lied to Congress during the March debate about US involvement, presenting the US role at present being limited to targeting and mid-air refueling of Saudi warplanes.
The New York Times is reporting on Thursday that there are actually a small number of US special forces on the ground at the Saudi border with Yemen. Those troops have not only been on the ground since late 2017, but are there on a mission to help the Saudi military fight Yemen’s Shi’ite Houthi movement.
No public debate took place with respect to this deployment. Indeed, the Pentagon appears to have gone to great lengths not to tell the American public or the Congress about the Green Berets they sent to the border. The Green Berets are intended to help the Saudis “locate and destroy” Houthi missile caches, and attack Houthi launch sites inside Yemen.
This has been going on despite the Trump Administration telling Congress that America’s involvement in Yemen was purely “non-combat,” and again, despite the Pentagon repeatedly saying that America’s sole involvement in Yemen was logistics and support for the air war.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) said the Pentagon was deliberately “blurring the lines between train and equip missions and combat.” It is unclear from the New York Times report if the US troops crossed into Yemen, but given that their mission was to target Houthi sites, it seems almost certain that they have.
Centcom Commander Gen. Joseph Votel, during the March debate, did say that he had authorization to “help the Saudis defend their border.” At that time, however, he told the Senate this was being done purely through intelligence sharing and “military advice.” Clearly, it also involved physical US troops on the border.
It remains to be seen what the consequences of the Pentagon’s deception will be domestically. At the very least it seems like this could provide a new pretext for a vote on ending US involvement in the Yemen War, as Congress lacked all the information they needed to have an informed vote in March.