Here’s What We Know About US Troops In Yemen

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

Pentagon spokesperson Major Gen. Patrick Ryder claimed Jan. 17 that there are no U.S. troops in Yemen, saying, “I’m not aware of any U.S. forces on the ground.”

The Intercept, though, reported that a Dec. 7 War Powers Act Report from the White House shows that there are troops in Yemen. The White House report states that “a small number of United States military personnel are deployed to Yemen to conduct operations against al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula and ISIS.”

“The United States military continues to work closely with the Republic of Yemen government and regional partner forces to degrade the terrorist threat posed by those groups,” the report reads.

Erik Sperling, executive director at Just Foreign Policy, told The Intercept that it was “possible that U.S. forces are spread so widely around the globe that not even the professional tasked with knowing that can keep track of it all.”

“But it’s also possible that, given the dramatic expansion in US presence in the region in recent months, he is trying to skirt the question to avoid greater scrutiny,” Sperling said to the Intercept. (RELATED: No, Image Does Not Show Iranian Missile Strike On Pakistan)

Lt. Col. Bryon McGarry, the Pentagon’s spokesperson for Africa and the Middle East, told Check Your Fact that Ryder’s claim “remains accurate.”

“Maj Gen Ryder’s prior assertion that there are no U.S. forces on the ground in Yemen remains accurate,” McGarry said. He referred Check Your Fact to the White House for any questions regarding the Dec. 7 War Powers Act.

A White House official told Check Your Fact that the “War Powers Report reflects the status of U.S. Forces at a current moment in time – in this case, on December 7.”

“Would refer you to the Pentagon to talk about its current force posture,” the official said.

The Defense Manpower Data Center’s Personnel, Workforce Reports & Publications site publishes reports of troop numbers abroad and in the U.S.. The latest report, from September 2023, shows four American service members are in Yemen, as pointed out by Jason Paladino, an investigator with the Project on Government Oversight, a non-profit watchdog focused on uncovering government waste, corruption and abuse, in a Jan. 29 tweet.

The U.S. has been involved in Yemen since “arguably” October 2000 following the bombing of the USS Cole, though the U.S. role in Yemen did not expand until 2009, according to Just Security. Under then-President Barrack Obama, the U.S. “conducted one of its most intense counterterrorism campaigns in Yemen” with drone strikes and airstrikes, per Just Security.

The U.S. also supported the Saudi intervention in the Yemeni Civil War between the Houthi rebels and Yemen’s government under Obama and former President Donald Trump. Trump vetoed a 2019 resolution that called for the U.S. to end its support of the Saudi-led intervention, according to Just Security.

Currently, U.S. forces have hit Houthi rebels several times, including striking an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) ground station and 10 UAVs on Jan. 31, according to ABC News.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
Follow Elias on Twitter Have a fact check suggestion? Send ideas to [email protected].