Reed: Saudis & UAE to Repay U.S. $331M for Aerial Refueling Costs
WASHINGTON, DC – After an inquiry led by U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) uncovered that the U.S. Department of Defense had not properly charged Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for fuel and aerial refueling services, the Pentagon will now recoup $331 million for U.S. taxpayers from the Saudi-led coalition (SLC). Senator Reed says he is encouraged DOD is taking corrective action to properly charge the SLC.
From March of 2015 until November 11, 2018, the United States provided mid-air refueling services for SLC aircraft that flew missions related to the conflict in Yemen.
Due to errors in accounting by the Pentagon, the United States had not properly charged Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for those services, undercharging the SLC by $331 million.
In March of 2018, Reed, the Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee, asked Secretary of Defense Mattis in a letter with Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and others for a “full accounting of reimbursements by both the UAE and Saudi Arabia for inflight refueling assistance provided since March 2015.” In November, the Pentagon acknowledged that “In response to your letter, U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) reviewed its records and found errors in accounting.”
Today, after a careful review, the Pentagon announced it will seek full reimbursement of $331 million from Saudi Arabia and UAE for fuel, refueling services, and flight hours.
“This is good news for U.S. taxpayers and underscores the need for strong oversight of the Department of Defense. The American people should not be forced to bear these costs and I am encouraged DOD is taking steps to get full reimbursement,” said Senator Reed, who noted that the Department initially failed to secure timely reimbursement from the Saudi-led coalition and uphold its obligation to keep Congress appropriately informed, but is taking corrective action. “The Pentagon is taking action to reduce accounting errors of this nature and Congress must continue to be vigilant and fulfill its oversight mission.”
“While the accounting error is being corrected, the larger issue remains that the Trump Administration and international community must capitalize on the progress that has been made during the Yemen peace talks in Sweden,” continued Reed. “It must be made clear to both the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis that there is no military solution to this conflict and the time has come to reach a sustainable negotiated settlement. The conflict in Yemen has negatively impacted the strategic security interests of the Saudis, Emiratis, and the United States. It has emboldened Iran and relieved pressure on al Qaeda and ISIS. Most importantly, the conflict has resulted in the largest humanitarian disaster facing the world in recent memory. It is time for this war to stop.”