Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford told lawmakers Tuesday that officials in Washington approved a controversial order for Marines to destroy their weapons while evacuating Yemen last month.
All Americans were ordered to leave the country in the face of deteriorating security in February. Before getting on a commercial flight to evacuate, Marines on the ground were ordered to destroy larger weapons at the embassy as well as render their own personal weapons inoperable.
The move sparked a backlash among former Marines, who said service members are taught never to leave their weapon behind beginning with the “Rifleman’s Creed” they memorize as recruits.
Pentagon officials later said the weapons may have been destroyed because of international rules banning them on civilian flights.
In response to questioning in a House Armed Services Committee hearing, Gen. Dunford said the decision to leave the country unarmed was made by the senior Central Command leader in Yemen, but was supported by Central Command leaders as well as leaders of the Defense Department in Washington.
Rep. John Kline, Minnesota Republican, called the decision “intolerable,” and said no service member should ever be totally unarmed in a dangerous situation.
“It is an intolerable position for people in uniform to be in a very dangerous situation and have to trust those who put us in that situation while we turn over all weapons,” he said.