Navy has spent nearly $1B in Middle East, including against Houthi threat, secretary says

U.S. naval forces have spent nearly $1 billion in the Middle East, including on efforts to fend off drone and missile attacks from the Houthi rebels in the Red Sea, Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro said this week.

Del Toro told lawmakers on the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday that Navy sailors deployed to the Red Sea and the Middle East have operated “extraordinarily well,” but said Congress must pass a supplemental to replenish munitions spent in the region.

“We are now closely approaching a billion dollars in expenditures of munitions,” he said. “We need this supplemental to pass this week.”

The Senate has already passed a roughly $95 billion national security supplemental to support allies across the world, and the House is expected to move on a similar effort this week. The supplemental will help the U.S. industrial capacity, including for missile defense.

Del Toro said Tuesday the Navy has been firing expensive Standard Missile 2s and Standard Missile 6s, each of which typically cost more than $2 million.

When the U.S. stepped in to help defend Israel against more than 300 missiles and drones fired from Iran over the weekend, it fired Standard Missile 3s, which can cost as much as $9 million, Del Toro said.

The U.S. has been battling the Houthis for months after the rebels in Yemen began attacking commercial ships in November.

The Iranian-backed Houthis say they are standing up for the Palestinian people amid Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza. They claim they are targeting Israel-based ships or boats headed to Israel, though vessels from all over the world have been targeted.

The Navy’s destroyer ships are fending off most of the Houthi attacks and protecting commercial ships, but the rebel fighters have sunk at least one boat and killed at least three people. They also hijacked another boat in November and set fire to at least one additional ship, while shutting down a key route for international trade.

The cost of defending those ships has been high. The Houthis have mocked the U.S. for firing expensive missiles to defeat their drones that are expected to cost $10,000 or less.

But U.S. officials stress it would be much higher if the Houthis were free to hit targets.

“Those who question why the American taxpayer should provide for and maintain a Navy and Marine Corps, look at what is happening today in the Middle East, where we are defending the free flow of international commerce and actively defending our international allies and partners,” Del Toro wrote on the social platform X.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.