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Monday, October 30, 2006
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the NYT: U.S. Is Said to Fail in Tracking Arms for Iraqis

The American military has not properly tracked hundreds of thousands of weapons intended for Iraqi security forces and has failed to provide spare parts, maintenance personnel or even repair manuals for most of the weapons given to the Iraqis, a federal report released Sunday has concluded.

Given the security situation over there, the idea that hundreds of thousands of weapons were not properly tracked is disturbing. Further, and in some ways worse, if we aren’t providing spare parts and the ability to maintain the weapons given to the new Iraqi security forces, how can we be saying that we are preparing the Iraqis to defend themselves?

More:

Exactly where untracked weapons could end up — and whether some have been used against American soldiers — were not examined in the report, although black-market arms dealers thrive on the streets of Baghdad, and official Iraq Army and police uniforms can easily be purchased as well, presumably because government shipments are intercepted or otherwise corrupted.

In a written response to the inspector general’s findings, the American military largely conceded the shortcomings. The military said it would assist the Iraqis in determining the spare parts and maintenance requirements for the weapons. The military also said it has now instituted a “process to accurately issue weapons by quantity and serial number listing.”

And it gets even more depressing:

the American military was not able to say how many Iraqi logistics personnel it had trained — in this case because, the military told the inspector general, a computer network crash erased records. Those problems have occurred even though the United States has spent $133 million on the weapons program and $666 million on Iraqi logistics capabilities.

The report said that although the United States planned to scale back its support for logistics and maintenance for Iraqi security forces in 2007, it was unclear whether the Iraqi government had any intention of compensating by allocating sufficient money to the Ministries of Interior and Defense.

It should be noted that the inquiry into this situation was initiated by Senator John Warner (R-VA). It is nice to see someone on Capitol Hill making some effort at fulfilling their oversight duties.

Some numbers on the weapons:

In its assessment of Iraqi weaponry, the inspector general concluded that of the 505,093 weapons that have been given to the Ministries of Interior and Defense over the last several years, serial numbers for only 12,128 were properly recorded. The weapons include rocket-propelled grenade launchers, assault rifles, machine guns, shotguns, semiautomatic pistols and sniper rifles.

Of those weapons, 370,000 were purchased with American taxpayer money under what is called the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund, or I.R.R.F., and therefore fell within the inspector general’s mandate.

Despite the potential risks from losing track of those weapons — involving 19 different contracts and 142 delivery orders — the United States recorded serial numbers for no more than a few thousand, the inspector general said.

[...]

The inspector general’s report also found that money for spare parts was allocated for only 5 of the 12 different kinds of weapons sent to Iraq — and when the inspector general contacted units of the Defense and Interior Ministries, none actually knew how or where to requisition spare parts.

There were also significant discrepancies in the numbers of weapons purchased and those in Iraqi warehouses. While 176,866 semiautomatic pistols were purchased with American money, just 163,386 showed up in warehouses — meaning that more than 13,000 were unaccounted for. All 751 of the M1-F assault rifles sent to Iraq were missing, and nearly 100 MP-5 machine guns.

The story also cites another report which states that reconstruction efforts in parts of Iraq are being hampered due to security issues. That is hardly a surprise, but is noteworthy nevertheless.

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2 Responses to “More Incompetence in Iraq”

  1. Ratoe Says:

    It should be noted that the inquiry into this situation was initiated by Senator John Warner (R-VA). It is nice to see someone on Capitol Hill making some effort at fulfilling their oversight duties.

    Its about time. It is important not to forget that Warner has been one of the biggest apologists for Rumsfeld. Warner calling for independent investigation is an anomaly and is clearly motivated by political realities.

    He was also one of the stronger supporters of the incompetent policies of Paul Bremer and also didn’t seem to mind that Bush lied about the Nigerian uranium fiasco.

    It is inaccurate to present him as some type of independent voice in Congress.

  2. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    I would argue that I didn’t present him as anything other than the originator of the requested report in question.

    My point was not to extol Warner, per se, but to note that a) at least there is some oversight coming from Congress, anemic though it may be, and, b) that this isn’t the Times or a political enemy of the administration seeking the information.


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