From the Washington Post:
The Pentagon has lost track of about 190,000 AK-47 assault rifles and pistols given to Iraqi security forces in 2004 and 2005, according to a new government report, raising fears that some of those weapons have fallen into the hands of insurgents fighting U.S. forces in Iraq.
The author of the report from the Government Accountability Office says U.S. military officials do not know what happened to 30 percent of the weapons the United States distributed to Iraqi forces from 2004 through early this year as part of an effort to train and equip the troops. The highest previous estimate of unaccounted-for weapons was 14,000, in a report issued last year by the inspector general for Iraq reconstruction.
The United States has spent $19.2 billion trying to develop Iraqi security forces since 2003, the GAO said, including at least $2.8 billion to buy and deliver equipment. But the GAO said weapons distribution was haphazard and rushed and failed to follow established procedures, particularly from 2004 to 2005, when security training was led by Gen. David H. Petraeus, who now commands all U.S. forces in Iraq.
“They really have no idea where they are,” said Rachel Stohl, a senior analyst at the Center for Defense Information who has studied small-arms trade and received Pentagon briefings on the issue. “It likely means that the United States is unintentionally providing weapons to bad actors.”
One senior Pentagon official acknowledged that some of the weapons probably are being used against U.S. forces. He cited the Iraqi brigade created at Fallujah that quickly dissolved in September 2004 and turned its weapons against the Americans.
From an editorial in The Philadelphia Inquirer:
The lapses and loopy predictions that framed the Iraq invasion’s early days might be historical notations by now if it weren’t for one thing: The president’s team keeps making the same mistakes.
A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office provides the latest lesson on how not to run a war or rebuild a damaged society. Don’t, for example, lose track of 190,000 small firearms when ending violence is a key task.
Yet the Pentagon has failed to do the most basic accounting of 110,000 AK-47 assault rifles and 80,000 pistols the United States gave to Iraqi security forces in 2004 and 2005, the GAO found.
Like the GAO, the inspector general said the Pentagon ignored its own policies and programs when it came to keeping records on small arms’ serial numbers.
The earlier report also noted that even when weapons were delivered to Iraqi forces, the Pentagon didn’t bother to order spare parts to keep them working.
Americans have plenty to be outraged about as debate persists on how to get U.S. troops home.
The problems in Iraq might have been minimized or avoided if Bush, Vice President Cheney, and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld hadn’t dismissed the importance of rebuilding Iraq after U.S. troops won Baghdad.
The chronic bungling is all the more unsettling because new military leadership is in place.
Robert M. Gates, who replaced Rumsfeld in December 2006, is supposed to restore competence and rationality at the Pentagon. Yet the flaws in the small arms serialization program remain, the GAO found.
Why is it that the only one who can find a damned gun in this entire administration is the one who shoots elderly lawyers in the face?