200,000 weapons unaccounted for
Nearly 200,000 weapons issued to Iraqi security forces have gone unaccounted for, and the Pentagon still has not specified which, if any, accountability procedures are in place for the Iraq train-and-equip program, a government report issued Tuesday has found.
The report issued by the Government Accountability Office, titled “DOD Cannot Ensure That U.S.-Funded Equipment Has Reached Iraqi Security Forces,” notes that, since 2003, the U.S. has provided more than $19 billion in funds to rebuild the Iraqi Security Forces.
At least $2.8 billion was directly budgeted for purchasing and transporting equipment to the Iraqis.
The report cites two main causes for the situation.
First, the U.S.-led training command, known by the acronym MNSTC-I, “did not maintain a centralized record of all equipment distributed to Iraqi forces before December 2005,” the report found.
Second, the command “has not consistently collected supporting records confirming the dates the equipment was received, the quantities of equipment delivered, or the Iraqi units receiving the items.”
While MNSTC-I has improved its emphasis on getting the documents, the report found, “GAO’s review of the January 2007 property books found continuing problems with missing and incomplete records.”
U.S. military officials have long cited the Iraqi supply system as one of the biggest hurdles to properly training and equipping the reconstituted security forces.
In an interview with The Associated Press this week, the top U.S. Marine Corps general in western Iraq said progress was slowed by the Iraqi military’s logistics system.
“Realistically, if things are going the way they’re going now, you’d say a year from now the Iraqis, trainingwise, would be ready to do the types of operations we expect of them,” Maj. Gen. W.E. Gaskin said. “I am not as optimistic about them being able to fix the logistics system.”
The GAO report said Pentagon officials used “a large degree of flexibility in managing the program.”
The officials interviewed for the report said that “since the funding did not go through traditional security assistance programs, the DOD accountability requirements normally applicable to these programs — including registering small arms transferred to foreign governments — did not apply.”
Further, the report found, “[Multi-National Force–Iraq] does not currently have an order or orders comprehensively specifying accountability procedures for equipment distributed to the Iraqi security forces.”
The report recommended that the Pentagon determine what accountability procedures should apply, and make sure they are enforced.
The Pentagon “concurred with both of our recommendations and is currently reviewing policies,” the report concluded.