Monday, August 06, 2007

Pentagon lost 190,000 weapons in Iraq

How much more incompetent can this administration be? 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.

You can read the report here.

I will be honest, I don't know which is worst--the fact that the Pentagon lost over 190,000 weapons that were supposed to be given to the Iraqi security forces, and have obviously ended up in the hands of the insurgents, or the fact that General Petraeus was responsible for rushing this haphazard program into Iraq and practically giving these weapons to the Iraqi insurgents when Petraeus was in charge of the security training of Iraqi forces. And now Petraeus is in charge of all U.S. forces in Iraq? Why do I get this feeling like my brain is going to explode as a result of all this incompetence and stupidity I'm seeing within the Pentagon and the Bush administration?

Continuing with some of the interesting details of this WaPost story:

In an unusual move, the train-and-equip program for Iraqi forces is being managed by the Pentagon. Normally, the traditional security assistance programs are operated by the State Department, the GAO reported. The Defense Department said this change permitted greater flexibility, but as of last month it was unable to tell the GAO what accountability procedures, if any, apply to arms distributed to Iraqi forces, the report said.

Iraqi security forces were virtually nonexistent in early 2004, and in June of that year Petraeus was brought in to build them up. No central record of distributed equipment was kept for a year and a half, until December 2005, and even now the records are on a spreadsheet that requires three computer screens lined up side by side to view a single row, Christoff said.

The GAO found that the military was consistently unable to collect supporting documents to "confirm when the equipment was received, the quantities of equipment delivered, and the Iraqi units receiving the equipment." The agency also said there were "numerous mistakes due to incorrect manual entries" in the records that were maintained.

The GAO reached the estimate of 190,000 missing arms -- 110,000 AK-47s and 80,000 pistols -- by comparing the property records of the Multi-National Security Transition Command for Iraq against records Petraeus maintained of the arms and equipment he had ordered. Petraeus's figures were compared with classified data and other records to ensure that they were accurate enough to compare against the property books.

In all cases, the gaps between the two records were enormous. Petraeus reported that about 185,000 AK-47 rifles, 170,000 pistols, 215,000 pieces of body armor and 140,000 helmets were issued to Iraqi security forces from June 2004 through September 2005. But the property books contained records for 75,000 AK-47 rifles, 90,000 pistols, 80,000 pieces of body armor and 25,000 helmets.

The root cause for this screw-up in the lost Iraqi weapons may again lie with the Bush administration. Instead of allowing the State Department to run the security training programs, for which they had experience in, control of this program was transferred over to the Defense Department. The Defense Department had no experience in running security training programs, and the DoD was given the mother of all security training programs here. I'm guessing that the PNAC neocons wanted to maintain total control over every U.S. reconstruction program taking place in Iraq. One way to manage this total control of the U.S. reconstruction and occupation of Iraq is to centralize the control of these programs within the Defense Department, where they could be closely monitored by the neocons. The State Department is run by career officials and diplomats who probably would have questioned the neocons interference in State's running of the security training programs in Iraq. I will admit that this is all speculation here.

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