Weapons Given to Iraq Are Missing


Richard Moore

        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.

I've posted numerous previous reports, revealing that US policy in Iraq is based
on creating sectarian conflict, and includes US-UK staged 'suicide bomber' 
incidents. It is clear that these 'lost weapons' were intentionally put into the
hands of insurgents of all stripes. This article is a perfect example of a 
primary propaganda theme: the characterization of perfidy as incompetence.


Original source URL:

Weapons Given to Iraq Are Missing
GAO Estimates 30% of Arms Are Unaccounted For
By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 6, 2007; A01

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.

The Pentagon did not dispute the GAO findings, saying it has launched its own 
investigation and indicating it is working to improve tracking. Although 
controls have been tightened since 2005, the inability of the United States to 
track weapons with tools such as serial numbers makes it nearly impossible for 
the U.S. military to know whether it is battling an enemy equipped by American 

"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 

Stohl said insurgents frequently use small-arms fire to force military convoys 
to move in a particular direction -- often toward roadside bombs. She noted that
the Bush administration frequently complains that Iran and Syria are supplying 
insurgents but has paid little attention to whether U.S. military errors 
inadvertently play a role. "We know there is seepage and very little is being 
done to address the problem," she said.

Stohl noted that U.S. forces, focused on a fruitless search for weapons of mass 
destruction after Baghdad fell, did not secure massive weapons caches. The 
failure to track small arms given to Iraqi forces repeats that pattern of 
neglect, she added.

The GAO is studying the financing and weapons sources of insurgent groups, but 
that report will not be made public. "All of that information is classified," 
said Joseph A. Christoff, the GAO's director of international affairs and trade.

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.

A military commander involved in the program at the time, speaking on the 
condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the report, 
acknowledged in an e-mail, "We did issue some items, including weapons, body 
armor, etc. to new Iraqi units that were literally going into battle."

But, the commander argued, "there was, frankly, not much of a choice early on: 
We had very little staff and could have held the weapons until every piece of 
the logistical and property accountability system was in place, or we could 
issue them, in bulk on some occasions, to the U.S. elements supporting Iraqi 
units who were needed in the battles of Najaf, Fallujah, Mosul, Samarra, etc."

The GAO plans to look for similar problems in the training of Afghan security 

During the Bosnian conflict, the United States provided about $100 million in 
defense equipment to the Bosnian Federation Army, and the GAO found no problems 
in accounting for those weapons.

Much of the equipment provided to Iraqi troops, including the AK-47s, originates
from countries in the former Soviet bloc. In a report last year, Amnesty 
International said that in 2004 and 2005 more than 350,000 AK-47 rifles and 
similar weapons were taken out of Bosnia and Serbia, for use in Iraq, by private
contractors working for the Pentagon and with the approval of NATO and European 
security forces in Bosnia.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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