US ‘loses’ $1Billion Worth of Weapons
A newly released declassified audit from the US Department of Defense shows that negligent accounting by the military has resulted in the Pentagon not knowing what happened to more than $1 billion in arms and equipment meant for the Iraqi Army.
Over $1 billion worth of arms and military equipment designated under the Iraq Train and Equip Fund (ITEF) and meant to assist the Iraqi government in combatting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), was not accounted for, the DOD audit found.
The audit, from September 2016, revealed that the DoD “did not have accurate, up-to-date records on the quantity and location” of a vast amount of equipment being sent to Kuwait and Iraq to arm the Iraqi army. The recently declassified audit was obtained by Amnesty International following the Freedom of Information requests.
“This audit provides a worrying insight into the US Army’s flawed – and potentially dangerous – system for controlling millions of dollars worth of arms transfers to a hugely volatile region,” Patrick Wilcken, Amnesty International’s Arms Control and Human Rights Researcher, said in the announcement on the group’s website.
“It makes for especially sobering reading given the long history of leakage of US arms to multiple armed groups committing atrocities in Iraq, including the armed group calling itself the Islamic State.”
The ITEF began as a $1.6 billion program, but last year, Congress appropriated $715 million more to it.
The transfers included, according to Amnesty, “tens of thousands of assault rifles worth $28 million, hundreds of mortar rounds and hundreds of Humvee armoured vehicles” to the Iraqi Army, including the predominantly Shi’a Popular Mobilization Units and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters.
As discovered by the DoD audit, ITEF was inefficient in handling the transfer of weapons. Record keeping in arms depots in Iraq and Kuwait included information logged into multiple spreadsheets or even hand-written receipts. Also, large quantities of military equipment being entered into multiple spreadsheets increasing the risk of human error as well as incomplete records which indicates that authorities were unable to locate military equipment location or status.
The audit also claimed that the DoD did not track ITEF transfers following delivery to Iraqi authorities, even though they are required to carry out post-delivery checks.
While the Pentagon promises to do better, that means little to Amnesty, which noted that the same sentiments were expressed to Congress in 2007 when similar concerns arose.
“After all this time and all these warnings, the same problems keep re-occurring. This should be an urgent wake-up call for the US, and all countries supplying arms to Iraq, to urgently shore up checks and controls. Sending millions of dollars’ worth of arms into a black hole and hoping for the best is not a viable counter-terrorism strategy; it is just reckless,” Amnesty’s Wilcken said.
In January another human rights organization claimed Iraq’s Shiite militia forces have received weapons and ammunition from local and foreign governments, including Iraq, Iran, Russia, and the United States, without any accountability and they have carried out human rights abuses including summary executions and abductions.