ONE THIRD of all the weapons procured for the Afghan security forces are missing and can be presumed sold onto the black market. Worth roughly $40 million at wholesale cost (and weighing in excess of 200 tons) to the Pentagon, would anyone like to guess at the black market value? The report has been compiled by congressional auditors, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO).
It found that, in the four years up to June 2008, the US military failed to keep complete records on some 222,000 weapons entering the country.
The report will be discussed in the US House of Representatives on Thursday.
It states that weapons supplied by the US to the Afghan military "are at serious risk of theft or loss".
The report says:
- US military officials failed to keep proper records on about 87,000 rifles, pistols, mortars and other weapons sent to Afghanistan between December 2004 and June 2008 - about a third of all the weapons sent
- There was a similar lack of management of a further 135,000 light weapons donated to Afghan forces via the US military by 21 countries
- The military failed even to record the serial numbers of some 46,000 weapons, making it impossible to confirm receipt of weapons or identify any which had fallen into the hands of militants
- The serial numbers of 41,000 weapons were recorded, but US military officials still had no idea where they were
"Lapses in accountability occurred throughout the supply chain," concludes the report, which is due to be discussed on Thursday at a panel hearing of a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee.
In response, the Pentagon agreed that it needed more people to help train the Afghanistan government to track the weapons, the AP news agency reported.
Which is to say the Pentagon didn't figure that much out after the first time this happened.
Haven't we heard this tune before, in Iraq while General Pet was in charge of keeping track of US arms shipments and 110,000 AK47s and 80,000 Glock pistols walked out the door? That came out in a GAO report in 2007. Indeed, Iraq was awash in "missing" weapons. One of Petraeus' closest aides eventually pled guilty to taking bribes for looking the other way while they were being stolen for re-sale on the black market. No-one in the mainstream has ever been interested in seriously asking how high the graft goes among US officers and officials as billions of dollars are swallowed by corruption and greed in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
"What if we had to tell families [of U.S. soldiers] not only why we are in Afghanistan but why their son or daughter died at the hands of an insurgent using a weapon purchased by the United States taxpayers? But that's what we risk if we were to have tens of thousands of weapons we provided washing around Afghanistan, off the books," Rep. John Tierney, D-Massachusetts, chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, said at the start of a congressional hearing on the report.
This, folks, is a "fighting machine" too incompetent or too corrupt to be allowed to "surge" in Afghanistan. They can't even keep a couple of hundred tons of their own weaponry out of militant hands - how is that good COIN practise? Even if they have the best of intentions and the best of shiny-new COIN colonialism tactics, thinking such mismanagement will suddenly come good and get things right is too much like clapping for faeries.
Crossposted from Newshoggers