Re­port: Thou­sands of U.S. weapons given to Iraqi se­cu­rity forces miss­ing

The Washington Times Weekly - - National -

Thou­sands of weapons the United States has pro­vided Iraqi se­cu­rity forces can­not be ac­counted for, and spare parts and re­pair man­u­als are not avail­able for many oth­ers, a re­port to Congress states.

The re­port, pre­pared at the re­quest of the chair­man of the Se­nate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, Sen. John W. Warner, also found that “sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges re­main” that jeop­ar­dize the U.S. mil­i­tary’s goal of strength­en­ing Iraqi se­cu­rity forces by trans­fer­ring all lo­gis­tics op­er­a­tions to Iraq’s De­fense Min­istry by the end of 2007.

A spokesman for Mr. Warner, Vir­ginia Repub­li­can, said the sen­a­tor read the re­port over the Oct. 28-29 week­end in prepa­ra­tion for a meet­ing with Stu­art W. Bowen Jr., the spe­cial in­spec­tor gen­eral for Iraq re­con­struc­tion.

Mr. Warner, who re­quested the re­port in May, “be­lieves it is es­sen­tial that Congress and the Amer­i­can peo­ple con­tinue to be kept in­formed by the in­spec­tor gen­eral on the equip­ping and lo­gis­ti­cal ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the Iraqi army and se­cu­rity forces, since th­ese rep­re­sent an im­por­tant com­po­nent of over­all readi­ness,” said spokesman John Ul­lyot.

The in­spec­tor gen­eral’s of­fice re­leased the re­port on Oct. 29 in a se­ries of three au­dits, which found that:

Nearly one of ev­ery 25 weapons the mil­i­tary bought for Iraqi se­cu­rity forces is miss­ing. Many oth­ers can­not be re­paired be­cause parts or tech­ni­cal man­u­als are lack­ing.

“The un­sta­ble se­cu­rity en­vi­ron­ment in Iraq touches ev­ery as­pect” of the Pro­vin­cial Re­con­struc­tion Team (PRT) pro­gram, in which U.S. gov­ern­ment spe­cial­ists help Iraqis de­velop re­gional gov­ern­men­tal in­sti­tu­tions.

The Pen­tagon can­not ac­count for 14,030 weapons — al­most 4 per­cent of the semi­au­to­matic pis­tols, as­sault ri­fles, ma­chine guns, rocket-pro­pelled grenade launch­ers and other weapons it be­gan sup­ply­ing to Iraq since the end of 2003.

The miss­ing weapons will not be easy to track. The De­fense De­part­ment reg­is­tered the se­rial num­bers of about 10,000 of the 370,251 weapons it pro­vided — less than 3 per­cent.

Miss­ing from the De­fense De­part­ment’s in­ven­tory books were 13,180 semi­au­to­matic pis­tols, 751 as­sault ri­fles and 99 ma­chine guns.

The au­dit on lo­gis­tics ca­pa­bil­i­ties said there is a “sig­nif­i­cant risk” that the Iraqi In­te­rior Min­istry “will not be ca­pa­ble of as­sum­ing and sus­tain­ing lo­gis­tics sup­port for the Iraqi lo­cal and na­tional po­lice forces in the near term.” That sup­port in­cludes equip­ment main­te­nance, trans­porta­tion of peo­ple and gear, and health re­sources for troops and po­lice.

The au­dit on the PRT pro­gram said that be­cause of se­cu­rity is­sues, the teams “have vary­ing de­grees of abil­ity to carry out their mis­sions.” Au­di­tors re­viewed nine teams and four satel­lite of­fices and found that “4 were gen­er­ally able, 4 were some­what able, 3 were less able and 2 were gen­er­ally un­able” to ac­com­plish their goals.

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