13,180 semiautomatic pistols, 751 assault rifles and 99 machine guns. And rocket-propelled grenades. It’s likely they’ll be seen again, of course, only in the hands of insurgents and death squads. “Audit reveals 14,000 arms given to Iraq are missing,” by John Heilprin for AP:
WASHINGTON — Nearly one of every 25 weapons the military bought for Iraqi security forces is missing, a government audit said Sunday. Many others cannot be repaired because parts or technical manuals are lacking.
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, according to a report from the office of the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction.
The missing weapons will not be tracked easily: The Defense Department registered the serial numbers of only about 10,000 of the 370,251 weapons it provided — less than 3 percent.
The Pentagon spent $133 million on the weapons, and “the capacity of the Iraqi government to provide national security and public order is partly contingent on arming the Iraqi security forces, under the ministries of defense and interior,” the report notes. Military officials insisted the weapons either had to be new or never issued to a previous soldier.
By December, the U.S. military had planned to put those weapons in the hands of 325,500 personnel.
Missing from the Defense Department’s inventory books were 13,180 semiautomatic pistols, 751 assault rifles and 99 machine guns, according to an audit requested by Sen. John Warner, R-Va., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The audit does not make clear at what point the weapons were lost. But it notes that “there could have been undetected losses” before weapons were ever issued to Iraqi security forces — who also lack many needed spare parts, technical repair manuals and arms maintenance personnel.