Washington, D.C. (GPA) – A new report obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request shows that the US lost $1.3 billion in weapons meant for Iraqi forces.
The lost weapons were a part of the United States’ “Iraq Train and Equip Fund” (ITEF). The figure comes from a now declassified 2016 audit by the US Office of the Inspector General.
According to the report, arms were somehow lost by the US in Iraq as well as Kuwait, before even arriving at their intended destination. The lost equipment includes both “rolling stock” (non combat military vehicles), as well as weapons and ammunition.
The US Army’s 1st Theater Sustainment Command (1st TSC) initially managed the weapons shipments. Which were found to lack “accurate, up-to-date records on the quantity and location of equipment on hand in Kuwait and Iraq.” Apparently the 1st TSC also had no standardized system of record keeping or central databases to account for their stock of weaponry.
Amnesty International (AI) initially obtained the report as addressed by the organization’s Arms Control and Human Rights Researcher Patrick Wilcken. Wilcken said the report “provides a worrying insight into the US Army’s flawed – and potentially dangerous – system to a hugely volatile region.”
Amnesty also put some of the blame on the chain of command in the Iraqi military but still clarifies that this is also the responsibility of the US. The weapons have been flowing to Iraq since the expenditure was authorized in 2015, and AI claims this could’ve resulted in things like double shipments of weapons.
The main concern voiced by AI is both obvious as well as something we’ve seen evidence of in recent years. This is of course the transfer of weapons to non-state actors including violent extremist groups.
This has been seen in the past in the form of massive amounts of proof that groups like the Islamic State (IS) are in possession of western weapons. AI and US allies also expressed concern over these weapons falling into the hands of Shia militias backed by Iran. But this is another story altogether since those are Iraqi allies aiding in the fight against IS and not violent salafi jihadists.
These weapons have obviously already been seen in the possession of violent takfiri groups. IS even showed of a major stockpile of weapons at the end of 2015 after former US president Barack Obama authorized the transfer.
The claim from 2015 was that those weapons were captured from retreating Iraqi forces and the more “moderate” groups in Syria. While this is true to an extent, we also know most US partner forces in the region are also typically corrupt and sometimes on cordial terms with radicals.
The Middle East is no place for ‘mistakes’ like losing $1.3 billion in weaponry. Combine this news with the weapon transfers we already know about to poorly vetted rebel groups and US bombing campaigns and it’s probably fair to say a majority of the destruction in countries like Iraq can be directly traced back to the Western powers.
Also published on Medium.