WASHINGTON -- Nearly one of every 25 weapons the military bought for Iraqi security forces is missing, according to a government audit released yesterday. Many others cannot be repaired because parts or technical manuals are lacking.
A second report found "significant challenges remain that put at risk" the US military's goal of strengthening Iraqi security forces by transferring all logistics operations to the defense ministry by the end of 2007. The logistics support includes equipment maintenance, transportation of people, and gear and health resources for soldiers and police.
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 cannot be tracked easily: The Defense Department registered the serial numbers of about 10,000 of the 370,251 weapons it provided -- fewer 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 said.