The Pentagon has lost track of $626 million of weapons that the agency provided to Afghan security forces. The misplaced firearms amount to more than 43 percent of those the taxpayers funded and the governmental agency handed out in Afghanistan.
A Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) repot says that the Defense Department information systems designed to track weapons sent to Afghanistan is “full or errors.” The revelations in the report has caused concern that at least some of the firearms have now found their way onto the black market and into the eager hands of militant groups.
The Afghanistan weapons report also noted that 747,000 firearms and “auxiliary equipment” was sent to the Middle East nation state in the past 10 years. Among that batch of items were a significant amount of small arms. The SIGAR document stated that of the total 474,823 serial numbers recorded in the Defense Department database 203,888 had either duplicate or missing information. Government auditors also found that 24,500 serial numbers were repeated at least one time in the database designed to record and track weapons sent to Afghan forces. A total of 50,304 serial numbers noted in the database had no receiving dates or shipping dates recorded.
SIGAR senior audit manager Jeffrey Brown told The Washington Times that there is currently “no evidence” that firearms have become the property or militant groups or terrorist strongholds such as Pakistan, but added that unearthing those types of facts was not in the scope of the ordered audit.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia Michael J. Dumont said the Defense Department is in the process of consolidating their two tracking systems in an effort to “help eliminate discrepancies.” Dumont also stated that the Pentagon is considering making all future Afghan forces weapons shipments contingent upon inventory checks conducted by Afghan soldiers. The Afghanistan military reportedly uses a combination of handwritten and Microsoft Excel spreadsheets to track weapons shipment from the United States.
SIGAR auditor Ryan Coles feels that the amount of “excess weapons” is anticipated to increase once the U.S. Military removes all remaining troops from Afghanistan. “All we’re asking DOD [Department of Defense] to do is to work with the Afghan government to determine some sort of process to either destroy, demilitarize, or otherwise recover excess weapons when the requirements start going down.”
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[Image Via: U.S. Air Force/Wikipedia Commons]