Thursday, August 02, 2007

DOD Cannot Ensure That U.S.-Funded Equipment Has Reached Iraqi Security Forces

If we can't keep track of the weapons provided so far to the Iraqi army, I wonder how we are going to manage now that we are arming and equipping a new hodge-podge of Sunni tribesmen to fight against "Al Qaeda in Iraq."

From a new GAO report (25 page PDF):

Since 2003, the United States has provided about $19.2 billion to develop Iraqi security forces. DOD recently requested an additional $2 billion to continue this effort. Components of the Multinational Force-Iraq (MNF-I), including the Multinational Security Transition Command-Iraq (MNSTC-I), are responsible for implementing the U.S. program to train and equip Iraqi forces. ...

As of July 2007, DOD and MNF-I had not specified which DOD accountability procedures, if any, apply to the train-and-equip program for Iraq. Congress funded the train-and-equip program for Iraq outside traditional security assistance programs, which, according to DOD officials, allowed DOD a large degree of flexibility in managing the program. These officials stated that, since the funding did not go through traditional security assistance programs, the DOD accountability requirements normally applicable to these programs—including registering small arms transferred to foreign governments—did not apply. Further, MNF-I does not currently have an order or orders comprehensively specifying accountability procedures for equipment distributed to the Iraqi security forces.

DOD and MNF-I cannot fully account for Iraqi security forces’ receipt of U.S.-provided equipment. Two factors led to this lapse in accountability. First, MNSTC-I did not maintain a centralized record of all equipment distributed to the Iraqi security forces from June 2004 until December 2005. At that time, MNSTC-I established a consolidated property book system to track the issuance of equipment to the Iraqi security forces and attempted to recover past records. Our analysis found a discrepancy of at least 190,000 weapons between data reported by the former MNSTC-I commander and the property books. Former MNSTC-I officials stated that this lapse was due to an insufficient number of staff and the lack of a fully operational network to distribute equipment, among other reasons. Second, since the beginning of the program, MNSTC-I has not consistently collected supporting documents that confirm when the equipment was received, the quantities of equipment delivered, or the Iraqi units receiving the equipment. Since June 2006, the command has placed greater emphasis on collecting this documentation. However, our review of the 2007 property books found continuing problems with missing and incomplete records. Further, the property books consist of extensive electronic spreadsheets, which are an inefficient data management tool given the large amount of data and limited personnel available to maintain the system. MNSTC-I plans to move the property book records from a spreadsheet system to a database management system by summer 2007. ...

Although the former MNSTC-I commander reported that about 185,000 AK-47 rifles, 170,000 pistols, 215,000 items of body armor, and 140,000 helmets were issued to Iraqi security forces as of September 2005,18 the MNSTC-I property books contain records for only about 75,000 AK-47 rifles, 90,000 pistols, 80,000 items of body armor, and 25,000 helmets.19 Thus, DOD and MNF-I cannot fully account for about 110,000 AK-47 rifles, 80,000 pistols, 135,000 items of body armor, and 115,000 helmets reported as issued to Iraqi forces as of September 22, 2005. Our analysis of the MNSTC-I property book records found that DOD and MNF-I cannot fully account for at least 190,000 weapons reported as issued to Iraqi forces as of September 22, 2005.


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