Audit: Almost Half of US Weapons Given to Afghan Forces Have Vanished

Amid reports that US weapons might have fallen into the clutches of the terror group the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq when it took Mosul, a July 2014 weapons accountability audit of the Pentagon by the Special Inspector General of Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) uncovered a similar fiasco unfolding in Afghanistan. Over the past 10 years, US taxpayers have spent $626 million equipping the Afghan National Security Forces with over 747,000 weapons. The stockpile includes grenade launchers, shotguns, rifles, pistols, machine guns, and more.

According to SIGAR’s report, due to errors or fraudulent entries in the Pentagon’s weapons transfer program’s tracking system, 203,888 of those US weapons, around 43% of them, cannot be accounted for and are likely missing. The Washington Times quoted Jeffrey Brown, SIGAR’s senior audit manager, as saying that the lost munitions could “go on the black market and enter another country.” Though officials are uncertain as to who might have them now, some worry that the weapons might have fallen into the hands of terror groups in other countries and Afghan insurgents. In addition, the audit uncovered the fact that the US accidentally sent over 112,000 extra weapons to Afghan forces, including M-16s, AK-47s, and grenade launchers.

At issue are errors in the Pentagon’s tracking systems for the weapons being sent to Afghanistan, the Security Cooperation Information Portal (SCIP) and the Operational Verification of Reliable Logistics Oversight Database (OVERLORD). Avaneesh Pandey at the International Business Times pointed out that SIGAR’s report stated, “The databases did not always match. Some records were duplicated, and some records were incomplete… missing information could result in the inability to locate weapons.” Also, it was reported that some serial numbers had been re-entered into the systems multiple times. The Washington Post is reporting that over 50,000 of the serial numbers in SCIP and OVERLORD had no shipping or receiving dates. When officials audited the Afghan military’s Central Supply Depot, 551 of the 4,388 weapons listed among the inventory were missing, including M48 sniper rifles and .50 caliber M2 heavy machine guns. The 1st Afghan National Civil Order Police Garrison’s weapons inventory list was found to be handwritten and incomplete.

Ryan Coles, an auditor for SIGAR, told The Washington Times, “All we’re asking DOD to do is to work with the Afghan government to determine some sort of process to either destroy, demilitarize or otherwise recover excess weapons…” Coles is worried that the problem will not be resolved before US troops pull out of the region.

Michael Dumont, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Afghanistan, indicated that the Pentagon is working to combine SCIP and OVERLORD into a single database and that officials are considering tying future weapons shipments to requirements that Afghan forces allow periodic inventory checks. SIGAR’s report recommended that the Pentagon perform a full audit of all small arms that have been sent to Afghan National Security Forces and that officials should combine SCIP and OVERLORD into one database within six months.