Report finds U.S. Army lost track of $1 billion in weapons, ammo in Middle East

In an Inspector General memorandum dated Sept. 2016, the IG says the Army did not implement effective controls to maintain visibility and accountability of Iraq Train and Equip Fund Equipment (ITEF).

Amnesty International, who obtained the report via Freedom of Information Act requests, reports the IG’s audit discovered the Army’s sloppy accountability procedures and record-keeping within the Iraqi chain of command resulted in arms manufactured in the U.S. and other countries winding up in the hands of armed groups known to be committing war crimes and other atrocities, such as the Islamic State militant group (ISIS).

“This audit provides a worrying insight into the U.S. Army’s flawed — and potentially dangerous — system for controlling millions of dollars’ worth of arms transfers to a hugely volatile region,” Patrick Wilcken, Amnesty International’s Arms Control and Human Rights Researcher, said in a statement published by Raw Story.

The report contends the Army’s use of separate, locally generated spreadsheets were vulnerable to “human input errors” and that because spreadsheets were not geographically located within the same chain of custody, the Army is unsure regarding the location of large quantities of rolling stock and ammunition intend for transfer to the Government of Iraq (GoI) as ITEF.

The unaccounted for, US taxpayer funded transfers included tens of thousands of assault rifles (worth $28 million), hundreds of mortar rounds and hundreds of Humvee armored vehicles destined for use by the central Iraqi Army.

In 2015, Congress approved $1.6 billion to combating the advance of ISIS.

In the report’s finding it’s noted specifically, the 1st Theater Sustainment Command could not provide auditors complete data for the quantity and dollar value of equipment on hand, including rolling stock and ammunition. This occurred because the 1st TSC did not use centralized systems to maintain visibility and accountability of ITEF equipment. Instead, the 1st TSC relied on multiple spreadsheets developed by different commands in both Kuwait and Iraq to provide it with visibility and accountability of equipment and did not consistently account for equipment in Iraq.

As a result, the 1st TSC did not have accurate, up-to-date records on the quantity and location of ITEF equipment on hand in Kuwait and Iraq. In addition, the use of manually populated spreadsheets increased the risk for human-error when inputting and updating equipment data.

According to Raw Story, Wilcken said it is vital that weapons and equipment be checked after delivery. “Any fragilities along the transfer chain,” he said, “greatly increase the risks of weapons going astray in a region where armed groups have wrought havoc and caused immense human suffering.”

The report says the Deputy Commander, 1st TSC, agreed with IG’s findings and immediately initiated steps to implement corrective actions.

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  • Jim Verchio is a staff writer for Popular Military. As a retired Air Force Public Affairs craftsman, Jim has served at all levels. From staff writer to Editor-In-Chief, he has more than 30 years experience covering military topics in print and broadcast from the CONUS to Afghanistan. He is also a two time recipient of the DoD’s prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award for journalism excellence.

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