US weapons worth $715 million dollars were warehoused poorly and soldiers handling them did not keep receipts or records, so it’s impossible to tell how many, if any, ended up in the wrong hands, the Pentagon says.
Supply units in Kuwait and elsewhere “did not maintain comprehensive lists of all equipment purchased and received” or “stored weapons outside in metal shipping containers, exposing the equipment to harsh environmental elements, such as heat and humidity.”
This is according to the partially redacted report by the Department of Defense’s inspector general (IG), of an audit into the “Counter Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Train and Equip Fund” (CTEF), dated February 13 and published this week.
That is not to say that $715 million worth of US weapons, intended for the Iraqi military and “Vetted Syrian Opposition” – as the euphemism for US-allied militia goes – has gone missing, as some reports may have suggested. In Pentagon-speak, there was “a lack of a central repository for accountability documentation.” Once you cut through the obtuse verbiage, the IG report basically says there’s no way of figuring any of that out, because the troops charged with running the program did not maintain records or receipts.
The audit was commissioned because the DOD requested $173.2 million for weapons, ammunition, vehicles, and other CTEF-S equipment for the current fiscal year, which began in October. Without accurate records, the Pentagon risks buying stuff it doesn’t need and “further overcrowding” the warehouses in Kuwait, which is what caused the pricey hardware to be stored outside in the first place.
Even though the Trump administration declared Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) defeated back in March 2019, ensuring the “enduring defeat” of the terrorists apparently requires that the weapons and equipment must flow. While the US taxpayers don’t have a choice in footing the bill, expecting them to swallow the explanation – that their noble men and women in uniform are just too stupid, lazy or incompetent to keep a ledger – sounds a bit rich.
Washington has a notoriously spotty record of pouring weapons into Syria and Iraq. At one point in 2015, the Pentagon admitted the failure of its program to train and equip “Vetted Syrian Opposition” (also known as “moderate rebels”). Having spent $2 million per fighter, the US saw them defect to the Al-Qaeda affiliate group Al-Nusra, bringing the US-supplied weapons and kit along.
So the Pentagon doubled down in 2016, spending untold millions to train “dozens” of rebels in Turkey. It is unclear how many of those “moderates” took part in last year’s assault on areas held by US-allied Kurdish militias.
As late as September 2016, Al-Nusra commanders openly talked about getting US weapons, both “directly” and via third countries, such as Saudi Arabia. The Syrian government has since dealt the militants one defeat after another, and currently advances on their last remaining strongholds in the Idlib province.
While the US government and media have objected to these operations – and NATO member Turkey actually sent troops and tanks to Idlib in an attempt to halt them – a spokesman for the anti-IS coalition has just openly admitted Idlib is a nest of terrorists.