According to the Guardian UK, the United States army and the contractors are losing some stuff in Iraq. Whose fault is it?Also, some soldiers have lost the weapons they were assigned for their job when they were deployed.
Compare these two stories.
· 110,000 AK-47s
· 80,000 pistols
· 135,000 bits of armour
Ewen MacAskill in Washington
Tuesday August 7, 2007
The US has lost track of about 190,000 weapons issued to Iraqi security forces since the 2003 invasion, some of which will have ended up in the hands of insurgents, according to an official report published in Washington. Among the missing items are AK-47 rifles, pistols, body armour and helmets.
The disclosure adds to the picture of the chaotic and clumsy administration of Iraq that has emerged over the last four years.The report, by the government accountability office, which sent its report to Congress last week, found a 30% gap between the number of weapons issued to Iraqi forces and records held by US forces in Iraq. No one in the Bush administration knows where the weapons are now.
The 20-page report – Stabilising Iraq: Department of Defence cannot ensure that US-funded equipment has reached Iraqi security forces – says the Pentagon and the multinational force in Iraq responsible for training “cannot fully account for about 110,000 AK-47 rifles, 80,000 pistols, 135,000 items of body armour and 115,000 helmets reported as issued to Iraqi forces as of September 22 2005″.
During that period the US was desperate to get the Iraqi security forces up and running and was arming them as fast as it could.
The failure of the US to account for so many weapons is an embarrassment for the Bush administration after months in which it has repeatedly accused Iran of supplying weapons and explosives to the insurgents.
The report says the former commander of the training of Iraqi forces said about 185,000 AK-47 rifles, 170,000 pistols, 215,000 pieces of body armour and 140,000 helmets were issued as of September 2005. But the property books contain records for only about 75,000 AK-47 rifles, 90,000 pistols, 80,000 pieces of body armour and 25,000 helmets.
Since June 2006, the multinational force has paid more attention to record-keeping. But the government accounting office’s review of the property books in January “found continuing problems with missing and incomplete records”.
Last year the estimate of missing weapons was put at a mere 14,000 by another congressional investigative body.
A Pentagon spokesman said the multinational force in Iraq was preparing a response to the report. The Pentagon has accepted its recommendations for improved accountability procedures.
Over the past four years, the US has provided about $19.2bn (£9.4bn) to develop Iraqi security forces. The Pentagon has asked for a further $2bn to help equip and train them.
The Washington Post quoted a senior Pentagon offical saying that some of the weapons probably were being used against US forces. He cited an Iraqi brigade created in Falluja that dissolved in September 2004 and turned its weapons against US troops.
In previous conflicts, the US state department took responsibility for training and distribution of weapons. But the Pentagon insisted on taking responsibility for arming the Iraqi forces.
It doesn’t say who pays for those. I think it is the taxpayers. But look at this one:
A 2006 government report found more than 1,000 soldiers being billed a total of $1.5 million. And while fighting overseas put their lives on the line, this battle on paper could cost them their future by ruining their credit.
Servicemen and women who made huge sacrifices fighting in the war and now paying yet another price, even after coming home.
One soldier in particular is currently battling against a new “debt of service.”
Brian Rodriguez is a fighter, an honorably discharged soldier who’d been deployed in Iraq.
“I was a combat engineer,” Rodriguez said. “We deal with land mines, explosives.”
He fought for his nation, only to return to his homeland and wage a fresh battle.
Former Army Specialist Rodriguez started getting bills for $700 for lost or damaged government property this summer. Although he was discharged some four years ago, bills recently arrived demanding payment, but giving no details on what or why — nor do they offer a way to dispute the charges.
“For doing my job you’re going to bill me?” Rodriguez said.
And he’s not alone. A 2006 government report found more than 1,000 soldiers being billed a total of $1.5 million. And while fighting overseas put their lives on the line, this battle on paper could cost them their future by ruining their credit. Rodriguez will be reported to credit agencies next month.
“It makes a terrible point about the nature of military service today,” citizen soldier Tod Ensign said.
Ensign is a veteran’s advocate. He says this is all part of the military’s push to be run more like a business.
“They’ll just pound him and call him, call his employers, and make his life as miserable as they can until he pays up,” Ensign said.
Testimony before Congress detailed in a report found that “although unit commanders and finance offices are authorized to write off debts for lost and damaged equipment … they have not always done so.”
“It happens too often and it’s just disgraceful,” Sen. Charles Schumer said. “Here are people who are risking their lives for us and they come home and they’re being treated as if they’re criminals instead of heroes.”
Because it’s been four years since he left the Middle East, Rodriguez’s battalion was dissolved and his commanders are long gone. And despite repeated requests, the Army never could tell us what piece of equipment Rodriguez was billed for, nor would they get rid of the debt.
“I did my time, I served my country and this is the thanks I get,” Rodriguez said.
Their suggestion? Call your Congressman. Schumer said he’ll reach out to the Army to intervene on Brian’s behalf.