Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Weapons Issue Conspiracy?

The press and conspiracy theorists are all over the GAO issued 31 Jul 2007 report, "DOD Cannot Ensure That U.S.-Funded Equipment Has Reached Iraqi Security Forces,"

The GAO report states:

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, 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. 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.

Having been part of MNSTC-I in 2004-2005 I can offer the simple assessment of conditions found in the Fall of 2004 when large quantities of equipment were being pushed out to the Iraqi Forces. In that period – MNSTC-I was working in the middle of a war zone with few resources and personnel. We had lots of push to get forces up and operational under overly optimistic thoughts that training and equipping Iraqi forces would enable a quick exit from Iraq. Everything was a clamor to meet numbers demanded by arm chair press and congressional delegations without regard for the actual conditions on the ground.

Against that backdrop – Reserve soldiers thrown into the turmoil toiled night and day to take care of priority one – to issue equipment to all corners of the country. Set up and train the Iraqi Security forces quickly and provide Facilities, equipment, training and mentor the created from scratch organization to take over defense of the country.

Apparently orur J4 section did not always get a legible or “auditable” document from the Iraqi recipients…. Sorry… we did get enough forces equipped to hold elections and start to turn the corner in Iraq… Our tax dollars were not wasted – there is no sensational fraud or corruption…. We didn’t have the luxury of controlled conditions and software systems designed to help. I’m sure the briefed numbers of weapons issued may be slightly off as well – too bad… with the accuracy of 20-20 hindsight we could have attempted to do more… lesson learned… the truth is that this inaccuracy pales to the unaccounted equipment from other wars for this country – the difference now is the hostile press looks for every reason to criticize the effort and holds no account for the difficulty of the task…. Spend a day in the shoes perhaps would serve to cool the rhetoric.

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