Once again there is the continued witch hunt regarding the accountability of weapons within MNSTC-I as noted in the Associated Press Report: U.S. Didn't Track Weapons For Iraqis written by By Richard Lardner. In the article the issue that has been known of the thousands of rifles, pistols, sets of body armor, vehicles and radios, along with millions of rounds of ammunition, had been delivered to Iraqis which could not be accounted for.
As I have said previously in this Blog that we were pushed to deliver an equipped Iraqi Army and security force from Scratch (thanks to decisions made in March 2004). In the headlong push to arm Iraqi forces we did not adequately keep good records. For what its worth, there still is no regulatory guidance for just what exactly is the prescribed standard for such accountability. What we know in hindsight is that an accountant today cannot reconstruct with the records what happened to 190,000 weapons according to one audit.
An October 2006 audit by the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction said there was "questionable accuracy" and "incomplete accountability" in the way MNSTC-I managed weapons. Again – the luxury of detailed recordkeeping in a war zone with a foreign military is not an easy task by any standard.
What I like is the response from Retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton
He expected the inspector general would find that there were too few people to handle the enormous influx of weapons and money into the country. One of the greatest irritants to me was watching the Pentagon cooking along at full strength while we in Iraq were running on a very thin personnel shoestring.
MG Eaton preceded Gen Petraeus and has made an accurate but overlooked observation.
I stated in my Blog previously that in MNSTC-I we were pressed to do many things quickly, not with quality…. Americans, Politicians and the Press all expected performance that continues to prove elusive. As MG Eaton says further in the article
There have never been enough people, and there has never been enough bureaucratic support and effort to do this thing properly
And I have noted before that Gen Petraeus said many times in country to those of us on his staff “this experience is like building an aircraft that is already in flight."
The 20-20 hindsight of those that were not there is not really in focus in my mind... It should be filtered through the effort and intent.