Iraq: US-Supplied Rifles & Pistols Lost

According to a new report issued by the US Government Accountability Office, almost 200,000 US firearms meant for Iraqi security forces were lost in Iraq. The loss of such quantity of weapons raises concerns that weapons were provided unintentionally to bad actors who might use them to terrorise civilians.


Bookkeeping Practices

The report says that poor bookkeeping practices by the United States Department of Defense (DOD) resulted in around 110,000 AK-47 rifles and 80,000 pistols issued to Iraqi security forces in 2004 and 2005 being lost in Iraq.

Previous reports had estimated that 14,000 weapons were missing, but according to new reports, the military cannot fully account for about 110,000 AK-47 assault rifles, 80,000 pistols and 250,000 items of body armor and helmets provided to the new Iraqi national police and army.

The report also says a review of the 2007 property books shows continuing problems with missing and incomplete records.


Reasons According to Reports

  • Poor planning and insufficient accounting methods.
  •  A system for recording outgoing weapons was first created in December 2005, and a system to record receipt of weapons was put in place six months later. The DOD also blamed a lack of staff and said the electronic spreadsheets were too large to manage.


Where are the weapons?

Auditors were unable to determine whether the weapons, which included heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, were stolen, being used by insurgents or still in the hands of Iraqi units.

A Pentagon official in Baghdad said some of the weapons went back to Iraqi forces and some were destroyed. But he conceded some of them may be missing. He added that there was no hard data indicating whether the weapons ended up in the hands of insurgents or not, but “anything is possible,” he said.

Another official pointed out the missing weapons mostly dated back to former Iraqi regime.


DI Views

  • Defend International is worried to know that over 200,000 weapons were missing in Iraq. There is seepage and very little is being done to address the problem.
  • The loss of such quantity of weapons raises concerns that weapons were provided unintentionally to bad actors who might use them to terrorise civilians.
  • During the conflict in Bosnia, the US provided approximately $100 million in defense equipment to the Bosnian Federation Army, and the US found no difficulties in accounting for those weapons.
  • Much of the equipment provided to Iraqi forces, including Kalashnikovs descend from countries in the former Soviet Union. More than 350,000 AK-47 rifles and similar weapons were sent during the years 2004 and 2005, from Bosnia and Serbia, for use in Iraq by contractors accredited by the Pentagon and with the approval of NATO and EU security forces in Bosnia.

DI Demands

  • We request to open an investigation regarding the missing weapons.
  • A fully operational distribution network should be developed.
  • Accountability standards for the training program should be improved.
  • There is need for adequate staff and proper technology to oversee the program and meet the requirements.