Millions in weapons lost in Iraq, audit finds
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WASHINGTON -- Pentagon auditors said they could not account for millions of dollars worth of rocket-propelled grenades, armored vehicles, ammunition and other supplies and equipment that were to be used to train and equip Iraqi security forces, because of inadequate paperwork and a lack of oversight personnel.
A report released Thursday by the Defense Department's inspector general looked at $5.2 billion in the Iraq Security Forces Fund, which is part of the $44.5 billion U.S. reconstruction effort in Iraq.
It found that the command in charge, known as the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq, couldn't provide "reasonable assurance" that the money for the Iraqi security forces was used properly and that it was protected from "waste and mismanagement."
The inspector general said the command was unable to prove that it received 12,712 of the 13,508 weapons it bought because the serial numbers were not kept when they were brought to the Abu Ghraib warehouse, and when they were sent out there wasn't adequate paperwork tracking them to a contract. The 13,508 weapons were made up of 7,002 pistols, 3,230 assault rifles, 2,389 rocket-propelled grenade launchers and 887 machine guns.
The inspector general's report follows an audit this summer by the Government Accountability Office that said the Pentagon lost track of about 190,000 AK-47 assault rifles and pistols given to Iraqi security forces in 2004 and 2005. The GAO report looked at weapons in the early part of the training and equipping program.Gary Comerford, a spokesman for the inspector general, said there was "no way of telling" whether the Defense Department auditors looked at the same weapons as the GAO.
The audit was done from March to May.
Meanwhile, 25 people were killed yesterday in the tumultuous Iraqi province of Diyala, northeast of Baghdad, when a suicide attacker detonated a bomb near the headquarters of a local committee of former insurgents working with American forces and a car bomb exploded at a checkpoint in Baquba.
Fifteen people were killed and 20 wounded in the suicide attack in the town of Muqdadiya. It was not clear whether the bomber was a man or a woman because two heads were found alongside shredded bodies near the bombing site, according to a police official from the town.
The separate car bomb attack on the checkpoint in the restive city of Baquba killed seven Iraqi soldiers and three volunteers who had been working with the American forces. Baquba was the scene of a suicide car bomb attack earlier this week that detonated at the entrance to a bus station and killed five people.
First Published December 8, 2007 12:00 am