Iraq — According to a government audit from 2016, through shoddy record-keeping, the United States Army has lost track of $1 billion worth of military material sent to Iraq. The equipment, intended to aid Iraqi forces, is part of the Iraq Train and Equip Fund, a program born out of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
“This audit provides a worrying insight into the U.S. Army’s flawed — and potentially dangerous — system for controlling millions of dollars’ worth of arms transfers to a hugely volatile region,” said Patrick Wilcken of Amnesty International in a statement.
The audit, conducted by the Department of Defense, found that hundreds of mortar rounds and Humvee armored vehicles and tens of thousands of assault rifles were unaccounted for. This latest audit echoes findings from a 2015 audit.
Highlighting the fact that the Middle East is — as the Washington Post puts it, “awash in U.S. weapons and equipment” — Wilcken says the audit brings to mind a troubling pattern that seems to plague the United States military:
“It makes for especially sobering reading given the long history of leakage of US arms to multiple armed groups committing atrocities in Iraq, including the armed group calling itself the Islamic State.”
Congress initially allocated $1.6 billion for the Iraq Train and Equip Fund. The 2017 NDAA is set to give the program an additional $920 million. For Wilcken, this latest audit should be a reminder to governments of the consequences of their current approach to the Middle East:
“This should be an urgent wake-up call for the US, and all countries supplying arms to Iraq, to urgently shore up checks and controls. Sending millions of dollars’ worth of arms into a black hole and hoping for the best is not a viable counter-terrorism strategy; it is just reckless.”