Monday, October 30, 2006

Another Failure for the American Military

Pardon me for asking, but is there anything we're doing right?

I read
this piece in the New York Times today and it immediately slipped my mind until someone emailed me the story. I can hardly believe the level of fallibiity in our military operations.
The American military has not properly tracked hundreds of thousands of weapons intended for Iraqi security forces and has failed to provide spare parts, maintenance personnel or even repair manuals for most of the weapons given to the Iraqis, a federal report released Sunday has concluded.

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John Warner (R-VA) requested the report which also sought to determine whether Iraqi security forces were capable of sustaining the hundreds of thousands of troops and police officers the American military says it has trained. This next revelation should piss you off...

The answers came Sunday from the inspector general’s office, which found major discrepancies in American military records on where thousands of 9-millimeter pistols and hundreds of assault rifles and other weapons have ended up. The American military did not even take the elementary step of recording the serial numbers of nearly half a million weapons provided to Iraqis, the inspector general found, making it impossible to track or identify any that might be in the wrong hands.

So, how are the American people (those who are paying attention) supposed to interpret this? I'm just curious, because wouldn't it just be too friggin' ironic if our military, through their own unbelievable neglect and incompetence, were allowing weapons to easily fall into the hands of those we call our enemies?
In its assessment of Iraqi weaponry, the inspector general concluded that of the 505,093 weapons that have been given to the Ministries of Interior and Defense over the last several years, serial numbers for only 12,128 were properly recorded. The weapons include rocket-propelled grenade launchers, assault rifles, machine guns, shotguns, semiautomatic pistols and sniper rifles.

Of those weapons, 370,000 were purchased with American taxpayer money under what is called the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund, or I.R.R.F., and therefore fell within the inspector general’s mandate.

As if that story isn't embarrassing enough for the mighty American military, here's another interesting tidbit from the same article:
The inspector general’s office, led by Stuart W. Bowen Jr., also a Republican, responded to Mr. Warner’s query about the Iraqi Army’s logistical capabilities with another report released at the same time, concluding that Iraqi security forces still depended heavily on the Americans for the operations that sustain a modern army: deliveries of fuel and ammunition, troop transport, health care and maintenance.

Mr. Bowen found that the American military was not able to say how many Iraqi logistics personnel it had trained — in this case because, the military told the inspector general, a computer network crash erased records. Those problems have occurred even though the United States has spent $133 million on the weapons program and $666 million on Iraqi logistics capabilities.


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