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Reports Show Lack of Accounting For Weapons Sent to Iraq Security

By James Glanz
THE NEW YORK TIMES

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 on Sunday has concluded.

The report was undertaken at the request of Sen. John W. Warner, R-Va., who is the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and who recently provided an assessment far darker than the Bush administration’s on the situation in Iraq.

Warner sent his request in May to a federal oversight agency, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. He also asked the inspector general to examine whether Iraqi security forces are developing a logistics operation capable of sustaining the hundreds of thousands of troops and police officers the American military says it has trained.

The answers came on Sunday from the inspector general’s office, which found 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 weapons provided to Iraqis, the inspector general found, making it impossible to track or identify any that may have fallen into the wrong hands.

Exactly where untracked weapons could end up was not examined in the report, although black-market arms dealers thrive on the streets of Baghdad and official Iraqi army and police uniforms can easily be purchased as well, presumably because government shipments are intercepted or otherwise corrupted.

Because the inspector general is charged only with looking at weaponry financed directly by the American taxpayer, the total numbers of lost weapons could end up being still higher.