Friday, October 05, 2007

They lost the weapons...send them more!

"...The United States must deliver weapons to Iraq more quickly, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday after an announcement that the Iraqis have ordered $100 million (€70 million) in military equipment from China.

The U.S. military has expressed concerns that it is harder to track weapons purchased from countries other than America. In many cases, the Iraqis cannot account for arms flowing into the country, which often end up in the hands of insurgents.

Speaking to reporters, Gates said the issue of slow foreign military sales also arose at his meeting with Chilean Defense Minister Jose Mario Goni just before a news conference.

"This is an issue that we have to look into and see what we can do in the United States to be more responsive and be able to react more quickly to the requests of our friends," Gates said. "Unfortunately the (foreign military sales) program was set up in a way that was not intended to provide sort of emergency or short term supplies, as in the case of Iraq and we're trying to figure out how to do that better."

[ ... ]

The Pentagon sent a team of investigators to Iraq in August because of the growing number of cases of fraud and other irregularities in contracts involving weapons and supplies for Iraqi forces.

And the Government Accountability Office said earlier this year that the Pentagon cannot fully account for US$19.2 billion (€13.6 billion) worth of equipment provided to Iraqi security forces.

The GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, said it had reviewed records of the U.S. unit running the program to train and equip Iraqi forces and couldn't account for what happened to least 190,000 weapons. U.S. officials acknowledged that some might have fallen into the hands of insurgents, but also blamed some of the problems on bad record keeping..."

[ full article ]

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