By STEPHANIE LOPEZ
The Afghan armed forces are not keeping proper track of the hundreds of thousands of weapons given to them by the U.S. military, prompting fears U.S.-supplied arms could be falling into the hands of insurgents, a new U.S. government report says.
The report, from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), details troubling discrepancies in various inventory systems used by Afghan security forces to track the $626 million-worth of small arms and auxiliary equipment provided by the U.S. – some discrepancies indicating hundreds of weapons are unaccounted for.
In one case, an audit found over 900 weapons listed in the property book at the Afghan National Army’s Central Supply Depot weren’t actually there. The missing small arms included 740 M16 rifles and all 112 M23 pistols.
“ANSF [Afghan National Security Forces] record-keeping and inventory processes are poor and, in many cases, we were unable to conduct even basic inventory testing at the ANSF facilities we visited,” the SIGAR report says. “Although CSTC-A [Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan] has established end use monitoring procedures, the lack of adherence to these procedures, along with the lack of reliable weapons inventories, limits monitoring of weapons under Afghan control and reduces the ability to identify missing and unaccounted for weapons that could be used by insurgents to harm U.S., coalition, and ANSF personnel.”
Sometimes the Afghan forces had a surplus of weapons from the U.S. For instance, in the same depot as the 900 weapons that were unaccounted for, the Afghan military had an excess nearly 200 M48 rifles and 80 M24 rifles.
SIGAR also found that some 80,000 AK-47s are floating around the Afghan military unnecessarily after the U.S. decided to stop providing those weapons in favor of NATO-standard weapons. There is no plan to round them up, SIGAR said.
“Given the Afghan government’s limited ability to account for or properly dispose of these weapons, there is a real potential for these weapons to fall into the hands of insurgents, which will pose additional risks to U.S. personnel, the ANSF, and Afghan civilians,” the SIGAR report states.
In the report, SIGAR called on the DoD to audit the systems that track the delivery of supplied arms and to perform a full inventory check.
In a response included in the SIGAR report, the Department of Defense said it agreed with a reevaluation of record keeping systems and aims to consolidate their databases, but says the U.S. military does not have the authority to require Afghan National Security Forces to reevaluate inventory, or to recover or destroy Afghan weapons.