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Report: Pentagon lost almost 200,000 weapons in Iraq

  • Story Highlights
  • Pentagon: not aware of reports of insurgents with U.S.-issued weapons
  • U.S. lost track of 110,000 AK-47 rifles, 80,000 pistols for Iraqi security forces
  • Training command blames lack of staff for weapons problem
  • Defense Department agrees to revise oversight procedures
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Nearly 200,000 U.S.-supplied rifles and pistols meant for Iraqi security forces are unaccounted for in Iraq, according to a report to Congress.

Loose record-keeping caused the Pentagon and the U.S. command in Iraq to lose track of about 110,000 AK-47 rifles and 80,000 pistols provided to the new Iraqi national police and army, the Government Accountability Office told Congress.

The investigative arm of Congress, the GAO also found that 250,000 pieces of body armor and helmets can't be accounted for.

The report also says a review of the 2007 property books shows continuing problems with missing and incomplete records.

The report, issued July 31, follows an October accounting by the Defense Department's special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, which put the number of weapons missing at close to 500,000.

Auditors were unable to determine whether the weapons -- which included heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers -- were stolen, being used by insurgents or still in the hands of Iraqi units.

A Pentagon official in Baghdad, who asked not to be identified, said some of the weapons went back to Iraqi forces and some were destroyed. But he conceded some of them may be missing.

Asked whether they ended up in the hands of insurgents, he said there was no hard data, but "anything is possible."

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Monday he is not aware of any reports that show U.S. weapons designated for Iraqi security forces have been found in the hands of insurgents.

The missing weapons mostly dated back to former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's rule, and none had serial numbers, the official said.

Coalition commanders have tightened procedures for tracking the weapons, including using biometric data from Iraqi soldiers and police -- and since June, Iraqi units have been issued U.S.-made M-16 and M-4 rifles, which are electronically tracked, the official said.

Officials with the U.S. training command blamed insufficient staff and the lack of a "fully operational distribution network" for the poor record-keeping, the GAO report states.

Coalition trainers did not keep centralized records of the equipment they issued to Iraqi police and troops before December 2005, and the coalition "has not consistently collected supporting documents that confirm when the equipment was received, the quantities of equipment delivered, or the Iraqi units receiving the equipment."

The report said the U.S. commander in charge of training Iraqi forces reported about 185,000 AK-47 rifles, 170,000 pistols, 215,000 items of body armor, and 140,000 helmets were issued to Iraqi security forces as of September 2005, while the accounting books from the U.S. military contained records for only about 75,000 AK-47 rifles, 90,000 pistols, 80,000 items of body armor, and 25,000 helmets.

The GAO recommended the Pentagon set accountability standards for the training program and make sure it has adequate staff and technology to oversee the program.

The GAO also recommended the Secretary of Defense determine what DOD accountability procedures should apply to the program and ensure sufficient staff, functioning distribution networks, and proper technology are available to meet the requirements.

The Defense Department concurred with the recommendations and has begun a review "to ensure proper accountability is in place for the Iraq train-and-equip program," the report states.

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Pentagon officials said Monday the accounting systems should be "continuously improved upon and refined."

According to the report the United States has provided $19.2 billion to develop the Iraqi security forces and the United States has asked for another $2 billion to continue training and equipping Iraqi troops. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Dan Rivers in Baghdad contributed to this report

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