Friday, July 24, 2009

WWB: weapons in ‘enemy’ hands

WHAT WAR BRINGS: weapons ending up in ‘enemy’ hands

American taxpayers are rightly prepared to pay for all the equipment our soldiers need to defend themselves in Iraq. What is harder to accept is that because of the Pentagon’s scandalous mismanagement, they may have been paying to arm Iraqi insurgents who are shooting at American soldiers.

Yes, that’s the long and short of it from a New York Times article. Many of the weapons we have shipped to Iraq and Afghanistan have ended up in the hands of the very people our troops are fighting.

I guess it is more sporting when both sides are well-armed, but it makes me feel rather nauseous to think that my tax dollars pay for both the bullets the US troops use and for the bullets that kill them.

I mean, really, couldn’t we find a better and more humane way to waste money?

More from the NYT article:

The Government Accountability Office reports that more than 100,000 AK-47 assault rifles and another 80,000 pistols that Washington thought it was providing to Iraqi security forces in 2004 and 2005 are now unaccounted for.

Remember all that discussion about adequate body armor for our troops? I used to say at the time that the Iraqi people were in need of body armor, so that they would have a chance to survive this massacre. But somehow, I don’t think that is what happened to these items, from the same NYT article:

More than 100,000 pieces of body armor and a similar number of helmets have also gone missing.

And it is not just Iraq. Afghanistan has had a number of weapons go missing.

Arms Sent by U.S. May Be Falling Into Taliban Hands

Insurgents in Afghanistan, fighting from some of the poorest and most remote regions on earth, have managed for years to maintain an intensive guerrilla war against materially superior American and Afghan forces.

Arms and ordnance collected from dead insurgents hint at one possible reason: Of 30 rifle magazines recently taken from insurgents’ corpses, at least 17 contained cartridges, or rounds, identical to ammunition the United States had provided to Afghan government forces, according to an examination of ammunition markings by The New York Times and interviews with American officers and arms dealers.

The presence of this ammunition among the dead in the Korangal Valley, an area of often fierce fighting near Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan, strongly suggests that munitions procured by the Pentagon have leaked from Afghan forces for use against American troops.

This article goes on to claim that some of the missing weapons in Afghanistan have been documented in the insurgent’s hands in a battle in 2008 that killed nine Americans.

No one seems to have a definitive answer on how the weapons and ammunition ended up in the Iraqi insurgents and Afghan insurgent’s hands. Here is a plausible explanation:

….. the concentration of Taliban ammunition identical in markings and condition to that used by Afghan units indicated that the munitions had most likely slipped from state custody, said James Bevan, a researcher specializing in ammunition for the Small Arms Survey, an independent research group in Geneva.

Mr. Bevan, who has documented ammunition diversion in Kenya, Uganda and Sudan, said one likely explanation was that interpreters, soldiers or police officers had sold ammunition for profit or passed it along for other reasons, including support for the insurgency. “Same story, different location,” he said.

It appears that this is pretty common.

If you support the continued occupation of Iraq or Afghanistan, or the bombing of Pakistan, then you support WHAT WAR BRINGS: weapons ending up in ‘enemy’ hands.

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