Audit warns U.S. weapons could end up in Afghan militants' hands

Weapons bought by the United States for Afghanistan's security forces are at risk of falling into the hands of insurgents, according to an audit report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

The two primary information systems used to track weapons sent to the Afghan National Security Forces are plagued by inefficient weapons controls and discrepancies, the SIGAR report released Monday said.

The report indicates that 43 percent of the 474,823 serial numbers recorded in OVERLORD, the system that tracks the weapons the Afghan military receives, had missing or duplicate information.

Meanwhile, SCIP, the system used to monitor the weapons that are shipped from the U.S., had nearly 60,000 weapon serial numbers "with no shipping or receiving dates," the report said.

SIGAR also found weaknesses in the inventory management systems used by the Afghan National Security Forces. U.S. military officials said the data in one of the systems "cannot be relied upon for accurate information."

Poor record keeping limits the Department of Defense's ability to monitor weapons after they have been transferred to the Afghans, the report says.

The Department of Defense supplies weapons to the Afghan National Security Forces in an effort to train and equip the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police. The Defense Department is responsible for regulating the shipment of weapons out of the U.S, and the receipt of the weapons into the hands of the national security forces.

But according to the report, "Poor record keeping by the ANA and ANP limits DOD's ability to monitor weapons after transfer to the ANSF."

A Defense Department spokesperson said the department is working to resolve the discrepancies identified by SIGAR, noting that, "As of March 2014, Defense Security Cooperation Agency has reduced the number of discrepancies between SCIP and OVERLORD from 14,822 to 1,136."

Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution said the report's findings are not entirely new or surprising, but the larger issue is that the Pentagon has not been able to effectively manage weapons that could be potentially sold off by police to insurgents.

"My greater worry is that Afghanistan is flush with weaponry in general," said O'Hanlon.

Still, he added, the United States cannot stop shipping weapons to Afghanistan altogether. "Afghan forces need to be able to outmatch the enemy," O'Hanlon said.

Since 2004, the U.S. has provided Afghan security forces with more than 747,000 weapons and auxiliary equipment valued at approximately $626 million, according to the report.


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