The United States is currently working to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by 2016.
But even as U.S. soldiers are departing from what is allegedly a finished job, a new (and terrifying) issue is coming to light.
You see, an audit by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has revealed that hundreds of thousands of U.S.-supplied weapons have gone missing.
As many as 43% of all small arms supplied to the Afghan National Security Forces remain unaccounted for – meaning more than 200,000 guns, including M2s, M16s, and M48s, are nowhere to be found.
This is an extremely worrisome issue… especially because it’s not the first time the United States has made such a mistake.
Stockpiling Bad Decisions
You may remember that, in the 1980s, the Soviet Union controlled Afghanistan.
As part of the ongoing Cold War, the CIA supplied the Mujahideen fighting against the Soviets with surface-to-air Stinger missiles – which promptly went missing when the Soviets retreated.
CIA operatives were assigned to track down the missiles, but many ended up in the hands of militant groups like al Qaeda, which was an active part of the rebel forces fighting against the Soviet Union at the time. The rest, as they say, is history.
Unfortunately, just a few decades later, that history seems to be repeating itself.
Since 2004, the U.S. military has been hard at work shipping AK-47s, sniper rifles, grenade launchers, and machine guns to the Afghan National Security Force. Economic Times reports that, in total, the United States sent about $626-million worth of weapons into Afghanistan.
But now, it’s clear that all efforts to track the weapons have been in vain. The SIGAR report states that “ANSF recordkeeping and inventory processes are poor and, in many cases, we were unable to conduct even basic inventory testing at the ANSF facilities we visited.”
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A database called OVERLORD, which, in theory, is used to track the receipt of U.S. weapons in Afghanistan, contained over 50,000 serial numbers with no shipping or receiving dates, according to Townhall.
And another database, the Security Cooperation Information Portal, reported an additional 59,938 serial numbers with no shipping or receiving dates.
In total, 203,888 weapons had missing information and/or duplication, according to Townhall… and that’s very bad news for the United States.
You see, as the SIGAR report makes clear, “missing and unaccounted-for weapons… could be used by insurgents to harm U.S., coalition, and ANSF personnel.”
Because of smuggling and corruption (Afghanistan’s government is among the most corrupt in the world), many of the missing weapons are likely already in the hands of the Taliban or other terrorist groups.
Worse yet, the total withdrawal of U.S. troops will greatly test the loyalty of U.S.-trained security forces. If faced with an insurgency such as the one in Iraq, it’s likely that many of the security personnel would defect.
According to Arif Rafiq, an adjunct scholar with the Middle East Institute, “We are going to have to rely on a lot of faith in the ability of the Afghan government to have good intentions, and to implement its writ across the country.”
Unfortunately, there’s little reason at this point to believe that will happen.
In Pursuit of the Truth,