Congressman Lynch Calls On Defense Department To Track Weapons In Iraq

Nov 15, 2006

Congressman Stephen F. Lynch, member of the House Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations, today introduced the "Iraq Weapons Accountability Act of 2006,” legislation that requires the Department of Defense to track weapons purchased for the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF).  Lynch’s legislation comes on the heels of a key report on weapons tracking by the DoD issued by the Special Inspector General for Iraq, Stuart Bowen, Jr.

In October 2006, Inspector Bowen, who has played a critical role in uncovering mismanagement, waste, fraud and abuse in contracting in Iraq, discovered that DoD has tracked less than 3% of the more than 370,000 weapons it purchased for the Iraq Security Forces with reconstruction funds.  Bowen recommended that the Defense Department immediately move to track all weapons purchased.

 

Lynch’s bill would require the Secretary of Defense, through the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq (MNSTC-I), to implement Inspector Bowen’s recommendations.

Congressman Lynch said, "There is no excuse for why the Department of Defense would allow hundreds of thousands of weapons to go missing in Iraq.  This lack of accountability has put American service men and women in danger, and the federal government should move immediately to ensure that every weapon is accounted for in the future.”

According to Inspector General Bowen’s audit report, "Iraqi Security Forces:  Weapons Provided by the U.S. Department of Defense Using the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction,” the Department of Defense has purchased more than 370,000 small arms, including semi-automatic pistols, heavy machine guns, and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, for the ISF using $133 million in reconstruction funds.  However, only about 10,000 (2.7%) of these weapons have been registered with the Defense Department’s Small Arms Serialization Program, which the Department uses to track small arms.  In addition, the Bowen report reveals that the ISF cannot even properly maintain the weapons it has been given due to a lack of spare parts and the absence of necessary repair manuals. 

For these reasons, Inspector General Bowen recommended that the MNSTC-I, a Defense Department-led command responsible for equipping, training, and recruiting the ISF, take several key steps to ensure that we properly track the small arms provided to the ISF.  Notably, Bowen advised that MNSTC-I establish accurate weapons inventories and register these weapons, by serial number, with the Defense Department. 

"Inspector General Bowen’s findings indicate that the safety of American troops in Iraq, as well as our goal of properly equipping and training the ISF, may be compromised by DoD’s failure to track these weapons and ensure their sustainability,” said Congressman Lynch. 

"This legislation would not make certain that Mr. Bowen’s recommendations are fully implemented but would also promote greater accountability and transparency in our Iraq reconstruction efforts – for which we’ve spent over $30 billion in U.S. taxpayer money and more importantly, for which over 2,800 of our brave servicemen and women have made the ultimate sacrifice.” 

Congressman Lynch plans to return to Iraq later this month and focus on this issue.

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