– Report: $420M in U.S. Weapons, ‘Sensitive Items’ Go Missing in Afghanistan (Washington Free Beacon, Nov 13, 2014):
Nearly $420 million in weapons and other “sensitive items” have gone missing from U.S. Army bases in Afghanistan and are not likely to be recovered due to mismanagement and improper accounting, according to an internal report by the Pentagon’s inspector general obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
Some 15,600 pieces of equipment—including “weapons, weapons systems, and sensitive items”—went missing in the past year from Army facilities in Bagram and Kandahar, accounting for around $419.5 million in losses, according to the report, which was issued in late October and marked “for official use only.”
The extent of these losses was only discovered following an internal audit by the Pentagon’s inspector general, who recommended that military leaders institute a series of reforms aimed at increasing transparency and strengthening mechanisms meant to detect such losses.
“The Army did not effectively report [fiscal year] 2013 inventory losses at the Bagram and Kandahar, Afghanistan [Redistribution Property Assistance Team] yards,” the report states. “The missing equipment included weapons, weapons systems, and sensitive items.
Even after the 401st Army Field Support Brigade (AFSB) detected these losses, it “did not always correctly calculate and report the total loss to the U.S. government,” according to the report, which shines a light on mismanagement issues that continue to plague U.S. operations in Afghanistan.
During the course of the audit, officials found that the equipment at the Bagram and Kandahar storage facilities “was not being safeguarded in accordance with applicable regulations,” according to the report, which claims that these problems have since been fixed.
The loss of these costly weapons and other sensitive items was not often detected in a timely manner for a variety of reasons, causing an “increased risk that missing property will not be recovered,” according to the report.
In some cases, “AFSB officials did not consider the inventory lost,” leading to items being improperly cataloged.
Additionally, the AFSB’s overseer, the 1st Theater Sustainment Command, “lacked administrative control” over the operation, according to the report.
In other cases, the AFSB “did not consistently apply depreciation and made mathematical errors when calculating total inventory losses.”
As a result of these reporting issues, “no one was held financially responsible for the property losses or accountable for missed reporting deadlines,” according to the report.
Evidence of the $419.5 million in losses comes just a year after the Army reported “accumulated losses” of $586.8 million, the report states.
Army officials also were found to have waited longer than mandated to report these losses.
While Army policy stipulates that losses be officially reported within 75 days, reports reviewed by the inspector general were completed an average of “318 days from the date the inventory was determined to be lost,” according to the report.
“Further, once the 401st AFSB identified equipment as lost, the 401st AFSB did not always correctly calculate and report the total loss to the U.S. government,” the report states. “As a result of the reporting delays, the [Army Sustainment Command] does not have accurate accountability and visibility of property in Afghanistan.”
These reporting delays were determined to have resulted in part due to “a lack of urgency” among officials in the 401st AFSB.
While AFSB officials maintain that “the majority” of the missing equipment will eventually be found as the U.S. military leaves Afghanistan, statistics compiled by the inspector general show that this has not historically been the case.
“Since 2010, 309 forward operating bases have closed and only a fraction of lost items” reported as missing have been found, according to the report.
“For example, between 2006 and 2010, there were 174,247 pieces of equipment listed as unaccounted for” and totaling $429.5 million, according to the report. “As of May 30, 2014, only 40,690 (23 percent) of the total pieces of equipment and $191.1 million (44 percent) of the total dollar amount have been recovered.”
The report was first made public by Secrecy News.