15:33 GMT26 February 2021
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    Reports the US military lost track of some $2 billion of equipment earmarked for Iraqi forces reveals a larger problem of unaccountable defense spending, former US Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Chas Freeman told Sputnik.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — A US Congress-authorized probe found the Pentagon failed to track $2 billion in military equipment, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a report Thursday.

    "This lapse is only part of a much larger issue of unaccountable actions and unaudited expenses by the Defense Department. It is worth noting that, despite the huge amount of taxpayer money it expends, the Defense Department has never been able to mount an effective audit," Freeman said.

    Freeman noted that the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction has documented appalling levels of waste, fraud, and mismanagement, while the Iraq operation "has been much larger and equally if not more wasteful."

    "Battlefield book-keeping was bound to be bad as war is an exercise in destruction of lives and equipment and inherently wasteful of both," Freeman acknowledged.

    According to the GAO report, not a single one of 256 equipment requisitions recorded at their point of departure from the United States was recorded as having arrived to their expected destinations.

    The GAO findings contradicted an Amnesty International report, released on Wednesday, which claimed only $1 billion of equipment was improperly tracked.

    Earlier on Thursday, Pentagon spokesperson Eric Pahon told Sputnik the Defense Department denied Wednesday’s Amnesty International report claiming the US Army failed to maintain accurate records on over $1 billion in weapons transfers in Iraq and Kuwait.

    Chas Freeman is a lifetime director of the Atlantic Council and served as US Deputy Chief of Mission and Charge d’affaires at the US embassies in Beijing and Bangkok. Freeman also held several senior level positions at the US Department of Defense.


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