05:35 GMT +322 September 2017
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    'Wastefulness Is Endemic to US Military': DoD Has a History of 'Losing' Hardware

    © AFP 2017/ RABIH MOGHRABI
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    The US military losing track of billions of dollars’ worth of equipment meant for Iraq and Kuwait is typical of American overseas combat deployments, historian and retired US Army Major Todd Pierce told Sputnik.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — On Thursday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a new report — after a months-long probe ordered by Congress – that the Defense Department could not demonstrate if materials purchased through the $2 billion Iraq Train-and-Equip Fund (ITEF) reached their intended destinations.

    In addition, Amnesty International claimed Wednesday, citing a 2016 declassified Inspector General report, said the Defense Department failed to track $1 billion in equipment in Iraq and Kuwait. A Pentagon spokesperson told Sputnik earlier on Thursday, however, that Amnesty's allegations were false.

    "Wastefulness is endemic to the US military," Pierce, a former Judge Advocate General (JAG) military lawyer stated. "Before 9/11, it was typified by having to spend any remaining funds a command had at the end of the fiscal year regardless of lack of need."

    Stories abound, Pierce added, of military commands burying vast amounts of equipment for the purpose of facilitating movement at the end of their tours to avoid an inventory process.

    “In wartime or what passes as wartime today, it is policy,” he claimed.

    US forces departing or being rotated out of combat theaters routinely abandoned vast quantities of equipment, Pierce maintained.

    "As a member of the 321st Materiel Management Center during the first Gulf War [in 1991], I heard reports of battalions doing just that, burying vast amounts of equipment so they would not be slowed down in their departure from the theater," he said.

    Examples of such behavior by US military forces went back at least 50 years, Pierce recalled.

    "This isn’t new: Vietnam veterans brought back similar accounts. All this equipment can be claimed to have been ‘lost’ in combat. Ammunition can be readily used up so it doesn’t have to be repacked for shipment home," he said.

    Weapons themselves would seem less likely to be lost or disposed of in such a manner except perhaps to leave them behind with US allies without proper authority or to be sold on a black-market for personal enrichment, Pierce suggested.

    "Is anyone ever held accountable? No, except maybe in such an extreme case Is this a regular problem? Only when and where we deploy troops or other military resources," he said.

    In Thursday’s report, the GAO recommended that the Defense Department improve its systems and procedures such as how it records key transportation data in order to better track this equipment. Congress had asked the GAO, the report noted, to review the Pentagon’s "accountability of ITEF-funded equipment." The review and assessment of Pentagon systems and procedures was conducted from September 2016 to May 2017, according to the report.

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    Tags:
    equipment, loss, Pentagon, Iraq, United States
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