A new report from the Department of Defense's (DoD) inspector general (IG) criticizes the Pentagon for not only losing track of surplus weapons provided to friendly foreign governments around the globe but also mistakenly sending weapons to governments not authorized to receive them.
The report singles out The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and the Pentagon's various transportation offices.
According to the inspector general, the DLA's Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service and the Pentagon transportation offices "could not account for 7,373 line items of excess defense articles requiring demilitarization that were provided to ... 19 foreign governments" from October 2001 through March 2006. The surplus materiel was valued at $296 million.
The IG estimates that as many as 7,259 weapons, "including M-16 rifles, M-60 machines, and armored personnel carriers were not properly tracked, safeguarded, accounted for, or reconciled;"as many as 291 weapons or parts were shipped to foreign governments not authorized to have such weaponry; and as many as 960 weapons or parts were shipped without the correct information regarding their demilitarization.
"As a result of deficiencies in controls over excess defense articles," the report says, "the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service and the DoD transportation offices increased the risk of providing foreign governments unauthorized property that could be used to threaten our national security."
The report does not identify the potentially hostile countries that received the materiel.
Between October 2001 and March 2006, the DoD sent $2 billion worth of materiel to 57 foreign governments. The agency is allowed to transfer surplus military equipment and arms under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the Arms Export Control Act of 1976.
According to this primer on the program, most of the excess materiel is sent to militaries in the developing world.