by Scout Finch
Yesterday, CBS News acquired the November 30th Inspector General Report on Iraq, also known as the "Management of the Iraq Security Forces Fund in Southwest Asia - Phase III.
Incredibly enough, cash isn't the only thing missing from Iraq. Turns out those missing billions may have been driven away by fully armed "Iraqi Security Forces" in dumptrucks and tractor-trailers.....provided by the US Army. From Laura Strickler at CBS News:
Auditors for the Inspector General reviewed equipment contracts totaling $643 million but could only find an audit trail for $83 million.
The report details a massive failure in government procurement revealing little accountability for the billions of dollars spent purchasing military hardware for the Iraqi security forces. For example, according to the report, the military could not account for 12,712 out of 13,508 weapons, including pistols, assault rifles, rocket propelled grenade launchers and machine guns.
Emphasis mine. Simply stunning. The US military can account for less than 800 of 13,500 weapons they have supplied the "Iraqi security forces." I find it very difficult to believe that there was any sort of accounting system in place to track the dispersion of these weapons. Were the Iraqi's able to just walk into the weapons depot and take whatever they liked? Are they missing because these so-called "Iraqi Security Forces" are now insurgents? If these weapons aren't being used to secure Iraq, then isn't it safe to assume they are now being used against our forces?
The CBS pieces goes on to note:
The report comes on the same day that Army procurement officials will face tough questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee regarding their procurement policies. One official, Claude Bolton, assistant secretary for acquisition, logistics and technology has already announced his resignation on the heels of sharp criticism of army contracting. Bolton’s resignation is effective Jan. 2, 2008. The Army has significantly expanded its fraud investigations in recent months.
The criticism has been going on for years and Claude Bolton has been serving in that position since 2002, so he's hardly been rushed out the door. I can only speculate that the fraud investigation alluded to above is playing a larger role in his departure, but that remains to be seen.
Who is Claude Bolton, Jr. and how did this turn into such a disaster? Because that's what happens when you task Donald Rumsfeld with picking appointees:
A retired Air Force major general, Bolton was an interesting pick for the Army acquisition job. Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council, says it's "very unusual" for a service member to retire from one branch of the military and then enter another as a senior political civilian. Bolton is one example of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's "effort to create a much more harmonized acquisition corps across the services," says Soloway, who was deputy undersecretary for acquisition reform at the Pentagon during the Clinton administration and has worked with Bolton.
Before retiring in 2001 from the Air Force, Bolton was commander of the Air Force Security Assistance Center at Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. He managed multibillion-dollar foreign military sales in that job and was heavily involved in acquisition reforms during the 1990s.
So long Claude. I'm sure that like many of the Bush and Rumsfeld cronies before you, you'll end up at KBR or some other corrupt extension of the DoD, where you'll continue being incompetent and ineffective in countless other ways at our expense. But, for now? Don't let the door hit you in the ass.