A new report from the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, known as SIGAR, warns that weapons transferred from the Department of Defense to Afghan security forces could fall into the hands of insurgents, due to the Afghans’ poor inventory tracking systems.
“Given the Afghan government’s limited ability to account for or properly dispose of these weapons, there is a real potential for these weapons to fall into the hands of insurgents, which will pose additional risks to U.S. personnel, the [Afghan National Security Forces], and Afghan civilians,” reads SIGAR’s report.
Since 2004, the U.S. Department of Defense has transferred over 747,000 weapons and auxiliary equipment to the Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army.
The cache is valued at around $626 million and includes over 465,000 rifles, pistols, machine guns, grenade launchers and shotguns.
The National Defense Authorization Act of 2010 requires the Department of Defense to establish a system to track and monitor the weapons it transfers to Afghan security forces. But the SIGAR report notes that the systems in place are inefficient and marred by “poor record keeping.”
“Accountability over these weapons within DOD prior to their transfer to Afghan ownership is affected by incompatible inventory systems that have missing serial numbers, inaccurate shipping and receiving dates, and duplicate records, that may result in missing weapons prior to transfer to the ANSF,” the SIGAR report reads.
The Department of Defense’s two weapons inventory systems, known as SCIP and OVERLORD, are not properly synced, SIGAR found. The OVERLORD system was missing information on when 50,304 weapons were shipped from the U.S. or received by Afghan security.
“However, the problems are far more severe after the weapons are transferred to the ANSF,” SIGAR reported, noting that checks at Afghan weapons depots showed incomplete records and missing weapons.
The report found that the Afghan military had an excess of nearly 113,000 weapons on hand. The discrepancy emerged after 2010 when the Department of Defense and the Afghan Ministry of Defense decided that Afghan forces should use NATO-standard weapons. This effectively made the M-16 rifle the weapon of choice over the non-NATO AK-47. Afghan forces currently have 83,184 more AK-47s than needed, according to the report.
But the Department of Defense does not have the authority to remove those weapons from the hands of Afghan National Security Forces.
“This issue will be compounded as the number of ANSF personnel decreases to lower levels in the coming years,” the report states. Along with a U.S. troop drawdown, Afghan forces are scheduled to be reduced from 352,000 to 228,500 by 2017, leaving many of the excess weapons in limbo.
“Without confidence in the Afghan government’s ability to account for or properly dispose of these weapons, SIGAR is concerned that they could be obtained by insurgents and pose additional risks to Afghan civilians and the ANSF.”