U.S. weapons go AWOL

Since 2007, the U.S. government has been sending sending military supplies to Yemen to help the government fight a rebellion there.   The Yemen government is collapsing, and the U.S. government has lost track of some of those supplies, including these.

U.S.-military-hardware-AWOL-in-Yemen-The-Washington-PostAs Peter Van Buren asked, how do you misplace a patrol boat?

Unfortunately this is part of a pattern.

Libya:  In late 2012, the New York Times reported that weapons from a US-approved deal had eventually gone to Islamic militants in Libya.  The deal, which involved European weapons sent to Qatar as well as US weapons originally supplied to the United Arab Emirates, had been managed from the sidelines by the Obama administration.

Syria:  More than once, American arms intended to help bolster the fight against ISIS in Syria and northern Iraq have ended up in the group’s control.  Last October, an airdrop of small arms was blown off target by the wind, according to the Guardian.  ISIS quickly posted a video of its fighters going through crates of weapons attached to a parachute.

Iraq:  American weapons supplied to the Iraqi army have also found their way ISIS via theft and capture.  And weapons meant for the Iraqi army have also gone to Shiite militias backed by Iran.  This isn’t a new problem: As much as 30 percent of the weapons the United States distributed to Iraqi forces between 2004 and early 2007 could not be accounted for.

Afghanistan:  It’s been widely documented that American forces invading Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11 had to face off against weapons the United States had once supplied to mujahideen fighters battling the Soviets in the ’80s.

Somalia:  In 2011, Wired reported that as much as half of the US-supplied arms given to Uganda and Burundi in support of the fight against al-Shabaab was winding up with the Somali militant group.

via Mother Jones.

The basic problem is the U.S. policy of arming foreign fighters in conflicts Americans don’t understand, and of thinking that unlimited spending on military technology can make up for a lack of understanding.

The secondary problem is all the people who have a financial interest and a career interest in keeping on doing what is being done.


U.S. Weapons Worth $500 Million Vanish in Yemeni Chaos by Peter Van Buren.

US Weapons Have a Nasty Habit of Going AWOL by A.J. Vicens for Mother Jones.

Military Strategy?  Who Needs It?  The Madness of Funding the Pentagon to “Cover the Globe” by William Hartung for TomDispatch.

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