Monday, August 13, 2007

Guns And Money

NOTE: This post is is rather ad-hoc as the subject sources are still quite confusing.

(All following emphases added)

According to the AP this week

The U.S. training command had already reported it would arm all Interior Ministry police by the end of 2006 through its own three-year-old program, which as of July 26 has bought 701,000 weapons for the Iraqi army and police with $237 million in U.S. government funds.”

According to the Washington Post last week

“The GAO reached the estimate of 190,000 missing arms -- 110,000 AK-47s and 80,000 pistols -- by comparing the property records of the Multi-National Security Transition Command for Iraq [MNSCT-I] against records Petraeus maintained of the arms and equipment he had ordered. Petraeus's figures were compared with classified data and other records to ensure that they were accurate enough to compare against the property books.

Petraeus reported that about 185,000 AK-47 rifles, 170,000 pistols, 215,000 pieces of body armor and 140,000 helmets were issued to Iraqi security forces from June 2004 through September 2005.
But the property books contained records for 75,000 AK-47 rifles, 90,000 pistols, 80,000 pieces of body armor and 25,000 helmets.”

Add the rifles and pistols together and we get 350,000 weapons “issued” over 15 months, according to Petraeus. That leaves another 351,000 weapons purchased over the last 22 months to reach 701,000.
According to the US DoD the Iraqi Army will in the end state be an approximately 137,500-person force based around an Army with 9 infantry divisions and 1 mechanized infantry division consisting of 36 brigades and 112 battalions.

Battalions consist of approximately 800 soldiers; 112 battalions would equal 89,600 troops. Now let’s assume spare weaponry at 50% and another 50% for possible reserve units. That gives us 179,200 assorted AK-47s and pistols.

According to Global Security there are intended to be 65,000 police.
It seems up to 91,000 have applied and received some training, possibly uniforms and pay, but its functional size appears to be anyone’s guess—perhaps 10,000 of inconsistent quality and allegiance.
Even so given the intended gross figures for police (65,000) and army (137,500) we arrive at a total of 202,000 requiring weapons.

Assuming all are armed with either AK-47 or pistol and doubling the figure for spares, attrition and contingencies we arrive at 404,000---still 297,000 weapons short of the 701,000 the US has supposedly bought and distributed: If we subtract the 190,000 “missing weapons” that still leaves 107,000 presumably unnecessary weapons unaccounted-for (a $36 million value!).

But wait...there’s more!

Italian officials are now pursuing arms dealers who apparently had illegally struck a ‘back-channel’ deal with the Iraqi Interior Ministry:

“Investigators say the prospect of an Iraq deal was raised last November[2006], when an Iraqi-owned trading firm e-mailed Massimo Bettinotti, 39, owner of the Malta-based MIR Ltd., about whether MIR could supply 100,000 AK-47 assault rifles and 10,000 machine guns “ to the Iraqi Interior Ministry,'' adding that "this deal is approved by America and Iraq.''

“… 'most' of the 105,000 weapons were meant for police in Iraq's western province of Anbar. That statement raised questions, however, since Pentagon reports list only 161,000 trained police across all 18 of Iraq's provinces, and say the ministry has been issued 169,280 AK-47s, 167,789 pistols and 16,398 machine guns for them and 28,000 border police.”

161,000 police now? These figures are getting crazy. There are supposed to be as many trained police in Iraq as there are US troops? And they are all supposed to be armed? None of this makes any sense. Well, anyway…

The Iraqis had already (supposedly) been provided with at least 350,000 weapons in addition to whatever the ex-army and ex-police already personally held (which the US never bothered, and was incapable of, accounting-for.

“Iraqi officials did not make MNSTC-I aware that they were making purchases,'' Lt. Col. Daniel Williams of the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq (MNSTC-I), which oversees arming and training of the Iraqi police and army, told the AP.

That’s a very circumspect choice of words. Anywhoo, we still aren’t done yet:

“In a report last year, Amnesty International said that in 2004 and 2005 more than 350,000 AK-47 rifles and similar weapons were taken out of Bosnia and Serbia, for use in Iraq, by private contractors working for the Pentagon and with the approval of NATO and European security forces in Bosnia.”

Now that would match Petraeus’s reported “issuing” of arms for Iraqi forces between 2004 and 2005. But there are just a few teeny multi-million dollar problems here:

At best, by my rough calculations, assuming an army of 137,000 and a police force of 160,000, all armed, we arrive at 297,000 personnel and 297,000 guns. Doubling that figure for contingencies, wear and tear etc we get 594,000 guns needed in total.

That still leaves 105,000 guns “missing”—and the GAO reports 190,000 “missing” which makes sense because there is no way the Iraq police or the Army are at their supposed full strengths, and they obviously haven’t all been issued all the guns apparently purchased.
Interestingly though the figures for the police are greater now by close to 100,000 compared to my previous calculation we still end up with a kind of magic number297,000 (or 295,000), with an estimated value of $103 million.

Oh and one other thing; the Bosnian-sourced weapons “were taken out of Bosnia and Serbia, for use in Iraq, by private contractors working for the Pentagon”.

Does that mean that contractors simply supervised the process, or does it mean that contractors were the recipients, or both? Why would they be subsidized by US taxpayer money? And would they then also be additionally billing for this “service” and then keeping the weapons?

It appears to me then that either far too-many weapons have been bought (suggesting unnecessary profits for the suppliers and the possibility of kickbacks to the purchaser), or that far fewer weapons were actually bought than were paid-for (providing a $36- to $100-million bonus to the purchaser), or that anywhere from 105,000 to 297,000 weapons are now available on the black market, perhaps at more than $338 per gun (thus providing even greater potential profit), or finally, that anywhere from 105,000 to 297,000 weapons have simply been stolen and/or distributed.

All of these guns would require bullets, of course. I’ve seen nothing yet to indicate whether these arms deals included bullets or not, but 100 million rounds at 18-cents each would cost $18 million and equip 300,000 guns with over 300 bullets each (or 900-plus bullets each for 100,000 guns) and from a $36 million profit that still leaves $18-million to fool around with.

What the precise figures are and who exactly is profiting in money or equipment is as yet unclear, but US citizens at least are obviously getting rooked, US troops are obviously being endangered for profit and/or twisted policy, ordinary Iraqis certainly aren’t benefiting and certain Iraqi and US officials and their friends are benefiting from a collective conspiracy or at least a larger collective incompetence.

Bear in mind this is all US taxpayer money being spent and siphoned here. Note also that during the Bosnian conflict, the United States provided about $100 million in defense equipment to the Bosnian Federation Army, and the GAO found no problems in accounting for those weapons.

I intend to revisit this subject and hopefully make more explcit sense of it. But meantime, even though Bremer "lost" over $8-billion in just one year and a possible $100-million having been mislaid seems small by comparison, this isn't just about mere graft, but lethal corruption and what's more it is just a fraction of the larger Iraqi arms bazaar and boom.


Cernig said...

Nice post. This is all part and parcel of the biggest heist in history - the fraud that stole almost $1.6 billion from the Iraqi DoD in 2004-2005 while under Petraeus' supervision.

Question - given the opportunity for bribery and coruption and several well-documented cases of US military officers in procurement getting dirty, how sure are the military that none of the $1.6 billion ended up in US uniform pockets?

Regards, C

5th Estate said...

thanks C.
Answer: Some parts of the military don't want to know, and some don;t have the resources or the clout to find out. It all depeneds on who is in on the deal and what the politics are, and it can be very risky to go against the status quo.