Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tens of Thousands of U.S. Guns Missing in Afghanistan

Sounds a lot like Iraq. And it is another argument for getting out of Afghanistan as well. It's bad enough that our troops have to fight the Taliban and al Qaeda but they are probably using our guns.

More than one-third of all weapons the United States has procured for Afghanistan's government are missing, according to a government report released Thursday.

The U.S. military failed to "maintain complete inventory records for an estimated 87,000 weapons -- or about 36 percent -- of the 242,000 weapons that the United States procured and shipped to Afghanistan from December 2004 through June 2008," a U.S. Government Accountability Office report states.

"Accountability lapses occurred throughout the supply chain," it says.

The Defense Department spent roughly $120 million during that period to acquire a range of small arms and light weapons for the Afghan National Security Forces, including rifles, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

The military also failed to properly account for an additional 135,000 weapons it obtained for the Afghan forces from 21 other countries.

And if you need more convincing that we should get out of Afghanistan? Just ask the Russians:
Twenty years have passed since the Soviet Union ended its disastrous military venture in Afghanistan. Some Soviet veterans were traumatized by the war and refuse to talk about it, others reflect on the experience and draw lessons they say apply to NATO forces that have been fighting Afghan rebels since 2001.

On February 15, 1989, Commanding General Boris Gromov was the last Soviet soldier to leave Afghanistan, walking across the Friendship Bridge that connected that war-torn country with what was then Soviet Uzbekistan.

Nearly 15,000 soldiers, advisors, and other Soviet officials died during the war that Moscow launched in December 1979. Today, Gromov is convinced there are no military solutions to political problems in Afghanistan. He spoke at a recent Moscow news conference.

Gromov says force will accomplish nothing in Afghanistan, and notes that increasing or decreasing troop strength will only bring a negative result. The general says the best way to deal with Afghans is to reach an agreement with them.

[...]A complicating factor today, he says, is Afghanistan's burgeoning drug trade, which is funding the Taliban. This, he says, forces NATO to fight opium farmers and increases popular opposition to the alliance.

Like in Iraq, we don't have enough troops to rollback the enemy in Afghanistan:
Top US military officer Admiral Mike Mullen said on Tuesday more American troops were needed in Afghanistan as soon as possible to hold territory where insurgents have been routed.

Mullen told a news conference it was up to President Barack Obama to decide when to deploy additional troops to Afghanistan, but he said time was of the essence at what he called a critical period for the country.

During a visit to the Canadian capital to discuss the Afghan war among other issues, Mullen was asked about the possible reinforcement of the US mission as requested by the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan.

"The general had this request out for many months and those working through the request recognise that the sooner the better with respect to this," Mullen said.

He said 2009 was a crucial moment with elections scheduled later in the year and an increasingly violent insurgency in the south and east of the country.

"I'm hopeful that we can get them there as soon as absolutely possible, but, again, that's a decision for the president of the United States, not for me."

He said more US troops were needed to allow for development and aid projects to go ahead as insurgents were often moving back into areas where NATO forces had previously pushed them out.

"It's got to be enough forces to be able not just to clear, but we've got to have enough forces in there to hold, which we haven't had in the past," the US admiral said.