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Aug-09-2007 05:33printcomments

Government Loss of 200,000 Weapons in Iraq Dubious at Best

The latest scandal may be a move by the U.S. government to speed the needless replacement of the AK-47 with the M-16, courtesy of your tax dollars.

All photos of AK-47 assault rifles in Afghanistan by Tim King
All photos of AK-47 assault rifles and the American infantry platoon on patrol are from the war in Afghanistan by: Tim King

(SALEM, Ore.) - In April, published an article about the U.S. government's seemingly absurd plan to take away the tried and true weapons of the Iraq and Afghanistan armies, the Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle (You can see that article here: American Military Ego Will Lead to Problems As We Replace Iraq and Afghanistan's Army's AK-47 with the M-16), and replace them with the American M-16 A2.

U.S. soldier with a Soviet RPK

A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office provides the latest lesson on how not to run a war or rebuild a damaged society. Don’t, for example, lose track of 190,000 military weapons when ending violence is a key task.

It was released this week that the Pentagon has failed to do the most basic accounting and they have managed to lose 110,000 AK-47 assault rifles and 80,000 pistols. These are weapons that your tax dollars paid for; the United States gave them to Iraqi security forces in 2004 and 2005, according to the GAO.

Almost without a doubt, this "loss" of over 100,000 AK-47's will mean the acceleration of the plan to equip the troops there with our less reliable M-16's. It is a numbers game that will ultimately be a reason to quicken the pace so U.S. contractors can reap the benefits of providing our allies with a less effective weapon. The M-16's history is flawed with the deaths of Americans in Vietnam who couldn't make the Colt/Mattel product work in a tropical jungle.

The weapon has improved over the years, but the one our country is giving the Iraq and Afghan armies is an older, less advanced version of the rifle.

Military experts say the last thing any military force should ever do is take away a functioning piece of military equipment like a rifle during time of war; it is a death sentence.

Americans on patrol in Afghanistan with M-16 rifles, the type
the U.S. will provide to foreign soldiers is an older generation M-16

The AK-47 is durable and it fires when it is dirty or wet, it also has fewer moving parts than the M-16. The M-16 is more accurate but far more prone to jam a round and stop firing when the weapon is not maintained and cleaned regularly.

I went on a combat operation with Americans in Afghanistan last winter and spent time around one of the top weapons experts in the Army. He said the last thing Afghanistan or Iraq should do is change out the AK-47 for the M-16.

The embedded U.S. military training teams in Afghanistan say the Afghan soldiers even have a difficult time keeping their AK-47's in good shape, and they believe almost exclusively that giving them the M-16 and sending them into combat will be a death sentence for not only these indigenous soldiers, but the American and Coalition troops they fight side by side with in combat.

I also became friends with an American Lieutenant who carried a Soviet RPK, a version of the AK-47 as his regular firearm. This is a testimony if there ever was to the reliability of the Kalashnikov rifle.

The biggest thing is that Iraq and Afghanistan possess, or at least recently possessed, millions of AK-47's and countless rounds of ammunition, so why on earth would our government press this change?

Now the dubious plans of the American government get a bit of extra light to bathe in, and the people running this show in Iraq are able to show their true colors a little more brightly.

It is obvious that these weapons were not "lost," the burning question is who in the U.S. government allowed them to most likely, end up in the hands of our enemies?

Suddenly the plan takes shape. The mere fact that the government would choose to replace the AK-47 in the first place is disturbing enough. It is as though the people making these decisions are suffering from learning disabilities and yet they are in charge and able to generate stories like this?

What head in the Bush government will roll for this impropriety? I'm not holding my breath.

Now we see the M-16 implementation program gaining momentum and who knows how many millions of dollars will pass from one dirty palm to another? The Americans we know and love are being sent to a conflict that gets stranger and more ominous almost by the day.

Most disturbing is how many weapons may have ended up in the hands of militants who routinely attack U.S. troops.

This is only the latest debacle of the Iraq war and it joins the list of other disturbing revelations, like $12 billion that disappeared in Iraq according to the GAO, and 3,000 barrels of oil that disappear each day. It isn't that our government is dirty, the word would be more like soiled. It is not the soldiers fighting the war who are accountable for these antics, but the politicians who put them there.

Americans all too often prefer apathy and a yellow ribbon magnet and those who carry faith in the current plans have have misplaced a great deal indeed.

This is your country, they are your soldiers, what are you going to do about it? Remember, apathy kills.'s Tim King is a reporter with almost twenty years of experience in television news. A former U.S. Marine, Tim has pursued military reports throughout his reporting career and spent two months last winter as an embedded reporter and photojournalist in Afghanistan.

See Dispatches from Afghanistan for over 30 of Tim's video reports that also aired on Oregon's KPTV FOX-12. You can email Tim at:

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Nory King August 9, 2007 11:44 am (Pacific time)

It is indeed quite disturbing how reckless those in power are with both American and non-American lives when there is a dollar to be made. The convenience of how the weapons disappeared is also suspect.

Anonymous August 9, 2007 11:14 am (Pacific time)

"The latest scandal may be a move by the U.S. government to speed the needless replacement of the AK-47 with the M-16, courtesy of your tax dollars." And why not? It's all about the money. If there were no profits to be made, there wouldn't have been a call for Iraqi freedom. (A noble cause to rally 'round, but I have long been amazed that no one in the media even hinted that there was a crises in Darfur until just recently. If I was aware of it a few years ago, how did it slip under the radar of the huge national media machine?) If there were no profits to be made, there would be no "War on Terror" which, just like the "War on Drugs", will never be 'won' as long as we allow money to be thrown at them. The status quo will not change until the little guy realizes that he has been had by a whole lot of Washington politicians and many in the DOD,..... with the help of the media, and to the delight of the defense industry and, in the case of the "War on Drugs", corrupt officials in drug producing countries. Sadly, he is having his pocket picked............. all in the name of 'righteousness and freedom'. Anon

Henry Ruark August 9, 2007 11:04 am (Pacific time)

"Deregulation","privatization" are key principles here, as for other corporate-assisting actions built by Bush regime. Both facilitate corporate control, applied per always to more dollar-gain, at whatever cost to all others involved. Book BLACKWATER, cited in the Marine-trial story Comment, is strong substantiated source for more on this whole picture developing re Iraq debacle.

Dfp August 9, 2007 9:37 am (Pacific time)

While we protest with much indignation over Iran's possible role in arming the insurgents, it turns out that the major supplier of weaponry is the Pentagon!

S.LaMarche; August 9, 2007 7:36 am (Pacific time)

Yeah!, and I don't need to think long to know if it was me that lost 190,000 weapons I'd be up against a wall or off to Gitmo. I sense dishonesty in the plan, a lot of corruption and some more people die. This is bad karma for sure.

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