While the U.S. claims that its outposts in Iraq and Syria are for “counter-ISIS missions,” many believe the main purpose of these locations is to fight Iran. Since the confrontation between Israel and Hamas in October, these bases have been subjected to many missile and drone assaults, indicating an undeclared war between the United States and Iran and its proxy forces.
The results of military investigations earlier this year showed that a number of delicate weapons and pieces of equipment, such as drones and guided missile launch systems, had been taken in Iraq. This comes after The Intercept revealed that between 2020 and 2022, military equipment valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars was stolen from American soldiers serving in Iraq and Syria.
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Mitigating Ammunition Loss: Past Military Actions and Unforeseen Weapon Circulation Post US Withdrawals
Ammunition and weapon losses have serious consequences, and the military has taken steps in the past to avoid these kinds of events. For example, in 2019 the United States carried out airstrikes on abandoned munitions while retreating soldiers from an outpost near Kobani, Syria. In a similar vein, munitions and equipment were destroyed by the military in 2021 during the disorderly departure from Afghanistan. But when the United States left, weapons developed in the United States, including rifles, handguns, grenades, binoculars, and night-vision goggles, made their way to Afghan gun stores and were then sent to Pakistan.
Nonetheless, records from a criminal probe that The Intercept was able to get demonstrate that the United States has challenges in safeguarding its military hardware and personnel.The Costs of War Project co-director Stephanie Savell of Brown University emphasized, “We often overlook the wider implications of the extensive U.S.One of the continuing campaign’s political consequences is the theft of firearms.
Unveiling Concealed Theft: Drone Heist in Iraq Revealed Through FOIA Documents
Information regarding the thefts in Iraq that the military had withheld was discovered in investigative files that were made available to the public under the Freedom of Information Act.13 commercial drones worth around $162,500 were reportedly taken from a U.S. facility in Erbil, Iraq, sometime last year, according to a report published in February. Suspects and leads in the case could not be identified by investigators.
Iraq Weapons Heist: Sensitive Equipment Valued at $480,000 Taken Near Forward Operating Base Union
Theft of “multiple sensitive weapons and equipment,” including as Javelin missile launcher systems and targeting sights, was discovered by another inquiry to have occurred either at or on way to Forward Operating Base Union III in Baghdad, Iraq. The US government was expected to lose close to $480,000.Because of systemic security concerns, investigators came to the conclusion that the thefts were probably committed by locals rather than by U.S. forces, citing Iraqi criminal organizations and militia groups that targeted convoys and containers for weapons and equipment.
The Intercept revealed earlier this year that between 2020 and 2022, there were at least four notable thefts and one loss of US weapons and equipment in Iraq and Syria. 40mm high-explosive grenades, armor-piercing bullets, specialist field artillery tools and equipment, and unidentified “weapons systems” were among the stolen items. There were three incidents at bases in Iraq and two at bases in Syria. There was not a single theft at Forward Operating Base Union III.
It’s become clearer than ever since Israel’s war with Gaza began that assaults target American locations in the Middle East. The United States’ bases in Iraq and Syria have been under constant attack recently, despite isolated outposts in other conflict zones being targeted on occasion (al-Shabab attacking a U.S. base in Baledogle, Somalia, in 2019 and raiding an American outpost in Kenya the following year, resulting in casualties). There have apparently been up to four drone and rocket strikes in a 24-hour span. Over 70 attacks on US soldiers have occurred since October 17, according to Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh. Of them, over 60 people have been injured, 36 in Iraq and 37 in Syria.
Maybe not even the Pentagon knows the precise number of thefts. The Combined Joint Task Force–Operation Inherent Resolve, which is in charge of directing American activities in Iraq and Syria, as well as its parent agency, U.S. Central Command, have not replied to The Intercept’s requests about these thefts after more than two months have gone.
The task panel admitted earlier this year that it did not know the full scope of the issue. The task group has no records of thefts from US personnel, a spokesman acknowledged. When asked about thefts of weapons, ammo, or equipment in the previous five years, Captain Kevin T. Livingston, the public affairs director of CJTF-OIR at the time, told The Intercept that they did not have the information sought.
Weapons Accountability Crisis: U.S. Military’s Ongoing Challenges in Iraq and Syria Uncovered
The United States military is dealing with a number of weapons accountability issues in Iraq and Syria; the events that The Intercept has revealed are simply the most recent. According to a 2017 study by the Pentagon’s inspector general, weapons in Kuwait and Iraq valued at $20 million were “vulnerable to loss or theft.” The Special Operations Joint Task Force–Operation Inherent Resolve, the main organization assisting America’s partners in Syria, was found to have improperly accounted for $715.8 million in weaponry that was bought for these local friends in 2020, according to an audit.
According to reports from organizations like Conflict Armament Research and Amnesty International, a sizable portion of the weapons and ammunition that the Islamic State group possessed was made in the United States or purchased from the United States and acquired from the Iraqi Army and Syrian fighters via kidnapping, theft, or other means.
Information regarding the thefts in Iraq that the military had withheld was discovered in investigative files that were made available to the public under the Freedom of Information Act.