This will be good for morale! Almost 200,000 guns given to Iraqi troops 'lost' Page 1 of 2 View as a single page 7:50AM Tuesday August 07, 2007 By Rupert Cornwell Body armour and helmets have gone missing as well as weapons. Iraq war More ministers pull out of crumbling Iraq cabinet Al Qaeda threatens envoys, embassies WASHINGTON - Some 190,000 AK-47 assault rifles and pistols supplied by the US to Iraqi security forces in 2004 and 2005 have gone missing, according to an official report. This embarrassing disclosure, by the watchdog Government Accountability office (GAO), means that the Pentagon does not know what happened to roughly a third of the arms it has provided to train and equip Iraqi forces. The 'lost' arms include 80,000 pistols as well as an estimated 110,000 of the Soviet-made AK-47s, many of them originating in Eastern Europe, especially the former Yugoslavia. A recent Amnesty International report claims that in 2004 and 2005 over 350,000 AK-47s and similar weapons were removed from Bosnia and Serbia by private contractors working for the Pentagon and sent to Iraq, with the approval of local Nato and European commanders. In addition, some 135,000 pieces of body armour and 115,000 helmets have also vanished, again perhaps to end up in the hands of insurgents. Thus far, the US has spent over US$19bn on developing Iraqi security forces, including almost US$3bn on weapons. Advertisement AdvertisementAccording to the GAO, the distribution of the weaponry was "haphazard and rushed," and failed to follow established procedures - accusations which the Pentagon does not dispute. But the affair could be even more problematic for the White House, given that during the two years under scrutiny, the programme was headed by General David Petraeus, now the top US commander in Iraq, in charge of the current troop 'surge.' President Bush now lauds his talents on an almost daily basis, as the man who will finally give the US the upper hand against the insurgents. The GAO arrived at its figures by comparing the property records of the Multi-National Security Transition Command for Iraq against records kept by Gen. Petraeus of the arms and equipment he ordered. The Pentagon says it is now reviewing procedures "to ensure US-funded equipment reaches the intended Iraqi security forces." But the controversy fits into a now familiar pattern of mistakes made by the US in Iraq, dating back to the initial failure to secure arms caches found in Iraq immediately after the 2003 invasion, and which merely fuel the insurgency the Americans are trying to stamp out. In this case, says the GAO, the military was "consistently unable" to collect supporting documents showing that the weapons had been sent to and received by the intended parties. There were also "numerous mistakes due to incorrect manual entries." The military however argues that the situation on the ground was so urgent, and the agency responsible for recording the transfers of arms so short staffed, that field commanders had little choice in the matter.