Topline: The Department of Defense has failed to properly track $1 billion worth of weapons provided to Ukraine, according to an internal audit released on Jan. 10 by the DOD Inspector General.
Key facts: The DOD is supposed to use special “enhanced end-use monitoring” techniques” to “safeguard” key weapons such as smaller, high-tech weaponry provided to Ukraine, which are likely targets for theft.
The audit says these monitoring procedures are not properly being followed in Ukraine, due to staffing shortages, poor internal logistics and more.
The audit found that $1 billion of the $1.7 billion — or 59% — in enhanced end-use monitoring designated weapons provided to Ukraine as of June 2023 are “delinquent,” meaning they can’t be accounted for in inventory reports.
Maybe the weapons are being used properly; maybe they have been stolen by Russian forces. No one can be completely sure.
The 59% delinquency rate is an improvement over the 86% of weapons that were unaccounted for in December 2022.
The weapons include night-vision devices, anti-tank missiles, attack drones and small-diameter bombs.
The report also found that inventory databases were not regularly updated and that the Ukrainian Armed Forces failed to properly report missing weapons.
Officials have stressed that the weapons may in fact be completely fine. Just because the DOD failed to keep track of the weaponry does not necessarily mean it was stolen.
The Army, Air Force and more agreed that procedures would be fully updated by September 2024.
Background: The Biden administration has sent over $75 billion to Ukraine since February 2022, including $44 billion in military aid.
Some Republican leaders are already trying to block Biden’s request for additional funds for Ukraine. The missing weapons could strengthen their arguments.
This is not the first time weapons have gone missing during Biden’s administration. In Afghanistan in 2021, the Taliban seized seven U.S. helicopters, each worth as much as $21 million. The DOD also lost track of $174 million of drones provided to Afghanistan.
Biden officials then removed official reports on Afghanistan weaponry spending from government websites.
The DOD has a long history of inadequately tracking its finances, having failed its last six annual audits.
Supporting Quote: “There remains no credible evidence of illicit diversion of U.S.-provided advanced conventional weapons from Ukraine,” Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, said. “We do see some instances of Russia continuing to spread disinformation to the contrary, but the fact is, we observe the Ukrainians employing these capabilities on the battlefield.”
Summary: While there is no direct evidence that weapons in Ukraine have actually been misused, the $1 billion inventory error calls into question the White House’s constant assurances that any aid would be carefully tracked.
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