Many Hundreds of Millions of Dollars’ Worth of U.S. Military Equip in ISIS’s Hands
|A view of humvees parked at a courtyard at Camp Liberty in Baghdad, September 30, 2011. REUTERS/Mohammed Ameen|
And more being sent their way. via U.S. Shoots Itself In the Foot By Accidentally Arming ISIS – Yahoo News.
Last weekend, the new Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, gave Iraqi state television the first detailed accounting of those lost weapons. Some were old or barely functioning, but others were in good shape and of great value to the ISIS militants.
According to Reuters, the U.S.-made weaponry that fell into enemy hands including 2,300 Humvee armored vehicles, at least 40 M1A1 main battle tanks, 74,000 machine guns, and as many as 52 M198 howitzer mobile gun systems, plus small arms and ammunition.
Although al-Abadi and other Iraqi and U.S. officials haven’t attached a dollar sign to the lost weaponry and vehicles, a back-of-the-envelope calculation of those losses might look something like this:
- 2,300 Humvee armored vehicles @ $70,000 per copy. Total: $161 million
- 40 M1A1 Abram tanks @ $4.3 million per copy. Total: $172 million
- 52 M198 Howitzer mobile gun systems @ $527,337 per copy. Total: $27.4 million
- 74,000 Army machine guns @ $4,000 per copy. Total: $296 million
The grand total comes to $656.4 million, but experts say those losses represent just a portion of the many hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of U.S.-supplied military equipment that has fallen into ISIS’s hands and is being used against the U.S. and allied forces on the ground in Iraq and neighboring Syria.ISIS added to its armada of captured U.S. military vehicles and tanks when Iraqi Security Forces fled the provincial capital of Ramadi late last month and left behind their equipment, according to Military.com. A Pentagon spokesman said that some artillery pieces had been left behind, but he could not say exactly how many. He said about 100 wheeled vehicles and dozens of tracked vehicles were lost to ISIS when the last remaining Iraqi defenders abandoned the city, which is 60 miles west of Baghdad.
Add to that the many hundreds of U.S.-manufactured weapons and vehicles left behind by Iraqi troops on the battle field, and ISIS apparently doesn’t have to worry about running short on weapons and ammunition
Gordon Adams, a military expert at American University, said on Wednesday that while gauging the extent of military equipment losses to ISIS is a risky game, “There is a fair amount of evidence that ISIS is walking off with not only tons of our equipment but a fair amount of the Syrian government’s equipment as well.”Whatever the numbers, Adams added, it’s an unusual and troubling phenomenon that “we’re helping to arm our enemy.”
And we keep sending them hundreds of millions of dollars worth of additional weapons: Iraq losing equipment to Islamic State at staggering rate
To help replenish Iraq’s motor pool, the U.S. State Department last year approved a sale to Iraq of 1,000 Humvees, along with their armor upgrades, machine guns and grenade launchers. The United States previously donated 250 Mine Resistant Armored Personnel carriers (MRAPs) to Iraq, plus unaccountable amounts of material left behind when American forces departed in 2011. The United States is currently in the process of moving to Iraq 175 M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks, 55,000 rounds of main tank-gun ammunition, $600 million in howitzers and trucks, $700 million worth of Hellfire missiles and 2,000 AT-4 rockets.
The Hellfires and AT-4′s, anti-tank weapons, are presumably going to be used to help destroy the American armor in the hands of Islamic State. The United States is also conducting air strikes to destroy weapons seized by Islamic State. It’s a surreal state of affairs in which American weaponry is being sent into Iraq to destroy American weaponry previously sent into Iraq. If a new sequel to Catch-22 were to be written, this would be the plot line.
The United States also continues to spend money on training the Iraqi military. Some 3,000 American soldiers are currently in Iraq preparing Iraqi soldiers to perhaps someday fight Islamic State; many of the Americans are conducting the training on former military bases abandoned by the United States following Gulf War 2.0. In addition, some $1.2 billion in training funds for Iraq were tucked into an omnibus spending bill that Congress passed earlier this year. This is in spite of the sad reality that from 2003 to 2011, the United States spent $25 billion training Iraqi security forces.
“Now the United States government wants to provide more military supplies to the Iraqi government to combat Islamic State. But I haven’t heard many people recognizing, let alone discussing, the potential negative unintended consequences of doing so. How do we know the weapons and supplies will be used as desired? Why should we have any confidence that supplying more military hardware to a country with a dysfunctional and ineffective government will lead to a good outcome either in Iraq or in the broader region?”