This is the accessible text file for GAO report number GAO-09-366T 
entitled 'Afghanistan Security: Corrective Actions Are Needed to 
Address Serious Accountability Concerns about Weapons Provided to 
Afghan National Security Forces' which was released on February 12, 

This text file was formatted by the U.S. Government Accountability 
Office (GAO) to be accessible to users with visual impairments, as part 
of a longer term project to improve GAO products' accessibility. Every 
attempt has been made to maintain the structural and data integrity of 
the original printed product. Accessibility features, such as text 
descriptions of tables, consecutively numbered footnotes placed at the 
end of the file, and the text of agency comment letters, are provided 
but may not exactly duplicate the presentation or format of the printed 
version. The portable document format (PDF) file is an exact electronic 
replica of the printed version. We welcome your feedback. Please E-mail 
your comments regarding the contents or accessibility features of this 
document to 

This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright 
protection in the United States. It may be reproduced and distributed 
in its entirety without further permission from GAO. Because this work 
may contain copyrighted images or other material, permission from the 
copyright holder may be necessary if you wish to reproduce this 
material separately. 

United States Government Accountability Office: 


Before the Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, 
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, House of Representatives: 

For Release on Delivery: 
Expected at 10:00 a.m. EST:
Thursday, February 12, 2009: 

Afghanistan Security: 

Corrective Actions Are Needed to Address Serious Accountability 
Concerns about Weapons Provided to Afghan National Security Forces: 

Statement of Charles M. Johnson, Jr., Director: 
International Affairs and Trade: 


[End of section] 

February 12, 2009: 

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee: 

I am pleased to be here to discuss the report GAO is releasing publicly 
today on accountability for small arms and light weapons that the 
United States has obtained and provided or intends to provide to the 
Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF)--the Afghan National Army and 
the Afghan National Police.[Footnote 1] Given the unstable security 
conditions in Afghanistan, the risk of loss and theft of these weapons 
is significant, which makes this hearing particularly timely. 

My testimony today focuses on (1) the types and quantities of weapons 
the Department of Defense (Defense) has obtained for ANSF, (2) whether 
Defense can account for the weapons it obtained for ANSF, and (3) the 
extent to which ANSF can properly safeguard and account for its weapons 
and other sensitive equipment. 

Defense Has Obtained Weapons for ANSF through U.S. Procurement and 
International Donations: 

During fiscal years 2002 through 2008, the United States spent 
approximately $16.5 billion to train and equip the Afghan army and 
police forces in order to transfer responsibility for the security of 
Afghanistan from the international community to the Afghan government. 
As part of this effort, Defense--through the U.S. Army and Navy-- 
purchased over 242,000 small arms and light weapons, at a cost of about 
$120 million. As illustrated in figure 1, these weapons include rifles, 
pistols, shotguns, machine guns, mortars, and launchers for grenades, 
rockets, and missiles. 

Figure 1: Types and Quantities of U.S.-Procured Weapons Shipped to 
Afghanistan for ANSF (December 2004-June 2008)[A]: 

[Refer to PDF for image] 

Types and Quantities of U.S.-Procured Weapons Shipped to 
Afghanistan for ANSF (December 2004-June 2008)[A]: 

Weapons category: Rifles; 
Quantity shipped: 117,163. 

Weapons category: Pistols; 
Quantity shipped: 62,055. 

Weapons category: Machine guns; 
Quantity shipped: 35,778. 

Weapons category: Grenade Launchers; 
Quantity shipped: 18,656. 

Weapons category: Shotguns; 
Quantity shipped: 6,704. 

Weapons category: Rocket-propelled grenade launchers; 
Quantity shipped: 1,620. 

Weapons category: Mortars and other weapons[A]; 
Quantity shipped: 227. 

Weapons category: Total; 
Quantity shipped: 242,203. 

Source: GAO analysis of Defense data. 

[A] Defense began shipping weapons it procured to Afghanistan for ANSF 
in December 2004. 

[End of figure] 

In addition, CSTC-A has reported that 21 other countries provided about 
135,000 weapons for ANSF between June 2002 and June 2008, which they 
have valued at about $103 million.[Footnote 2] This brings the total 
number of weapons Defense reported obtaining for ANSF to over 375,000. 

The Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A) in Kabul, 
which is a joint service, coalition organization under the command and 
control of Defense's U.S. Central Command is primarily responsible for 
training and equipping ANSF.[Footnote 3] As part of that 
responsibility, CSTC-A receives and stores weapons provided by the 
United States and other international donors and distributes them to 
ANSF units. In addition, CSTC-A is responsible for monitoring the use 
of U.S.-procured weapons and other sensitive equipment. 

Defense Could Not Fully Account for Weapons: 

Lapses in weapons accountability occurred throughout the supply chain, 
including when weapons were obtained, transported to Afghanistan, and 
stored at two central depots in Kabul. Defense has accountability 
procedures for its own weapons, including (1) serial number 
registration and reporting[Footnote 4] and (2) 100 percent physical 
inventories of weapons stored in depots at least annually. However, 
Defense failed to provide clear guidance to U.S. personnel regarding 
what accountability procedures applied when handling weapons obtained 
for the ANSF. 

We found that the U.S. Army and CSTC-A did not maintain complete 
records for an estimated 87,000--or about 36 percent--of the 242,000 
weapons Defense procured and shipped to Afghanistan for ANSF. 

* For about 46,000 weapons, the Army could not provide us serial 
numbers to uniquely identify each weapon provided, which made it 
impossible for us to determine their location or disposition. 

* For about 41,000 weapons with serial numbers recorded, CSTC-A did not 
have any records of their location or disposition.[Footnote 5] 

Furthermore, CSTC-A did not maintain reliable records, including serial 
numbers, for any of the 135,000 weapons it reported obtaining from 
international donors from June 2002 through June 2008. 

Although weapons were in Defense's control and custody until they were 
issued to ANSF units, accountability was compromised during 
transportation and storage. Organizations involved in the transport of 
U.S.-procured weapons into Kabul by air did not communicate adequately 
to ensure that accountability was maintained over weapons during 
transport. In addition, CSTC-A did not maintain complete and accurate 
inventory records for weapons at the central storage depots and allowed 
poor security to persist. Until July 2008, CSTC-A did not track all 
weapons at the depots by serial number and conduct routine physical 
inventories. Without such regular inventories, it is difficult for CSTC-
A to maintain accountability for weapons at the depots and detect 
weapons losses. Moreover, CSTC-A could not identify and respond to 
incidents of actual or potential compromise, including suspected 
pilferage, due to poor security and unreliable data systems. 
Illustrating the importance of physical inventories, less than 1 month 
after completing its first full weapons inventory, CSTC-A officials 
identified the theft of 47 pistols intended for ANSF. 

During our review, Defense indicated that it would begin recording 
serial numbers for all weapons it obtains for ANSF, and CSTC-A 
established procedures to track weapons by serial number in 
Afghanistan. It also began conducting physical inventories of the 
weapons stored at the central depots. However, CSTC-A officials stated 
that their continued implementation of these new accountability 
procedures was not guaranteed, considering staffing constraints and 
other factors. 

ANSF Cannot Fully Safeguard and Account for Weapons: 

Despite CSTC-A training efforts, ANSF units cannot fully safeguard and 
account for weapons, placing weapons CSTC-A has provided to ANSF at 
serious risk of theft or loss. In February 2008, CSTC-A acknowledged 
that it was issuing equipment to Afghan National Police units before 
providing training on accountability practices and ensuring that 
effective controls were in place. Recognizing the need for weapons 
accountability in ANSF units, Defense and State deployed hundreds of 
U.S. trainers and mentors to, among other things, help the Afghan army 
and police establish equipment accountability practices. In June 2008, 
Defense reported to Congress that it was CSTC-A's policy not to issue 
equipment to ANSF without verifying that appropriate supply and 
accountability procedures are in place.[Footnote 6] While CSTC-A has 
established a system for assessing the logistics capacity of ANSF 
units, it has not consistently assessed or verified ANSF's ability to 
properly account for weapons and other equipment. 

Contractors serving as mentors have reported major ANSF accountability 
weaknesses. Although these reports did not address accountability 
capacities in a consistent manner that would allow a systematic or 
comprehensive assessment of all units, they highlighted the following 
common problems relating to weapons accountability. 

* Lack of functioning property book operations. Many Afghan army and 
police units did not properly maintain property books, which are 
fundamental tools used to establish equipment accountability and are 
required by Afghan ministerial decrees. 

* Illiteracy. Widespread illiteracy among Afghan army and police 
personnel substantially impaired equipment accountability. For example, 
a mentor noted that illiteracy in one Afghan National Army corps was 
directly interfering with the ability of supply section personnel to 
implement property accountability processes and procedures, despite 
repeated training efforts. 

* Poor security. Some Afghan National Police units did not have 
facilities adequate to ensure the physical security of weapons and 
protect them against theft in a high-risk environment. In a northern 
province, for example, a contractor reported that the arms room of one 
police district office was behind a wooden door that had only a 
miniature padlock, and that this represented the same austere 
conditions as in the other districts. 

* Unclear guidance. Afghan government logistics policies were not 
always clear to Afghan army and police property managers. Approved 
Ministry of Interior policies outlining material accountability 
procedures were not widely disseminated, and many police logistics 
officers did not recognize any of the logistical policies as rule. 
Additionally, a mentor to the Afghan National Army told us that despite 
new Ministry of Defense decrees on accountability, logistics officers 
often carried out property accountability functions using Soviet-style 
accounting methods and that the Ministry was still auditing army 
accounts against those defunct standards. 

* Corruption. Reports of alleged theft and unauthorized resale of 
weapons are common, including one case in which an Afghan police 
battalion commander in one province was allegedly selling weapons to 
enemy forces. 

* Desertion. Desertion in the Afghan National Police has also resulted 
in the loss of weapons. For example, contractors reported that Afghan 
Border Police officers at one province checkpoint deserted to ally 
themselves with enemy forces and took all their weapons and two 
vehicles with them. 

In July 2007, Defense began issuing night vision devices to the Afghan 
National Army. These devices are considered dangerous to the public and 
U.S. forces in the wrong hands, and Defense guidance calls for 
intensive monitoring of their use, including tracking by serial number. 
However, we found that CSTC-A did not begin monitoring the use of these 
sensitive devices until October 2008--about 15 months after issuing 
them. Defense and CSTC-A attributed the limited monitoring of these 
devices to a number of factors, including a shortage of security 
assistance staff and expertise at CSTC-A, exacerbated by frequent CSTC- 
A staff rotations. After we brought this to CSTC-A's attention, it 
conducted an inventory and reported in December 2008 that all but 10 of 
the 2,410 night vision devices issued had been accounted for. 

We previously reported that Defense cited significant shortfalls in the 
number of trainers and mentors as the primary impediment to advancing 
the capabilities of ANSF.[Footnote 7] According to CSTC-A officials, as 
of December 2008, CSTC-A had only 64 percent of the nearly 6,700 
personnel it required to perform its overall mission, including only 
about half of the over 4,000 personnel needed to mentor ANSF units. 

In summary, we have serious concerns about the accountability for 
weapons that Defense obtained for ANSF through U.S. procurements and 
international donations. First, we estimate that Defense did not 
systematically track over half of the weapons intended for ANSF. This 
was primarily due to staffing shortages and Defense's failure to 
establish clear accountability procedures for these weapons while they 
were still in U.S. custody and control. Second, ANSF units could not 
fully safeguard and account for weapons Defense has issued to them, 
despite accountability training provided by both Defense and State. 
Poor security and corruption in Afghanistan, unclear guidance from 
Afghan ministries, and a shortage of trainers and mentors to help 
ensure that appropriate accountability procedures are implemented have 
reportedly contributed to this situation. 

In the report we are releasing today we make several recommendations to 
help improve accountability for weapons and other sensitive equipment 
that the United States provided to ANSF. In particular, we recommend 
that the Secretary of Defense (1) establish clear accountability 
procedures for weapons while they are in the control and custody of the 
United States, including tracking all weapons by serial number and 
conducting routine physical inventories; (2) direct CSTC-A to 
specifically assess and verify each ANSF unit's capacity to safeguard 
and account for weapons and other sensitive equipment before providing 
such equipment, unless a specific waiver or exception is granted; and 
(3) devote adequate resources to CSTC-A's effort to train, mentor, and 
assess ANSF in equipment accountability matters. 

In commenting on a draft of our report, Defense concurred with our 
recommendations and has begun to take corrective action. 

* In January 2009, Defense directed the Defense Security Cooperation 
Agency to lead an effort to establish a weapons registration and 
monitoring system in Afghanistan, consistent with controls mandated by 
Congress for weapons provided to Iraq. If Defense follows through on 
this plan and, in addition, clearly requires routine inventories of 
weapons in U.S. custody and control, our concern about the lack of 
clear accountability procedures will be largely addressed. 

* According to Defense, trainers and mentors are assessing the ability 
of ANSF units to safeguard and account for weapons. For the Afghan 
National Army, mentors are providing oversight at all levels of command 
of those units receiving weapons. For the Afghan National Police, most 
weapons are issued to units that have received instruction on equipment 
accountability as part of newly implemented training programs.[Footnote 
8] We note that at the time of our review, ANSF unit assessments did 
not systematically address each unit's capacity to safeguard and 
account for weapons in its possession. We also note that Defense has 
cited significant shortfalls in the number of personnel required to 
train and mentor ANSF units. Unless these matters are addressed, we are 
not confident the shortcomings we reported will be adequately 

* Defense also indicated that it is looking into ways of addressing the 
staffing shortfalls that hamper CSTC-A's efforts to train, mentor, and 
assess ANSF in equipment accountability matters. However, Defense did 
not state how or when additional staffing would be provided. 

Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, this concludes my 
prepared statement. I will be happy to answer any questions you may 

Scope and Methodology: 

To address our objectives, we reviewed documentation and interviewed 
officials from Defense, U.S. Central Command, CSTC-A, and the U.S. Army 
and Navy. On the basis of records provided to us, we compiled detailed 
information on weapons reported as shipped to CSTC-A in Afghanistan by 
the United States and other countries from June 2002 through June 2008. 
We traveled to Afghanistan in August 2008 to examine records and meet 
with officials at CSTC-A headquarters, visit the two central depots 
where the weapons provided for ANSF are stored, and meet with staff at 
an Afghan National Army unit that had received weapons. While in 
Afghanistan, we attempted to determine the location or disposition of a 
sample of weapons. Our sample was drawn randomly from a population of 
195,671 U.S.-procured weapons shipped to Afghanistan for which Defense 
was able to provide serial numbers. We used the results of our sampling 
to reach general conclusions about CSTC-A's ability to account for 
weapons purchased by the United States for ANSF. We also discussed 
equipment accountability with cognizant officials from the Afghan 
Ministries of Defense and Interior, the U.S. Embassy, and contractors 
involved in building ANSF's capacity to account for and manage its 
weapons inventory. 

We performed our work from November 2007 through January 2009 in 
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. Those 
standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain 
sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our 
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that 
the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and 
conclusions based on our audit objectives. 

Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments: 

For questions regarding this testimony, please contact Charles Michael 
Johnson, Jr. at (202) 512-7331 or 

Albert H. Huntington III, Assistant Director; James Michels; Emily 
Rachman; Mattias Fenton; and Mary Moutsos made key contributions in 
preparing this statement. 

[End of section] 


[1] GAO, Afghanistan Security: Lack of Systematic Tracking Raises 
Significant Accountability Concerns about Weapons Provided to Afghan 
National Security Forces, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: Jan 30, 

[2] We were unable to independently verify the weapons quantities that 
the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A) reported 
to us. Furthermore, CSTC-A officials told us they had not evaluated the 
reliability of the values assigned by donors for these weapons. 

[3] This effort is undertaken with support from the Department of State 

[4] The objective of serial number registration and reporting 
procedures, according to Defense guidance, is to establish continuous 
visibility over weapons throughout the various stages of the supply 
process, including "from the contractor to depot; [and] in storage." 
See DoD 4000.25-M, Vol. 2, Chap 18, C18.3.1. 

[5] This estimated amount reflects the results of our testing of a 
generalizable sample selected randomly from 195,671 U.S.-procured 
weapons for which Defense could provide serial numbers; the estimate 
has a margin of error of +/-10,000 weapons at the 95 percent confidence 

[6] See Department of Defense, Report to Congress in Accordance with 
2008 National Defense Authorization Act (Section 1231, P.L. 110-181), 
United States Plan for Sustaining the Afghanistan National Security 
Forces (Washington, D.C.: June 2008), 13. 

[7] GAO, Afghanistan Security: Further Congressional Action May Be 
Needed to Ensure Completion of a Detailed Plan to Develop and Sustain 
Capable Afghan National Security Forces, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: June 18, 

[8] These programs include Focused District Development and Focused 
Border Development. We are currently reviewing the Focused District 
Development program, and plan to report our results in March 2009. 

[End of section] 

GAO's Mission: 

The Government Accountability Office, the audit, evaluation and 
investigative arm of Congress, exists to support Congress in meeting 
its constitutional responsibilities and to help improve the performance 
and accountability of the federal government for the American people. 
GAO examines the use of public funds; evaluates federal programs and 
policies; and provides analyses, recommendations, and other assistance 
to help Congress make informed oversight, policy, and funding 
decisions. GAO's commitment to good government is reflected in its core 
values of accountability, integrity, and reliability. 

Obtaining Copies of GAO Reports and Testimony: 

The fastest and easiest way to obtain copies of GAO documents at no 
cost is through GAO's Web site [hyperlink,]. Each 
weekday, GAO posts newly released reports, testimony, and 
correspondence on its Web site. To have GAO e-mail you a list of newly 
posted products every afternoon, go to [hyperlink,] 
and select "E-mail Updates." 

Order by Phone: 

The price of each GAO publication reflects GAO’s actual cost of
production and distribution and depends on the number of pages in the
publication and whether the publication is printed in color or black and
white. Pricing and ordering information is posted on GAO’s Web site, 

Place orders by calling (202) 512-6000, toll free (866) 801-7077, or
TDD (202) 512-2537. 

Orders may be paid for using American Express, Discover Card,
MasterCard, Visa, check, or money order. Call for additional 

To Report Fraud, Waste, and Abuse in Federal Programs: 


Web site: [hyperlink,]: 
Automated answering system: (800) 424-5454 or (202) 512-7470: 

Congressional Relations: 

Ralph Dawn, Managing Director, 
(202) 512-4400: 
U.S. Government Accountability Office: 
441 G Street NW, Room 7125: 
Washington, D.C. 20548: 

Public Affairs: 

Chuck Young, Managing Director, 
(202) 512-4800: 
U.S. Government Accountability Office: 
441 G Street NW, Room 7149: 
Washington, D.C. 20548: