A recently discovered database failure is certain to have lethal consequences: Many of the 747,000 weapons that the Defense Department provided to the Afghan National Security Forces were not properly labeled and tracked—which means that insurgents or arms dealers could easily get hold of them.
According to a report published by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan, the total value of the weapons, including AK-47s and M-16s is $626 million. And that's not even the worst news in the report.
As the World Policy Institute's blog notes:
The SIGAR report found that the systems used to track the whereabouts and information of U.S. weapons to Afghanistan are grossly inadequate, at least in their current form. The U.S. Department of Defense uses two systems to keep track of the weapons it gives to the Afghanistan. One is The Security Cooperation Information Portal (SCIP), which tracks the shipment of weapons leaving the U.S. The other is the Operational Verification of Reliable Logistics Oversight Database (OVERLORD), which tracks the receipt of these weapons in Afghanistan.
A comparison of the two systems revealed a troubling trend—the information from the two systems systematically does not always match up. This is because the two systems are not automatically linked to each other, and manual entering has created a slew of errors.
Besides not being able to account for many weapons, SIGAR found that the U.S. Department of Defense has been sending too many guns to Afghanistan. Changes in weapon requirements or the number of security personnel in Afghanistan have reduced the demand for certain types of guns. Now, excess weapons sit in improperly managed storage facilities.