Friday, March 23, 2007

GAO: Unsecured Munitions Responsible for Half of U.S. Casualties in Iraq

A Government Accountability Office report was released yesterday, concurrent with testimony given in front of the National Security subcommittee of the House Oversight Committee.

The testimony of Davi M. D'Agostino, Director of Defense Capabilities and Management at GAO was really a damning indictment of the mismanagement of the entire war by the Bush administration and the Department of Defense under their control, including the Joint Chiefs.

You might recall the incident at al Qa Qaa, where 380 tons of conventional weaponry and explosives went missing? That was only a drop in the bucket. Conventional munitions caches were scattered all over the country, and the failure of the DoD to properly secure these ammo dumps has been directly responsible for fully one half of the deaths and injuries sustained by U.S. Service personnel serving in Iraq.

In our report, we concluded that a fundamental gap existed between the OIF war plan assumptions and the experiences of U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq, contributing to insufficient troops being on the ground to prevent widespread looting of conventional munitions storage sites and resulting in looted munitions being a continuing asymmetric threat to U.S. and coalition forces. The human, strategic, and financial costs of this failure to provide sufficient troops have been high, with IEDs made with looted munitions causing about half of all U.S. combat fatalities and casualties in Iraq and killing hundreds of Iraqis and contributing to increasing instability, challenging U.S. strategic goals in Iraq. Further, DOD does not appear to have conducted a theaterwide survey and assessed the risk associated with unsecured conventional munitions storage sites to U.S. (P. 12 of .pdf)

Read the entire report. Put simply: Absolutely every thing has been done absolutely wrong. Everything. From the very first faulty and outlandishly foolish assumptions of a cakewalk and a capitulated Iraqi military providing security and post-war Iraq would not be a U.S. concern and resistance would be minimal (the whole “greeted as liberators” thing). All the way to fecklessly failing to secure munitions that have subsequently killed 1600 Americans and severely injured 10-15,000 more.

Am I supposed to just shrug and say "so what?" here? Because I can't do that.

Congress is right to take control away. They can not point to a single thing they have done right, there is no reason to trust them now, and it’s time to start taking reasoned and reasonable steps to end the war and bring our troops home.