Sunday, August 26, 2007

Opinion (Marie Cocco): What's a few tens of thousands AK-47s, more or less

Above: Paratroopers from the 25th Infantry Division search a room after finding two AK-47s and four weapons magazines in the Hateen Apartments in Iskandariyah last Sunday.

Of all that has been lost in Iraq, the case of the missing weapons does not figure much in the grim tally. At this point, what's a few tens of thousands of unaccounted-for AK-47s?

Besides, Washington is gearing up for the sort of fight that it cannot avoid but that does not fail to turn the stomachs of those who watch from a distance: A contretemps over whether the much-ballyhooed September status report on the Bush administration's military ''surge'' is to be written by the White House or, as first promised, by Gen. David H. Petraeus -- and whether or not the commander will give his congressional testimony in public or behind conveniently closed doors.

A midsummer report by the Government Accountability Office that the Pentagon ''cannot fully account for about 110,000 AK-47 rifles, 80,000 pistols, 135,000 items of body armor, and 115,000 helmets'' issued to Iraqi forces as of September 2005 did not stir the city's stifling air. We know that just about everything we've done in Iraq has been sabotaged by incompetence. Not that the GAO specifically accused the Pentagon of this -- just an incomprehensibly slipshod system in which the military failed to account for armaments given out to security forces long known to have dubious loyalty to the central Iraqi government and plagued with a record of desertion.

Read the rest at the Miami Herald