US Lost Track of Nearly a Million Guns in Iraq, Afghanistan

Officials: Records Remain for Only 48% of the Guns Sent to Warzones

Early in the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, the go-to policy for the US is trying to prop up new allied security forces was to dump weapons, en masse, into the countries. It’s only now that people are really starting to ask what happened to the 1.45 million guns shipped into those countries.

The Pentagon has few answers. Their elaborate inventory controls have at least some record of about 700,000, or 48% of the guns sent. As for the rest, it’s anybody’s guess, but groups like ISIS are awash in looted US weapons, and there are no shortage of them on the nations’ respective black markets.

The Pentagon downplayed the “lapses in accountability,” insisting that the wars were really important and “speed was essential,” which meant the priority was just getting a lot of guns into the country as fast as possible, and not so much where those guns were going.

This isn’t just a sudden problem either. A 2007 GAO report found 110,000 Kalashnikovs and 80,000 pistols sent to Iraq were not accounted for, and this was ultimately the tip of the iceberg, and demonstrates that the problem began long before ISIS started looting Iraqi arsenals on a large scale.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.