US military failed to account for $715 million in aid to Syrian anti-ISIS partners

Audit report comes as another senior Pentagon official resigned on Wednesday

American soldiers patrol on the M4 highway in the town of Tal Tamr in the northeastern Syrian Hasakeh province on the border with Turkey on January 24, 2020.  / AFP / Delil SOULEIMAN
Powered by automated translation

The US military has failed to properly account for more than $715 million in equipment and weapons it allocated for its Syrian partners in the anti-ISIS coalition, a report said.

An audit report by the office of the inspector general at the US Defence Department was concluded last Thursday and publicly released on Tuesday. It was reported in the US Military Times.

It said the Special Operations Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve failed to account for, or properly store, $715.8m in weapons and equipment in 2017 and 2018.

“It did not maintain comprehensive lists of all equipment purchased and received,” the report said.

It said personnel allowed groups involved in the fund, which was used to equip those in the fight against ISIS in Syria, to store records at several sites instead of one central repository.

The report said some of the items were poorly stored or non-secure at the Building Partners Capacity warehouse in Kuwait.

“Machineguns and grenade launchers were outside in metal shipping containers and not in a facility that met the requirement for storing Category II weapons,” it said.

The report does not mention if any of the weapons or equipment ended up in enemy hands.

On the requested $173.2m for weapons, ammunition, vehicles and other equipment in 2020, the report said that without accurate records, such as inventory lists and hand receipts, personnel could unnecessarily spend on equipment that the task force already had in stock.

Meanwhile, John Rood, under secretary of defence for policy, on Wednesday became the latest senior defence official to stand down, after being “asked to resign", CNN reported.

It was unclear if his expected departure is tied to his clash with the White House over aid to Ukraine or a reshuffle inside the Pentagon. Eight senior defence officials have left the Pentagon in the past two months.

A US Defence spokesperson reached by The National for a comment on the audit and the resignations was not immediately available for a response.