This is America, and when America launches a war to make not-America more like America, by God, America does it right. Which is why we can now declare unconditional victory in Afghanistan: victory for the American bedrock value of flooding a country with legal guns that end up in illegal hands.
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction has published the final word on America's great triumph, in which the U.S. taught Afghan security forces that freedom is built upon the introduction of hundreds of thousands more automatic weapons than the nation needs, and the poor registration, tracking, and ultimate loss of most of said weapons as the military shrinks:
As of December 30, 2013, DOD had provided over 747,000 weapons and auxiliary equipment valued at approximately $626 million to the ANSF [Afghan National Security Forces]. Included in these figures are over 465,000 small arms provided as of November 13, 2013...
Current ANSF records do not adequately provide accountability of all weapons transferred by the United States and the coalition, and [U.S. trainers have] identified weaknesses in the ANSF's ability to safeguard and account for weapons. As a result, U.S. and coalition-provided weapons are at risk of theft, loss, or misuse.
How many of Afghanistan's U.S.-provided firearms are ultimately untraceable at this point? Oh, probably most of them:
Of the 474,823 total serial numbers recorded in OVERLORD, 203,888 weapons (43 percent) were missing information and/or were duplicative. 410,911 (87p ercent) of the 474,823 data entries we reviewed in OVERLORD did not contain a title transfer date.
Investigators fanned out to four arms depots across Afghanistan and tried to match records to weapons held there. They didn't do so hot; one central armory was missing 740 M-16s rifles, 24 M-2 machine guns, and all 112 of the M23 pistols that were supposed to be there.
The rapidly-disappearing weapons—which investigators say are likely to disappear more rapidly into the hands of insurgents as the Afghan army draws down—also include M249 light machine guns, M203 grenade launchers, RPG-7 antitank grenade launchers, and buttloads of AK-47s.
In some cases, record-keeping was so bad that the Army investigators couldn't even try to account for the guns given over to Afghan depots. Which means:
Given the Afghan government's limited ability to account for or properly dispose of these weapons, there is a real potential for these weapons to fall into the hands of insurgents, which will pose additional risks to U.S. personnel, the ANSF, and Afghan civilians.
Enjoy all that freedom, Afghanistan. And remember, the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is an open credit account with the DOD. Lots of paperwork, but no fuss!
[Photo credit: U.S. Marines]