This testimony discusses the GAO report on accountability for small arms and light weapons that the United States has obtained and provided or intends to provide to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF)–the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police. Given the unstable security conditions in Afghanistan, the risk of loss and theft of these weapons is significant, which makes this hearing particularly timely. This testimony today focuses on (1) the types and quantities of weapons the Department of Defense (Defense) has obtained for ANSF, (2) whether Defense can account for the weapons it obtained for ANSF, and (3) the extent to which ANSF can properly safeguard and account for its weapons and other sensitive equipment.
During fiscal years 2002 through 2008, the United States spent approximately $16.5 billion to train and equip the Afghan army and police forces in order to transfer responsibility for the security of Afghanistan from the international community to the Afghan government. As part of this effort, Defense–through the U.S. Army and Navy–purchased over 242,000 small arms and light weapons, at a cost of about $120 million. These weapons include rifles, pistols, shotguns, machine guns, mortars, and launchers for grenades, rockets, and missiles. In addition, CSTC-A has reported that 21 other countries provided about 135,000 weapons for ANSF between June 2002 and June 2008, which they have valued at about $103 million. This brings the total number of weapons Defense reported obtaining for ANSF to over 375,000. The Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A) in Kabul, which is a joint service, coalition organization under the command and control of Defense’s U.S. Central Command is primarily responsible for training and equipping ANSF.3 As part of that responsibility, CSTC-A receives and stores weapons provided by the United States and other international donors and distributes them to ANSF units. In addition, CSTC-A is responsible for monitoring the use of U.S.-procured weapons and other sensitive equipment.