Thursday, March 22, 2007

GAO: Iraq Munitions Looting Widespread


Explosives looted from Iraq munitions sites will likely continue to support terrorist attacks throughout the region, a congressional report said Thursday, finding that some sites were still not secured more than three and a half years after the war started.

Failure to guard the sites "has been costly," the Government Accountability Office report said, noting looted munitions are being used to make roadside bombs, the No. 1 killer of U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

Quoting from previous Defense Department reports, the GAO study says widespread looting occurred after the fall of Baghdad in early 2003 because war planners didn't put enough troops into the country to secure weapons depots and because officials incorrectly assumed, among other things, that Iraqi soldiers would surrender and help with security.

The report recommended that the Pentagon do an Iraq-wide survey of unsecured sites and factor already identified lessons learned into future war planning.

"Estimates indicate that the looted munitions will likely continue to support terrorist attacks throughout the region," the report said. The military "has taken many actions" in response to the problem but they're only "good first steps" that need to be encased in procedures for the future, it said.

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