Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Anyone could lose 189,000 AK-47's, really they could...

I'm vaguely intrigued over the fuss that has been made over the news that US forces in Iraq have 'misplaced' huge amounts of equipment, and that it is probably being used against those very same US troops by insurgents.

Firstly, this American administration probably has less interest in gun control than any of its predecessors. They, and I am particularly reminded of Dick Cheney in this regard, really aren't keen on the idea of licensing guns, so why on Earth would they be interested in keeping tabs of weaponry anywhere else?

Secondly, and rather more seriously, it was always likely to be the case that any internal Iraqi security force was going to need to be armed by the Americans. Frankly, conditions are not ideal for bureaucrats (we don't like to be shot at, as a rule), and quartermaster skills are probably not at the levels we would expect from the British Army. In addition, losses through desertion (sometimes in sizable numbers, as at Falluja), death or simply cowardice, were always likely to be significant. Add the impact of infiltration by the Al-Sadr militia, potential insurgents and of corruption, always a risk in a society where moral standards have been debased over a generation or more, and the figure of 189,000 almost seems laughable.

The Americans have always had a tendency to be sloppy over supplies and armaments. From Vanuatu after World War 2, where they dumped huge amounts of equipment from Jeeps to toasters into the harbour, rather than give them away, to Nicaragua, where they illegally co-operated with the Iranians to arm the Contras, to modern day Iraq, the desire to 'make friends (albeit rather dodgy ones) and influence people (the less said, the better here, I suspect)' has led to a charmingly frivolous approach to arms distribution, with the inevitable aftereffects.

It merely goes to show that having too much money can be worse than not having enough, as at least you learn the value for frugality and prudence from the latter...

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