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The inspector general for the Defense Department said yesterday that the Pentagon cannot account for almost $15 billion worth of goods and services ranging from trucks, bottled water and mattresses to rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns that were bought from contractors in the Iraq reconstruction effort.
An audit report issued in November found that $5.2 billion of U.S. payments to buy weapons, trucks, generators and other equipment to support Iraqi security forces had major deficiencies in how items were accounted for, saying that the Defense Department did not know "what equipment is due in, due out, issued and on hand." The inspector general found that the Defense Department could not account for 12,712 of 13,508 weapons, including assault rifles, machine guns and grenade launchers for Iraqi forces.
"When we turned them over to the Iraqis, they weren't properly accounted for," said Gary Comerford, a spokesman for the Defense Department's inspector general, saying serial numbers were not consistently recorded. "The paper trail is not complete."
The November audit also described how the Pentagon paid $32 million for the construction of an Iraqi military facility in Anbar province that was never built. Defense Department officials told staff members of the oversight committee that "this is embarrassing" because "not a spade of dirt was turned."