Department of Defense (DOD) employees’ failure to follow procedure in keeping track of weapons transfers to Ukraine unnecessarily increases the possibility that U.S. defense equipment could be lost, the Pentagon’s internal watchdog warned in a report released Monday.
The DOD Inspector General could not verify any instances of loss, theft or diversion of the weapons shipments, but found during a November 2022 visit to the Jasionka transfer site in Poland that personnel responsible for tracking equipment transfers couldn’t confirm that the items received matched those the Pentagon meant to send, according to the report. Lax accounting by Pentagon teams in the U.S. and Poland adds to the risk items en route to Ukraine could disappear and that the Pentagon may accidentally miscalculate future security aid, the report found.
DOD personnel “did not have reasonable assurance that the numbers and types of defense items transferred to the [government of Ukraine] officials via air transport in Jasionka was accurate or complete,” the report found.
DOD personnel, working in 24-hour shifts, did review cargo arrivals and oversee loading into Ukrainian and Polish trucks headed to the front lines. However, the defense team failed to complete the required documentation for three of the five shipments they received, the watchdog found.
One plane carrying thousands of small arms, night vision goggles and cold weather gear arrived without a cargo log, so DOD personnel had to open the crates and try to mark down by hand the quantities received. However, they had no way to tell for sure whether the items represented everything that was supposed to be shipped.
“There is an increased risk that the DoD may be providing more or less equipment than authorized by [the president] and may not be able to verify the quantities of all defense items transferred to” the government of Ukraine, the watchdog warned. That lack of accountability increases the risk that future losses could occur.
After the President issues an order to pull from U.S. weapons stockpiles for Ukraine, a DOD agency issues an “execute order” to military personnel involved in the immediate transfer of defense alongside guidance on cooperation with U.S. Transportation Command, according to the report. Once the equipment arrives in Europe, U.S. Army Europe and Africa (USAREUR-AF) and the Security Assistance Group-Ukraine (SAG-U) are responsible for ensuring the items make it into the Ukrainian government’s hands.
However, USAREUR-AF and SAG-U did not train the tracking team on how to inventory the equipment according to existing regulations, the report found. In addition, DOD agencies at the origin point of equipment often did not provide shipping logs to the team at Jasionka or comply with the execute orders.
Glad to welcome Robert Storch & @DeptofDefense delegation.
Our friends continue to see for themselves that transparency&accountability are critical components of our policy.
We have adopted NATO standards of accounting for weaponry. Being a trustworthy partner is our key priority pic.twitter.com/0QqsyV6tu5
— Oleksii Reznikov (@oleksiireznikov) January 27, 2023
SAG-U disagreed with the recommendations in the report, saying it did not have authority to issue further guidance and warning that delays in providing U.S. weapons to Kyiv could result in operational losses for Ukraine.
The U.S. has provided $40.4 billion in security assistance alone to Ukraine since the beginning of the war in February 2022, according to a fact sheet dated June 9.
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