The US has lost about 190,000 weapons issued to Iraqi security forces since the 2003 invasion, according to an official report published in Washington.
The weapons include AK-47 machine guns, pistols, body armour and helmets, some of which will have ended up in the hands of insurgents.
The disclosure adds to the picture of the chaotic and clumsy administration of Iraq that has been emerging over the last four years.
The 20-page report is entitled Stabilising Iraq: department of defence cannot ensure that US-funded equipment has reached Iraqi security forces. It says that the Pentagon and the multinational force in Iraq responsible for training “cannot fully account for about 110,000 AK-47 rifles, 80,000 pistols, 135,000 items of body armour and 115,000 helmets reported as issued to Iraqi forces as of September 22, 2005.”The US during this period was desperate to get the Iraqi security forces up and running and was arming them as fast as it could.
The failure of the US to account for so many missing weapons is an embarrassment for the White House after months in which it has repeatedly accused Iran of supplying weapons and explosives to the insurgents.