Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Gear list for US forces in Afghanistan leaked

Wikileaks has just published a set of documents detailing "the full equipment register of every US Army managed unit in Afghanistan from psychological operations ("PsyOps") and interrogation units to Kabul headquarters". This documentation complements an earlier leak of corresponding equipment list for all US units operating in Iraq, which can be found here.

According to the Wikileaks analysis,
The document reveals that half of all US army equipment purchases in Afghanistan have been diverted to dealing with home made mobile phone and radio bombs ("IEDs"). Not since the US 1945-1951 nuclear build up has there been such a decisive shift in military purchasing priorities. The 2007 May-July period saw 203 US military deaths from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in Iraq and Afghanistan, accounting for 66 percent of all US combat fatalities.
Among the equipment used for protection against IEDs, the gear list includes the following items:
  • at least 2,769 “Warlock” radio frequency jammers, which prevent radio signals from triggering explosives;
  • 1,734 “Acorn” improvised explosive device jammers;
  • 42 portable explosives detectors;
  • 61 “PSS-14” mine detecting sets and 86 other mine detecting sets;
  • 6 “Boomerang” sniper detection sets;
  • 42 portable explosives detectors;
  • 9 “Husky” mine detection vehicles;
  • 5 “Meerkat” mine detection vehicles.
A Congressional Research Service report recently detailed US military spending in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other theaters of operations since 11 September 2001. Wikileaks estimates that there is currently about US$1.1 billion worth of equipment in Afghanistan. This equipment also apparently includes "M7 Grenade Dischargers" for gas grenades as well as FN303 riot guns made by Belgian arms company Fabrique Nationale, which "can fire pepper-spray impregnated projectiles", according to Wikileaks. The WL analysts also extracted the prices for about 5/8ths of the items from the database at the CECOM (Communications & Electronics Command) website and found that three rocket launchers were delivered at a price of US$0.01 per piece, though the ordinary listing price is US$822. (Sounds like the Pentagon finally got a bargain, after paying one million bucks for two plain washers in a recently discovered scam... see my post last month on "Screwing the Pentagon")

In total, this is a huge volume of information; the analysis supplied in the appendix alone runs to 300 pages, and can be found here.

Acording to Wikipedia, the Wikileaks project "allows whistleblowers to anonymously release government and corporate documents, allegedly without possible retribution. It claims that postings are untraceable by anyone attempting to do so." There have also been some accusations that the project may in fact be a CIA front to solicit classified information; however, I have seen no conclusive evidence that this is more than just a rumor.

The Guardian recently ran a story on "The Looting of Kenya", based on material made public by Wikileaks.

No comments: