A report from the Defense Department inspector general found that US government employees in Poland failed to follow procedures to account for military equipment being transferred to Ukraine. In three of five arms shipments monitored by the office, Pentagon staffers did not properly track the weapons.
“DoD personnel did not have the required accountability of the thousands of defense items that they received and transferred at Jasionka, [Poland],” the IG report said. “We observed that DoD personnel did not fully implement their standard operating procedures to account for defense items and could not confirm the quantities of defense items received against the quantity of items shipped for three of five shipments we observed.”
The Pentagon does not “have reasonable assurance that their database of all defense items transferred to the [Ukraine] via air transport in Jasionka was accurate or complete,” the report added. “The DoD may risk providing more or less equipment than authorized by [President Joe Biden], and may not be able to verify the quantity of all defense items before they are transferred to [Ukraine].”
The IG office went on to explain that some weapons are shipped without clear documentation, noting “One shipment containing thousands of small arms, night vision optics devices, and various types of cold weather gear did not include an air manifest.” The report continued, “DoD personnel opened crates to identify the types of defense items contained within the crates, but even then the personnel could not verify whether the number of items they identified represented the true number shipped.”
Since Russia invaded Ukraine last year, Washington has shipped tens of billions of dollars in weapons to Kiev, including advanced platforms. The Pentagon report examined arms shipped to Ukraine directly from American stockpiles, excluding weapons purchased under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI).
Pentagon employees in Poland were also said to be unable to identify unlabeled weapons being shipped to Ukraine and were provided incomplete training. “DoD personnel in Jasionka further stated that they developed their own [procedures] based on the procedures followed by the unit performing the mission before them,” the inspector general explained. The staffers “added additional accountability measures based on their own judgment.”
The failure to appropriately monitor the shipments has led to accounting problems, with the inspector general finding a “discrepancy between the number of night vision optics devices reported on paper documents and the number reported via electronic means.”
The Biden administration and leaders in Congress have insisted that establishing an office to track the billions in weapons sent to Ukraine is unnecessary. However, the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, John Sopko – who spent years slamming military malfeasance in America’s longest war – said without more oversight, weapons will end up on the black market.
In lieu of proper safeguards, aid frequently “gets stolen or diverted to local oligarchs or local politicians, or just the average Ukrainian will see the waste,” Sopko explained. The result would mean the loss of “support of the Ukrainian government by the average Ukrainian who’s fighting, dying and bleeding at the front. And that’s what we saw in Afghanistan… we, the donors, the US, were identified as supporting the corrupt oligarchs.”
Finnish authorities and leaders in Africa have complained that weapons intended for Kiev have already been used by criminals and insurgents. In December, then-Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said that arms “being used for the war in Ukraine and Russia are equally beginning to filter to the region.”