Kabul, May 20 (ANI): Arms and ordnance collected from dead insurgents suggest that they are identical to ammunition the United States had provided to Afghan government forces.
According to an examination of ammunition markings by The New York Times and interviews with American officers and arms dealers, the presence of this ammunition among the dead in Afghanistan's Korangal Valley, strongly suggests that munitions have leaked from Afghan forces.
The scope of that diversion remains unknown, and the discovery of 30 magazines represented a single sampling of fewer than 1,000 cartridges.
Military officials, arms analysts and dealers say it points to a worrisome possibility-poor discipline and outright corruption among Afghan forces.
The United States has been criticized, as recently as February by the federal Government Accountability Office, for failing to account for thousands of rifles issued to Afghan security forces.
Some of these weapons have been documented in insurgents' hands, including weapons in a battle last year in which nine Americans died.
In response, the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, the American-led unit tasked with training and supplying Afghan forces, said it had made accountability of all Afghan police and military property a top priority, and taken steps to locate and log rifles issued even years ago.
The Pentagon has created a database of small arms issued to Afghan units.
No similarly thorough accountability system exists for ammunition, which is harder to trace and more liquid than firearms, readily changing hands through corruption, illegal sales, theft, battlefield loss and other forms of diversion.
American forces do not examine all captured arms and munitions to trace how insurgents obtained them, or to determine whether the Afghan government, directly or indirectly, is a significant Taliban supplier, military officers said.
The reasons include limited resources and institutional memory of issued arms, as well as an absence of collaboration between field units that collect equipment and the investigators and supervisors in Kabul who could trace it.
Photographs have been taken of the weapons' serial numbers and markings on the bottoms of the cartridge casings, known as head stamps, which can reveal where and when ammunition was manufactured.
The type of ammunition in question, 7.62x39 millimeter, colloquially known as "7.62 short," is one of the world's most abundant classes of military small-arms cartridges, and can come from dozens of potential suppliers.
It is used in Kalashnikov rifles and their knockoffs, and has been made in many countries, including Russia, China, Ukraine, North Korea, Cuba, India, Pakistan, the United States, the former Warsaw Pact nations and several countries in Africa.
Given the number of potential sources, the probability that the Taliban and the Pentagon were sharing identical supply sources was small.
Rather, the concentration of Taliban ammunition identical in markings and condition to that used by Afghan units indicated that the munitions had most likely slipped from state custody, said James Bevan, a researcher specializing in ammunition for the Small Arms Survey, an independent research group in Geneva. (ANI)