US Department of Defence arms contracts

US government sent over 1.4 million guns to Iraq and Afghanistan

Since the start of the so-called War on Terror, the US government has sent at least 1.4 million guns to arm Iraq and Afghan government forces, AOAV’s research into US Department of Defence contracts can reveal.

Afghanistan DoD

Chart provided by the Department of Defense for Small Arms to Afghanistan

AOAV’s analysis of a wide range of open source data reports showed that the US government had sent at least 1,452,910 small arms to Iraq and Afghanistan (949,582 for Iraq; 503,328 for Afghanistan) since 9/11.

In August 2016 the Department of Defense (DoD) sent AOAV two charts that they believed accounted for the small arms sent to Iraq and Afghanistan between 2004 and June 2016 for Afghanistan, and 2005 and June 2016 for Iraq. The DoD data shows that over 700,000 small arms were sent from the US to Iraq and Afghanistan within these periods. However, this amount only accounts for 48% of the total small arms supplied by the US government that can be found in open source government reports.

The DoD acknowledged that 210,153 small arms including grenade launchers were sent to Iraq and 509,321 to Afghanistan. Excluding grenade launchers this total comes to 206,446 for Iraq and 484,680 for Afghanistan.

The DoD findings for Afghanistan are remarkably similar. Overall, the DoD found 484,680 small arms recorded, compared to the 503,328 AOAV researchers found. Though there are a few differences. For example, the DoD recorded 17,634 more pistols and 38,698 less rifles than AOAV researchers found.

iraq DoD

However, the findings for Iraq showed a discrepancy of over 740,000 small arms. The DoD could account for just 206,446, or 22%, of the small arms AOAV had recorded.

Particularly concerning was the fact that the DoD did not specifically account for any of the 190,000 AK-47s AOAV had recorded, 185,000 of which were listed in a 2007 GAO report. The same GAO report also listed 170,000 pistols sent to Iraq. The pistols the DoD list would account for just over 1%.

This failure shows the lack of accountability, transparency and joined up data that exists at the very heart of the US government’s weapon procurement and distribution systems.

Unfortunately, as the DoD only provided a summary AOAV were not able to identify when the small arms were provided and compare this to our own data. As the data supplied by the DoD also covers September 2015 – June 2016, where there are discrepancies which see the DoD account for more pistols, for example, than AOAV found, it could be that they were purchased in this nine-month period. The more likely alternative is that the complete lack of transparency surrounding Foreign Military Sales – and small arms contracts in general – meant that the AOAV researchers had not been able to find these small arms provisions and that many others may simply be unfindable also.

This report is part of AOAV’s investigation into the DoD’s small arms expenditure during the War on Terror. Our research found many discrepancies between the contracts published on the DoD’s website and those found on the Federal Procurement Database System- research that can be read here. For information on what a small arm is, please see here. To understand more about US DoD contracts visit here. To read the full examination of US expenditure for small arms for Iraq, see here, and read here for Afghanistan.


The research included an analysis of a wide array of published US government sources. In the case of Iraq, this involved a review of DoD published contracts; FPDS listed contracts; Overseas Contingency Operation reports; an Inspector General Report; a 2013 CSIS Report; a 2007 GAO Report; a Section 655 Report; and a 2006 SIGIR Report. For Afghanistan, this involved a review of the DoD published contracts; the FPDS listed contracts; an Inspector General Report; a 2014 SIGAR report; US Government Accountability Office reports; an ASFF purchases document; and US Overseas Contingency Operation (OCO) request reports.