“We continue to stress to the Government of Iraq, as we do to all allies and partners, their obligation to maintain U.S.-origin equipment under the operational control of the designated end-user.“ – Eric Pahon, Pentagon spox, on how M1s ended up in Iranian militia control
They’ll bring it right back, insha'Allah
At some point while the Iraqi Army, its American allies, and other folks were taking on the Islamic State in Iraq, the Iraqis lost track of some of their equipment.
I get it: in the heat of battle, sometimes you drop stuff, like rifles, night vision goggles, tanks.
Because several of the M1 Abrams main battle tanks that belonged to the Iraqi Army ended up being driven around by an Iranian-backed militia, the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).
That’s a militia group backed by Tehran, sanctioned by Baghdad, and they ended up with nine M1s at some point.
Reportedly, all of those tanks have been returned.
This is why you can’t have nice things
It’s one thing to lose track of personnel gear. It’s a whole other level of oopsie when you let nine tanks get into the wrong hands.
What’s still not clear is how that happened, although chances are pretty good that it was done with the blessings of some fairly senior people in the Iraqi military.
Remind me again why we give them tanks?
The tanks were sold to Iraq through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. The thinking is twofold: not only do your allies get better gear, you as the sales rep get to tack on a lot of logistics support, which is where the real money is for these contracts.
The dilemma is always whether you want to run the risk of things like this happening.
Long run? Probably acceptable.
Provided they give ‘em back.