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Military spending falls behind

Iraq is falling far behind schedule in creating a system to maintain its own military equipment, costing American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars to fill in the gaps, according to a new U.S. audit.

The report highlights some of the fundamental worries among American commanders as they look past the U.S. military exit from Iraq at the end of 2011: Will Iraqi security forces be able to handle tasks as basic as keeping their vehicles on the road?

The United States has spent billions of dollars to develop Iraq’s security forces with an emphasis in recent years on developing Iraq’s maintenance and supply capabilities, seen as essential for the country to maintain a self-sufficient force after the lifeline from Washington is trimmed back.

But the audit — by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction — found a pattern of negligence and shortcomings by the Iraqi military in planning for the basic needs of the military: repairing and maintaining equipment and supplying troops.

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