Pentagon fell short in tracking $1 billion in Ukraine aid, IG finds

by Tommy Grant

WASHINGTON ― The Defense Department has not fully complied with enhanced tracking requirements for roughly $1 billion worth of equipment sent to Ukraine, a Pentagon Inspector General report released Thursday found.

Most of the improperly tracked equipment is night vision devices, but the list also includes drones as well as missiles. The report did not find any instances of misuse or diversion of the U.S. equipment, as Pentagon Inspector General Robert Storch noted such an assessment would “fall beyond the scope of this project.”

“While there has been significant improvement in the delinquency rate for inventorying this sensitive equipment, persistent gaps as identified in our evaluation may correlate with an inability to maintain complete accountability for this critical U.S. security assistance,” Storch said in a statement.

The Pentagon released enhanced end-use monitoring guidance in December 2022. About $1.7 billion worth of equipment sent to Ukraine falls under these guidelines. The report found that $1 billion of this amount did not live up to these standards, with equipment not properly bar-code scanned and entered into the appropriate database within the required 90-day timeframe.

According to the Pentagon Inspector General, Defense Department compliance on tracking this equipment has improved, with delinquency falling by 27% from February to June 2023.

Still, the Inspector General report notes “significant personnel limitations and accountability challenges remain.”

It recommends the Defense Department improve inventory procedures for equipment that requires enhanced tracking and bettering “the accuracy and completeness” of its database, among other measures.

At the Pentagon press briefing Thursday, Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said there were no credible signs American aid is being used illegally.

The Defense Department is taking steps to better track its equipment, include using handheld scanners to scan barcodes and working with partners to monitor inventory, Ryder said.

“The Ukrainians have offered unprecedented access to information as it relates to the equipment that we’re providing,” he said.

In addition, Ryder said the Pentagon continues to see Ukraine use American aid on the battlefield, despite Russian “disinformation to the contrary.”

The Inspector General report comes at a sensitive time for Ukraine, with the fate of continued U.S. assistance to the war-torn country uncertain.

President Joe Biden’s $61 billion request to Congress for additional military and economic support to Ukraine has stalled on Capitol Hill, with Republicans demanding a series of un immigration policy changes to advance the package. The Pentagon notified Congress in December it is using the last $1 billion it has on hand to replenish U.S. equipment for Ukraine.

Congress has passed a cumulative $113 billion in Ukraine economic and security aid since Russia’s invasion.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is pushing for additional air defenses to ward off Russian missile barrages. He has previously told Congress Kyiv will lose the war without additional aid.

Bryant Harris is the Congress reporter for Defense News. He has covered U.S. foreign policy, national security, international affairs and politics in Washington since 2014. He has also written for Foreign Policy, Al-Monitor, Al Jazeera English and IPS News.

Noah Robertson is the Pentagon reporter at Defense News. He previously covered national security for the Christian Science Monitor. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English and government from the College of William & Mary in his hometown of Williamsburg, Virginia.

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