US Military Equipment in Afghanistan
The full equipment register of every US Army managed unit in Afghanistan from psychological operations ("PsyOps") and interrogation units to Kabul headquarters
- Series/US Military Equipment in Afghanistan
- Verification status
- September 9, 2007
- Wikileaks' staff, Julian Assange and Daniel Mathews.
- Media contacts
- Wikileaks' staff
- Additional media contacts
- Global Security, Federation of American Scientists and Janes Information Group
- Talk:US Military Equipment in Afghanistan
US Military Equipment in Afghanistan
Funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is currently a critical issue in the US. A majority of Democratic party candidates was elected to both houses of the US Congress in 2006 on an anti-war platform. Under the US Constitution, Congress has the 'power of the purse' to cut off funding for war, but Democrats have not yet sought to use this power. In late April, Congress passed a bill, HR 1591, which did not cut off funding, but instead authorized war funding through 2008 and into 2009. However, the bill was vetoed by President Bush on 1 May because it contained a non-binding timetable for withdrawal of US forces. With pressure building in Washington, further cracks are appearing within the US government itself. Some within the government appear to believe enough is enough. They have leaked several confidential military documents to Wikileaks. See also US Military Equipment in Iraq (2007).
War always involves a tragic human cost, in lives, emotions, and failure of the human spirit. The leaked documents help us to understand how war money is being spent and the nature of operations in Afghanistan. They provide a completely objective window into the functioning of various US units from PsyOps (psychological operations) to Kabul headquarters. Wikileaks is now releasing the first of these documents, which details each unit's computer-registered theatre-supplied arms and support equipment, from missile launchers to paper shredders.
The list does not include weapons and equipment "organic" to a military unit (brought with them from the United States at the time of their deployment, for units not created in Afghanistan), or expendables, such as ammunition or fuel. That said it is a significant document.
US War Spending
Estimates of expenditures by the US government on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are readily available. Numbers may vary, depending on what one defines as war spending, but are measured in the hundreds of billions, or trillions. A recent study by the Congressional Research Service estimated that as of March 2007, the US government had spent $99 billion on the war in Afghanistan, and $378 billion in Iraq. The National Priorities project calculates the cost of Iraq through to May 2007 to be over $400 billion. These numbers do not include eventual costs for health care of veterans, disability payments, increased defense spending, or interest on debt. Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel prize winner in economics, suggests that the total cost of the war in Iraq alone will be $1 trillion in a conservative scenario (one million million dollars) and $2 trillion in a moderate one.
Although these aggregate military expenditures are available, the precise breakdown of those expenditures is usually not. Black budgets have no strategic significance, since they are impossible to hide from the analytic capabilities of strategic opponents, but they have historically provided ready domestic cover for agency budget inflation, corrupt defense contractor deals and pork barrels. During April, apparently in response to the inability of Congress to implement the will of its citizens, someone within the US government decided to release detailed arms and equipment lists for Iraq and Afghanistan to Wikileaks.
Analyzing the Contents of the Leaked Document
- Interrogation: File (WND4RA)
- Psychological Operations: File (WTLWY9)
- Bio Metrics File (W6HN06)
- Joint Robotics Repair Facility File (W6DX04)
- Task Force "Paladin" (anti-Improvised Explosive Devices) File (W6HN91)
- Army equipment assigned to "other government agency" File (WAT0GA)
(see the Appendix for more)
The leaked document lists Army equipment held by the US Army, Marines, Air Force, coalition, and possibly CIA units in Afghanistan as of April 2007. It only includes items registered with battle planning systems, but that appears to cover most valuable equipment.  It does not include soldiers' combat pay, transportation, R&D or at home costs, and not does not include most supplies, ammunition or other disposables.
The document includes no prices but by writing a program to cross-reference each item in the leaked document with NATO Stock Number records from public US logistics equipment price catalogs, we have discovered that there is at least $1,112,765,572 worth of US Army managed military equipment in Afghanistan (the actual value is likely to be two or three times higher)
The list contains codes for military units, item codes, as well as other logistics data. The most useful of these for investigatory purposes is the NSN, or NATO Stock Number. Several internet sites allow public searches of the NSN catalogue, such as https://www.webflis.dlis.dla.mil/WEBFLIS/ASPscripts/pub_search.aspx, which identifies many items on the list and includes prices. The columns in the leaked spreadsheet are as follows:
- UIC, or Unit Identification Code, which is a six-character, alphanumeric code that uniquely identifies each Active, Reserve, and National Guard unit of the United States Armed Forces.
- Unit Name.
- LIN, or (supply) Line Item Number;
- NSN, NATO Stock Number;
- Item Name;
- PBIC, or Property Book Identification Code, which categorizes the type of property listed into 10 basic divisions;
- Type, which is listed as either TPE, Theater Provided Equipment, LTT, Long Term Training, or APS, Army Prepositioned Stock;
- DND, or Do Not Deploy, which is a Yes/No Column;
- OH Qty, or On Hand Quantity, the number of items.
Though we cannot analyze every item on this list, we can point out some interesting features.
Impovised exposive devices (IEDs) hit hard
Half of all equipment purchases have been diverted to dealing with home made mobile phone and radio bombs. Not since the US 1945-1951 nuclear build up has there been such a decisive shift in military purchasing priorities.
The 2007 May-July period, saw 203 US military deaths from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in Iraq and Afghanistan, accounting for 66 percent of all US combat fatalities.
Those numbers have climbed steadily from the same three-month period in 2004, when 54 Americans were killed by IEDs, 31 percent of total fatalities.
Since the first recorded IED death in July 2003, at least 1,509 Americans have been killed in Iraq by makeshift roadside bombs, out of a total 3,707 fatalities.
The daily number of IED attacks has increased six-fold since 2003, according to the Pentagon.
In response, vast expenditures are being made on advanced technology to prevent, jam, detect, and destroy such devices.
The Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, or JIEDDO was predicted last year to have spent $13 billion, across all theaters, on detectors and robots to defuse bombs, improvements to vehicle armor, training and other means to counter homemade weapons.
That sum is comparable, in inflation-adjusted dollars, to what the US spent building the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945, based on figures compiled by Washington's Brookings Institution.
The leaked document shows US forces in Afghanistan hold at least 2,769 “Warlock” radio frequency jammers ($415 million) , which prevent radio signals from triggering explosives.  In addition, 1,734 “Acorn” improvised explosive device jammers were supplied; 42 portable explosives detectors; 61 “PSS-14” mine detecting sets; and 86 other mine detecting sets. There are 6 “Boomerang” sniper detection sets, which detect if a vehicle is being shot at. There are 42 portable explosives detectors. There are 9 “Husky” mine detection vehicles, 5 “Meerkat” mine detection vehicles, and several other mine detection and protection vehicles.
Dealing with IEDs is by far the largest US army equipment expense, accounting for around half of the total equipment outlay. If we view IEDs as a rebel investment, to which the US must pay dividends in defensive equipment costs, then every insurgent dollar spent has a return on investment of somewhere around thousand fold. Significant price gouging by counter-IED defense contractors is evident. For comparison, each briefcase-sized "Warlock" IED jammer, of which is there is on average more than one per vehicle, is worth $150,000; however, as can be seen by this analysis, that is more costly than nearly every vehicle it was designed to protect. The "Warlock" producer, defense contractor EDO Corp, predicts financial year 2007 will see a 400% total revenue increase over its 2003 levels.
There is also a large number of robots, representing highly advanced technology: 28 Pacbot tactical robots, 55 MARCBOT IV “experimental” robots, 86 “explosive ordinance disposal robots” and at least 7 drone aircraft. Cost details were not available on the publicly searchable NSN database, but it is likely that the costs of such asymmetric warfare are very high.
Protective Armor and Equipment
Another interesting feature is the vast amount of protective armor and equipment supplied. There are 7,123 sets of “Deltoid and Axillar” equipment, presumably protection for the arm and shoulder, and 1,236 sets of “Deltoid protectors”, supplied. There are 178 sets of body armor inserts. There are 16534 sets of small arms protective inserts and 12,300 sets of enhanced inserts of varying sizes, employing a new generation of bullet-resistant armor.  Using prices from the publicly accessible NSN database, these inserts together come to a total of over $16.5 million.
There are also large supplies of various weapons and war machines. One should bear in mind that this list, while substantive, does not include non-Army managed equipment or Army equipment not registered with the battle planning database.
- 1480 Humvee M1114 light trucks at a cost of $217.3 million.
- 22 Army helicopters, which are listed on the publicly available NSN database at costs between $4.6 and $5 million, costing a total of over $100 million. (Taliban attack footage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OkoWEMCnLQ)
- 14 M1117 Armored Security Vehicles valued at $11 million.
- Hundreds of machine guns: 27 M249 light machine guns, 43 MK19 and 109 MK19 MOD 3 grenade machine guns, 8 other grenade machine guns, 166 M249 machine guns, 12 .50 caliber machine guns, 196 M2 machine guns, 26 M60D machine guns, and 374 M240B machine guns. The total cost of these machine guns, according to NSN database figures, is $12.4 million.
- Hundreds of rifles: 142 M14 rifles, 67 CAR-15 automatic rifles, 70 M4 carbines, 31 M16A2 semiautomatic rifles, 10 M107 sniper rifles, and 11 SR-XM1110 sniper rifles.
- 299 12 gauge shotguns.
- 35 mortars of various types (costing, according to NSN database figures, $2.3 m).
- 32 light armored vehicles (costing $9.6m).
- 31 rocket launchers.
- 18 grenade launchers.
- 104 automatic pistols.
- and many more, see the Appendix
According the US Military's own classification system (1040 - "Chemical Weapons and Equipment"), the US is using at least two types of chemical weapons in Afghanistan. On the list are 72 M7 Grenade Dischargers (NSN: 1040014541625) and 8 FN303's (NSN/MCN: 104001D170316). The former appears to be a gas grenade launcher and the latter is the FN303, which can fire pepper-spray impregnated projectiles.
A One Cent Rocket Launcher?
Although the leaked document contains no pricing information, we were able to extract pricing information for around 5/8ths of the items by writing a program to look up every item in the leak through the CECOM (Communications & Electronics Command) website. While subtle fraud is well beyond our ability to detect, after sorting all items by price we discovered the following:
|Quantity||Item Price||Total Price||NSN||Item Name||Supply class|
|3||$0.01||$0.03||1055000213909||LAUNCHER,ROCKET||Launchers, Rocket and Pyrotechnic|
This is the pricing information from the OSC database (Operations Supply Command). However the SBCCOM database (Soldier Biological and Chemical Command) lists the very same rocket launcher for $822. See the bottom of NATO Stock Number for links to these online pricing databases.
A Wide Range of Cryptologic Gear
|Quantity||Item Price||Total Price||NSN||Item Name||Supply class|
|11||581001C046666||SECRET SATALLITE SYSTEM: SIPRNET||Communications Security Equipment|
|44||$10,950||$481,800||5810014861987||TACLANE KG-175 E100AC||Communications Security Equipment and|
For many others types of cryptologic equipment see the Appendix and search for "Communications Security" or "5810".
Following the money
The top 10 funded military units (minimum spends based on available equipment pricing data):
See the Appendix for the full list.
There is much more to be found in this list: huge numbers of vehicles, trucks, security equipment, radio equipment, detailed in some cases right down to the level of screws and washers. Examine the list, make your own observations, and post them here or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
This list, in fact, is a perfect example of the sort of leaked document that would benefit from a global analysis: everyone can examine it, make comments, discuss what the various units, what their items are and what they do, and come to conclusions about their strategic, political and human rights significance.
See the Appendix for a comprehensive tally.
The Original Document
Tools for Analysis
- US Military Logistics - overview and detail of US Logistics codes
- US Military Abbreviations - useful list of abbreviations for understanding unit and equipment descriptions
- http://www.globalsecurity.org – a leading source for security information
- NATO Stock Number - full detail and links to on-line logistics records. Also referred to as the National Stock Number.
- Unit Identification Code - description of UICs.
About the Analysis
The analysis proceeded as follows:
- Understand the abbreviations, acronyms numbers and other nomenclature in the leak (specifically NSN, LIN, UIC) using publicly available source information. The results of which have been documented in US Military Logistics and elsewhere.
- Discover various public NATO Stock Number catalogues. Confirm the the validity of random samples of the leak using these databases and other deployment references.
- By hand create tallies for a few interesting items observed by inspection. Write up an initial draft of the high-level analysis.
- Learn Python. Using vim macros, perl and a couple of Python programs, put the material into more presentable form, i.e Afghanistan OEF Property List and Afghanistan OEF Property List.html.
- Write additional code to split out the NATO Supply Group and NATO Supply Classification from the NATO Stock Number (NSN)
- Obtain a list of NATO Supply Group and NATO Supply Classification codes from public US Military logistics sources
- Learn Structured Query Language and install a database program.
- Pull the original leak, the group and classification code tables into a SQL database, in this case, sqlite, but any SQL database would have sufficed.
- Experiment with SQL. Merge in NATO Supply Classifications into the main leak for extra context and generate Afghanistan OEF Property List-extended.html.
- Experiment with SQL and discover how to generate several different tallies for the leaked items; by NATO Supply Group, NATO Supply Classification and NATO Stock Number. Convert to HTML and place into the Appendix .
- Using SQL, generate a unique list of NSNs. Write a program to concurrently query the US Logistics web-query NSN search for pricing information and extract the price for every NSN on the list (except alphanumerical NSN's which are not listed, probably due to being Management Control Numbers).
- Pull in the pricing information to the SQL database.
- Using SQL, generate a new tally by NSN, join this together with the pricing information for each NSN, sort by total price, convert to HTML and place it into the Appendix .
- Using SQL calculate the total value of all equipment for which we have prices.
- By inspection extract additional features of interest -- Notable Units , and items.
A full dump of the SQL database is available for your enjoyment here: us_military_equipment_in_iraq_and_afghanistan.sql.gz File | Torrent | Magnet . The table names are fairly self-explanatory and the columns are as mentioned here, with the exception of "fsg" = Federal Supply Group and "fgsc" = Federal Supply Class.
See the Appendix for more information.
Further Research Tasks and Questions
- Write a program to expand the military unit abbreviations (e.g "HHC" = "Headquarters & Headquarters Company") so the list is easier to analyze by inspection
- Make further comments on the units in the list and their significance. Cross link with other news sources.
- Make further comments on items in the list and their significance.
- Improve links and information for US war funding legislation and bills.
- There are specific issues with NSN codes. NSN codes are a 13-digit code. Of those 13 digits, 12 are decimal. But one of those digits, the seventh, is alphanumeric. The publicly searchable NSN database seems to be able to locate items if they have a number in the seventh place, but not if there is a letter in the seventh place. What is the reason for this? What does a letter as opposed to a number signify? Is there a fuller public database for NSN codes than the one given? Are these alphanumeric NSNs, Management Control Numbers as speculated?
- Create an interactive database browser.
See Talk:US Military Equipment in Afghanistan (2007) for further discussion
Notes & References
- ↑ Congressional Research Service, 'The cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11', updated March 14, 2007, report RL33110. Available online at http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL33110.pdf.
- ↑ See http://www.nationalpriorities.org/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=36. This number is based on incremental costs and analysis of appropriations legislation.
- ↑ Linda Bilmes and Joseph Stiglitz, 'The economic costs of the Iraq war: An economic appraisal three years after the beginning of the conflict', National Bureau of Economic Research, http://www.nber.org/papers/w12054
- ↑ While most high-value items appear to be listed, the coverage of middle and lower value items seems to be fairly idiosyncratic and likely depends on the attitudes of each unit's commander and logistician. Unit commanders know that equipment listed with battle planning systems may be redeployed to another unit by command superiors, which, together with data entry costs, would seem to provide sufficient motivation to keep many unit-purchased items unregistered.
- ↑ We were only able to get pricing information for about 5/8ths of the items on the list. The more modern (and so more expensive) the item the less the chance pricing information is available and many items and replenishable items from grenades to petrol are not, in general, registered.
- ↑ This site was blocked from outside of the United States at the time of writing. There are alternatives mentioned in NATO Stock Number. NSNs with letters in them are not identified. In US logistics parlance, most, or all of these NSNs-with-letters are Management Control Numbers; NSNs which are assigned at the command level which have yet to be standardized and registered in the global NSN databases
- ↑ Written using US military abbreviations. For instance "HHC" = Headquarters and Headquarters Company, MI = Military Intelligence, MP = Military Police and so on, See US Military Abbreviations.
- ↑ http://www.supply.dla.mil/
- ↑ Within the United States usually referred to as the "National Stock Number"). Many of these NSNs incorporate a letter and are not true NSNs, but rather appear to be pre-standardized, Management Control Numbers (MCNs) which are assigned at the command level and do not appear in global NSN databases; The first four digits are the Federal Supply Class in both instances and the subsequent letter represents the military command which assigned the code.
- ↑ On APS, see http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/army/aps-3.htm.
- ↑ http://icasualties.org/
- ↑ http://www.rockymounttelegram.com/news/content/shared-gen/ap/Middle_East/Iraq_The_IED_Phenomenon.html (Charles J. Hanley, Associated press; Aug 20, 2007)
- ↑ US equipment NSN database registers the value of "Warlock" at $150,000, however based on news reports of company contracts, this figure may be lower when purchases are considered in bulk. More research is needed on this point.
(Aviation Week) Joe Anselmo at 7/17/2007 2:08 PM EDO Corp.'s stock hit a new high on Tuesday after the Pentagon exercised options for 3,000 additional bomb-jamming devices used to help protect US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. The CREW 2.1 contract, worth $210 million, extends the position of New York-based EDO as the sole supplier of the devices, which attach to vehicles and use electronic countermeasures to jam the radio signals used by insurgents to detonate roadside bombs. The new contract was announced Monday night. EDO stock opened Tuesday at $35.25 a share -- up 6% from its Monday close -- and closed the day at $36.88. The stock has been in a sustained upswing since March, when it was traded as low as $22.12. The company's improved fortunes have also led to multiple upgrades from Wall Street analysts. The stock now has eight "buy" ratings and five "holds," compared with three "buys" and 10 "holds" just three months ago. JSA Research analyst Peter J. Arment reiterates his "buy" rating on the contract news and is raising his year-end price target by $4, to $42. But Citigroup's George Shapiro maintains his "hold" on the stock. He believes it's likely the Pentagon will spread future awards for electronic countermeasure devices to some of EDO's competitors. "Do not expect all the additional awards to go to EDO," he cautions.
- ↑ See http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ground/an-vlq-9.htm for a description of this system.
- ↑ See http://www.edocorp.com/pr2007/2Q07EDOEarningsPresentation.pdf
- ↑ See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_Arms_Protective_Insert.
- ↑ These grenade machine guns can fire 350 grenades per minute: http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/mk19.htm, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mk_19_grenade_launcher.
- ↑ Oleoresin capsicum - orange dyed non-toxic glycol base mixed with 10% OC (pepper spray) at 2 million SHU.
The appendix contains the bulk of the analysis. Due to the size (about 300 pages), it is presented separately, but is well worth reading. See: