“They really have no idea where they are,” said Rachel Stohl, a senior analyst at the Center for Defense Information who has studied small-arms trade and received Pentagon briefings on the issue. “It likely means that the United States is unintentionally providing weapons to bad actors.”
One senior Pentagon official acknowledged that some of the weapons probably are being used against U.S. forces. He cited the Iraqi brigade created at Fallujah that quickly dissolved in September 2004 and turned its weapons against the Americans.
Stohl said insurgents frequently use small-arms fire to force military convoys to move in a particular direction — often toward roadside bombs. She noted that the Bush administration frequently complains that Iran and Syria are supplying insurgents but has paid little attention to whether U.S. military errors inadvertently play a role. “We know there is seepage and very little is being done to address the problem,” she said.