The commercial value of the so-called “War on Terror” to the arms industries of the United States and the United Kingdom has been staggering, summed up by the recent revelations that the Pentagon facilitated the sale of over 1.4 million small arms to the Western-approved governments of Iraq and Afghanistan between 2001 and 2015. Of the 1,452,910 handguns, rifles and machine guns exported to the two conflict zones, the authorities in Baghdad received some 949,582 weapons while their equivalents in Kabul received 503,328 guns. According to a new report by the London-based research and advocacy group, Action on Armed Violence, the military equipment sold by the American and international arms dealers during this fourteen year period included:
692,439 assault rifles – 491,474 for Iraq, 200,965 for Afghanistan;
285,981 Kalashnikov-style assault rifles – 190,000 for Iraq, 95,981 for Afghanistan;
266,272 pistols – 176,983 for Iraq, 89,289 for Afghanistan;
111,844 machine guns – 54,099 for Iraq, 57,745 for Afghanistan;
13,604 shotguns – 346 for Iraq, 13,258 for Afghanistan;
11,475 sniper rifles – 2,248 for Iraq, 9,227 for Afghanistan;
71,007 unspecified rifles – 34,432 for Iraq, 36,575 for Afghanistan (the latter also received 288 unspecified non-standard small arms).
The total value of the small arms contracts may have been in excess of $40 billion dollars, with the following companies being the top ten beneficiaries:
Alliant Techsystems – Headquarters USA – Total Contract Value: $21,977,118,613
DRS Technologies Inc. – Headquarters USA – Total Contract Value: $ 3,251,224,478
BAE Systems Inc. – Headquarters UK – Total Contract Value: $2,761,670,581
Knight’s Armament Company – Headquarters USA – Total Contract Value: $ 1,782,974,456
General Dynamics – Headquarters USA – Total Contract Value: $ 1,626,048,701
Colt’s Manufacturing Company – Headquarters USA – Total Contract Value: $1,372,567,795
FN Herstal – Headquarters Belgium – Total Contract Value: $995,194,319
Insight Technologies Inc. – Headquarters USA – Total Contract Value: $790,071,945
Olin Corp – Headquarters USA – Total Contract Value: $ 612,415,840
American Ordnance LLC. – Headquarters USA – Total Contract Value: $483,022,354
Incredibly, as early as July 2007 detailed research by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), an investigative arm of the United States’ Congress, discovered that 190,000 American-supplied weapons had been lost in Iraq, stolen, sold or donated to everyone from local gangbangers to the regional branch of al-Qaeda. It is widely believed that the combined figure up to 2015 for both countries is almost certainly double the original 2007 estimate for Iraq alone.
Of course, since 2013 tens of thousands of new weapons have poured into the Iraq region from neighbouring war-torn Syria through the actions of the US, UK and their allies, as well as Iran, Russia and their allies (not to mention the belligerent parties on the ground). Though it’s an ill-wind that doesn’t blow someone some good. While military manufacturers and suppliers in the United States and Britain have benefited the most from the era of terror and counter-terror, their minor competitors in Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania have also made a tidy profit, thanks to the clandestine shenanigans of the major players in the post-9/11 conflicts.