The Canadian army reportedly lost track of “three highly-sophisticated, precision-guided artillery shells” while stationed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, The Canadian Press reports.
“Known as c rounds, the 155-millimeter high-explosive ammunition could not be accounted for among the mission close-out paperwork as the military withdrew from Kandahar in late 2011,” reports The Canadian Press, citing data obtained through Canada’s version of the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.
The southern Afghan province of Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban, is considered one of the deadliest places of the Afghanistan war for the U.S.-led troops. It borders Pakistan.
“Newly released records, obtained by The Canadian Press under access to information legislation, show defense officials, at first, thought as many as five of the global positioning system-guided shells had gone missing when soldiers tore down their forward operating bases,” explains the article. “But that number was reduced to three when it was realized someone had filed paperwork twice.”
Unfortunately, Canada may not be the only coalition member to lose track of powerful weapons in Afghanistan. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) reported in July 2014 that officials may have lost track of more than 43 percent (203,888) of the 474,823 small arms that the U.S. supplied to the Afghan National Security Forces.
According to The Canadian Press, the three, enormous shells that went missing are priced at $177,224 each and “are accurate to within 20 meters even when fired from up to 40 kilometers [about 25 miles] away.”
Canada’s command and military police in Afghanistan attempted to find the missing shells, conducting an almost two-year investigation that failed to yield results.
Last summer, Defense officials in Canada requested that the $513,000 loss be scrubbed from the government’s books — and the request was approved, according to the documents obtained The Canadian Press.
“The loss has international repercussions because the U.S. technology is governed by International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR) and the awkward situation had to be reported to National Defense’s Controlled Technology Access and Transfer (CTAT) office,” notes the article.
The strict regulations required that the control office be notified within 48 hours of losing track of a piece of technology.
But the Canadian army reported its loss 15 months later, saying that due to “the exiting protocols in place to fire an Excalibur round, it was a belief that this was a paperwork error only.”
“Although theft is a possibility, given physical size and weight of the ammunition and the tight ammunition security measures that were in place in theater, theft is highly unlikely,” reportedly said a July 2014 briefing to Canada’s joint operations commander.
Each shell has metal fins that guide the ammunition to the intended target, and they each weigh about 88 pounds, making them difficult to handle, according to The Canadian Press.
“Investigators pored over five years of artillery supply and gun logs, but were never able to reconcile the three missing shells,” explains the article. “The possibility the ammunition could have been ‘lent but not properly accounted’ to U.S. forces operating in the same area during 2009 was considered.”