Dozens of Ford pickup trucks with the Afghan National Army’s logos on them surfaced in Iraq not because they were smuggled in, but because they were delivered by the United States with the wrong paint jobs, according to the Pentagon.
The issue arose after a freelance journalist, Courtney Body, shared a photograph online last month of a pickup while outside Mosul, Iraq, drawing attention to the tan color and red, black and green triangle logo on the door that is used by the Afghan National Army. Body, who has covered the war in Afghanistan, did a double-take when she saw it and took this picture:
— Rahim Gul Sarwan (@rgsarwan) May 10, 2017
The photograph generated attention online, including a story on the veterans website Task & Purpose headlined “What The Hell Are Afghan Army Pickup Trucks Doing In Iraq?” Task & Purpose asked U.S. Army officials at the time if any Afghan army trucks were deliberately sent to Iraq, and the service denied that was the case.
— Courtney كورتنى (@courtneybody) May 12, 2017
“The U.S. Army facilitated the procurement and delivery of thousands of Ford Ranger trucks to the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police, concluding in 2012,” an Army spokesman, Michael D. Clow, said at the time. “The managing program office has not facilitated the transfer of any vehicles out of Afghanistan, and we cannot speculate on the origin or disposition of the truck in the image.”
The photograph prompted some veterans and national security analysts to question whether it was smuggled from Afghanistan, a country whose government has long struggled with corruption. Doing so probably would have meant traveling west more than 1,000 miles across Iran.
The Defense Department researched what happened afterward, and has determined that many more were delivered by the United States to Iraq with the wrong paint job, said Adam Stump, a Pentagon spokesman.
“A batch of 94 pickup trucks purchased for Iraqi forces inadvertently were painted with the color scheme and logo for the Afghan Army before delivery,” Stump said in an email. “After receiving the vehicles, the Iraqis did not change the color scheme or logo.”
Body, reached for comment, said that she has heard about other trucks with Afghan paint jobs appearing in Iraq. After she shared the image last month, “all these guys on Facebook called me a liar or said I Photoshopped it,” she said.
Last month, Body also shared an Iraqi explanation on Facebook. The Iraqis alleged that 300 Afghan trucks were mistakenly sent to Iraq in a logistical mistake.
The Pentagon sent souped-up Ford Rangers and Ford F-350 pickups to Iraq and Afghanistan to equip their respective forces. In one contract solicitation to industry in 2011, the Army sought “light tactical vehicles based on the Ford Motor Company Model J97 Ranger Truck” and said they would “support the security forces of Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Ford Rangers also were delivered to Yemeni Special Operations troops in 2006, according to a report by CNA.
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