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News Link • WAR: About that War

Collateral damage? U.S. destroys millions of dollars in U.S.-made arms in Iraq

• Missy Ryan, Orlando Sentinel
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The grainy black-and-white footage shows a military vehicle, a small dark mass in the crosshairs of a U.S. war plane, seconds before it explodes in a flash of light.

That Aug. 16 strike in northern Iraq, shown in video released by the U.S. military, destroyed an unknown number of Islamic State fighters and one U.S.-made armored vehicle with a price tag of up to $300,000.

Since the Obama administration began strikes there on Aug. 8, U.S. fighter jets and drones have destroyed an estimated $3 million-$4 million worth of Iraqi military vehicles that were provided by the United States and later seized by Islamists who now control a third of Iraq.

The growing tally of U.S.-made, U.S.-destroyed weaponry is testament to how far Iraq has veered off the course the Obama administration expected when U.S. troops withdrew in 2011.

U.S. officials had hoped their effort to train and arm the Iraq military, at a cost more of than $20 billion, would guarantee stability.

"When you see your own equipment blown up by U.S. airplanes, there's this inherent feeling of defeat, even if it doesn't have an American flag on it anymore," said Matthew Pelak, a former U.S. infantry sergeant deployed to Iraq in 2004, and now a firefighter in New York. "It's incredibly discouraging."

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