Of course tons of that money got stolen, once the Iraqis had custody of it. Just like any tribal leader who is "a river to my people," a lot of the river gets routed into his own fields. Plenty of the money got stolen. It just didn't get stolen by us.
Here a special operator tells his own version of the same story.
In 2008, while deployed as a special operator in western Afghanistan, I led a team of fifteen marines and nearly seven hundred Afghan commandos stationed on a remote firebase near the Iranian border. We were almost entirely reliant on an operational fund, something akin to cerp. We used these funds to buy our food and fuel and to hire local Afghan tribesmen to provide base security. Hundreds of thousands of dollars passed through our hands. Our position was in no way unique. Every special-operations team in Afghanistan managed the same kinds of funds. Once, when security in the village just outside our gate became a problem, one of the marines I worked with negotiated a deal with the local village elders to use our operational fund to convert an abandoned Olympic-size, Soviet-era swimming pool into a reservoir to irrigate several acres of parched fields. Within a few weeks, those fields were ready for planting, and the threat to our base had disappeared.He goes on to talk about what he wished Trump had discussed instead. But Trump can't talk about those things, because he doesn't know anything about them.
Two and a half million American men and women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the Center for Public Integrity, some hundred and fifteen military personnel since 2005 have been convicted of committing theft, bribery, or contract-rigging crimes, involving a total of fifty-two million dollars. This is a disappointing fact, but it does not cancel out the ingenuity shown by the soldiers, many of them only in their twenties, who have ethically managed budgets equivalent to that of a small town or medium-sized business.