Up in Smoke: Pentagon to Destroy $1B in Ammo

Monday, 28 Apr 2014 11:45 AM

By Courtney Coren

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The Defense Department is planning to destroy more than $1 billion in ammunition even though some of it is still usable, Pentagon and congressional sources are reporting.

According to a Government Accountability Office report obtained by USA Today, the problem is that the Defense Department's inventory systems are not able to share data effectively, which means there is no way to know how much of the $1.2 billion in ammunition it is looking to destroy is still viable.

"There is a huge opportunity to save millions, if not billions of dollars if the [Pentagon] can make some common-sense improvements to how it manages ammunition," said Democratic Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

"Despite years of effort, the Army, Navy, and Air Force still don't have an efficient process for doing something as basic as sharing excess bullets," Carper said. "This Governmental Accountability Office (GAO) report clearly shows that our military's antiquated systems lead to millions of dollars in wasteful ammunition purchases."

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The stockpile of conventional ammunition that the Defense Department manages totals $70 billion.

According to a statement, the Pentagon and the Army admitted there is a "need to automate the process," which the Pentagon said it will make a point to include in future budgets.

The GAO report did not assess what the effect is on wartime to not have an effective system to manage ammunition, but a senior military official told USA Today on condition of anonymity that there were times during both the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars that there were limited supplies of .50-caliber machine gun and 9mm handgun ammunition.

"We simply cannot afford this type of waste and ineffectiveness," Carper said. "The [Pentagon] has a responsibility to efficiently manage its ammunition stocks, not only because it is important to be fiscally responsible, but also because our antiquated ammunition inventory systems can shortchange our war fighters and compromise their ability to complete their mission."


The report also found that different arms of the military have worked for decades on developing a single database, but the ammunition inventory systems are still not able to share data directly.

"The Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps operated with formats that are obsolete," the GAO found, and only the Army is using what is supposed to be the standard format expected by the Pentagon.

There is an annual conference in which the military groups share what they have in ammunition, and exchanges are made, but what is left over after the meeting is unaccounted for and results in potentially good ammunition that is added to the scrap pile, the GAO found.

According to the report, the Army had just released its annual report in March, which it had not done in years, but the missile command does "not contribute to required annual report."

Under the current system, if there is a request of ammunition information from the Marine Corps, it is emailed to the Army, which it then has to type into its own system.

The antiquated system for sharing information on stockpiles results in waste, errors, and unnecessary spending on ammunition that the military may already have in another department.

Editor's Note: Seniors Scoop Up Unclaimed $20,500 Checks? (See if You qualify)

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