Rebutting a report by The Associated Press that there are at least 1,900 military firearms missing or stolen in the past decade, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Army Gen. Mark Milley said the number is "much less."
"I was, frankly, shocked by the numbers that were in there," Gen. Milley told a Senate Appropriations hearing Thursday, noting he "saw the reports as well."
The numbers reported to him on missing firearms "are significantly less numbers than are reported" by AP on Tuesday.
"That's not to say it's zero, but it's much less," Gen. Milley said. "So, I need to square the balance here. I owe you a firm answer."
The AP reported at least 1,900 U.S. military firearms — rifles, handguns, machine guns, grenade launchers, rocket launchers, mortars, and shotguns — were lost or stolen across the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force.
Some of the weapons have been recovered after being used in violent crimes or possessed by felons, according to AP, which suggested the numbers might even be higher because some armed services do not share information with the media.
Milley called on each branch of the military to report from their records to get the exact numbers to Congress, "to make sure that we can level set as to what's correct and incorrect," he said at Thursday's hearing.
Milley added the Pentagon's reports of missing weapons is "rigorously investigated" and weapons security is taken "extraordinarily seriously."
"There are weapons that we can't account for, but I can assure you that we take it extraordinarily seriously, and I owe you the exact numbers that we're getting, and I'll get you those very, very quickly," Milley promised Congress.
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