A report has found that the Pentagon is set to destroy $1 billion in ammunition because of a flawed inventory system. Because the inventory systems of the Defense Department do not share data effectively, it cannot be determined which ammunition is still viable and which ones are not. The Pentagon has vowed to make a better inventory system a priority in next year’s budget, after Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) criticized the waste in ammunition purchases each year. The arsenal that is slated for destruction is valued by the Pentagon at $1.2 billion.
The Pentagon plans to destroy more than $1 billion worth of ammunition although some of those bullets and missiles could still be used by troops, according to the Pentagon and congressional sources.
It’s impossible to know what portion of the arsenal slated for destruction — valued at $1.2 billion by the Pentagon — remains viable because the Defense Department’s inventory systems can’t share data effectively, according to a Government Accountability Office report obtained by USA TODAY.
The result: potential waste of unknown value.
“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 Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., and 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. This Government Accountability Office (GAO) report clearly shows that our military’s antiquated systems lead to millions of dollars in wasteful ammunition purchases.”
The Army and Pentagon, in a statement, acknowledged “the need to automate the process” and will make it a priority in future budgets. In all, the Pentagon manages a stockpile of conventional ammunition worth $70 billion.
The effect of inaccurate accounting of ammunition for troops at war was outside the scope of the study. However, there were limited supplies at times of .50-caliber machine gun and 9mm handgun ammunition at the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a senior military officer who spoke on condition of anonymity to talk about the issue.
“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.”