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Report: Pentagon plans to destroy $1 billion of ammo

WASHINGTON (Derek Drake) -- According to a report by USA Today, the Pentagon is planning to destroy more than $1 billion worth of ammunition.

The report does not include many details surrounding the plan or how much of the bullets and missiles that are planned to be destroyed are still usable.

The report states this destruction of ammo is a "potential waste of unknown value."

The USA Today report cites a report from a Government Accountability Office report along with government officials with knowledge of the plan.

According to that report, the Pentagon oversees an ammunition stockpile worth about $70 billion, but because of an inefficient military reporting system, it's impossible to know how much of this "excess" ammunition could still be usable.

"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," Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee told USA Today. "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 report details procedures 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 each branch's stockpiles results in waste, errors, and unnecessary spending on ammunition that the military may already have in another department.

A senior military official told USA Today, on condition of anonymity, there were times, during both the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, supplies of .50-caliber machine gun and 9mm handgun ammunition were limited.

Here are some other important findings from the GAO report:

  • The services have inventory systems for ammunition that cannot share data directly despite working for decades to develop a single database. Only the Army uses the standard Pentagon format; "the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps operate with formats that are obsolete."
  • The services hold an annual conference to share information about surplus ammunition and swap bullets and other munitions as needed. Data about ammunition left over after the meeting disappears from the books, resulting in an unknown amount of good bullets headed to the scrap heap.
  • The Army, although required by regulation, had not reported annually on its missile stockpile until last month, shortly before the GAO study was to be released.

This report comes as many Americans, wanting to buy ammunition for sport or training purposes, still find store shelves bare, or limits placed on the number of boxes they can buy to keep stock for others.

There was no indication in the USA Today report or the report from the GAO that the military plans to sell off the surplus to the American public or to manufacturers to repurpose.


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