Government Destroying Surplus Ammo

By Dave Dolbee published on in News

We have all felt the pinch of the ammo crunch and there has not been any shortage of stories about the government gobbling up supply. Suddenly it seems the government has too much ammo! In fact, the Pentagon estimates it has about $1.2 billion worth of ammo that it has slated for destruction.

Unloading ammunition at a supply point. Operation Iraqi Freedom. Near Tall Afar, Iraq. 09-SEP-2004 U.S. DoD Photo

Unloading ammunition at a supply point. (Operation Iraqi Freedom. Near Tall Afar, Iraq. 09-SEP-2004, U.S. DoD Photo.)

The exact nature of the ammunition is unknown primarily because of the inefficiency of the Defense Department’s antiquated inventory system. Some of the ammunition may even be serviceable by our troops, but due to the system, the government simply is not sure. The best excuse the government officials could come up with regarding the amount of the ammunition that may be wasted was that they were not sure. However, to be clear when the report references ammunition it not only includes bullets, but also rockets and missiles.

Anyone who has served in the military has had a firsthand view of certain inefficiencies, but that does not mean this is part of a conspiracy to keep ammunition out of your hands or mine. While it is not nefarious, that does not mean it does not have the effect of increasing demand on current production, which drives up prices and limits supplies available to the civilian market.

While much of the report was simply “We don’t know” or “We need to do better in the future,” there were a few points that were clarified.

  • 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 Government Accountability Office study was to be released.

While it does not affect supply for our ARs, the missile issue is a serious concern. The Army has an inventory of missiles—Stinger, Javelin and Hellfire—totaling over $14 billion in recent years. Hellfire missiles have been a weapon of choice for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in the CIA-run Predator and Reaper drone missions to kill terrorists in places like Yemen.

The GAO found that the Army and its missile command “do not contribute to required annual report.” The reason, Army officials told investigators, is that it “rarely has items to offer for redistribution.”

Without a more efficient system and increased cooperation between the services, there is a risk of the government procuring more ammunition and furthering squeezing the supplies available to the civilian market—that is the bad news. The worse news would be that critical ammunition and missiles supplies could be sitting in a bunker somewhere when our frontline warfighters are left shooting spit wads at the enemy.

You have a right to be upset over this news for many reasons, so make your voice heard to your representatives in Washington D.C. Check your ire for ammunition to feed your personal weapons though and give them a shout for our frontline troops…then hit ‘em with your personal complaints!

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Comments (66)

  • Alex the dog

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    It’s pure stupidity to destroy stockpiled ammo that was mfrd. to tighter standards than what civilians can buy. If the military specified it for purchase, then it’s good stuff. This ammo will still be good 50 years from now. Rockets, on the other hand are subject to theft from storage facilities. And these are what are being sold to criminals and terrorist groups. Destroy those.

    And to you Ron Howard, your loved president IS a racist AND his hateful wife. They both hate this country to boot.

    Reply

  • Robert A

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    I agree that any Rifle or pistol ammo that is not armor piercing should be sold on the civilian market to help defray the cost of replacement. All other outdated munitions should be properly destroyed. From the few articles I have seen about this most of what they are calling small arms munitions are .50cal. armor piercing rounds. I am sure there are also 7.62mm, 5.56mm and 9mm rounds being destroyed, I wish our government would do a better job for the tax payers and sell this ammo to us. The racist comments and name calling really explains why the government doesn’t sell the outdated stores of ammo to the public, even on a forum where we all agree that the government should be selling this ammo to the citizens of this Great Nation we bicker about irrational stupidity.

    Reply

    • Bill Kennedy

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      Robert: What “racist” (or bigoted) comments are you talking about? Harsh criticism, even if it’s wrong or even goofy , doesn’t constitute either. The administrations approach to all things related to firearms and AG Holder’s comments (lots) over a couple of decades are enough to make rational people darkly cynical in regards to virtually anything that might affect ordinary citizen’s gun rights in the broadest sense. It’s not that much of a stretch to think small arms ammunition might be deliberately destroyed, assuming it was among the things considered for destruction. Despite some posts here to the contrary, I don’t think it’s all that obvious that small arms ammunition wasn’t among them

      Cordially

      Reply

  • BiffSarin

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    This is the kind of thing that just drives me crazy!!! Rather than invest in coordinating ammunition accounting systems, the various branches of the military just continue to waste our tax dollars.

    The major hindrance to improvements in the process, IMHO, is the current government system that eliminates budget items from the military based on reported surpluses. In other words, if you had $500 million in extra bullets left over from last year then we’ll cut $500 million from your budget this year. The effect on the military is an attitude of ‘creative waste’. Either surplus supplies are destroyed, simply disappear from the books or, as the fiscal year end approaches, the military begins using up leftovers as fast as possible for ‘training purposes’.

    Reply

  • Spencer

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    It would have to be damned old to shit can. Properly stored ammunition can easily last 40 years or more. I’ve personally shot 9mm ammo, I hand loaded myself a little over 40 years ago. It functions perfectly & is still accurate.

    Reply

  • Marty

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    If they can’t get our guns, the powers that be will do all they can to keep us away from shooting sports. The govenment could benefit by selling surplus ammo to law abiding citizens

    Reply

  • Wzrd1

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    @Marty, had you bothered to read the comments, you’d know that the large majority of US military ordinance isn’t small arms ammunition.
    You make the mistake of thinking that, but the reality is, the US has everything from Lance missile stock, Hawk missile stock and likely also Hercules missile stock still around. I’ve personally viewed all of the above, as well as ancient Vietnam war vintage LAW rocket systems and even more ancient things lurking in the various ASP’s around the world.
    I’ve personally collected 1952 and 1958 vintage TNT from a range where we tried to detonate it, collecting up to 2/3 of a charge from locations and typically, 1/2 charge remnants, to then detonate with Vietnam war vintage C4.
    Add in obsolete indirect fire ordinance, it gets above and beyond the call of absurd, as one then also has to consider antique TOW-2 kits that are so old, poorly stored due to deployment conditions that are far from optimal, it gets downright suicidal to try to use that crap.

    As in useless to anyone. Small arms is small potatoes for the US Armed Forces.
    What is worse is, I’ve not even gone into Naval ordinance and Air Force ordinance.

    Now, some “homework”, do look up the CMP. It does offer surplus ammunition, from the US and other military forces.
    Regrettably, it’s sparse on ammunition of late. But then, there’s been a paranoid purchase frenzy on all stocks from every source.
    Interestingly enough, I have more than enough rounds for every primary system I possess. Some due to being ancient, the rest, due to my requirements for National Match.
    The remainder being for hunting.

    Now, as a veteran and owner of a full dozen firearms of various calibers, I suggest you consider the real world before you spout off in an ill educated manner.

    Reply

  • Secundius

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    Doesn’t anybody read anymore, or do what the NRA tell them whats, what?

    The reason the government is destroying surplus ammunition is be cause someone or some country has been flooding the market with bad ammunition. Week powder, inferior cartridge casings, bad primers, shitty quality control, and the great risk potential for a round cook-off, not too mention possibly it exploding in your face. I’d rather see this junk ammo off the market, then someone accidentally getting badly injured or even possibly killed. For once the Government is doing something right. If you have any better ideas, share it with the rest of us!!!

    Reply

    • Spence

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      Our surplus small arms military ammunition will not blow up in your face, even if it is 50 years old. Just because imported military ammo is imported, doesn’t mean it’s dangerous. I think you must have very little knowledge in this area. Small arms gunpowder isn’t an explosive. In fact it won’t burn fast to explode it’s contained inside something similar to a cartridge chamber. This BS you see in movies is a myth. Even if a cartridge is put in a fire, it will rupture the brass case long before a bullet can gain any significant speed. Even when there’s been a fire in a gunshot stocked with ammunition & reloading supplies. Cans of powder are designed to rupture long before it can build up enough pressure to explode. However it is fuel for a fast burning fire. Gasoline, paint thinners & any petroleum based solvents are far more dangerous than modern smokeless powders. Black powder is also dangerous, but more reloader don’t use this & it certainly isn’t used in small arms military ammunition.
      Our surplus ammunition isn’t bad, contrary to what you or the government might think.

      Reply

  • Wzrd1

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    First, small arms ammunition *can* be mildly dangerous to a firearm. I’m thinking one of the more common damages that occur to small arms ammunition that was poorly stored, corrosion. Weakening the case and potentially causing mild to moderate chamber damage and damaging extractors.
    No, they wouldn’t explode, save if left in a fire and cartridge ruptures are an explosion of a very mild variety, which would spread the fire about a little bit. They’d either fail to fire or fail to extract.

    That said, most of the ammunition that the DoD has is *not* small arms ammunition. Remember, there are crew served weapons galore. There are rockets galore. There are explosives galore. C4 that is starting to turn brown and hence, is unstable. Mortar rounds that are ancient and the increments not reliable and the primary charge on the mortar round unreliable. Artillery that is unreliable. Missiles whose fuel is cracked and hence, unreliable to dangerous.
    In short, ammunition that *I* would never have a need for or want, for it is a destructive weapon that is unreliable. If I did acquire a destructive weapon, I’d want reliable ammunition!
    Same with the DoD.

    Now, if you want to find fault with the DoD, focus on their storage and documentation of the ammunition lot numbers, or more specifically, the lack thereof.
    For there is a major waste of our tax dollars!

    Reply

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