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. 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!