Congress Plans Fixes for US Army AWOL Weapons Problems | National / Global News


Congress is set to force the U.S. military to better track their guns and explosives, imposing new rules in response to an Associated Press investigation that found guns stolen from U.S. bases have resurfaced in violent crimes.

As part of the proposals, the Defense Department would tell lawmakers and civilian law enforcement authorities more about guns that disappear from armories, shipments and military warehouses.

Overall, AP discovered that at least 2,000 army, navy, navy or air force firearms were lost or stolen during the 2010s.

Even if guns were gone, the Department of Defense in recent years has stopped notifying Congress of most losses or thefts. This was one of the conclusions of investigation who showed how assault rifles, pistols, armor-piercing grenades and other weapons made their way through the streets of the country.

House and Senate lawmakers responded by enshrining stricter accountability in each chamber’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act. This bipartite and inescapable legislation sets the political priorities of the Pentagon.

In the coming weeks, lawmakers will define the differences between the two versions of the Defense Authorization Act as the legislation moves towards the president’s office. For example, the Senate is considering more reporting to the FBI while the House is focusing on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

In interviews, military officials acknowledged many problems in the way they keep track of guns across the military’s vast supply chains.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told senators in June that he would seek a “Systematic correction” within the Department of Defense – regardless of what Congress has done. Spokesmen for the military and navies said their service branches are making changes to the way they count weapons.

These internal efforts have not convinced some legislators.

“We are concerned that the DOD has apparently not yet developed a coherent strategy to improve its ability to report on military weapons and equipment,” the Democratic leaders of the House Monitoring and Reform Committee wrote. , Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and leaders of the service branches at a Monday letter.

Lawmakers have requested a progress briefing by November 19. Spokesmen for the military, navies, navy and air force said the branches would respond directly to the committee.

The letter also covered technology that some Air Force and Army units have used to track guns, but which could allow even unsophisticated enemies to detect U.S. troops.

When incorporated into military weapons, thin radio frequency identification tags – RFID, as the technology is known – can streamline the counting and distribution of weapons. Corn field trials for AP showed that outside of armories, electronic signals emitted by beacons could become an unwanted tracking beacon at distances greater than what some armed services appeared to achieve.

The Defense Secretary’s office called the potential for enemy tracing a significant security concern, and after questioning, the Navy told AP it would abandon weapons technology. Yet RFID tags are used in many aspects of military logistics, and lawmakers on the committee have asked the Pentagon to detail to what extent the technology is deployed and to explain the security risks these uses pose.


Pritchard reported from Los Angeles. Contact him at Hall reported from Nashville, Tennessee. Contact her at


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