Improper storage damages $1.8 billion in Army ground combat equipment

About $1.8 billion in Army ground combat equipment is “deteriorating or at increased risk of deterioration” due to improper storage, Defense Department researchers have found.

Report of the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Defense published Monday exposed critical deficiencies in how the Pentagon maintains and protects the core elements of the Army’s land capabilities. Shortages, the report warns, could put personnel at risk, waste millions and undermine readiness as the Army tries to retool its logistics network for multi-theater conflicts.

Investigators inspected $1.96 billion worth of equipment stored at two distribution centers controlled by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), the Defense Department office charged with managing the military’s sprawling supply chains. DLA’s distribution division, responsible for stockpiling and disseminating materiel, handled a total of $3.87 billion of Army ground combat equipment as of July 2022, according to the report.

Parts stored at these facilities support some of the Army’s flagship ground combat technology, such as the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, Stryker Armored Combat Vehicle and Abrams tank, the report noted.

Two-thirds of the components inspected — worth $1.31 billion — had “critical” deficiencies, meaning they were “deteriorating and at immediate risk of moving to a lower status code”, a measure of utility. Overall, investigators found that $1.8 billion (92%) of inspected equipment is collapsing or at “increased risk” of collapsing because DLA storage facilities failed to follow Pentagon standards.

Among the critical parts were 80 gas turbines, worth nearly $90 million, piled together on a lawn outside a warehouse. The turbines, which were meant to be stored indoors, had been there since 2020, researchers learned. Investigators also found traces of tens of millions of dollars worth of tanks, vehicle transmission assemblies and diesel engines hidden in outdoor facilities without proper packaging.

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Using proper containers and shielding equipment from the elements can save millions. The researchers pointed to a case in 2021 when the military spent $10.92 million to repair engines that had been improperly stored.

Inspectors also warned that untidy, unsafe piles of equipment risked injury to staff working at the distribution centres.

The inspector general largely blamed the storage pitfalls on poor training and supervision.

“DLA Distribution did not provide adequate guidance to its personnel responsible for or supporting” the maintenance of the equipment, according to the report. The investigators also found that DLA’s distribution division “lacked formal training for receiving, packaging, storage, or inspection personnel responsible for the storage and care of the Army [ground combat systems] material.”

The report alleges that Army leaders failed to recognize gaps in its materiel management because the department did not “adequately oversee” how its war machine components were cared for.

The inspector general issued eleven recommendations, including the implementation of new training regimes and regular inspections by the head of the Army’s Tank-Automotive and Equipment Command. DLA agreed with everyone.

Jaime Moore-Carrillo is a contributing editor for Military Times and Defense News. A native of Boston, Jaime graduated with degrees in international affairs, history and Arabic from Georgetown University, where he served as senior editor for the school’s student-run newspaper, The Hoya.

Read the original at Defence247.gr

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