Article first published as Deficient Guns Expose Troops in Afghanistan on Technorati.
On the heels of the General Accountability Office (“GAO”) report of the improper testing of body armor supplied to U.S. troops and the recall of 44,000 defective military helmets manufactured by Federal Prison Industries, comes equally discouraging news of serious deficiencies in the M4 carbine and M2 Heavy Machine Gun (“HMG”) supplied to U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
In a report entitled “Increasing Small Arms Lethality in Afghanistan: Take back the Infantry Half-Kilometer (11/09),” Army MAJ Thomas P. Ehrhart concludes that the M4 carbine as presently configured is not the proper weapon for the Afghan terrain. Bullets fired from M4s don’t retain enough velocity at distances greater than 1,000 feet to kill an adversary. In hilly regions of Afghanistan, NATO and insurgent forces are often at a distance of 2,000 to 2,500 feet.
Also discouraging is the alarming report from the Department of Defense (“DoD”) Inspector General (“IG”) that documents the blithering incompetence inside the Defense Logistics Agency (“DLA”) is supplying spare parts for the M2 Heavy Machine Gun. The M2 .50-caliber HMG is better known as “Ma Duece” by those who rely upon it to reach out and “touch” Jihad Johnny in a memorable way.
Senior Investigative Reporter Roger Charles of Soldiers for the Truth (“SFTT”) reports that the “DLA did not have effective internal controls in place to ensure appropriate and effective contracting procedures related to contract quality assurance, product quality deficiency report processing, spare part kit assembly, and oversight of contractor deliveries.
Specifically, contractors provided at least 7,100 non-conforming parts on 24 contracts.
- DLA did not adequately process 95 of 127 product quality deficiency reports.
- DLA did not deliver 60 spare part kits on time to support a U.S. Army program to overhaul 2,600 M2 machine guns and provided non-conforming parts in kits
- DLA did not pursue adequate compensation from contractors who were significantly late in providing critical parts on 49 contracts.
The DoD IG inquiry was sparked by troops who cited “slow to no response” in receiving spare parts for this critical weapon to engage the enemy at distances beyond the range of the M4.
The slew of reports detailing inadequacies in the military procurement process indicate that these problems are truly systemic and require a total overhaul.
It is absolutely unacceptable that our military and political leaders seem unable or unwilling to provide our men and women serving in harm’s way with the proper equipment to do their job and come home alive and in one piece. These alarming studies show that we have a serious problem in our military procurement system and unless Americans raise their voice and say “enough,” it is likely to continue that way.
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