M2 Heavy Machine Gun Fails Troops in Afghanistan: More on DoDIG Report

Posted by:

As readers of SFTT News are aware, I had previously reported on the blithering incompetence demonstrated by the US Army and DoD in the procurement of spare parts for the M2 Heavy Machine Gun that is essential to the survival of our troops in Afghanistan.   “Blithering incompetence” are my words, but reading the Department of Defense Inspector General (“DoDIG”) on the Defense Logistics Agency (“DLA”) handling of critical spare parts for the M2, my words seem mild compared to the outrageous and indefensible behavior of those entrusted to make sure that our frontline troops have the proper combat equipment and protective gear. 

The DoDIG essentially informs  the Secretary of Defense that after eight years of combat in Afghanistan and seven years of combat in Iraq, the bureaucrats in the DLA do not have a minimally-acceptable process that gets our frontline troops the right spare parts for their M2’s in a timely fashion.

In fact, the DoDIG tested 21 different spare parts and one 98-piece spare part kit, all of which are designated “critical application items,” which are defined thusly:  “A critical application item is one that is essential to the preservation of life in emergencies or essential to end-item or system performance, the failure of which would adversely affect the accomplishment of a military operation.”   Here is the “good” news from the DoDIG report:  “At least 7,100 items did not conform with quality standards for 24 of the 103 contracts, including parts that:

  •  contractors manufactured incorrectly,
  • did not meet specific quality standards, and
  • contained inadequate phosphate surface coating to prevent corrosion

Many readers will recall previous DoDIG and GAO reports documented how the Army acquisition bureaucrats had subverted the First Article Testing process to ensure substandard body armor was issued to our frontline troop, and these readers will not be surprised that in this investigation report, DODIG found the responsible DOD agency:   “. . . did not include a first article test requirement in 79 of the 103 contracts we reviewed. For 21 of the 79 contracts, contractors ultimately provided parts that did not conform to contract specifications. If [DoD] had included appropriate quality assurance provisions in these contracts, such as a first article testing requirement, it could have identified contractor deficiencies at an earlier date.”

The DoGIG also noted that a DLA office had “performed 20 product verification tests on items associated with the M2 contracts we sampled. Contractors failed 14 of the 20 tests . . .”  So, contractors failed 70% of tests of their “products,” products designated as “critical application items” essential to our frontline troops having fully functioning M2’s.  No one pays a penalty; contractors get paid for shoddy work; bureaucrats get paid for showing up. Business as usual in today’s Military Industrial Congressional Complex.

There’s a lot more to digest in this DODIG report, but let’s end with these two findings:

“. . . did not always use appropriate and effective contracting quality assurance procedures to ensure that contractors provided M2 machine gun parts that conformed to contract specifications. This increased the risk for the warfighter, who had to wait for critical M2 gun parts.” [Duh!!]

“. . .contracting officials were not holding contractors accountable for late deliveries of critical application M2 gun parts. Monetary compensation for nonperformance is a key element DSCC can use to hold contractors accountable for complying with contract delivery terms.”

If by chance, you share SFTT’s outrage at this egregious negligence and dereliction of duty on the part of those who sole responsibility is to support America’s great frontline troops, you might want to ask your elected representative how many thousands of dollars went to DLA last year for “superior performance” bonuses?  I recall the outrage at bonuses being awarded to executives of AIG and Merril Lynch after the bail-out.   Shame on the DLA and those officials who continue to condone this serial dereliction of duty and blind incompetence in our military procurement process.  Our troops deserve better. 

Last point, the Army shares in the “joy” of this report due to its documented failures in making DLA aware of this situation with sufficient “emphasis,” and for the flaws in both technical data packages and overhaul projects for the M2.  The sad truth is that no one involved demonstrated even a minimal concern about getting critical spare parts to those whose very survival might well depend on getting them in a timely manner, i.e., before their next firefight.

Roger Charlges

Senior Investigative Report and SFTT Editor

  Related Posts


  1. RJ  June 2, 2010

    Lets us assume for a moment that the company which manufacturers items for our military has a history of doing so. It is established; it has a track record. It has friends within the government. It knows the requirements.

    Still, it produces items that fail basic tests for acceptance. Why?

    If the owners has children within the military system, perhaps “at the tip of the spear” would you expect those items manufactured to fail?

    How much skin of theirs is in this game?

    Someone ask the waiting lawyers to come in and explain all of this for us…as if they truly know the truth!

    • Richard May  June 2, 2010

      I think you hit the nail on the head. The young men and women who are serving in harm’s way are “our” children. As a former military officer, it is hard for me to believe or accept the conclusion that people in high places in the military, government and industry would be willing to place the lives of our children at risk to make an extra buck. I dare not believe this is possible, but the evidence or, at least, circumstantial evidence seems to point in that direction. Truly sad.

  2. BD  July 30, 2010

    I just ran across this website.I completely agree with your story.I am a govt contractor who has produced 1005-00-657-3953 Retracting Slide Assemblies,and 1005-00-997-8794 Bracket Retracting Slide.Been doing these parts since 2006, with no complaints,comebacks,negative field reports.My govt inspector is brutal on me, but thats fine,My parts are as close to perfect as possible.I suddenly had to do a PVT Test (Product Verifaction Testing )on the Retracting Slide Assembly for a contract in 09. 5 assemblies were sent to DLA for the PVT. over 300 Dimensional inspections were performed on the assembly with a CMM. (Coordinate Measuring Machine), of the 300 dimensions inspected, 13 desripancies were found 6 were lab errors and corrected, 5 were minor (chamfer, etc) Waiver for Minors was requested by me, DLA kicked it to Tacom,who approved my request by 11-0.But this process took 7 Months.Lets see 300 items inspected, 5 minors were found,thats about 1.5 % failure. or 98.5 correct. almost but not quite perfect. Now I am not on the list as an APPROVED SOURCE FOR THIS ITEM. Seems i ruffled some ADMINSTRATIVE Personal about an award for this item which i did not receive, even thou i was low bidder with a 100% ABVS Score and a women owned Small Buisness.They awarded the contract to some IDIOT who never made this item,is not a manufacture,and just resell’s items to uncle sam.(light bulbs,switches fuses,etc). I was given the excuse that his delivery was better.To bad he had to ask for a few contract extensions, more money,and had the balls to email me to supply him with parts. I bet the quality of these items were great….. Uh hUU .I’ll probably never see this part again.It a shame that DLA shows bias,and doesnt give a crap about the quality of items our war fighters need.

  1. Tweets that mention M2 Heavy Machine Gun Fails Troops in Afghanistan: More on DoDIG Report | SFTT: Best body armor, combat boots, helmets, sidearms and weapons for US frontline troops. -- Topsy.com  June 3, 2010