Congress plans fixes for US military’s AWOL weapons problems

Congress will impose new rules to make America's armed forces better track their explosives and guns. This is in response to an Associated Press investigation which revealed that firearms stolen from U.S. bases were resurfaced in violent crimes.

Congress plans fixes for US military’s AWOL weapons problems

Congress will impose new rules to make America's armed forces better track their explosives and guns. This is in response to an Associated Press investigation which revealed that firearms stolen from U.S. bases were resurfaced in violent crimes.

The proposals would require the Department of Defense to inform both civilian and military law enforcement officials more information about guns that disappear from military armouries, shipments, and warehouses.

AP estimates that around 2,000 firearms belonging to the Army, Marines and Navy were stolen or lost in the 2010s.

The Department of Defense stopped notifying Congress of any thefts or losses in recent years, even though guns were disappearing. This was the one finding from an investigation that showed how assault rifles and pistols as well as armorpiercing grenades have found their way onto our streets.

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives responded by writing tighter accountability into their respective versions of the National Defense Authorization Act. This bipartisan legislation must be passed to set policy priorities for Pentagon.

As the legislation moves towards the desk of the president, the lawmakers will continue to work out differences between the two versions of the defense authorization act. The Senate, for example, envisions greater reporting to the FBI, while the House is more focused on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Military officials confessed to many problems in tracking weapons through their vast supply chains.

In June, General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told senators that he would seek a "systematic fixwithin Department of Defense -- regardless of Congress's actions. Spokespeople from the Army and Marines said that their service branches are changing how they account for weapons.

Some legislators have not been persuaded by these internal efforts.

"We are concerned that DOD seems not to have yet developed a coherent strategy for improving its ability to account military weapons and equipment," Democratic leaders on House Committee on Oversight and Reform wrote to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and to the leaders of the service branch in Monday.

The lawmakers asked for a status briefing by Nov. 19. Spokespeople from the Army, Marines and Navy, as well as the Air Force, stated that the branches would respond directly.

The letter also addressed a technology that certain units of the Air Force or Army used to track guns. However, it could be used by low-tech enemies to detect U.S troops.

RFID technology, which is a radio frequency identification tag that can be embedded in military weapons, can reduce weapon count and distribution. Field testing for AP revealed that the electronic signals generated by the tags could be used as a tracking beacon at greater distances than what some armed forces thought.

The Office of the Secretary of Defense deemed the potential tracking of enemies a significant security issue. AP was then questioned by the Navy and they said that the Navy would no longer use the technology for weapons. The Pentagon still uses RFID tags in military logistics. Members of the committee demanded details about how widespread the technology is used and the security risks associated with its use.

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