Congress to Get Tough on Armed Services After 2,000 Military Firearms Stolen During the 2010s
01:50 GMT 27.10.2021 (Updated: 05:39 GMT 30.04.2023)
© REUTERS / POOLSecretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley and Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, commander of US Central Command, testify before the House Armed Services Committee on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan at the Rayburn House Office building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, U.S. September 29, 2021
© REUTERS / POOL
A bombshell report from the Associated Press in June of 2021 has spurred Congress to tackle systemic problems that led to over 2,000 military firearms being stolen throughout the 2010s.
According to the AP report, over 2,000 military firearms were stolen from the Army, Marines, and Air Force throughout the 2010s, with some being used in violent crimes. In response, members of Congress are writing stricter regulations into the National Defense Authorization Act for branches of the military to report and prevent the theft of firearms.
Members are expected to negotiate and hash out any differences in their proposed legislation before sending the bill to US President Joe Biden.
Top-ranking General Mark Milley, in the wake of the June report, said the Department of Defense would look to make a “systemic fix” to stop the proliferation of AWOL firearms. However, some members of congress are unsure if the Department of Defense will do an adequate job.
Democrats on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform wrote to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, "We are concerned that DOD has seemingly not yet developed a coherent strategy to improve its ability to account for military weapons and equipment."
There is also a lack of trust that the Department of Defense will make the necessary changes. A concern raised in the initial AP report noted that some armed services suppressed basic information, indicating that the actual number of stolen firearms could be far larger. When reporters questioned military officials, they were often given conflicting statements.
25 October 2021, 19:57 GMT
The Department of Defense can improve security and tracking measures of military firearms, but trusting it to police itself properly could be difficult without additional transparency. Congress has proposed inserting tracking devices into military firearms but has met resistance from military officials. The technology that makes weapons trackable reportedly doesn’t stop at the battlefield and could put military operations at risk.
Lawmakers have requested a progress briefing by November 19th in which spokespersons from branches of the military will answer to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.