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Report: Military leaders must speak up to prevent another Afghanistan

Military and civilian leaders ignored a lot in both the planning and the ensuing 18 years of fighting in Afghanistan. A new report finds the most important thing they ignored was each other. That’s one of a number of findings that the Center for Strategic and International Studies report “Tell me how this ends: Military…

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Report: Military leaders must speak up to prevent  another Afghanistan

Military and civilian leaders ignored a lot in both the planning and the ensuing 18 years of fighting in Afghanistan. A new report finds the most important thing they ignored was each other.

That’s one of a number of findings that the Center for Strategic and International Studies report “Tell me how this ends: Military Advice, Strategic Goals and the ‘Forever War’ in Afghanistan,” and the subsequent panel held Wednesday.

The eventual picture of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan should look something like what’s happening now in Somalia or Libya, a retired Army lieutenant general who sat on a panel discussing the report said.

Retired Lt. Gen. David Barno said when the United States withdraws it would monitor the situation in Afghanistan along the lines of whatever deal is agreed upon. Then, if “a certain threshold gets triggered, we would send forces in for a short raid operation” and use air power to deter any budding terrorist threat.

Report author Mark Cancian is a retired Marine Corps colonel who now works as the senior adviser to the CSIS International Security Program.

Cancian’s 59-page report revisits the early days and objectives of invading Afghanistan and summarily tracks the wars unfolding and changing leadership over nearly two decades.

“The purpose of this project is not to indicate how to fight such wars better in the future,” he wrote. “Rather, its goal is to aid in developing more insightful advice before wars begin, so that the United States can determine whether to get involved in the first place—and understand the likely duration and intensity of the commitment if it does.”

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That came, in part, from a “significant chunk” of the military leaders’ thinking that civilians should “give us the mission, give us what we need to accomplish the mission and stay out of our way,” Cancian said.

The overriding belief that military leaders should not participate in discussions about goals and end states at all makes many military officers uncomfortable with the political dimensions of those discussions, Cancian wrote.

But by the end of his research, the retired colonel advises that military leaders need to “push back” against the civilian goals if the conditions are not favorable and they have to “give advice beyond simply how we’re going to do this.”

Cancian notes a “void” in military doctrine when discussing end states. Both the Field Manual 3-24 that covers insurgencies and countering insurgencies and the Joint Publication Doctrine of the Armed Forces of the United States, JP 3-0 Operations and its accompanying JP 5-0 planning, “do nothing to fill this void.”

The CSIS report lays out the case that after spending a combined $737 billion in military funds and another $44 billion in state department money, citing the book, “The $3 Trillion Dollar War,” by Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes and sacrificing 2,400 U.S. troops the situation at best in Afghanistan is a “stalemate.”

Some of what led to the stalemate includes:

Ignoring that other nations might not have the same values that we do Ignoring the experience of the Soviets, who—despite obvious differences to the U.S. coalition—had tried to achieve many of the same social and political transformations, and who had experienced many of the same frustrations that the U.S. and NATO later experienced Ignoring the history of foreign occupations in general, which inevitably engender resentment against the foreign occupier Ignoring the history of Afghanistan, which had a precedent of being easy to conquer but difficult to occupy Ignoring why the Taliban fight, particularly their religious motivation

Meanwhile U.S. troop levels grew from 1,500 in country to nearly 100,000 at the peak of the war from 2010 to 2011. Since 2015 the numbers have hovered around 10,000 to 15,000.

But in other ways, the war is intensifying.

Munitions dropped rose from an estimated 2,000 in 2006 to more than 7,000 last year. That was not a steady increase. Numbers spiked during the peak of the war and dropped to early war levels through 2016, only to rise again during the President Donald Trump administration.

In a talk held to discuss and debate the report, Barno, a visiting professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University and former senior commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005 found an early flaw – lack of continuity.

“By my count, we’ve had 11 different U.S. ambassadors and 17 different overall commanders in 18 years,” Barno said. “There’s no enterprise that I can envision that would have any kind of success if they had that kind of strategy.”

That’s resulted in very different pairings of civilian and military leaders across the span of time, oftentimes with very little common ground.

“It’s like 36, six-month wars,” Barno said. “It’s unprecedented in how the United States has ever pursued any conflict.”

Part of that is the often debated shift from counterterrorism tactics sought early in the war following the 9/11 attacks that sought to destroy Al-Qaida and prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for future terrorist attacks. But, the common thinking has gone that the mission shifted to counterinsurgency and nation building.

But it’s not that simple, panelists argued.

Jonathan Schroden directs research programs and special operations research at the Center for Naval Analysis and has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan 10 times in his career.

He argued that both types of missions have been fought in parallel over the course of the conflict. Some of the military pursuing high-value targets in the counterterrorism role while other parts of the military and civilian corps pursuing a “comprehensive counterinsurgency” strategy.

Those came together early in the administration of President Barack Obama in a white paper that laid out strategic goals to disrupt, degrade and defeat Al-Qaida but pursued that aim with “maximalist, nation-building activities,” he said.

Panelists were critical of what the uniformed services could do even in the military role of nation building.

“The U.S. military does not have organic competency to build armies of foreign countries,” Schroden said.

He noted that some parts, such as the Army’s Green Beret teams and the newly formed Security Force Assistance Brigades, have that role. But the Green Berets are too small to do the work at scale and the SFABs are such a new concept they’re not quite proven yet.

But even the SFABs are not the ultimate solution, said Linda Robinson, senior international/defense research at RAND Corporation.

“The Army has not taken security force assistance seriously,” she said.

And, Schroden said, that’s not what the service was built for nor what leaders even want to do.

“The military greatly resists optimizing itself for unconventional wars,” Schroden said.

To do that, a lot has to change in the rank and structure of the services.

Cancian concludes his report with recommendations:

Create a dialogue between senior military and civilian leaders about goals and end states Require more clarity from civilian officials Continue to develop military strategists Take seriously the history and experience of others Revise doctrine manuals to include a discussion of end states

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UK’s newest carrier ― with Marine Corps F-35s onboard ― joins Islamic State fight, stirs Russian interest

Britain’s newest aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth — with 10 Marine Corps F-35s onboard — is helping to take on the “lion’s share” of operations against the Islamic State group in Iraq, U.K. naval commanders said. It has also piqued the interest of Russian warplanes, who try to keep tabs on those cutting-edge F-35 jet…

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UK’s newest carrier ― with Marine Corps F-35s onboard ― joins Islamic State fight, stirs Russian interest

Britain’s newest aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth — with 10 Marine Corps F-35s onboard — is helping to take on the “lion’s share” of operations against the Islamic State group in Iraq, U.K. naval commanders said. It has also piqued the interest of Russian warplanes, who try to keep tabs on those cutting-edge F-35 jet in a “cat-and-mouse” game with British and U.S. pilots. Speaking aboard the 65,000-ton carrier on its first-ever deployment, Commodore Steve Moorhouse said the UK is carrying out most of the missions to wipe out the remnants of the Islamic State in Iraq as the U.S. focuses on its withdrawal from Afghanistan. “At the moment, we’re taking on the lion’s share of that operation over Iraq, which is a fantastic, say, feather in our cap. But an achievement that ‘A’, we’re trusted and ‘B’, that we’re able to do that,” Moorhouse told reporters Sunday. It’s the first time that a UK aircraft carrier is supporting live military operations on the ground in more than two decades, projecting British military power on a global scale. Moorhouse said the carrier offers the UK flexibility in how to conduct military operations abroad and “keeps those that wish to cause us harm … on their toes.” He said the eastern Mediterranean has become more “congested and contested” over the past decade in light of the heavier Russian military presence in Syria, which is resulting in regular encounters with Russian ships and warplanes. People line the shore to watch as tug boats maneuver the 65,000-tonne British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth into Portsmouth Harbour in Portsmouth, southern England, in August 2017, as it arrives at for the first time in her home port. (Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images) “We’re rubbing up against Russian activity, not in a you know, in a dangerous or aggressive manner, but you’ve just got other people out here playing in what is a fixed piece of water and airspace,” said Moorhouse, adding that a Russian warship has come within 16 miles of the carrier. The commodore insisted that Russian, British and U.S. pilots have a “healthy respect for one another” and their conduct has been “absolutely professional” since the aircraft carrier started anti-IS operations on June 18. Get the Marine Corps Times Daily News Roundup Don’t miss the top Marine Corps stories, delivered each afternoon (please select a country)United StatesUnited KingdomAfghanistanAlbaniaAlgeriaAmerican SamoaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBoliviaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of TheCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’ivoireCroatiaCubaCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuamGuatemalaGuineaGuinea-bissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMarshall IslandsMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMicronesia, Federated States ofMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNetherlands AntillesNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorthern Mariana IslandsNorwayOmanPakistanPalauPalestinian Territory, OccupiedPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalPuerto RicoQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRwandaSaint HelenaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and The GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbia and MontenegroSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and The South Sandwich IslandsSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwan, Province of ChinaTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-lesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUnited States Minor Outlying IslandsUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuelaViet NamVirgin Islands, BritishVirgin Islands, U.S.Wallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabwe Subscribe × By giving us your email, you are opting in to the Marine Corps Times Daily News Roundup. “But there is a reality when you buy yourself a fifth-generation aircraft carrier and you take it around the world … people are interested in it,” he added. Capt. James Blackmore, who commands the eight British F-35 jets and the 10 helicopters aboard the carrier, said UK and Russian pilots have come within “visual distance” of each other. “It’s that cat-and-mouse posturing, it’s what we expect in this region of world. And as you can imagine, it’s the first time for F-35s into the eastern Mediterranean,” said Blackmore. “So, of course Russia wants to look at what they’re like, they want to look at what our carriers are like.” The state-of-the art F-35, armed with air-to-air missiles and laser-guided bombs, is being used over Iraq to look for other aircraft or unmanned drones, support troops on the ground as well as to carry out surveillance with its sophisticated sensor and radar systems. “It’s a fifth-generation aircraft with a hugely, hugely capable radar and sensor suite, and that’s what it brings. So it’s the eyes and ears that it’s offering out there,” said Moorhouse. The HMS Queen Elizabeth and its support ships, which include the U.S. destroyer The Sullivans, will remain in the eastern Mediterranean for two to three weeks before moving through the Suez Canal to continue with a 7 1/2 -month deployment to India, South Korea and Japan. The carrier also has 10 U.S. F-35 jets from the Marine Corps’ Fighter Attack Squadron 211 aboard that carry out operations under British command.

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Humans now testing the Army’s catch-all COVID vaccine

A kind of catch-all vaccine that could protect against current and future strains of the coronavirus that sparked the COVID-19 global pandemic has already been tested by Army scientists on mice, monkeys, horses, hamsters and even sharks. Early human testing has begun and researchers expect the first data sets on immunity in the coming weeks.…

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Humans now testing the Army’s catch-all COVID vaccine

A kind of catch-all vaccine that could protect against current and future strains of the coronavirus that sparked the COVID-19 global pandemic has already been tested by Army scientists on mice, monkeys, horses, hamsters and even sharks. Early human testing has begun and researchers expect the first data sets on immunity in the coming weeks. This effort is a new approach to handling viruses, finding ways to defeat families of viruses rather than a specific strain. And that’s important because medical experts worry that the next pandemic-triggering virus could be more contagious than COVID-19 and far deadlier. “We know it’s safe and tolerable but we don’t know yet the immunity it confers,” said Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, director of the emerging infectious diseases branch at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. He spoke during the Defense One 2021 Tech Summit on Monday. Modjarrad said that the results so far in animal studies have shown high immunity. If even a fraction of that is present in humans, their current vaccine would be a good option for a next-generation vaccine to combat coronavirus, regardless of the strain. Their broad-spectrum coronavirus vaccine could also serve as a “booster” shot for soldiers that would offer longer and more durable protection against future variants, Modjarrad said. The push is an effort to produce robust vaccines that target a family of viruses, rather than past efforts which pursued specific immunization against certain strains. That method is too slow to meet the types and volume of viruses that humanity may face in the coming years. Sign up for the Army Times Daily News Roundup Don’t miss the top Army stories, delivered each afternoon (please select a country)United StatesUnited KingdomAfghanistanAlbaniaAlgeriaAmerican SamoaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBoliviaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of TheCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’ivoireCroatiaCubaCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuamGuatemalaGuineaGuinea-bissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMarshall IslandsMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMicronesia, Federated States ofMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNetherlands AntillesNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorthern Mariana IslandsNorwayOmanPakistanPalauPalestinian Territory, OccupiedPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalPuerto RicoQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRwandaSaint HelenaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and The GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbia and MontenegroSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and The South Sandwich IslandsSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwan, Province of ChinaTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-lesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUnited States Minor Outlying IslandsUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuelaViet NamVirgin Islands, BritishVirgin Islands, U.S.Wallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabwe Subscribe × By giving us your email, you are opting in to the Army Times Daily News Roundup. An Army specialist assigned to Baumholder, Germany, receives her first dose of the COVID vaccine. (Army) “We’re chasing the wrong curve of the virus after it emerges,” Modjarrad said. The goal is to have a vaccinated population before a virus can make an impact. “We’ll get to the point where we can stop the virus in its tracks before a pandemic,” he said. There have been at least six “notable variants” of the coronavirus detected so far in the United States since the pandemic first arrived in early 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Modjarrad spoke along with Dr. Dimitra Stratis-Cullum, program manager for transformational synthetic-biology for military environments with the Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command. Stratis-Cullum’s work focuses on making synthetic materials that can be used for a host of applications. Her work over the past year has focused on making medical diagnostic items, but also jumped very early into building methods for testing plasma of convalescent COVID-19 patients that could be used to help others recover. Through CCDC and ARL, her team continues to build an “immunity library” so that first responders can quickly screen any type of disease they encounter and be prepared with the right kind of tools and approaches when they arrive at a location. Stratis-Cullum’s group is partnered with Modjarrad’s team in finding where and how the coronavirus “binds” to a receptor in the body. By developing synthetic methods to prevent the binding in the first place, they hope to keep the virus at bay even if it enters the body. One of the ways in which Modjarrad’s group has approached the problem is to use a nanoparticle vaccine that uses ferritin, which has been effective against the current COVID-19 virus and another coronavirus from 2003, the SARS-CoV-1. The ferratin iron-carrying protein somewhat resembles a sphere like a soccer ball, Modjarrad said. The structure has 24 faces on its exterior. Scientists can place any type of virus particle they want the human body to recognize on those faces. Then the immune system reacts to it because it resembles the actual virus that the system will face if exposed. And, by having so many options, researchers can target specific structures in the virus they’re studying to be carried by the nanoparticle to the body. They can mix and match parts that are core to the coronavirus and will be part of any strain that could emerge, he said. The body then has had a chance to identify from the vaccine what it needs to defeat any future virus it might encounter.

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Top US general ‘shocked’ by report on AWOL guns, mulls fix

Shocked by an Associated Press investigation into the loss and theft of military guns, the Pentagon’s top general signaled Thursday that he will consider a “systematic fix” to how the armed services keep account of their firearms. The AP’s investigation reported how some of the missing guns have been stolen and later used in violent…

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Top US general ‘shocked’ by report on AWOL guns, mulls fix

Shocked by an Associated Press investigation into the loss and theft of military guns, the Pentagon’s top general signaled Thursday that he will consider a “systematic fix” to how the armed services keep account of their firearms. The AP’s investigation reported how some of the missing guns have been stolen and later used in violent street crimes, while many others have vanished without a clue from the military’s enormous supply chains. In all, AP identified at least 1,900 guns that the four armed services recorded as lost or stolen during the 2010s. Most came from the Army. Because some of the service branches provided incomplete data — or none at all — that total is a certain undercount. “I was frankly shocked by the numbers that were in there,” Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Appropriations Committee at a hearing Thursday. In a statement, Milley’s spokesman said the chairman would explore overhauling how the services track and secure weapons. Milley “would like to consider a systematic fix in the future where the accountability of weapons and the ability to track and query these numbers is simplified and accurate,” said Col. Dave Butler. Later Thursday, an Army spokesman said the military branch with the most guns would also fill gaps in how it accounts for lost and stolen weapons. “The Army staff met today to develop a way forward to fix this problem and we will provide more information as this effort evolves,” said Lt. Col. Brandon Kelley. Sign up for the Early Bird Brief Get the military’s most comprehensive news and information every morning (please select a country)United StatesUnited KingdomAfghanistanAlbaniaAlgeriaAmerican SamoaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBoliviaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of TheCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’ivoireCroatiaCubaCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuamGuatemalaGuineaGuinea-bissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMarshall IslandsMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMicronesia, Federated States ofMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNetherlands AntillesNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorthern Mariana IslandsNorwayOmanPakistanPalauPalestinian Territory, OccupiedPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalPuerto RicoQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRwandaSaint HelenaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and The GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbia and MontenegroSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and The South Sandwich IslandsSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwan, Province of ChinaTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-lesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUnited States Minor Outlying IslandsUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuelaViet NamVirgin Islands, BritishVirgin Islands, U.S.Wallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabwe Subscribe × By giving us your email, you are opting in to the Early Bird Brief. Col. Cathy Wilkinson, media relations chief with Army public affairs, said in a statement: “The Army takes weapons accountability very seriously. While we have stringent physical security measures, we have more work to do to ensure that our property accountability and criminal reporting systems are seamlessly linked together. The Army staff met today to develop a way forward to fix this problem and we will provide more information as this effort evolves.” Four senators have publicly expressed concerns since AP published Tuesday. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., was the latest to question military officials during a Capitol Hill appearance. Citing a case in which automatic assault rifles were stolen from an Army base and sold to a California street gang, Feinstein asked Milley at Thursday’s hearing what the military is doing to ensure “there are no problems like this and that weapons are well secured.” Milley responded that he had asked the leaders of each armed service to do a deep dive on their numbers. He said the initial information they have given him suggests the number of missing weapons is “significantly less” than what AP reported. The AP derived its figures from records provided by the service branches, including criminal investigations, lost property forms and data from small arms registries, as well as internal memos AP obtained. “I need to square the balance here. I owe you a firm answer,” Milley told Feinstein. His spokesman, Butler, elaborated: “Although we can’t yet verify the numbers reported by AP, the chairman believes this is another example of the free press shining a light on the important subjects we need to get right.” Top officials with the Army, Marines and Secretary of Defense’s office have said missing weapons are not a widespread problem and noted that the number is a tiny fraction of the military’s stockpile. Before publication of the AP’s investigation, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in an interview that the armed services can account for 99.999% of their several million firearms. “Though the numbers are small, one is too many,” Kirby said. Lawmakers’ focus so far had been a new reporting requirement, not systematic reform. Chart compares the number of unaccounted for U.S. military weapons from 2010-2019 by type of weapon The Pentagon used to share annual updates about stolen weapons with Congress, but the requirement to do so ended years ago, apparently in fiscal year 1994. In more recent years, the Office of the Secretary of Defense has decided when to advise lawmakers of “significant” losses or thefts. No such notifications have been made since at least 2017, the Pentagon said. Among the several hundred missing firearms that AP identified during subsequent years was a stolen Army pistol that authorities linked to shootings in New York. Other cases included weapons parts that an Army insider brought to the Texas-Mexico border to sell. On Thursday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said he planned to write a “mandatory reporting requirement” into the National Defense Authorization Act that Congress is drawing up this summer. In a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Blumenthal also asked that the Department of Defense’s Office of the Inspector General conduct “a thorough review” of policies and security procedures. Describing themselves as very concerned by AP’s findings, Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., have said they would be looking into questions raised by the reporting. The AP’s investigation, which began in 2011, is the first public accounting of its kind in decades, in part because neither the Department of Defense nor the armed services are required to tell the public about AWOL weapons. The Army, the largest of the military services and one with more than 3 million firearms, and Air Force could not readily provide data to the AP on how many weapons were lost or stolen from 2010 through 2019. Hall reported from Nashville, Tennessee; LaPorta reported from Boca Raton, Florida; Pritchard reported from Los Angeles. Also contributing was Robert Burns in Washington.

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