The majority of the Army’s tasers are past their intended service life and are not operational, largely due to depleted batteries, according to a report the service submitted to a Senate panel last year.
Army Times obtained the September 2020 report, which stated that 58.5 percent — 6,650 of 11,377 — of the service’s X-26E tasers are not operational.
The failure rate is at 77 percent for non-deployable units organized under tables of distributions and allowances. These TDA units include installation Directorates of Emergency Services, which oversee law enforcement and physical security at Army posts.
“Those systems have the highest operational (daily) use at Army installations,” the report said. “[They] were procured commercially more than 10 to 12 years ago on average...and are not currently eligible to be sustained under the Program of Record.”
The Army issues tasers to troops and civilians in both garrison and deployed environments. According to a National Guard Bureau fact sheet, less-lethal weapons such as tasers are also included in the specialized training received by the National Guard’s crowd control and civil disturbance response forces — known as National Guard Reaction Forces.
The report attributes the failures primarily to dying batteries that the Army can’t replace, in addition to the age of the weapons.
“The majority of failures are caused by depleted batteries, which are available in limited supply from the Defense Logistics Agency,” the report says. “The vendor no longer produces this X26E battery type. Once inventory is depleted, there is no resupply available.”
Replacing the X-26E across the force with the newer X-26P model would cost $27.5 million, the Army estimated in the report.
Although the report was submitted in response to a request from lawmakers in the fiscal 2021 defense bill asking that the Army explore replacing its tasers, the upgrade plan may fall victim to competing modernization priorities for the service.
The Army had to make tough decisions in how it prioritized its projects in the 2022 budget request it sent to Congress. If enacted, the Biden administration’s request would see the service take a $3.6 billion funding cut overall.
“We’re balancing readiness, we’re balancing modernization, so we are having to make some hard choices,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth told lawmakers in June.
Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army, specializing in accountability reporting, personnel issues and military justice. He joined Military Times in 2020. Davis studied history at Vanderbilt University and UNC-Chapel Hill, writing a master's thesis about how the Cold War-era Defense Department influenced Hollywood's WWII movies.