Around $1.8 billion in Army ground combat equipment is “deteriorating or at increased risk of deterioration” due to improper storage, Defense Department investigators have found.

A Department of Defense Office of Inspector General report published Monday uncovered critical deficiencies in how the Pentagon maintains and protects core components of the Army’s land capabilities. The shortfalls, the report warns, could endanger personnel, waste millions, and undermine readiness as the Army attempts to retool its logistical network for conflict across multiple theaters.

Investigators inspected $1.96 billion worth of equipment stored at two distribution centers controlled by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), the Defense Department bureau tasked with managing the military’s sprawling supply chains. The DLA’s distribution division, responsible for storing and disseminating materiel, handled a total $3.87 billion of Army ground combat gear as of July 2022, according to the report.

The spare parts stored at these facilities support some of the Army’s flagship land fighting technology, including the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the Stryker Armored Combat Vehicle, and the Abrams tank, the report noted.

Two-thirds of the inspected parts — valued at $1.31 billion — exhibited “critical” deficiencies, meaning they were “deteriorating and in immediate danger of moving to a lower condition code,” a measure of utility. In all, investigators determined that $1.8 billion (92%) of the inspected equipment was crumbling or at “increased risk” of falling apart because DLA storage facilities failed to follow Pentagon standards.

Among the spare parts in critical condition were 80 gas turbines, worth almost $90 million, stacked together on a lawn outside of a warehouse. The turbines, meant to be stored indoors, had been there since 2020, investigators learned. Investigators also found tens of millions of dollars worth of tank tracks, vehicle transmission assemblies, and diesel engines stashed away in open-air facilities without proper packaging.

Using appropriate containers and shielding gear from the elements can save millions. Investigators pointed to a case in 2021 when the Army spent $10.92 million to repair engines that had been improperly stored.

Inspectors also warned that cluttered, precarious piles of equipment risked injuring personnel working at the distribution centers.

The inspector general largely blamed the storage pitfalls on poor training and oversight.

“DLA Distribution did not provide adequate guidance to its personnel who are responsible for or support” equipment maintenance, according to the report. Investigators also found that DLA’s distribution division “did not have formalized training for the receiving, packaging, warehousing, or inspection personnel who are responsible for the storage and care of Army [ground combat systems] materiel.”

The report claims Army leaders failed to recognize the gaps in its materiel management because the branch does not “adequately oversee” how the parts of its fighting machine are cared for.

The inspector general issued eleven recommendations, including the implementation of new training regimes and regular inspections from the head of Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command. DLA agreed with them all.

Jaime Moore-Carrillo is an editorial fellow for Military Times and Defense News. A Boston native, Jaime graduated with degrees in international affairs, history, and Arabic from Georgetown University, where he served as a senior editor for the school's student-run paper, The Hoya.

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