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AP declares “Pentagon destroying millions in useable equipment” July 23, 2007

Posted by daveintexas in Current Events, Politics.

Suckers take bait and cry foul.

The article mushes together two claims and attempts to back it up with quotes from surplus dealers who buy up used and or surplus military gear, often selling it back to the DoD if and when it’s needed again.

This sounds outrageous.  It’s not.  The DoD is merely outsourcing logistics and warehousing of still-useful equipment to a more cost-effective provider.  Lower cost providers.  Contractors with clearances and warehouses and trucks, and good inventory systems.

At the heart of this “controversy” is “what should be destroyed, because it is sensitive, and what should be outsourced and stored for possible re-use”?

Defense procurement at the Federal level is a messy affair.  Back when I had a hand in it, there was a big room in the building with 52 manuals in it, the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations, or DFARS, parts 1-52.  Without going into mind-munbing detail, let us stipulate on occasion, particularly in time of war, we sometimes order more than we need.

It has to be accounted for, moved, and stored.  And the private sector can do it at a lower cost.

Some items, like, oh I dunno, say the recently retired from service F-14 Tomcat replacement parts, should be scrapped.  They shouldn’t be sold to third parties, and should only be sold to friendly governments who still have F-14s in service.

Because Iran would desperately love access to those parts for its aging and largely grounded fleet.

The article claims the DoD is lumping everything together indiscriminately, and destroying it all.  Boots, water packs, binoculars… except when you read further, this becomes not asserted fact, but a concern expressed.

By third party logistics companies, who have a vested interest.

Money quote:

The surplus association doesn’t know how many downgraded items are useful. But it said it commonly finds useful and even new gear among surplus designated as scrap.

Well certainly it could.  A mistake can be made.  Or equipment such as “binoculars” which sounds harmless enough being targeted for crunching up, well that just sounds wrong.  Unless these binoculars have some interesting capability (such as night vision, a technology which is well guarded, and appropriately so).

The DoD is taking action to tighten access to certain surplus items because some of them have found their way to China and Iran.  Possibly, and likely through some 3PLs to pass-through intermediaries in countries like Malaysia.

So yeah, I’d get tougher too.  And if I were able to determine your company had mishandled or resold this stuff in violation of the law, I’d prosecute you.  If it were merely violation of my new rules, I’d yank your contractor security clearance and watch your company die a slow death.

Particularly if you were trying to paint this as a DoD incompetence story when there is clearly more to it than that.



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