US Army accumulates $900 million in useless, obsolete parts

AFP Photo / Jung Yeon-JeRT News

The eight-wheeled Stryker armored vehicle, which enjoyed a visible role during the US mission in Iraq, is now the subject of reports of a badly managed maintenance program that is likely to cost taxpayers something around a billion dollars.

According to Washington State’s Tacoma News Tribune, nearly $900 million worth of parts accumulated at an Auburn, Washington warehouse, essentially collecting dust as they were never installed on General Dynamic’s Strykers deployed overseas – if they were ever needed in the first place.  

For example, a suspension issue that existed between 2007 and 2009 called for 15 replacement gears called pinions, though the Army ultimately purchased 9,179 of the parts, with the extras amounting to $572,000 in unneeded spending.

Another equally puzzling purchase came in the form of 7,568 units of gear netting — while the Army kept purchasing more units, costing a total of $892,896, there never existed a need for the parts as replacements.

At question is also why at least some of the redundant purchases were not put to good use in the building of new Stryker vehicles, though according to the Department of Defense Inspector General a “buyback charge” served as a disincentive for the manufacturer to reuse at least some of those parts.

While the total sum of $900 million might pale in comparison to the overall costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, an $18 billion shortfall due to Congressional efforts to curtail military spending, and deep cuts across the board on the federal government’s total budget are likely to make defense officials and American taxpayers cringe at the waste.

Though the Stryker received generally positive reviews from soldiers during its deployment in Iraq, and General Dynamics maintained a large number of the twenty-ton vehicles at combat readiness level, the massive sums of waste that neither the US Army or General Dynamics seems to be able to account for have left lawmakers concerned.

According to Washington’s Senator Patty Murray, who heads the Senate Budget Committee:

At a time when important programs for military and civilian families are facing serious cuts, it’s incumbent on General Dynamics and the Army to come together to address the problems raised in this report and to provide the accountability that the American people deserve.”

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