Operation Desert Storm:

Lack of Accountability Over Materiel During Redeployment

NSIAD-92-258: Published: Sep 23, 1992. Publicly Released: Oct 15, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) controls over materiel returned from overseas theaters, particularly Southwest Asia, focusing on whether military assets were: (1) adequately safeguarded; (2) properly accounted for; and (3) efficiently and effectively returned to the wholesale supply system.

GAO found that: (1) the Army did not have oversight and control over its materiel during deployment due to improper container documentation, slowness in transportation system processing in Southwest Asia, and materiel never reaching its proper destination; (2) during the rapid redeployment at the end of Operation Desert Storm, existing problems were compounded by the failure to do inventories and documentation before shipping materiel back, causing delays and backlogs at receiving ports, and difficulty in determining specifically what was missing; (3) the Army could not keep track of containers in transit on commercial carriers, and will have to pay large detention fees for not returning leased containers to their owners on time; (4) containers were often stored in unsecured areas; (5) because of the lack of documentation, receiving depots can not properly schedule their work, have to physically examine each container's contents before making it available in the supply system, and can not determine if they have received all the materiel they are supposed to receive; and (6) because of processing delays, item managers have not been aware of what items may be returned to the supply system and have ordered new materiel instead. GAO also found that: (1) the Army did not follow its guidance for normal movement of materiel; (2) the Army has developed a plan to streamline its distribution of supplies and equipment, and correct many of its accountability and visibility problems; (3) DOD is developing a standard, automated, in-transit visibility and documentation system for its worldwide operations, and is planning a comprehensive management initiative to give operators and logisticians visibility of materiel through full integration of its supply, transportation, maintenance, and procurement functions; and (4) DOD is considering operating logistics depots in overseas theaters as part of the wholesale supply system.

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