Defense Logistics:

Actions Needed to Enhance the Security of High-Risk Ammunition at Storage Locations

GAO-19-118: Published: Nov 5, 2018. Publicly Released: Nov 5, 2018.

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Diana Maurer
(202) 512-9627
maurerd@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
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youngc1@gao.gov

The Department of Defense stores all of its ammunition in secure locations. However, "Category I" ammunition—such as ready-to-fire nonnuclear missiles—is especially lethal and needs additional security.

We reviewed DOD's Category I ammunition storage in select domestic locations and found that the military services:

did not conduct some storage location security inspections on time

did not consistently document whether all identified security deficiencies were resolved

We recommended the services take action to ensure these inspections follow existing policy and that DOD revise guidance on documenting security deficiencies.

Javelin Missile—An example of a Category I Ammunition item

Photograph of two soldiers firing a portable, shoulder-launched missile system known as a Javelin missile.

Photograph of two soldiers firing a portable, shoulder-launched missile system known as a Javelin missile.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Diana Maurer
(202) 512-9627
maurerd@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

What GAO Found

Military service guidance for safeguarding Security Risk Category (SRC) I ammunition—which consists of nonnuclear, portable missiles and rockets in a ready-to-fire configuration—is not consistent with all of the Department of Defense's (DOD) minimum requirements. For example, DOD's guidance requires at least 8 hours of backup power for intrusion detection systems, but the Army, Navy, and Air Force guidance requires only 4 hours. The Army and Navy have drafted updates to their guidance to be consistent with DOD requirements and planned to issue revised guidance by or before the end fiscal year 2018. Marine Corps and Air Force officials told GAO they also plan to revise their guidance to be consistent with DOD requirements.

Examples of Physical Security Requirements for Ammunition Storage

Examples of Physical Security Requirements for Ammunition Storage

The military services have conducted inspections of the physical security at locations with SRC I ammunition that GAO reviewed, and have identified security deficiencies. However, GAO is not identifying examples of deficiencies in this report because DOD deemed such information sensitive. GAO determined that some inspections were not conducted on time in accordance with military service guidance. For example, GAO reviewed 125 Army, Navy, and Marine Corps inspection reports from select locations and found that 54 inspections (or 43 percent) were late by 1 day to 14 months. These services have not taken actions to help ensure that physical security inspections are being conducted on time. Without taking actions to help achieve the services' requirements for timely inspections—such as assigning roles and responsibilities for monitoring—the services are at greater risk of compromising the security of SRC I ammunition.

In addition, it is unknown whether the military services have resolved all security deficiencies because the services do not consistently document resolutions. For example, only 3 of 14 Army locations provided documentation about how identified physical security deficiencies were resolved. DOD guidance does not require such documentation, and therefore GAO could not determine whether 29 of the 35 selected locations reviewed across the services had consistently resolved all identified deficiencies and, if so, what steps were taken to do so. Revising DOD guidance to ensure that the military services establish a process for documenting the resolution of all identified security deficiencies would help the services further reduce the risk of loss or theft of SRC I ammunition.

Why GAO Did This Study

DOD maintains stockpiles of ammunition for use during operations, including SRC I ammunition. SRC I ammunition requires a high level of protection and security due to its ability to cause extreme damage or lethality.

Senate Report 114-255 (2016), included a provision that GAO evaluate how DOD and the military services have established and maintained physical security measures at DOD locations with SRC I ammunition. GAO's report evaluates the extent to which (1) military service guidance is consistent with DOD's requirements for safeguarding SRC I ammunition and (2) the military services have identified and resolved physical security deficiencies at selected locations that store SRC I ammunition. GAO reviewed DOD guidance, visited selected military locations that were chosen based on size and variety of SRC I inventory, and interviewed officials. GAO also analyzed security inspection reports from 2014 to 2017.

This is a public version of a sensitive report that GAO issued in September 2018. Information that DOD deemed sensitive has been omitted.

What GAO Recommends

GAO is making five recommendations, including that the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps take actions to ensure their physical security inspections of locations that store SRC I ammunition are completed in accordance with policy, and that DOD revise its guidance to require that the services establish a process to consistently document the resolution of all identified physical security deficiencies. DOD concurred with all five recommendations.

For more information, contact Diana Maurer at (202) 512-9627 or maurerd@gao.gov.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should direct the Army's Provost Marshal General to take actions to help ensure that physical security inspections at locations with Arms, Ammunition, and Explosives (AA&E) are conducted on time, as required by Army guidance. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  2. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy should direct the Chief of Naval Operations' Supply, Ordnance, and Logistics Operations Division to take actions to help ensure that physical security inspections at locations with AA&E are conducted on time, as required by Navy guidance. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  3. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy should direct the Marine Corps Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies, and Operations to take actions to help ensure that physical security inspections at locations with AA&E are conducted on time, as required by Marine Corps guidance. (Recommendation 3)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  4. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should direct the Air Force's Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection, Directorate of Security Forces, to take actions to help ensure that inspectors at locations with AA&E are consistently documenting in inspection reports that all minimum requirements for physical security were checked. (Recommendation 4)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

  5. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence to revise DOD guidance to require that the military services establish a process to consistently document the resolution of all identified physical security deficiencies. (Recommendation 5)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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