A US soldier with ammunition for M249 light machine guns and M4 carbines at a base in New Jersey in May 2019.

The US Army’s process for producing ammunition faces “challenges,” a government watchdog says.
Problems with disorganization and bureaucracy may hamper that production, the GAO said in a report.
The issues come to light as the Pentagon is scrambling to ramp up its production of munitions.

Disorganization and bureaucracy could hamper the US military’s production of ammunition, according to a new report from a government watchdog.

This could spell trouble as US arms shipments to Ukraine have depleted American military stockpiles and sent the Pentagon scrambling to ramp up production of artillery shells and other munitions.

“The Army faces challenges in managing the procurement and production of conventional ammunition,” the Government Accountability Office warned in a study published in October.

US military ammunition production — including of bullets, howitzer and mortar shells, and small rockets — is overseen by the Army.

Production is centralized at five plants in Iowa, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Missouri, and Virginia, which are owned by the government but operated by private contractors, including General Dynamics and BAE. In 2021 — before the Ukraine war — the Army had a $2.9 billion budget to procure conventional ammunition.

Workers with 155 mm artillery rounds at Iowa Army Ammunition Plant in October 2020.

However, production has been complicated by multiple factors. For example, each plant has a different contract with different requirements. The contracts require the operating contractors to pay for maintenance while the government funds any plant modernization.

Not surprisingly, Army officials told GAO that “challenges in delineating what is considered maintenance and what is considered modernization can cause confusion about which party is responsible for the costs.”

Nor does the government always enjoy the bulk discount it should. Some contracts use a price matrix pegged to specific quantities.

“For example, if one round of ammunition costs 50 cents for orders between 100,000 and 200,000 units and 40 cents for orders between 200,001 and 300,000 units, an order for 200,000 rounds is not as cost efficient for the government as an order for 200,001 rounds,” GAO noted.

However, an even bigger complication is blurred responsibilities for multiple agencies, including the office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisitions and Army’s Material Command, Future Command, and Joint Munitions Command.

Workers perform .50-caliber linked-round inspection at Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in June.

Source:: Business Insider


The US military is scrambling to build more ammo for itself and for Ukraine, but old Army paperwork could get in the way

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