Allegation That Ammunition Was Wasted During Training Exercises

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1971-10-21.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

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                                          WASHINGTON, D.C   tOUt

      B-173708             oo                                         OOT 2 11971
      Dear Mr. Udall:

            We have investigated the allegation which you forwarded
      to us on July 20, 1971, that 5,56 mm blank ammunition used in
      M4-16 rifles had been wasted during training exercises con-
      ductod by the ArysS29th Military Intelligence Company at
      Port Hood, Texas,
> <       ~We reviewed pertinent regulations, records, and proce-
      dures and interviewed personnel of the 529th Military Intel-
      ligence Company and Headquarters, III Corps and Fort Hood,
      As you requested, we did not disclose the identity of the in-

VJ         The incident described in the informant's letter did oc-
V      ur, The commanding officer of the company admitted that
      some 5.56 mm blank ammunition had been fired needlessly, but
      he contended that only 7,500 to 10,000 rounds, valued between
      $450 and $600, were involved rather than the 22,000 rounds
      reported. We could not verify the amounts because of. the
      lack of documentary evidence,

           At the time the incident occurred, the 529th Military
      Intelligence Company had the responsibility of providing
      prisoner-interrogator training. Included in this training
      was a 1-week field exercise designed to provide the troops
      with some degree of realism as to what to expect when they
      were assigned to field interrogation duty in Vietnam. Dur-
      ing the field exercises aggressors attacked the compounds in
      an attempt to liberate the prisoners. Blank ammunition was
      used in the attacks and defense of the compounds.

           Six classes of active and Reserve Army personnoJ. have
      completed the interrogator-training program in the last year',
      and no future classes are planned. The informant attended
      the fifth class.

           Several factors contributed to the incident reported.
      The company ordered more ammunition than it should have,
      the class was much smaller than had been planned, and a

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                                                 1921 -1971

management objective prescribed by higher headquarters has
been misinterpreted,

     We found no records supporting the quantities of 5.56 mm
blank ammunition requested, nor could personnel presently as-
signed to the company explain how tho quantities had been de-
termined, Using the guidance contained in Army Regulations,
we estimated that the company should have ordered about
13,000 blank ammunition rounds for the fifth class rather
than the 30,780 rounds it forecast and ultimately received,
Furthermore, only 25 of the 45 students originally expected
for the fifth class actually reported. This would have fur-
ther reduced the requirement from 13,000 to 9,000 rounds.

     We should point out that no 5,56 mm blank ammunition was
requested for the sixth clu'is, After this class completed
its field exercise, nearly 21,000 rounds were returned to
stores, Although some ammunition was fired needlessly,-con-
siderable quantities apparently had been retained from ear-
lier classes for subsequent use.
     One of the operating nbjectives of the 5th U.S.'Army!s
management improvement program is that unit commanders use at
least 90 percent of the ammunition requirements which they
forecast. They are required to explain the reasons for any
shortfalls. We received the impression during our review
that unit commanders believed that thoir efficiency ratings
would be downgraded if they failed to achieve the 90-percent
goal, Although the 5th Army's objective probably was to fos-
ter more accurate requirements forecasts, a different result
was achieved. The ammunition was fired needlessly rather
than returned to stores.

      We discussed this problem with the Commanding General,
 MIl Corps and Fort Hood, and with members of his staff. He
said that the failure of a unit to achieve the 90-percent
goal was not intended to affect the commanders' efficiency
ratings, Since commanders seemed to believe that it would,
however, he said that he would cancel the requirement that
explanations be given when the 90-percent goal was not


achieved, to preclude the waste of ammunition, We were ad-
vised that Port Hood would simplify procedures for returning
ammunition to stores and would do what was necessary to pre-
clude this type of incident from recurring,

     We shall be pleased to discuss this matter hith you fur-
ther if you so desire.

                                 Sincerely yours,

                         DeputyComptroller General
                              of the United States
The Honorable Morris IK, Udall
Hou3e of Representatives