Alleged Waste of 5.56 mm Blank Ammunition Used in M-16 Rifles During Training Exercises at Fort Hood, Texas

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

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


    ‘                                              WASHINGTON.


             -8 Dear Mr.     Udall:
                       We have investigated  the allegation         which you forwarded      7
                 to us on July 20, 1971, that 5.56 mm blank ammunition            used in
                 M-16 rifles  had been wasted during     training-exercises       con-
             !   ducted by the Army's 529th Military       Intelligence      Company at ^ -."I I
        /-       Fort 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-

                        The incident   described    in the informant's    letter     did oc-
                 cur.     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 l-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 personnel
                                                                          r;--- -'       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

                                             50 TH ANNIVERSARY     1921-   1971 m
. -c
    7.           -

     l   .


                         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 the 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 class.-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            objectives      of the 5th.U.S.         ArmyPs
                         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 their      efficiency       ratings
                         would be downgraded if they failed                   to achieve the go-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,
                         III Corps and Fort Hood, and with members of his staff.               He
                         said that the failure        of a unit to achieve the go-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 go-percent    goal was not

achieved,  to preclude  the waste of ammunition.    We were ad-
vised that Fort 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   with   you fur-
ther   if you so desire.
                                   Sincerely      yours,

                             DeputYComptroller  General
                                   of the United States

The Honorable  Morris K. Udall
House of Representatives


        Dear Senator       Proxmire:
                    On August 6, 1971, you sent us a letter    from Mr. William R. Meyer     which
         questioned Hughes Tool Company and Bell Helicopter           Company oontractual    restric-
         tions against Government sale or donation of used helicopters            to State   or local
    i    governments.         You requested a preliminary   examina&n    of Department of    Defense
           . _.^_
               .-.._    procedures.

              We examined 17 contracts  awarded between 1950 and 1969 to Bell Helicopter                j> 'Lb"
        Company and Hughes To=-Company for OH-13 and TH-55 helicopters    and found no                  II ? : ^
        contractual  restrictions  on Government resale.

                 On July 31, 1971, about 4,700 inactive    aircraft   were stored at the Military
    -_'. Aircraft    Storage and Disposition   Center, Davis-Monthan    Air Force Base, Tucson,         ' 1'
         Arizona.     These aircraft  included about 800 helicopters,      of which 270 were

              The Department of Defense usually reclaims needed parts            from excess air-
        craft before disposing of them. Aircraft    then are available           for transfer to
        other Government agencies and for donation to State or local             governments or
        to other authorized   donees.

                  We discussed the above information     with your office     and were told that no
        further      work was necessary.   As requested,     we are returning    Mr. Meyer's letter.

                                                                   Comptroller  General
                                                                   of the United States


        The Honorable William          Proxmire
h       United States Senate

                                            50TH   ANNIVERSARY   1921-   1971