Pentagon Can't Account For All Exported Shoulder-Fired
In an investigative report highly
critical of the Pentagon, the General Accounting Office accuses
military leaders of losing shoulder-fired Stinger anti-aircraft
missiles, calling the worldwide effort to stop proliferation of
such weapons "toothless."
The report accuses the Pentagon of sloppy bookkeeping, of being
unable to answer for all the Stingers it's sold or given away. For
instance, Army records show that branch has sent 7,551 Stingers
overseas between 1982 and 2004. But a report by the San Francisco
Chronicle quotes the GAO as saying the real number was 8,331.
The Army says it never shipped Stingers to Egypt. The GAO report
shows 89 shoulder-mounted SAMs were actually sent to Cairo.
"The current international export control system is insufficient
to prevent the proliferation of shoulder-fired rockets designed to
take down aircraft of all kinds, including civilian airliners,"
said Rep. Duncan Hunter, (R-CA), chairman of the House Armed
Services Committee, in an interview with the Chronicle.
The DOD "lacks procedures for conducting Stinger inspections and
requirements for keeping inspection records," according to the GAO
report. This, even though Man Portable Air Defense systems
(MANPADS) like the Stinger fall under the Pentagon's "Golden
Sentry" program. Under the program, the Pentagon monitors the sale
and disposition of critical weapons systems.
But the GAO says Golden Sentry is apparently asleep on duty,
saying, "officials overseas use inconsistent practices to perform
Stinger inspections. ... (Defense Department) officials in one
country we visited reported opening the Stinger container cases to
count the missiles. (Department) officials in another country we
visited reported counting only the Stinger container cases."
According to the Chronicle, the report quotes TSA Deputy
Administrator Stephen McHale as saying, "Although there have been
no MANPADS attacks within the United States, the threat posed by
terrorists equipped with MANPADS is of credible concern," McHale
says in the report. "Even an unsuccessful MANPADS attack on a
commercial airliner would have a devastating economic and political