The Pentagon plans to destroy $1.2 billion worth of ammunition, according to Pentagon and congressional sources.
It is unclear how much of the arsenal is still viable because the inventory for the Department of Defense doesn’t effectively share data, according to a Government Accountability Office report obtained by USA TODAY.
"There is a huge opportunity to save millions, if not billions of dollars if the [Pentagon] can make some common-sense improvements to how it manages ammunition," said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
"Despite years of effort, the Army, Navy and Air Force still don't have an efficient process for doing something as basic as sharing excess bullets,” he added. “This Government Accountability Office (GAO) report clearly shows that our military's antiquated systems lead to millions of dollars in wasteful ammunition purchases."
The Army and Pentagon said in a statement that it needs “to automate the process” and will make it a priority in future budgets.
A senior military officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that troops during the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars had a limited supply of 50-caliber machine gun and 9mm handgun ammunition.
"We simply cannot afford this type of waste and ineffectiveness," Carper said. "The (Pentagon) has a responsibility to efficiently manage its ammunition stocks, not only because it is important to be fiscally responsible, but also because our antiquated ammunition inventory systems can shortchange our war fighters and compromise their ability to complete their mission."
The GAO report urges Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to require the Army to make information available on all ammunition for use by all services.