10 Pounds of Plastic Explosives Reportedly Missing from Marine Combat Training Base

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C-4 explosive is wrapped with detonation cord.
C-4 explosive is wrapped with detonation cord during demo day at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., Oct. 17, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Colton Brownlee)

Federal agents have launched an investigation into claims that high-powered explosives have gone missing from a Marine Corps training installation in California.

About 10 pounds of composition C-4 plastic explosives disappeared from Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms during a January exercise, ABC10 News in San Diego reported.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is investigating the matter, said Jeff Houston, a spokesman for the agency.

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Marine Corps officials referred questions -- including when the explosives are believed to have gone missing, how they're typically safeguarded, what units were involved in the recent exercise, and whether any suspects have been identified -- to NCIS. Houston declined to answer those same questions.

"Out of respect for the investigative process, NCIS does not comment on or confirm details relating to ongoing investigations," he said.

ABC10 News reported that military officials fear the explosives may have been stolen.

"The unit's commanding officer is considering extending the training exercise until the explosives are found," sources said, according to the outlet. "They also confirm the commanding officer messaged subordinate commands about a monetary reward for any information leading to the discovery of the C-4."

Retired Capt. Kelly Mayer told ABC10 that C-4 is one of the most powerful manufactured explosives, with a single pound of it capable of blowing up a vehicle when detonated.

Marine Corps photos show combat engineers and explosive ordnance disposal technicians training with the explosives at Twentynine Palms.

North Carolina-based Marines are currently training at the base, including 2nd Marine Division, based out of Camp Lejeune, and 2nd Marine Air Wing, based out of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, according to Marine Corps Times.

Members of 2nd Marine Division's 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, lost two rifles and a flak jacket during a 2019 exercise in North Carolina. NCIS is still investigating that incident. The weapons were never recovered.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

Related: A Year Later, NCIS Still Investigating the Case of the Missing Marine Corps Rifles

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