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SOCOM Supply Snafu Results in Millions of Dollars in Excess Gear

A technician inspects a land mobile radio on Joint Base Andrews, Md., Jan. 11, 2017. (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Valentina Lopez)
A technician inspects a land mobile radio on Joint Base Andrews, Md., Jan. 11, 2017. (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Valentina Lopez)

U.S. Special Operations Command has 4,420 more handheld radios than it needs and millions’ worth of other excess gear, the Pentagon's Inspector General's office reported Monday.

In all, SOCOM has about $26.3 million worth of equipment developed for special operators, or Special Operations-Peculiar (SO-P) gear, that exceeds the command's requirements, the IG's office reported.

"Excess equipment could result from USSOCOM erroneously buying more equipment than authorized, from distributing equipment incorrectly, or from a failure to dispose of equipment replaced by newer models," the IG's report said.

The report said SOCOM was unaware "that the U.S. Army Special Operations Command had 17,571 handheld radios according to its property records but was allocated only 13,351 in the capability documents, for an excess of 4,220 radios."

The IG evaluation ultimately looked at five types of SO-P gear: Binocular Night Vision Device; Future Assault Shell Technology-Helmet; Next Generation Tactical Communication Capability (Handheld Radio); Sensitive Site Exploitation‑Biometrics; and Suite of Integrated Radio Frequency Countermeasures.

Specifics regarding excess numbers of the other pieces of gear were redacted in the report.

As a result of failures to match requirements with the equipment in the inventory, some SOCOM units were awash in particular types of SO-P gear while other units had shortages, the report said.

For example, SOCOM allocated more kits to the Naval Special Warfare Command (SEALs) than needed. With better accounting, the SEALs' extra kits "could have been redistributed to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, which had not received its full allocation," the report said.

Because of redactions in the IG's report, the "kits" themselves were not described and the number that the SEALs had in excess was also blacked out.

SOCOM agreed with the IG's recommendations, including that the command update its guidance for the Table of Equipment Distribution and Allowances to call for periodic checks on what equipment has been authorized and what has actually been allocated.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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