The Pentagon may not know where some very sensitive equipment has disappeared to, but a variety of private resellers seem to have some idea where it might be found. A leaked US Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) document obtained by The Intercept details the agency’s inability to keep track of its explosives-detecting equipment, bequeathed to it by the Defense Department’s Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO).
While it did manage to track down some of its missing equipment at various equipment resellers (the document lists a variety of URLs, including ebay.com and craigslist.org), it still has no idea how much of it is still in the military’s possession.
In all, more than 32,000 pieces of equipment were issued. Some kits are still in use, making it difficult to compile a precise inventory of what was issued and what might be missing.
The March 2014 document asks for assistance in locating missing devices to prevent them from being used against the US and its allies. It also points out that the failure to keep tabs on this equipment is mostly internal.
These investigations also determined the loss and theft of advanced technologies intended to give US military personnel tactical advantage on the battlefield was due to poor accountability controls by many of the military units who were issued the gear.
The Intercept managed to track down two eBay listings for NCIS equipment — one from December of last year and an active listing for a CNVD-T Clip-On Night Vision Device Thermal System. For only $16,599, this equipment can be yours, if you don’t mind violating international arms trading regulations.
As is to be expected from a task force that is apparently unable to control its own inventory, JIEDDO isn’t a great steward of taxpayer funds.
JIEDDO has been heavily criticized over the years for expending large sums of money without attaining clear results. According to a 2012 report by the Government Accountability Office, JIEDDO had spent over $18 billion yet lacked an effective way to oversee its programs.
And as is so often the case when the government finds new ways to hand out military gear, those receiving the handouts seem alarmingly unconcerned with keeping close tabs on the equipment’s whereabouts. Last year, another Pentagon-related equipment dispersal program caught heat for its lousy inventory control systems. The 1033 program, which hands out military equipment and weapons to local law enforcement agencies, is decentralized and disorganized, leading to 184 law enforcement agencies losing their access to militarization toys for misplacing everything from several assault rifles to an entire Humvee.
So, the Department of Defense may do several things well, but ensuring sensitive/powerful military gear remains in its control — rather than in the hands of enemies or eBay users — isn’t one of them.
And, of course, the NCIS has refused to comment on the leaked document and has yet to make a bid it can neither confirm nor deny on its former property. If you’re so inclined, you can always contact the not-quite-redacted Steve Sheldon, Intelligence Specialist (NCIS Southwest Field Office) at (619) 556-1106 and inquire as to whether ~$17,000 is a fair price for a “like new” clip-on night vision scope.
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