The single manager for conventional ammunition (GAO report)


#1

In june, 1996, the United States General Accounting Office (GAO) made a report to Congresional Requesters titled Defense Ammunition: Significant problems left unattended will get worse. This report is very interesting and deserves a full reading. It deals with the aging of the ammunition stock in US inventories, and other important subjects.

gao.gov/archive/1996/ns96129.pdf

Some excerpts:

In 1977, the Army became the single manager for conventional ammunition, assuming responsibility for the storage, management, and disposal of wholesale inventories of ammunition and explosives for all the services… As the manager of the wholesale ammunition stockpile, the Army undertakes all the management functions—distribution, storage, inventorying, surveillance, maintenance, and disposal. The Army’s effectiveness in performing these functions determines the stockpile’s readiness. The services own 80 percent of the total tonnage of ammunition stored by the single manager. The Army owns the largest amount, 43 percent, followed by the Air Force with 17 percent, the Navy with 13 percent, and the Marine Corps with 7 percent… The remaining 20 percent of the wholesale stockpile is ammunition designated for disposal (12 percent) and industrial and interservice support agreement stocks (8 percent). (p. 15 et seq.)

The single manager’s success in implementing the management plan is
limited by the services’ lack of incentives to identify excess ammunition.
The services are not inclined to determine which of their ammunition is
required and declare the remainder excess because once ammunition is
declared excess, a service is not reimbursed for its cost if another service
wants it. Also, the services have no incentive to mark ammunition for
disposal because they do not have to pay the single manager to store it. (p. 66)

DOD stated that the age of an ammunition item is not necessarily related
to its combat usefulness. DOD also stated that depots normally ship the
older lots first. However, in our visits to ammunition depots, we were told
that the older lots are not shipped first unless it is cost-effective to do so.
Furthermore, we noted many ammunition items dating from the 1940s to
the 1960s. Also, as found by the single manager’s stock rotation study in
1985, soldiers in the field demanded the newest and best lots of
ammunition available. We agree that just because ammunition is old does
not mean it is unusable. However, we question whether much of the
ammunition dating from the 1940s, for example, will ever be used. (p. 91)

Here’s a capture of one of the illustrations included in the report:

What type of 20 mm cartridges are these?

Cheers,

Schneider.


#2

I think the quote from the lower photo’s caption is a little optimistic where it says: “They noted that if ammunition is stored properly, it is as good as the day it was manufactured.”

That might be true for some typical non-corrosive ball cartridges that are kept very dry and stable, but there’s allot of factors that can make that not happen. Like if the cartridges are contacting material that might corrode the case like some printed cardboard, some metal strippers, and whether or not there’s any hydrogen-sulfide or tannic acid in the vicinity. Then there’s tracers of course, which may or may not live very long due to chemical interaction. And if it’s anything with a HE charge in the warhead, would you want to use it in combat after 60 years? That being said, I seem to remember that the troops in Desert Storm were using some 1940’s surplus 50BMG in machine guns, so apparently it’s good enough some of the time - but it’s been 20 years since that conflict…


#3

Schneider,

That would be 20 x 110mm H-S M95 AP-T ammunition in the boxes.

Dave


#4

Well, with this reasoning, they can always win the argument: “if you open an old ammunition container and the ammo is not in good condition, THEN it has not been stored properly”.

US shooters, being the main military surplus ammo market in the world, must have seen all kinds of things happenning to old military ammunition.

In page 52 of the report there’s a photo showing the storage of Maverick missiles completely outdoors, and it says the same happens with Hawk and Patriot missiles.


#5

The British Army seems to release its old stocks of small arms ammunition to civilian use routinely at about five years old. I don’t know what mechanism they use to rotate the stock but it seems well ordered.

However, they held on to stocks of 55RG .303 well into the late 70s and it seemed to still be OK. Storage conditions are the key.


#6

[quote=“VinceGreen”]The British Army seems to release its old stocks of small arms ammunition to civilian use routinely at about five years old. I don’t know what mechanism they use to rotate the stock but it seems well ordered.

However, they held on to stocks of 55RG .303 well into the late 70s and it seemed to still be OK. Storage conditions are the key.[/quote]

And the type of propellant, the .303’s were cordite loaded, cordite has a very long life.

gravelbelly