What are we paying for?

| June 3, 2023

News on two related fronts says we, the taxpayers, are getting screwed.

First up: Over a million F-35 parts are unaccountable. Meaning they are lost, in the wrong place, not    in the right inventory, something – $85,000,000 worth of wheredaheckisit.

Auditors said that because the government doesn’t have its own system tracking those parts, officials may not truly know how many spare parts are actually in the global spares pool, where they are, or their total value.

As a result, “the full quantity and value of these [lost] spare parts may be significantly higher” than the 1 million tally determined by the main contractor, Lockheed Martin, the document reads.

And disagreements between Defense Department offices and the main F-35 contractor, Lockheed Martin, over how to categorize missing parts are holding up the government’s effort to create its own reliable system to keep track of the parts, the GAO report states.

Defense News

Now, I’m just a country boy, but have dealt with a variety of multinationals and manufacturing contracts on most of the major continents, and I can tell you how it works: We made spares parts for the customer and told them we had them. They audited us, and we came up short on some of those parts. They told us to replace those parts most rikki-tik, at our expense, so they would be able to access them as the contract stated. Period, end of sentence, end of conversation.

Our budget is nuts, we piss money away like a beer drunk on diuretics, and no one we deal with seems to have any accountability (see: F-35 program cost over-runs. You will need LOTS of time.) How about we let Lockheed Martin make all those parts available as they are supposed to – and don’t even think of billing us for them? Bet they would get some accountability in their system with 85 million incentives on the line.

Now, on the second front: We preposition stocks at multiple locations worldwide in case a war pops up somewhere, and have done so for decades. When we started pulling inventory from Kuwait to send to Ukraine:

All six of the M777 howitzers and 25 of 29 M1167 High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles were not “mission ready” and required repairs before U.S. European Command could send the equipment to Ukraine.

Army pre-positioned stock, or APS, is meant to be kept at the highest level of readiness so that it can be used immediately in case of an emergency.

The inspector general issued the report mid-audit out of concern that “issues with poor maintenance and lax oversight of the [APS] equipment could result in future delays for equipment support provided to the Ukrainian Armed Forces,” the report read. “In addition, if U.S. forces needed this equipment, they would have encountered the same challenges.”

Defense News II

According to the article, 401st Army Field Support Battalion in Kuwait is responsible for overseeing contractor maintenance work by the contractor Amentum, which is based in Chantilly, Virginia. Now, there is another side to this: squabbles over how much of the mandated dollars are there. APS says they had only received $27M of the $91M they were  allotted – the IG says they received over $1B from 2016-2023 (which divides out to $120+ million annually). The command says the contractor is not obligated or funded to maintain to IG standards (the IG disagrees).

Me, I think I would consider relieving the CoC at the 401st and have someone take a serious look at Amentum’s contract to determine who does what.  If they are supposed to maintain to the levels the IG states…well, they need to get the vehicles up to snuff. Free.  One has to wonder what the military-retirement-to-cushy-Amentun-gig pipeline looks like… my money says there is probably a robust, direct link there.

H/t to Jeff LPH

Category: "Your Tax Dollars At Work", Army, Government Incompetence

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“Not on my hand receipts.”


Ever wonder what’s inside all those storage unit parks popping
up all over the damn place lately?
Yeah, me too.


Have they checked under the couch cushions? If they aren’t there I bet China knows where they are.


Nothing new here. Changes in designs or no bid contacts assure vendors and contrctors that you don’t need to worry about accountibility when you can bribe, I mean donate to a politicians campaign fund.


The DoD handles things differently than NASA. They have many of the same contractors, but getting money from the Space Administration is like getting blood from a stone. We gotta dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ twice to see a penny.


I wonder if it is because the DOD budget is 31 times larger?


Until someone’s paycheck and career (and possibly freedom) is on the line, no one gives a rat’s adz about their job.

I don’t know how to bring accountability to the politicians, bureaucrats, et al, but We The People need to start hammering our elected officials early and often (like (D)emon-rat voters).


What are the prospects that there never were so many parts actually acquired so much as having paid for the same parts over and over and over again?

Could be a handy way to launder funds to who knows where and when.

Old tanker

Funny how when you focus on diversity equity and perversion the mission seems to suffer.


I spent my last year-plus in uniform working for Acquisitions. Nice experience, great people–Contractor, DA Civilian, and Green-Suiter alike–but our $22B program had some accountability issues. The GS-12 (I believe) in charge of the Logistics Team was temporarily reassigned after we lost track of a few pieces of equipment, and his GS-14 manager was jumping out of his shoes trying to track it down. I went to Bragg just to get eyes on some of our stuff, while other Soldiers and Civilians went out to Microsoft HQ and other installations. We worked with Microsoft along with at least two contractors, and had equipment on a few installations, including prototypes or earlier iterations provided to sister services. The professionals in charge of Acquisitions aren’t necessarily masters of accountability. Having a background in Arms Rooms, despite my neanderthal 11B MOS, I was amazed at how lackadaisical the issuing and turn-in process was for fielding such new equipment to units.


Looks like some CORs and COTRs need to be updating their resumes. Real soon.

jeff LPH 3 63-66

The one part of the story is that they are not mentioning how many parts are being sold on the side from maybe Mil members that may have a part ner relationship with people that will sell the parts and other things to make up part of the deal. I’ll be im part ial about it until we can find out happened to the parts. Well that’s my part of the story. I will now de part from the above comment.
See you later Alligator


Yet if a troop loses a blank firing adapter or miscounts a sock on a packing list…

The system is complex, sure, but that should never be an excuse for this level of, at best, incompetence…

Skivvy Stacker

As an old Marine Supply Clerk I suggest that all missing parts be accounted for as “Lost in ship-to-ship transfer”, and they start over from scratch.


Somebody gots some ‘splaining to do…or not. The missing parts are in the same place that Hitlery’s emails and a certain gas company’s executive’s lap top is.

Nothing will come of this, no higher will lose their job, there may be some minions get thrown under the bus and transferred for…reasons.

Not even trying to hide the grift and corruption any more, are they?


This is the stuff I try to get across to
my civilian friends. Our government is grossly incompetent. In the past 50 years, not one thing the government has tried to fix has improved. But they still trust it…


Why would the federal government be any more efficient or accountable than state and local governments? Dig into your local gov’t. or school district operations and you will find just as much waste and mismanagement.

“That government is best that governs least” is true for several reasons.


Well, when I was in the Navy, I was in a squadron that worked on a particular type of aircraft that was…um…rather old. Some of the electronics components were in short supply. I was “organizational” level maintenance which generally meant, we were supposed to just pull the component out of the aircraft, slap a new one in and send the broken one in to “Intermediate” level maintenance for repair. Often, instead of just having a spare ready for immediate installation, we’d have to wait for a couple of weeks for a replacement, and we’d end up getting the same serial number unit back that we’d sent in for repair. They didn’t have any spares so they’d have to fix the one we sent them.

At sea, when we couldn’t just request a spare from the shore based intermediate level, we’d carry a couple of spares with us and then send broken units in for repair when we returned to port. Those particular units, we often only had one spare to take with us so, after two failures (did I mention these things were OLD?) we’d be having to do intermediate level repairs (without the proper equipment or test benches) right there at sea in order to keep our bird mission capable.


So, all of that was background for this: there used to be a military surplus/odds and ends shop in this area called “Grande Junction”. I was in there one weekend with my dad and lo and behold, they had three of these virtually unobtainable military electronics components on the shelf for sale to the general public.

I reported it to the fraud waste and abuse hotline. They investigated. To the best that they could determine, what happened is some Navy unit ordered parts and mistyped the “National Stock Number” by one character and ended up with these units, which they had no idea what they were even for. Instead of going through the paperwork hassle of returning the parts, they sent them to the “Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office” from whence they were sold to the public at auction…probably for like $50 or something like that.

That’s one way parts “disappear”. Mistyping a single digit in the NSN could get you a part completely unrelated to what you were actually trying to order.

I’m not saying that’s what happened to all those parts, but I’d imagine F-35 parts are probably expensive and it wouldn’t take a whole lot of mistakes like that to add up to a whole lot of money.

-orders 5 boxes of screws.
-receives 5 F-35 Fuselage access panel covers made of carbon-fiber interlaced unobtainium and painted with radar invisible IR absorbing paint…each item worth about $1.5million each.
-says “what the heck is this?” throws them in the trash and re-orders his screws.


That or like some enterprising young Soldiers I came across in Iraq did: they realized that they could order each part individually and not have to identify it as serialized instead of the built piece. So they ordered 5-10 spares of each part. When I arrived we now had instead of five working systems, we had three working, two down for repairs…and ten extra that we cobbled together from spare parts (not on the books)!