Maintenance Failures on Army Equipment Stored at Kuwait Base Posed Deadly Risk, IG Says

June 7, 2023

Jun. 1—Equipment stored at a U.S. base in the Middle East needed costly repairs before being sent to Ukraine, the result of a lapse in oversight that also could hamper the Army's ability to quickly supply its own troops, a recent Pentagon report found.

The service's 401st Field Support Battalion at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait didn't properly supervise an unidentified contractor responsible for maintaining pre-positioned M777 howitzers and Humvees that ultimately were found not battle-worthy, a Defense Department Inspector General report released May 23 said.

Some of the guns were in such bad shape that they could have killed the teams using them in combat, the report found.

As a result of the neglect, thousands of dollars were spent to repair and maintain the equipment designated to help Ukraine in the war against Russia, according to investigators.

Repairs included replacement of rotted Humvee tires and fixes to a part on some guns that if left unrepaired could have resulted in a catastrophic explosion, the report said.

"While this advisory focuses on the condition of equipment identified for use by the Ukrainian armed forces, the advisory also provides insights into larger issues with the maintenance of all Army prepositioned stock- Southwest Asia," or APS-5, according to the report.

It noted that an overall audit of the or APS-5 program was ongoing.

Investigators found that poor maintenance and lax oversight at the facility in Kuwait resulted in deficiencies on 25 of 29 Humvees and six howitzers that had been deemed fully mission-capable and designated for use by Ukrainian armed forces in 2022.

Some parts on the guns were improperly aligned and the contractor reused old hydraulic oil in violation of standards, the report stated.

To fix the problems, the Army had to send a repair team to Camp Arifjan in Kuwait to conduct quarterly and annual maintenance on the guns. The contractor ultimately reimbursed the DOD for $114,087 in labor and travel expenses, according to the report.

After the battalion and the contractor said the guns were ready for use and shipped them to U.S. European Command, more problems were discovered that resulted in $17,490 in additional costs, the report stated.

Had maintenance and distribution workers in Poland not inspected and addressed the howitzer and Humvee problems before delivery, Ukrainian armed forces personnel would have been endangered or the equipment would have failed during battle, the report said.

The service's pre-positioned stock program stores military equipment such as tanks, combat vehicles and weapons systems in at least five locations across the world, including ones in Europe and the U.S.

The program helps to reduce deployment times by allowing soldiers to fly to a theater and quickly have access to the equipment needed, according to the Army.

Army Sustainment Command and Army FSB-Kuwait officials disputed some findings in the report, saying that the IG's use of a certain technical manual in its investigation was not consistent with the manual used by the command.

They also said the Army had funded APS-5 maintenance at only about 30% of the $91.3 million requirement for 2023.

Defense officials also said the contractor was not obligated to provide maintenance at the level required by the technical manual used by investigators.

IG officials said that assertion was inaccurate and that between Aug. 31, 2016, and April 13, 2023, the service had paid the contractor $971.8 million to maintain and store APS-5 equipment to Army standards.

The report recommended that the deputy chief of staff of the Army consider maintenance and lead time needed before selecting APS-5 equipment as a source for Ukrainian armed forces.

Investigators also recommended that the battalion commander develop and implement procedures to check for maintenance deficiencies and fix problems before transfer of equipment to Ukraine.

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