DOD plans Stinger tracker

"GAO Report: Further Improvements needed in U.S. Efforts to Counter Threats from Man-Portable Air Defense Systems"

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Defense Department officials expect an electronic database and monitoring system for Stinger missiles to be in place by October.

A recent report from the General Accounting Office concluded that DOD lacks the tools needed to ensure that Stingers sold overseas don't find their way to rogue nations or terrorist groups. Stingers are man-portable, shoulder-fired guided missile systems designed to shoot down low-altitude jets, propeller airplanes and helicopters.

The military is required to inventory every Stinger missile system sold overseas annually. "However, DOD's inventory inspection process has flaws," the GAO report states. "First, DOD records on the number and destination of Stingers sold overseas are incomplete, unreliable and largely in hard-copy form. Second, DOD officials overseas use inconsistent practices when inspecting Stinger inventories because DOD lacks procedures for conducting these inspections."

Military officials planned to issue procedures for conducting inspections to all overseas officials with inspection responsibility in December 2003. But as of April 2004, no such guidance had been released, the report stated.

The GAO recommended that the Defense Secretary:

Establish standardized requirements for keeping Stinger missile records.

Create an electronic database to consolidate all DOD records for Stinger missile systems sold overseas and track the worldwide Stinger inventory.

Direct that standardized procedures for conducting Stinger inspections be issued.

DOD officials concurred with the findings and said a tool is being built now to have a database and monitoring system in place by October of this year. The new system is meant to:

Give authorized users access to the data to determine the location or sale of Stingers and other weapons systems the department is required to monitor.

Allow for the entry of serial numbers, notes, inspection histories and technical details on the weapons in the U.S. arsenal and those sold abroad.

Provide a method to track extract and report on all data.

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