Milley downplays report of 1,900 lost or stolen military firearms

Milley downplays report of 1,900 lost or stolen military firearms
© Greg Nash

The U.S. military’s top general on Thursday downplayed a recent Associated Press report that found at least 1,900 military firearms had gone missing or stolen over the past decade, claiming the real figure was “much less.”

“I saw the reports as well ... I was, frankly, shocked by the numbers that were in there,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Army Gen. Mark MilleyMark MilleyAdaptability remains a constant — even as the 'character of war' changes Afghan civilian casualties hit record high amid US withdrawal Top US general won't rule out airstrikes against Taliban after withdrawal MORE told lawmakers during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing.

Milley said the numbers from service reports submitted to him as of Thursday morning on missing firearms “are significantly less numbers than are reported” in the AP story, which was released Tuesday. 

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“That's not to say it's zero, but it's much less. So, I need to square the balance here. I owe you a firm answer,” he added.

The extensive AP report found that at least 1,900 U.S. military firearms — including rifles, handguns, machine guns, grenade launchers, rocket launchers, mortars and shotguns — were lost or stolen across the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force.

The media outlet also found that some of the missing firearms were recovered after they were used in violent crimes or found on felons.

But because some of the armed services did not release basic information to the media, the numbers reported are likely an undercount, the AP concluded.

Milley said he asked each of the military services to comb through their records and get the numbers to Congress “to make sure that we can level set as to what's correct and incorrect.”

He added that the Pentagon takes weapons security “extraordinarily seriously,” and said any unaccounted weapons are “rigorously investigated.”

“There are weapons that we can't account for, but I can assure you that we take it extraordinarily seriously and I owe you the exact numbers that we're getting and I'll get you those very, very quickly.”