By way of AP: Navy SEAL teams do not have sufficient combat rifles to go around, even as these remarkably trained forces are depended on more than ever to carry out counterterrorism operations and other secretive missions, as outlined by SEALs who have confided in Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif.
After SEALs return from a deployment, their rifles are assigned to other commandos who are shipping out, stated Hunter, a former Marine who served three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. This weapons carousel undercuts the “train like you fight” spirit of the U.S. special operations forces, they stated.
Hunter stated he’s been approached by several SEALs, but he refused to provide further information about the weapons they utilize in order to protect their identities. U.S. military officials stated they were looking into the problem.
Sharing rifles may appear inconsequential. It is not. The weapons, which are outfitted with telescopic targeting sights and laser pointers, are fine-tuned to individual specifications and become extremely personal items of gear. “They want their rifles,” Hunter stated. “It’s their lifeline. So let them keep their guns until they’re assigned desk jobs at the Pentagon.”
The issue is not a lack of money, reported by Hunter. Congress has regularly boosted the budgets of special operations forces in the years since the 9/11 attacks, he stated. Rifles also are within the least expensive products the military purchases, leading Hunter to question the focus of Naval Special Warfare Command, the Coronado, California, organization that oversees the SEALs. “There is so much wasteful spending,” he stated. “Money is not reaching the people it needs to reach.”
Combat rifles can cost up to several thousand dollars based upon upon the type of weapon and quality of the sights and other attachments. But the M-4 carbine, the common combat rifle utilized by the military branches, cost less than $1,000 each when bought in bulk, in accordance with Defense Department budget paperwork.
Hunter published last month to the Naval Special Warfare Command’s leader, Rear Adm. Brian Losey, about the supposed weapon shortage and also inquired him for a full accounting of how the command’s budget was spent last year. Losey has informed Hunter to anticipate a reply by Wednesday.
The congressman stated in the Feb. 17 letter that the command’s operation and maintenance account improved by nearly $11 million between 2014 and 2015. Yet it is “suffering from budgetary constraints and lack of funding impacting the ability to equip, train and support the SEALs’ critical needs.”
Army Gen. Joseph Votel, the leading officer at U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Florida, and Losey’s superior, explained to Hunter last week that he is mindful of the congressman’s issues. “We’re certainly running that down,” Votel said during testimony before the House Armed Services Committee.
Votel included that intensely used rifles require to undergo maintenance and that might be contributing to the understanding of a shortage. But “we’ll certainly take immediate action,” Votel stated, if it is confirmed the combat readiness of the SEALs is being degraded.
One of the SEALs who approached Hunter held responsible a slow, penny-pinching bureaucracy that seldom looks for input from the service members who utilize the gear, based on a brief excerpt of his comments that the congressman’s office supplied to The Associated Press.
Delays of as long as 3 to 4 years relax the purchase system, the SEAL stated. Once an product has eventually been permitted for purchase, new and better gear could be accessible, causing the same lengthy screening procedure to find if it’s worth getting rather.
Ammunition also is in short supply for training, the SEAL stated, because the bulk of it is being utilized for combat missions. Hunter also asked whether the cost of expanding the size of the special operations forces could have left too little in the budget for weapons.
To meet hefty demand, the number of active-duty troops allocated to Special Operations Command, which consists of SEALs, Army Green Berets and Rangers, and Air Force combat controllers, has grown significantly during the past decade – from more than 33,600 to 56,000. There are 2,710 SEALs.
The overall budget for Special Operations Command is $10.4 billion and the Obama administration is suggesting a $400 million increase over the current total for the coming fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.
In his letter to Losey, Hunter also stated he’s received reports that the command is sluggish to settle official travel claims due to some extent to money shortages. This can trigger personal and professional problems for SEALs, who hold high-level security clearances, he stated.