Defense Department Keeps Losing 'Sensitive' Explosives Gear, Then Finding It For Sale On Ebay

from the Finders-v.-Keepers-comes-into-play-here,-but-with-international-ramifications dept

The Pentagon may not know where some very sensitive equipment has disappeared to, but a variety of private resellers seem to have some idea where it might be found. A leaked US Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) document obtained by The Intercept details the agency’s inability to keep track of its explosives-detecting equipment, bequeathed to it by the Defense Department’s Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO).

While it did manage to track down some of its missing equipment at various equipment resellers (the document lists a variety of URLs, including and, it still has no idea how much of it is still in the military’s possession.

In all, more than 32,000 pieces of equipment were issued. Some kits are still in use, making it difficult to compile a precise inventory of what was issued and what might be missing.

The March 2014 document asks for assistance in locating missing devices to prevent them from being used against the US and its allies. It also points out that the failure to keep tabs on this equipment is mostly internal.

These investigations also determined the loss and theft of advanced technologies intended to give US military personnel tactical advantage on the battlefield was due to poor accountability controls by many of the military units who were issued the gear.

The Intercept managed to track down two eBay listings for NCIS equipment — one from December of last year and an active listing for a CNVD-T Clip-On Night Vision Device Thermal System. For only $16,599, this equipment can be yours…. (Update: For what it’s worth, the ebay seller featured below got in touch to insist that he is a licensed dealer of these items from the manufacturer, and that it’s perfectly legal to sell these items).

As is to be expected from a task force that is apparently unable to control its own inventory, JIEDDO isn’t a great steward of taxpayer funds.

JIEDDO has been heavily criticized over the years for expending large sums of money without attaining clear results. According to a 2012 report by the Government Accountability Office, JIEDDO had spent over $18 billion yet lacked an effective way to oversee its programs.

And as is so often the case when the government finds new ways to hand out military gear, those receiving the handouts seem alarmingly unconcerned with keeping close tabs on the equipment’s whereabouts. Last year, another Pentagon-related equipment dispersal program caught heat for its lousy inventory control systems. The 1033 program, which hands out military equipment and weapons to local law enforcement agencies, is decentralized and disorganized, leading to 184 law enforcement agencies losing their access to militarization toys for misplacing everything from several assault rifles to an entire Humvee.

So, the Department of Defense may do several things well, but ensuring sensitive/powerful military gear remains in its control — rather than in the hands of enemies or eBay users — isn’t one of them.

And, of course, the NCIS has refused to comment on the leaked document and has yet to make a bid it can neither confirm nor deny on its former property. If you’re so inclined, you can always contact the not-quite-redacted Steve Sheldon, Intelligence Specialist (NCIS Southwest Field Office) at (619) 556-1106 and inquire as to whether ~$17,000 is a fair price for a “like new” clip-on night vision scope.

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Comments on “Defense Department Keeps Losing 'Sensitive' Explosives Gear, Then Finding It For Sale On Ebay”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Mountains out of molehills

In all, more than 32,000 pieces of equipment were issued. Some kits are still in use, making it difficult to compile a precise inventory of what was issued and what might be missing.

Umm, no actually, that wouldn’t be very difficult at all, assuming they kept even moderately accurate records. Simply check the records and see where each piece of gear was sent, then send the recipient a ‘request’ to check and make sure that they still have it, or provide the documentation regarding it’s allocation to wherever it was sent.

Unless of course they want to admit that they don’t even bother to keep track of who gets sent what, in which case I could totally believe that such a task would be difficult, if not all but impossible. In that case however, they’ve got bigger issues than just having some gear stolen every so often.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Mountains out of molehills

OR perhaps the FBI is running one of their little games listing allegedly “lost” pieces of equipment for sale online in hopes of bagging a poor sod that thought “hey wouldn’t it be cool to have one of these” so that they can paint him as a thief and a terrorist and claim that they foiled yet another terrorist plot.

Jimmy (profile) says:

Boosting departmental budgets

I wouldn’t be surprised if the police departments were selling them to boost their departmental budgets. I was looking through the list of who received what, and noticed that one of our local police departments received over 390 night vision scopes, and some other very large quantities of equipment. Yet they only have 25 cops on the force per their website.

GGFF9 says:

This article is misleading

This article is misleading. It makes it seems as though the stolen devices are ALL for military use only, which is not the case. The CNVD-T Clip-On Night Vision Device Thermal System, for example, is one that is used by the military and is on the stolen items list…BUT it can legally be used civilians as well. It is not safe to assume that all of these devices being sold on eBay are stolen, as many are sold legally and come straight from the manufacturer. Also the quote, “are NOT for civilian use and are controlled under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.” (ITAR) This statement is also misleading. This makes it sound like all devices that require an ITAR form are not for civilian use. There are many devices sold legally to civilians that require ITAR forms to be filled out before they can be sold to the civilian. An ITAR form is signed by the buyer stating he will not ship the device out of the country so that it cannot end up in the hands of terrorists. But again, civilians are legally able to sign an ITAR form and buy items that require them. While you do point out accurate information in your article, not all of it is accurate. You really should fact check before publishing.

I would also watch posting screenshots of sellers as they can come back and sue you for defamation of character for giving their business a bad name when you dont have all the facts.

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