Military News

Army shrinks stockpile of obsolete Stryker parts at local warehouse, new report says

An Army stockpile of obsolete Stryker parts in South King County, once valued in the tens of millions of dollars, is almost gone, according to a report.

The Army shed much of the excess parts in the two years since a Defense Department Inspector General report drew attention to lapses in oversight. An investigation in 2012-13 found about $892 million worth of replacement gear was allowed to accumulate at a government warehouse in Auburn without being entered into a military equipment database.

Now, the Army says it has $625 million worth of usable equipment in Auburn and about $7.5 million worth of obsolete parts. The Army has eliminated about $100 million worth of unusable Stryker gear since 2011, Ashley Givens, a spokeswoman for the Stryker program, said.

Secretary of the Army John McHugh forwarded the update on the Stryker program to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees in April to fulfill a provision in this year’s defense budget that demanded a report on the status of the Stryker warehouse.

“The Army has made strong progress on implementing the Department of Defense Inspector General’s recommendations and reducing the amount of unusable parts remaining in the Auburn warehouse,” McHugh wrote. “The Army will continue to work diligently until all of these matters are satisfactorily addressed.”

The Inspector General in 2012 and 2013 published three reports scrutinizing contracts the Army signed with Stryker manufacturer General Dynamics to keep the eight-wheeled machines running through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Stryker was developed just before the wars began, and it was modified several times during the conflicts. In some cases this led to the accumulation of unusable parts as requirements changed for newer models.

The Inspector General reports centered on the Army’s last $1.5 billion maintenance contract it awarded General Dynamics to keep up the Army’s fleet of Strykers through 2013. One report suggested the Army overspent on the contract because General Dynamics had little incentive to keep costs low.

The investigation that focused on the warehouse said the Army failed to monitor its supply of Stryker parts as it would other military vehicles. The Army incorrectly considered the equipment to be General Dynamics’ responsibility once it entered the warehouse, while General Dynamics thought it was the Army’s.

As a result, the Army did not know how much gear it had at the Auburn facility. General Dynamics estimated the value at just short of $900 million after the Inspector General requested a number. The report also identified at least $85.1 million worth of obsolete, high-value parts.

Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., wrote the amendment that required the Army to say what it did with the parts. McHugh’s update said the Army now has the Stryker parts in its proper accounting system.

Givens, the Stryker program spokeswoman, said the Army eliminated obsolete parts by disposing of them or turning them over to programs that could use them. She said the Stryker program typically uses more than $100 million worth of parts each year.

Strykers are the signature Army vehicles at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and are the foundation of the base’s Stryker brigades. They started arriving in 2001 as part of an effort to give the Army a rapidly deployable, medium-weight infantry carrier. It was a popular vehicle for commanders in the Iraq War because it could quickly deliver up to a dozen soldiers to hotspots almost anywhere in the country.

General Dynamics developed a heavier, blast-resistant version of the Stryker in 2010 that was meant to deter risks soldiers faced in Afghanistan. The changes were credited with saving lives in that war. The defense manufacturer now has a contract to upgrade original “flat bottom” Strykers into the better-protected “double-v hull” model.