The United States has so thoroughly industrialized war that we rarely think about the clothes, food, oil, and weapons necessary to fight a modern war. But, with somewhere in the neighborhood of 800 bases in 80 countries, logistics and supply chains are more important as they’ve ever been.
So why don’t we ever hear about the Defense Logistics Agency? The very large but rarely talked about agency has more than 26,000 employees and spends roughly $40 billion every year, working with 24,000 suppliers to procure guns, uniforms, clothing, bullets, oil, food, medical supplies, and construction equipment, among other necessary items.
Despite its massive importance, the agency is largely ignored politically and by the layperson. Operating without strict oversight may have led to an environment in which tens of thousands of critical but defective gun parts were shipped to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to an extensive, year-long investigation for Motherboard by reporter Damien Spleeters.
Read more: When Big Guns Go Down
Thirty percent of soldiers who used the M249 machine gun have experienced jamming or stoppage of the weapon while engaging in combat; at least 60 guns literally exploded in the hands of American soldiers between 2008 and 2009, according to safety center records obtained by Motherboard.