Pentagon officials could be responsible for up to 50,000 publicly accessible websites, according to Stars & Stripes, which is both hilarious and extremely disturbing when you consider that this is the same Pentagon that once claimed it could keep track of every rifle fielded to partner forces in Syria.
Stars & Stripes' Chad Garland reports that acting Defense Media Activity chief Army Col. Paul Haverstick told a town hall of public affairs employees that the Pentagon runs an "undefined" family of websites estimated at "between 2,000 and 5,000" total, even though the DMA officially maintains around 825.
"There's just that many and we don't know where to begin," Haverstick said, per Garland. "It's an elephant and we're the size of a fly."
This, well, funny because it's frustratingly familiar, especially if you've ever had to find public affairs contact information on a U.S. military website (no offense guys!). But it's also deeply frustrating given that U.S. military officials once argued they could ensure that every piece of gear handed out to fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces would never accidentally end up in the hands of ISIS fighters!
To be clear: lol. A 2016 investigation into 14 years of Pentagon weapons contracts by the weapons proliferation non-profit Action on Armed Violence revealed that of the nearly 1.5 million firearms the Pentagon provided to security forces — including 978,000 M16 and M4 assault rifles — DoD officials only had records for around 700,000 weapons, or 48% of the total small arms detailed in open source U.S. government reports.
Previously, a 2014 report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) found that of the 474,823 weapons with serial numbers recorded in the Afghan National Security Forces' Operational Verification of Reliable Logistics Oversight Database (OVERLORD), 203,888 — a whopping 43% — had "missing information and/or duplication," making them near impossible to track.
And unfortunately, it's not like these missing guns are some small price to pay in the course of building up local security forces. A May 2018 Government Accountability Office assessment of the $4.1 billion Global Train and Equip found that in only 8 out of 21 training-and-equipping projects executed in 2016 and 2017 did partner nations experience an improved capacity, while " only some of the remaining 13 projects produced some positive results."
Websites are easy to track and inventory; firearms a little bit harder. If the DoD can't even bother keeping a close eye on the former, how are we ever to believe they can do so for the latter?
This is fine. Everything is fine.