Government records covering the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force show pistols, machine guns, shotguns and automatic assault rifles have vanished from armories, supply warehouses, Navy warships and elsewhere. These weapons of war disappeared because of security failures that, until now, have not been publicly reported, including sleeping troops and a surveillance system that didn’t record.
In one case, authorities linked an Army pistol stolen from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to four shootings in New York before it was recovered. Another stolen Army pistol was used in a Boston street robbery.
Weapon theft or loss spanned the military’s global footprint. In Afghanistan, someone cut the padlock on an Army container and stole 65 Beretta M9s — the same type of gun recovered in New York. The war zone theft went undetected for weeks, until empty pistol boxes were discovered in the compound. The weapons were not recovered.
While the AP’s focus was firearms, military explosives also have been lost or stolen, including armor-piercing grenades that ended up in an Atlanta backyard. In that incident and many others, military investigators closed the case without finding the person responsible.