Inspectors Had Concerns

Long before the news hit of Minuteman missile components being errantly shipped to Taiwan, Air Force auditors found disconcerting shortcomings with the computer inventories of sensitive ballistic missile parts at Hill AFB, Utah, the Deseret Morning News reported April 6. Indeed, citing a May 2007 Air Force Audit Agency report acquired through the Freedom of Information Act, the newspaper revealed that USAF inspectors has warned that subpar recordkeeping could allow “inadvertent technology transfers” or “unintentional use by hostile parties,” of such components. When the auditors conducted a sample of 21 Minuteman and Peacekeeper missile components to see if they were logged into a computerized inventory system called G009, they found that “specifically, 20 (95 percent) of 21 sampled line items were not properly accounted for within G009 or another accounting system,” the newspaper said, citing the report. Further, physical inventories were not done adequately to match with computer inventories. The Pentagon announced March 25 that the Defense Logistics Agency mistakenly shipped Minuteman nosecone fuze assemblies to Taiwan in the fall of 2006—months before the audit—thinking they were helicopter batteries, and did not realize the extent of the mistake for more than one year. The gaff led Defense Secretary Robert Gates to order an investigation as well as a complete physical inventory of all nuclear equipment.