US Pentagon weapon-silencer probe ‘may point to rogue operation’

The US Department of DefenseBy IAN ALLEN |
A complex criminal investigation into the procurement of weapon silencers by the United States Department of Defense may point to what one American newspaper described on Thursday as a “rogue operation”. The case concerns the Directorate for Plans, Policy, Oversight and Integration —an obscure Pentagon office staffed by a dozen or so civilian employees. Its stated mission is to provide logistical support and procurement oversight for intelligence operations conducted by the US Navy and the Marine Corps. According to media reports, more than two years ago the Directorate ordered 349 weapon suppressors, known commonly as silencers. By general admission, silencers are not the type of military hardware used in conventional combat. More importantly, the procurement cost of the silencers should have been no more than around $10,000. However, purchase records show that the Directorate paid the supplier of the silencers over $1.6 million. The supplier then turned out to be the brother of the Directorate’s officer-in-charge. Initially, Pentagon officials suggested that the silencers had been purchased for an authorized top-secret operation codenamed UPSTAIRS. The operation was allegedly a “special-access program” aimed at arming foreign paramilitary forces while avoiding the risk of the weapons being traced back to the US. Though limited details were provided, one government witness told the court that military hardware acquired through UPSTAIRS were intended for the US Navy’s Sea, Air, Land Team 6, commonly known as US Navy SEALs 6. The special-forces team became famous in 2010 when it carried out the Central Intelligence Agency’s operation NEPTUNE SPEAR, which successfully targeted al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Later during the investigation, however, SEAL Team 6 representatives told court officials that their unit “had not ordered the silencers” and knew nothing about them. Soon after that development, government prosecutors objected to further discussion of the case in open court due to the alleged “sensitive nature” of the case. Since then, much of the court documentation on the case has been filed under seal on grounds of national security. But the discrepancies in the case led The Washington Post on Thursday to speculate that the weapons silencers’ procurement may have been part of a “rogue operation”, that is, a military or intelligence activity that was not authorized by the Pentagon leadership. The Post spoke to an unnamed “former senior Navy official familiar with the investigation”, who said the Pentagon’s Directorate for Plans, Policy, Oversight and Integration were “building their own mini law enforcement and intelligence agency” without oversight from higher-ups. Another unnamed source, a former Pentagon official familiar with the Directorate, told the paper that “deeper issues might be in play” in the weapons-silencer procurement. US Navy officials are so far refusing to comment due to the ongoing court case.

4 Responses to US Pentagon weapon-silencer probe ‘may point to rogue operation’

  1. Anonymous says:

    10 000$ for 349 silencers makes it $29 a piece.

    A civilian available high-tier silencer is around $1500-$2000. (don’t take my word for it )

    1.6M for 349 silencers makes it $4585 a piece.

    Stuff bought by the military is almost always overpaid compared to civilian market because of the added costs of bidding and selling to the military, the added burden of extra warranty and service requirements, it also often include either training or maintenance formation.
    And true you can also add the the fact that once you’re in they pay what you bill.

    4585$ a silencer, while a high price, is well within the range of military contracts.

    While I don’t except anything of the failed artist and writers of the WaPo I had hopes that a digest that call itself Intelnews has at least some vague knowledge of how the military procurement works.

    Guess not. Bye.

  2. intelNews says:

    @Anonymous: We normally do not post trolling comments such as yours, especially when their authors hide conveniently behind a veil of anonymity. We made an exception in this case because –your ad hominem attack aside– you make a point that may be valid (providing, of course, that one accepts the ludicrous and highly unsustainable Pentagon procurement system. As the “About” section of this page suggests, we are intelligence experts, and know little about the Pentagon’s weapons or service procurement policies and procedures. As we tend to do in such cases, we will leave it to our informed readership to advise us by adding commentary to this post, though it would be preferable if further ad hominem attacks, such as the one posted above, could be avoided in the interests of fruitful discussion. [IA]

  3. Ignoring Mr Anonymous’s unhelpful parting sarcastic remarks which could have been redacted, the points he makes have merit and are at the center of investigations that may result in the exposure of scandals of Oliver North proportions for all I and many others know.

    Incidentally, being intelligence experts is not much use without the capability to research … say, for example, articles about issues concerning the Pentagon’s budgetary controls or lack of them. A few swift Google searches lead to many hundreds of thousands of articles about alleged overspends and alleged abuses (such as this) by the US government at large (including its myriad of intelligence agencies) spread over many years.

  4. Mike Walsh says:

    Dr. Fitsanakis and Mr. Allen,

    With regard to the purchase, isn’t it possible that the price included things that aren’t listed in any procurement document? After all, it is in connection with classified programs.

    Thanks for this and all of the interesting posts. Please continue to write them for the readership who simply want non-mainstream information. I’m sure you are going to get impolite and uncivilized comments from time to time, but I will tell you that in law enforcement (as I am) we get comments and “snarkiness” from people who often turn out to be cowards hiding behind something, whether it be a keyboard or anything else.


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