Our Heroes are Not for Sale

Yesterday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on the availability of counterfeit military parts online that will send ripples through our military services and the entire country. Key takeaways from the report illustrate the staggering danger posed by counterfeits in the military supply chain.

The GAO investigation found that not only are counterfeit military-grade electronic parts readily available for sale online, but that these suppliers—primarily from China—are more than willing to sell knowingly false parts.

The report was based on test-purchases of military-grade components from online sources.  Every single one turned out to be suspect counterfeit or bogus. Everything. It is apparent that these criminal counterfeiters went to great lengths to mask the true, illicit nature of these parts: identification and serial numbers were changed, parts were deficient from military standards, or parts were supplied that do not technically even exist.

To be clear, we’re not talking about walkie talkies here. Some of the most sensitive equipment that our war fighters rely on could fail because of counterfeit components. The GAO says, in seemingly bland terms, that failure of the component, “could pose risk to the overall system.” So what does that mean? Well, these bogus parts are used in numerous military aircraft, such as the C130 gunship and the F-15, Navy’s Trident submarines, and the Peacekeeper (ICBM) missiles! I’m not sure exactly what it means for a nuclear missile to “fail,” but it scares the heck out of me.

Over the past decade, we’ve heard numerous stories of downed helicopters or planes that have taken the lives of multitudes of America’s finest. What if some of these tragedies were preventable? Just think of the disaster that could occur—or has occurred—when an illicit component is unknowingly installed into an aircraft, let alone a missile carrying ten nuclear warheads.

In cases such as these, counterfeiting isn’t just a business, it’s potentially the cause of a disaster. Lives are in the balance, but these criminals remain indignant to that fact.

The possible consequences for our servicemen and women, and civilians around the world are endless. The GAO suggests that these fakes “have the potential to seriously disrupt the Department of Defense (DOD) supply chain, delay missions, affect the integrity of weapon systems, and ultimately endanger the lives of our troops.”

We thank the GAO for conducting the report, but remain alarmed at the ease with which these criminal enterprises are able to pass off fake military components as that of genuine ones. The GAO investigation underscores the absolute necessity for greater and better enforcement against the worldwide counterfeiting regime, which callously seeks to chip away at American lives.

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