DEFENSE DEPARTMENT

U.S. May Be Losing Track of Critical Night Vision Equipment

10/1/2009
By Sandra I. Erwin
It’s one of the U.S. military’s greatest advantages: specially designed night vision goggles that allow troops to see the enemy but not be seen.

For that reason, units in the field are expected to take great care to make sure the goggles don’t fall in enemy hands.

But a State Department official said that increasingly the Pentagon is losing track of its night vision equipment. State is responsible for transfers and exports of military technology.

“We’re having a lot of night vision go missing,” said Ruth Jackson, an official at State’s defense trade controls directorate. “There are reports of it all the time” from vendors that have exported devices to allies fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. U.S. allies go out on patrol with Iraqi and Afghan security forces and have access to this sensitive equipment. The problem is that allies don’t always make sure the goggles are secured from theft, she said at an Institute for Defense and Government Advancement conference.

“There are people out there who are working in sophisticated ways to get U.S. origin products,” said Jackson. “It’s not as amateurish as it used to be.”

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