F.E.Warren’s Role In Errant Taiwan Shipment

We’ve been wondering why Defense Secretary Robert Gates came down so hard on the Air Force over the Defense Logistics Agency’s mistaken shipment of four Mk-12 forward section reentry vehicle assemblies for the Minuteman III ICBM to Taiwan in 2006. However, the timeline of the saga, which Gates’s office released last Thursday to accompany his press briefing on the resignations of Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne and Gen. Michael Moseley, Chief of Staff, does show some USAF culpability. But Gates did not specifically discuss this while at the podium or explain this in his speech to airmen yesterday at Langley AFB, Va. The timeline starts March 8, 2005, with DLA’s shipment of 10 of the classified forward section assemblies from its depot on the grounds of Hill AFB, Utah, to F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo. Twenty days later, F.E. Warren officials returned four of the assemblies to Hill. But here’s the kicker: “Due to supply shipping errors,” they were sent to DLA’s unclassified warehouse “with inaccurate description information on the outside of the containers,” according to the timeline. They should have been sent to DLA’s classified storage. This shipping error then snowballed on March 30, 2005, as the DLA receiving custodian did not follow procedures and open the containers to verify the contents. This custodian then incorrectly marked the four containers as helicopter batteries. And the rest is history.