(AP) The U.S. military will cease selling military gear to civilians after lawmakers and watchdog groups raised concerns that the government is selling off surplus military gear that may not be needed.
The Pentagon says it is taking the move to reduce the risk of having to rely on contractors to provide military-grade equipment.
Congress and several consumer groups said the surplus equipment was no longer needed because the military no longer requires the gear.
It says the move will save the Pentagon $9.5 billion over the next five years and allow it to keep the gear at its bases longer.
The military’s request for proposals for the surplus gear was released Thursday by the Defense Logistics Agency.
The agencies chief spokesman, Rear Adm.
Bill Gorman, said the Pentagon would be working with the federal government to ensure the gear is properly deployed to its soldiers.
The gear is already used to train soldiers and protect sensitive installations.
It is also used in the United States and overseas, including at the U.N. headquarters in New York and in Afghanistan.
Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson, a Democrat from Maine who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement the surplus items “should be in the hands of the military to ensure that our troops can do their jobs.”
She added that while the military’s surplus equipment is not needed now, it “needs to be available to those in need as our nation continues to respond to the threat posed by the terrorist group ISIS.”
Rep. Ted Lieu, a California Democrat who chairs a House Armed Service subcommittee, called the surplus “a waste of taxpayer dollars” and said the military needs the gear now.
The Department of Defense says the gear will be stored at the Pentagon until a contractor can provide the military with it.
The move comes after years of complaints that the military is selling gear to private contractors to fill its supply needs.
That practice has become so common that it is considered routine, according to a study released by the Government Accountability Office last year.
The report found that nearly 2,500 equipment purchases in fiscal year 2017 were not made through a government procurement process and instead were outsourced.
The GAO report found the Department of the Army did not provide proper documentation on the transactions.
The Defense Logistic Agency, which oversees the military equipment purchases, declined to comment on the proposed policy change.
The agency did not respond to requests for comment.