At a hearing at the House of Representatives on Thursday a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did his best to defuse growing concerns about excessive purchases of ammunition for its 72,000 agents. These purchases were necessary, insisted Nick Nayak, because of training needs not only for his agency, but also for the U.S. Coast Guard (41,000 employees) and other federal, state, local, and tribal enforcement personnel (70,000) who train at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) of the DHS, located at the former naval air station in Glynco, Georgia.

Nayak said that one million law enforcement officers and agents have been trained at FLETC since 1970 and that by buying in bulk, the agency is just being good stewards with taxpayer monies:

DHS maintains a highly trained workforce to fulfill its mission for the American people in the most effective and efficient way possible. While DHS spending on ammunition represents less than one tenth of one percent of the DHS budget, we continue to pursue measures that leverage all of the Department’s resources in order to best make use of taxpayer dollars.

Nayak noted in his prepared testimony that DHS purchases around 100 million rounds every year for training purposes and currently has 250 million rounds in its warehouse, about a two-and-one-half year supply.

Those remarks didn’t satisfy Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, which held the hearing. Chaffetz noted that the DHS is using roughly 1,000 rounds of ammunition more per person than the U.S. Army: While the Army goes through roughly 350 rounds per soldier, the DHS is burning through between 1,300 and 1,600 rounds per officer. Chaffetz declared, “It is entirely … inexplicable why the Department of Homeland Security needs so much ammunition…. Their officers use what seems to be an exorbitant amount of ammunition.”

When questioned about reports that the DHS had placed orders to buy more than a billion additional rounds of ammunition, Nayak replied that those reports were “simply not true,” adding that the agency needs reasonable quantities for training purposes and that it usually buys in bulk to save money.

This assertion contradicts a statement Alex Newman of The New American received from another DHS spokesman, Marsha Catron, who said that there were two separate contracts to purchase ammunition: one for up to 750 million rounds for FLETC, and another one for 450 million rounds to be used separately by DHS “components,” who include Border Patrol agents, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers, Secret Service agents, uniformed division officers, physical security specialists, federal air marshals, Federal Protective Service officers, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and officers.

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