More than $10 million worth of equipment — including combat gear, computers and even weapons — has been stolen from National Defence over the past decade, according to data compiled by Radio-Canada.
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The majority of nearly 77,000 items declared stolen from the inventory of the Canadian Armed Forces since 2005 falls under the category of military equipment, accounting for $5.5 million of the losses. That equipment includes bulletproof vests, helmets and boots.
Meanwhile, items declared missing include transportation equipment valued at $1,456,000, telecommunications equipment valued at $253,000, tools valued at $939,000 and weapons and accessories valued at $239,000. The Department of National Defence refused to detail how many firearms disappeared.
The department said the losses account for a tiny portion of its massive 600-million item inventory.
The numbers show the losses peaked between 2012 and 2013, as Canada was wrapping up its mission in Afghanistan, with more than $7 million worth of equipment stolen or going missing. That includes equipment en route to Canada, such as periscopes and cases, stolen from a port in Pakistan.
But former RCMP deputy commissioner Pierre-Yves Bourduas said even a small number of losses, such as 150 computers reported stolen in the past decade, can cause significant damage to intelligence and tactical operations.
Armed forces review
The Canadian Armed Forces has been reviewing the management of its inventory since 2012. Jean Rioux, the parliamentary secretary for national defence, said the department is developing a more efficient management system, which includes more supervision as well as integrated technology that will track inventory in real time.
National Defence spokesperson Dan Le Bouthillier told Radio-Canada in an email that reports of stolen firearms are investigated thoroughly.
"All complaints and allegations of about lost or stolen weapons are taken very seriously and are investigated by competent authorities," he wrote in French. "Furthermore, every effort is made to account for weapons used during Canadian Armed Forces missions."
Pierre Paul-Hus, Conservative MP and defence critic, said he is pleased to see improvements to inventory management since the end of the mission in Afghanistan.
"It's important that the Canadian Armed Forces have security measures in place and that convoys make it to their final destinations, because we can't allow for the loss of millions of dollars in equipment," he said.
Paul-Hus said this new system is especially important as the military is preparing a deployment to Latvia as part of a NATO mission to counter the threat of Russian aggression in eastern Europe. There are also Canadian troops in Iraq.