After an Air Force veteran with a criminal history was able to buy guns and kill 29 people in a Texas church, a Pentagon-wide investigation found that the Army is failing to alert the FBI about soldiers’ criminal histories in a “significant amount” of cases.
On Wednesday, Gen. Mark Milley, the Army chief of staff, told Pentagon reporters that there have been “gaps and failures” on on the part of the Army to report the criminal activity of soldiers to federal civilian law enforcement agencies.
“The data I saw, and again we are drilling into it to make sure it’s accurate, we have a significant amount of omissions that concern the secretary and I, and it clearly tells us that we need to tighten up as well,” Milley said, according to CNN.
Roughly 150 soldiers receive a dishonorable discharge each year, Milley said, adding that they should all be reported to the FBI.
“We need to make sure every one of those is transmitted over to the civilian law enforcement agencies, the FBI for example,” Milley said, according to ABC News.
In the military, officials are required to notify the FBI about criminal convictions and dishonorable discharges. However, Milley said that a preliminary review of Army procedures found his service has been failing to report around “10 to 20 percent” of the criminal cases to the FBI.
“The percentage is too high,” Milley said, according to Stars and Stripes.
The day after former airman Devin Kelley killed 26 people in a Texas church, Defense Secretary James Mattis ordered the Pentagon’s inspector general to review how the Air Force handled Kelley’s criminal records.
The Air Force veteran was able to buy guns despite a prior conviction for assaulting his wife and stepson. He was given bad conduct charge and sentenced to 12 months in jail, which should have barred him from purchasing firearms.
“It’s not just an Air Force problem,” Milley said, according to CNN. “This is a problem across all the services.”
Last week, a Pentagon report from 1997 resurfaced, showing the military has been aware of widespread lapses in the process of reporting criminal offenses within the Air Force, the US Army and the US Navy for the last 20 years.
The report found that 79 percent of criminal cases in the Army, 50 percent in the Air Force and 94 percent in the Navy were not reported.
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