Tuesday, September 27, 2005

6 Billion bullets: US forces fire 250,000 Bullets per Dead enemy

Yes you read that Right, and No,  it's neither a typo nor a joke. The Number comes from an Independent UK Story

US forces have fired so many bullets in Iraq and Afghanistan - an estimated 250,000 for every insurgent killed - that American ammunition-makers cannot keep up with demand. As a result the US is having to import supplies from Israel.{which will be totally non-controversial in the Arab World, and not at all supporting their theories that we invaded Iraq to help Israel, I'm Sure}


And if that number beggars common sense and seems completely improbable; try this one on for size:

A government report says that US forces are now using 1.8 billion rounds of small-arms ammunition a year. The total has more than doubled in five years, largely as a result of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as changes in military doctrine.....US forces [have]expended around six billion bullets between 2002 and 2005

We're popping  so many caps it seems, That even the Gun loving good ol' USA can't make enough

three government-owned, contractor-operated plants that produce small- and medium-calibre ammunition.... Though millions of dollars have been spent on upgrading the facilities, they remain unable to meet current munitions needs in their current state. "

..."Also, commercial producers within the national technology and industrial base have not had the capacity to meet these requirements. As a result, the Department of Defense had to rely at least in part on foreign commercial producers to meet its small-calibre ammunition needs."

Now to be fair the 250,000 rounds per insurgent thing is a bit of a gimmick derived from dividing the the total number of insurgents the US has claimed to kill (20,000) by the number of rounds expended by the entirre us armed forces this year.   And as the military points out this includes those used in training  

However, as John Pike, director of the Washington military research group GlobalSecurity.org, (who derived the 250,000 number notes:

Pointing out that officials say many of these bullets have been used for training purposes, he said: "What are you training for? To kill insurgents."

But this number is just a sideshow to the  larger point, which  is staggering if you stop to ponder it for a minute:

We've fired 6,000,000,000 bullets during this war!!  each and every one of which is capable of taking a life, of richoeting and hitting an unintended target, of catching an innocent person in the cross fire, of killing a fellow soldier by friendly fire.  6 BILLION bullets.  That's roughly one bullet for every single person on earth.

It's so many, even the disposal of the toxic lead left behind becomes a non-trivial issue.  If I recall correctly a Military issue .223 Cal M-16 bullet is about 100 Grains.  Multiply 100 *6,000,000,000  and convert at the ratio of  (1 grains = 0.00228571429 ounces)   and you get:

60,000,000 POUNDS of lead or 30,000 TONS of lead fired in the form of bullets at our enemies.

{thanks to a Commentator who corrected my math on this)

Is there any better symbol of the Staggering cost and futility of this war than 6 BILLION empty shell casings? It puts all the larger questions of the war into a digestible nutshell.  How many Bullets will be enough?  When will we have shot our guns enough to "win" the war;  and what is the final tab in lives and dollars going to be at the end of the day?

And all we know now is that we've fired 6  billion bullets and we haven't come anywhere close to hitting the target.


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