US forced to import bullets from Israel as troops use 250,000 for every rebel killed

By Andrew Buncombe
Monday, 10 January 2011

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.

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.

Estimating how many bullets US forces have expended for every insurgent killed is not a simple or precisely scientific matter. The former head of US forces in Iraq, General Tommy Franks, famously claimed that his forces "don't do body counts".

"If they don't do body counts, how can I? But using these figures it works out at around 300,000 bullets per insurgent. Let's round that down to 250,000 so that we are underestimating."

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."

The GAO report notes that though millions of dollars have been spent on upgrading the facilities, they remain unable to meet current munitions needs in their current state. "The government-owned plant producing small-calibre ammunition cannot meet the increased requirements, even with modernisation efforts," said the report.

"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."

A report in Manufacturing & Technology News said that the Pentagon eventually found two producers capable of meeting its requirements. One of these was the US firm Olin-Winchester.

The other was Israel Military Industries, an Israeli ammunition manufacturer linked to the Israeli government, which produces the bulk of weapons and ordnance for the Israeli Defence Force.

The Pentagon reportedly bought 313 million rounds of 5.56mm, 7.62mm and 50-calibre ammunition last year and paid $10m (about £5.5m) more than it would have cost for it to produce the ammunition at its own facilities.

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It's time to switch to more efficient munitions. Also, besides Winchester-Remington, Federal, and a few others make small arms ammo in USGI configuration. If they're getting it from IMI, probably it's part of a foriegn aid package.

OK DTOM now you're talking my language. As a Logistics Officer ammo falls directly under my scope.

I don't really understand G-man's post. There is nothing in that article that speaks to them not making enough efficient munitions. The problem is the ammo being expended at higher rates due to training.

Rounds are sorted into Lots which are tested. The Lots sampled for quality control to a deviation of a certain ammount(striking deviation), primer impact, and failure rate. Those Lots that test the best are given a high rating. The rest are given other ratings. Some are used for testing/competition shooting, others are used for normal training, and the lowest are used for indoctrination training. ONLY THE BEST ammunition goes forward into combat.

The problem comes that even in combat we have to train to keep from becoming complacent. For us to bring lots of ammunition that have different condition codes would require us to have to store more ammunition thus causing a larger footprint and needing more personnel, more security, and more transportation. And caveat that with that ammo can ONLY be used for training and not for operations (imagine the uproar if our we lose servicemembers because of mass ammo failures). And the question comes do we put risk losing more people or losing more money.

Since the training required for one servicemember, the money they would have to compensate for death or dismemberment, and other follow on costs it's cheaper to rewrite a new contract for more ammunition.


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