US forced to import bullets from Israel
By Andrew Buncombe in Washington
Published: 25 September 2005
The Independent - Online Edition
"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.
"The Department of Defense's increased requirements for small- and medium-calibre ammunitions have largely been driven by increased weapons training requirements, dictated by the army's transformation to a more self-sustaining and lethal force - which was accelerated after the attacks of 11 September, 2001 - and by the deployment of forces to conduct recent US military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq," said the report by the General Accounting Office (GAO).
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".
But senior officers have recently claimed "great successes" in Iraq, based on counting the bodies of insurgents killed. Maj-Gen Rick Lynch, the top US military spokesman in Iraq, said 1,534 insurgents had been seized or killed in a recent operation in the west of Baghdad. Other estimates from military officials suggest that at least 20,000 insurgents have been killed in President George Bush's "war on terror".
John Pike, director of the Washington military research group GlobalSecurity.org, said that, based on the GAO's figures, US forces had expended around six billion bullets between 2002 and 2005. "How many evil-doers have we sent to their maker using bullets rather than bombs? I don't know," he said.
"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."
We can read the full paper at The Independent