From (no surprise) Antiwar.com:
According to the Sept. 1 Manufacturing & Technology News, the Government Accounting Office has reported that over the course of the cakewalk war, the U.S. military’s use of small caliber ammunition has risen to 1.8 billion rounds. Think about that number. If there are 20,000 insurgents, it means U.S. troops have fired 90,000 rounds at each insurgent.
Anyone else see some problems there? First item: “Over the course of the cakewalk war”. Hmm. If I recall correctly, not too many insurgents were around when the Iraqi Army was still in place. Think that maybe just a few rounds of ammunition were fired at, say, the Republican Guard?
Second, strange as it may seem to someone who writes for Antiwar.com, the military actually shoots at targets sometimes. In fact, according to this statement to Congress,
We understand that prior to 9/11 the total DOD small caliber ammunition requirement through the 1990s, up until 9/11 was 350 million rounds per year and that this entire production was provided by the Government Owned, Contractor Operated Lake City Plant in Independence, Missouri.
Subsequent to 9/11, the former Army Chief of Staff issued guidance to change the training requirements for the Army and thus the total DOD training requirement increased to 1.1 billion rounds per year.
Now of course the math works out such that something’s missing somewhere – maybe some other data would clarify matters, or maybe the military’s running a tad short on projectiles. Whatever the case, the point is that it serves to demonstrate that the US military burns up a whole bunch of ammo every year even when they aren’t fighting a war in Iraq. Thus the claim that 90,000 rounds are fired at each insurgent is a gross oversimplification (if you’re charitable) or a flat-out lie (if you’re not).
The Antiwar.com piece goes on:
The combination of U.S. government-owned ammo plants and those of U.S. commercial producers together cannot make bullets as fast as US troops are firing them. The Bush administration has had to turn to foreign producers such as Israel Military Industries. Think about that. Hollowed-out U.S. industry cannot produce enough ammunition to defeat a 20,000-man insurgency.
Obviously 1.8 billion rounds (to use the author’s figure) would have been more than enough for Stalin to defeat such an insurgency. He’d have started at one side of the country and had his troops shoot everyone they came across. Sooner or later (likely sooner), the insurgency would have stopped, and far short of a billion rounds of rifle ammo.
So it isn’t “hollowed-out US industry” that’s allowing the Iraqi rebels to run around and shoot back, obviously there are more subtle things going on here, such as the facts that the US government isn’t Stalin’s Russia and that George W. Bush (again, shocking as this might be to an Antiwar.com columnist) isn’t Stalin.
And this isn’t cherry-picking, that column should have been edited with an axe. I mean it’s fine to be anti-war and all, but look: you need to get your bloody facts straight, even the ones that get in the way of making an overwrought point about how terrible (yet incompetent) the bad ol’ US government is. The way this stands, the editorial page of AWC looks about as trustworthy as a CentCom press release.