I’ve been hearing about the 7.62×39 ammo shortage and high prices for sometime now. I didn’t realize it was Hillary Clinton’s fault and wouldn’t have believed if I didn’t have these additional details:
American defence officials have secretly requested a “prodigious quantity” of ammunition from Russia to supply the Afghan army in case a Democrat president takes over in Washington and pulls out US troops.
The Daily Telegraph can disclose that Pentagon chiefs have asked arms suppliers for a quote on a vast amount of ordnance, including more than 78 million rounds of AK47 ammunition, 100,000 rocket-propelled grenades and 12,000 tank shells – equivalent to about 15 times the British Army’s annual requirements.
The Bush administration is said to want the deal because of worries that the next president could be a Democrat, possibly Hillary Clinton, who may abandon Afghanistan.
Defence specialists said Russian arms chiefs at first “fell about laughing” because they thought the order was a joke when it arrived this month.
But with the Americans said to be pressing for a price and earliest delivery date, the request is being rapidly processed and exports could begin before the end of this year.
The “decade’s worth” of ammunition will give the Afghan National Army a vast arsenal to deal with Taliban or drug warlords if Washington withdraws its troops.
The order also suggests the Afghan army will be equipped with T62 tanks, Mi24 Hind attack helicopters and Spandrel anti-tank missiles.
If fully trained it will provide a formidable force against insurgents and potential foreign aggressors, including Pakistan where tensions are high on the southern border.
“This is completely refitting the Afghan army for the long term and it should stop a resurgence of the Taliban in its tracks,” a British arms expert said. “The order will take a year to make and deliver but the Russians are used to large quantities.”
Some observers pointed to the irony of the deal, because when the Soviet Union occupied Afghanistan the Americans sold Stinger surface-to- air missiles to the Mujahideen to enable them to shoot down Moscow’s aircraft.
78 million rifle rounds represents 15 times the British Army’s annual requirements? That’s a small fraction of the U.S. civilian market for small arms ammunition!
I hope the Russians get busy. We need more here in the states.
Yeah. I know. US civilian consumption is about nine billion rounds per year (see http://blog.joehuffman.org/2004/11/21/update-on-ammo-marking/). That makes our annual civilian consumption about 1700 times the annual British Army consumption. With about 100K people in the British Army (as of 2004: http://uk.encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_781533661_2/British_Army.html) that means the average British Army person fires a little over 50 rounds per year (I sometimes fire than many rounds in 30 seconds!). Compare this to the average US gun owner who fires about 60 rounds per year (assuming 150 million gun owners in the US).
Obviously the British army (and the average American) needs more practice.
I hereby pledge that the first ten British citizens, army or not (and who are NOT radical Muzlims) that visit North Idaho at any time, may call me at UltiMAK and I will take them out for a lovely time at the range, provide all the ammo, the guns, and food and water, and that they will have the opportunity to fire as much as they can handle for an entire day – several weapon types and calibers and several shooting stages/distances.
As for you Americans, you have no excuses. Most American military recruits I’ve known have already fired more rounds than a Brit army person will fire in a lifetime, before they even join.