Quote of the day—Frank Jardim

The sniper is an incredibly efficient fighter, compared to the typical infantryman. Consider that in World War II, American infantry units fired 25,000 rounds to kill just one enemy soldier. By the Korean War, that figure jumped to 50,000 rounds, and the select-fire M14 and M16 infantry rifles of the Vietnam War only seem to have produced more misses, requiring the expenditure of 200,000 rounds to kill one enemy combatant. Nowadays, it’s a quarter million rounds of spraying and praying to kill a single Taliban. By comparison, on average, a sniper requires only 1.3 bullets to kill an enemy. During the Vietnam War, it was noted on many occasions that a handful of snipers accounted for more enemy killed than the entire infantry battalion (and sometimes even regiment) they were assigned to.

Frank Jardim
February 27, 2015
History of the Sniper
[250 K rounds to kill one Taliban? Can anyone who has actually “been there and done that” recently confirm this? It seems like a lot.

And of course bullets and kills are not necessarily the appropriate measure of battle efficiency. You could consume 0.9 bullets per dead enemy by firing nine rounds for ten kills where one bullet killed two of the enemy and lose the battle because your enemy fired 10,000 rounds and killed 1000 of your troops.

Or you could roll your 1000 tanks supported by 10K troops into your enemy’s capital and the enemy gives up without firing a shot and no one dies.

But still, there is something to be said for one person being able to take out a selected enemy at will with a good chance of escape. This makes moderate numbers of individuals without a lot of infrastructure supporting them very powerful.

This is Why Boomershoot.—Joe]


15 thoughts on “Quote of the day—Frank Jardim

  1. How do we get the sniper’s targets to wear tannerite?

    Because that would be … awesome!

  2. Belt Feed Light (man portable, M240 and M249) Machine Guns and Fire and Maneuver warfare.

    The Battle Drills taught to the Infantry involve attaining (at least) fire parity, if not fire superiority and maneuvering an element to flank the enemy. Suppressive fire is designed to prevent the enemy from effectively engaging us. The use of LMG’s with cyclic rates of 600-1000 RPM will naturally increase rounds/kill.

    Knowledge : US Army Infantry – Sniper Trained

      • So, if all the practice and training rounds count against the line infantry guys, I wonder how the numbers change when you factor in the training and practice ammo for the DMs and snipers.

        I really hate eggheads that toss around these numbers and think they’re oh so clever and smart.

        • Yes, I wonder about that too. Does all the ammo going to training count as well? I suppose with machine guns in the squads, etc, a lot of ammo can be expended on killing enemy morale as much as soldiers.

  3. It has always been my understanding that the high quantity of ammunition expended per kill from Vietnam until now was derived from the total number of rounds expended in theater per kill. There is a certain amount of recon by fire, supressing fire, practice shooting, etc that all goes into that statistic. The huge numbers of rounds are not actually fired at one particular taliban or VC.

  4. My understanding was that the 50,000-200,000-250,000 round counts were derived from TOTAL ammunition expenditures during the war, including those used in training. If you assume 250,000 rounds per enemy combatant, and we have killed 25,000-50,000 in Afghanistan and you assume that only 50% were killed by small arms fire the death toll is 12,500-25,000. Multiplying 12,500-25,000 x 250,000 equals 3,125,000,000 to 6.25 BILLION rounds have been expended in Afghanistan alone. Assuming that is that case, and that barrel life on an M4 is 20,000 rounds, (very high end, probably actually 10,000 rounds) we would have worn out 12 barrels per enemy combatant killed. That means we should have bought 12×12,500 to 12×25,000 new barrels or 150,000 to 300,000 new barrels over the last 13 years. 6.25 BILLION rounds is roughly 500 Million rounds a year for the last 13 years, (I’m rounding because these numbers are huge!) That’s 1.4 million rounds/day! And thats only Afganistan! Can we actually produce 1.4 million rounds of 5.56 a day? And thats only Afghanistan. That doesn’t count our expenditures in Iraq, where roughly 25,000 enemy combatants were killed.

    I don’t buy the 250,000 number!

  5. I haven’t “been there and done that”, but I’ve seen that number – 250K rounds per dead insurgent – reported elsewhere.

    As David said in his comment right above this one, there’s a lot more that goes into that number. It doesn’t mean a quarter million rounds are fired in an engagement that kills one enemy combatant. Who could carry that on their person, or even in a Humvee?

    No, it’s more likely that the military bean-counters are including rounds fired in other, non-combat roles tangentially related to the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters, such as target practice and training. Add in suppression fire from full-auto weapons, and you end up expending a HUGE amount of ammunition that isn’t actually directed at any particular target.

  6. 200,000 rounds seems extremely drastic. As others have mentioned, it possibly includes rounds expended, in total, for all in-theater training and operations. I think far more rounds are used in training (probably depending on a particular unit, some train more than others). So if that’s the case, and snipers record 1.3 rounds per kill, that OBVIOUSLY does not include ammo used by snipers and DM’s in training, therefore the metrics used to determine these figures are incompatible for purpose of comparison. If training was included, it would probably be very easy to imagine 1,000-10,000 rounds is expended by the sniper per kill, even if you’re only considering rounds used for training in-theater (as opposed to including training conducted CONUS). If that isn’t enough, I remember seeing some time ago that Marines, in Faluja if memory serves, had been investigated for possible assassinations and executions of the enemy due to the extraordinarily high instances of enemy KIA with single shots to the head. The investigation determined that, thanks to better training and ACOGs issued on M16’s, the Marines had simply been plugging them in the noggin all day long. And those were regular infantry Marines, not snipers and DM’s. If the manner in which the bad guys died warranted an investigation, I think it’s safe to conclude that those Marines were expending far less than 200,000 rounds per kill

  7. At the height of the War on Terror, small arms ammunition of all types topped out at 1.8 billion rounds per year for all purposes. The Army considers just about anything 40mm and below “small arms” so there is an awful lot of heavy and medium machine gun ammunition in there, along with with the massively increased training requirements for our Guard and Reserve forces to meet in order to be certified to deploy.

    So you have a population boom (growing the Army and USMC), activating a lot of Reserve forces to support ongoing operations, you have active duty units going on a “year on/off” deployment cycle which means a highly compressed training cycle for those units as well, it all adds up to a “perfect storm” of the military buying a lot more ammunition.

    In Iraq, 70,000,000 rounds of “small arms” ammo annually is an accepted average expenditure. If a quarter of a million rounds are required to make one enemy kill, then the most we could have ever killed in Iraq would be 280 enemy combatants in a single year. Of course we killed a lot more than 280 per year. And a lot of that 70 million rounds was simply there to replace ammunition that we used up in training (we train, even in combat zones), or went bad in the heat and had to be demilled out.

    Of course in peace time you could make the argument that it takes 800 Million rounds to kill no enemy whatsoever using the same logic as “it takes a quarter million rounds to kill one enemy” and all that would do is expose the lack of rigor in the thought process.

  8. “If training was included, it would probably be very easy to imagine 1,000-10,000 rounds is expended by the sniper per kill, even if you’re only considering rounds used for training in-theater (as opposed to including training conducted CONUS)”

    No. No sniper would wear out his rifle shooting this much in training.

    One of the VN stories I heard about was the platoon that would come back to base with virtually no rifle ammo left, except for one soldier who always had quite a bit on him. Base personnel decide to charge him with dereliction of duty, cowardice, etc. Cooler heads sent someone along on their next patrol to verify his actions. The observer returned and made applications for awards of valor for that soldier. Turns out he was pretty much the sole agent of the platoon’s body count of the enemy. He only fired when he had a target, and didn’t seem to miss when he shot. He maneuvered for best angles on the enemy to enhance his effectiveness, and only fired in semi-auto. The rest of the soldiers mostly sprayed the scenery, not really targeting individuals.

    • I’m not going to get into a pissing match with you on Joe’s blog, but suffice to say you are incorrect. It’s a perishable skill, they shoot and shoot and shoot, and I think you may be under the impression that guns/barrels don’t last that long. For example, Marine M40A5’s have a MINIMUM barrel life of 10k rounds, they typically last much longer and when they are shot out, those fine 2112 Marines will re-barrel and re-issue the rifle. Some of the rifle receivers date back to the M40A1 days and it’s possible there are M40 receiver floating around from 1966. They’ve probably been re-barreled 5-10 times, new stocks, new bases, new trigger. They wear them out over and over again. And they also add new inventory, that they also wear out. Snipers do want to shoot, and any sniper who expressly shoots less (as if they could get away with that) isn’t shooting enough.

  9. It would be interesting to know how many rounds per kill in actual engagements, both total and broken down by machine gun vs rifle.
    Obviously snipers may be more efficient but the army and marines seem to think they need regular shooters and mg’ers as well. Clearing buildings for instance.

  10. Take a look at the ammo procurements for Homeland Security, which presumably engages only a handful of opponents in an given year.

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