From the February 2006 Idaho Observer:
The high cost of bullets
Below is a British story that illuminates an insight into the Iraq war that should be sobering. Following are a few details from a reliable source that explain why the cost of bullets is much greater than their wholesale price.
The Daily Reckoning
Saturday, February 11, 2006
While India makes money, the American Empire squanders it...on bullets. Imperial troops are trying to kill "insurgents" in Iraq. Who these insurgents are or why the United States would want them dead, are matters left for future historians or surrealist artists. We just note that America’s war against Iraqi "insurgents," whoever they may be, has gone on for longer than its involvement in World War II. And now, the running cost is rising to equal the expense of the Vietnam War—when as many as 500,000 U.S. troops were on the ground in Southeast Asia. Paul Craig Roberts, former assistant secretary of the treasury under President Reagan, recently tried to figure out the math:
The official estimated number of insurgents in Iraq has been 20,000. According to reports of the Government Accounting Office (GAO), by September the U.S. military had used up 1.8 billion rounds of small caliber ammunition in Iraq.
That means "U.S. troops have fired 90,000 rounds at each insurgent,’ states Roberts matter-of-factly. ‘Very few have been hit. If 2,000 insurgents have been killed, each death required 900,000 rounds of ammunition."
"Think about that," says Roberts. "Hollowed-out U.S. industry cannot produce enough ammunition to defeat a 20,000-man insurgency."
We remember the line from "Apocalypse Now": "What ya shootin’ at, soldier?"
The trouble is, contractors can’t make enough bullets to keep up. The Pentagon has had to buy bullets from overseas.
Note: A reliable source confirmed that "surplus" stocks of .223 (M-16) and 7.6 2x 54 (.308 for machine guns and sniper rifles) and 7.62 x 39 (AK-47) are drying up for private purchases in the U.S.
The tremendous expenditure of ammo in Iraq is due to a "spray and pray" policy governed by the fact that, of U.S. 100 soldiers, 95 are barely trained infantry cannon fodder and only five are well-trained professionals. The "insurgents" are experienced fighters familiar with their surroundings. In other words, the 95 spray and pray to keep the "insurgents’" heads down while the five assess the situation and attempt to accomplish a military objective.
The U.S. uses M-16s. The U.S. has provisioned the Iraq military and Iraq police with AK-47s purchased from Russia; their ammo is supplied by China.
About 75 percent of the ammo expended in Iraq (both sides) is supplied by China.