By: Sal Palma
I have a very interesting question from a reader in the U.K. wanting to know why I placed so much emphasis on ammunition awareness.
I blogged an article on the AK-47, “Modernization of the AK47”; as part of that piece, I posted what I will refer to as “dog and pony” videos discussing a variety of topics. In one of those videos, I commented on ammunition awareness expressing a heartfelt sentiment that ammunition awareness is vitally important, trumping speed of magazine changes or any other technique.
There is some interesting research that’s been conducted by military, former military and scholars that show an exponential increase in the number of rounds fired per enemy casualty since WWII. I believe some to be reasonable numbers; others are wild eyed assessments, so for this illustration I used numbers that I felt were not precise but reasonable.
In WWII the average combat scenario required 10,000+ rounds fired per enemy casualty. That number has grow dramatically since then, with estimates of 80,000 + rounds in Vietnam and more recently 200,000+ rounds in Iraq/Afghanistan (averaged out). If I were to graph these numbers for you, this is what that graph would look like.
As the graph illustrates, this is clearly an exponential function. Why?
Well, it’s not just you and I that are curious about this relationship and the DoD, as well as NATO, are seriously looking at the phenomenon. Opinions range from deficiencies in marksmanship to improvements in logistics. The answer is probably a mix. In my opinion, it’s a combination of several variables; however, the two I weigh most heavily are a soldier’s mindset and the effects of superb logistics.
Over the ten years U.S. armed forces have been engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan, our fixed and rotary wing combatants established and maintained unquestionable and complete air superiority. This battlefield umbrella made it possible for a soldier/ operator to order, if he chose to, a Domino’s pizza and have it delivered to the front lines in 30 minutes or less. That level of support plays to a mind set that says I can be resupplied in a heartbeat. Allowing that to continue in my view is a colossal error in judgment.
Although our national intelligence assessments predict that our conflicts, moving into the future, will be low intensity asymmetric “type” threats, the possibility exits that we will be engaged in conflicts where our forces will face a trained and organized combatant; capable of denying air and space assets with a capacity to wage intensive cyber attacks against command and control networks as well as industrial infrastructure.
Loosing an asymmetric conflict is an embarrassment, loosing a major conflict with a major actor is a disaster!
Therefore, in my view, our training needs to encompass simulations of operations in those environments. Developing soldier awareness and combat skills in scenarios where many of our strategic support assets are unavailable, or have reduced availability. This is critically important.
These are my reasons for ammunition awareness and management! Thank you for the thoughtful question and thank you for dropping by. I hope you return soon with more great questions or comments. Cheers!