Did I hear this correctly on "Mail Call??"


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SteelyDan
September 15, 2003, 11:24 PM
Last night I was playing with the computer, trying to do some work, and kinda watching the History Channel's "Mail Call." I thought I heard R. Lee say that: (1) during World War II, US forces fired about 20,000 rounds for every enemy casualty (or maybe "death," I'm not sure), and (2) during the Vietnam War, US forces fired about 200,000 rounds for every enemy casualty (or death).

Can that possibly be right, or did I miss something? I mean, I assume there were a lot more misses than hits, but 200,000 to 1??

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TheLastBoyScout
September 15, 2003, 11:26 PM
I've heard that stat before, but I never found out if that included just shots fired in anger or ALL shots, including for example stateside training and weapons qualls during the time pd of the Vietnam War.

Doc
September 15, 2003, 11:40 PM
simple to verify (but I think that's too high):
"On Killing" by Col. Grossman.
He specifically references that 'kill ratio' or whatever it
is actually called - the statistic for shots fired to enemy KIA or wounded
it's a great read FYI

Pumpkinheaver
September 15, 2003, 11:41 PM
I've heard the stat about Vietnam but had never heard the one concerning WWII. It's not hard to beleive when you think about guys spraying full mags from their M-16's not to mention the use of mini guns spewing 3,000+ rounds a minute.

OEF_VET
September 15, 2003, 11:45 PM
Also, in Vietnam, some genius came up with the idea of a 'Mad Minute', where every gun on the perimeter would open fire for a minute. I believe it was supposed to be a display of force, or possibly to nail anyone skulking around outside the perimeter waiting to make an attack.

Rembrandt
September 15, 2003, 11:52 PM
....seems I've heard the same thing, Vietnam was refered to as a "Spray and Pray" tactics...some gun rag stated that's why M16's are now equiped with 3 round burst selectors to reduce ammo consumption....guess we've come a long way since the days of Sargeant Alvin York and marksmen.

outfieldjack
September 16, 2003, 12:00 AM
You heard it right..... and I to was like "wow"

Mal H
September 16, 2003, 12:13 AM
I have heard the same stat about Viet Nam long before the History Channel was even born. It was something like 180,000 rounds IIRC. I also heard that it cost roughly $127,000 to kill each VC. Someone in Congress suggested that we offer $100,000 to each and every VC in the ANVN to turn themselves in to the US troops. It would have saved millions of $$ and many lives on both sides. Most reasonable suggestion from Congress I ever heard. Of course he wasn't serious, but he was pointing out the extreme cost of that war.

wingnutx
September 16, 2003, 12:14 AM
I'm assuming they had 'final protective fire' in vietnam, like we do now. that's basically letting rip until told to knock it off.

Cal4D4
September 16, 2003, 12:44 AM
There is also a statistic for the tonnage of explosives dropped per each of those same casualties. Starts to add up.

Nando Aqui
September 16, 2003, 12:47 AM
For what it's worth, from: http://www.snipercentral.com/tidbits.htm

"There is a sign at the USMC sniper school that reads: The average rounds expended per kill with the M16 in Vietnam was 50,000. Snipers averaged 1.3 rounds. The cost difference was $2300 v. 27 cents."

"The best estimate as to the average amount of rounds expended per kill in the Vietnam Conflict (For U.S. Army Soldiers) is 200,000. The average rounds expended per kill by U.S. Army snipers in Vietnam was 1.3"

Alex

C.R.Sam
September 16, 2003, 01:39 AM
Like Mal...I heard it long before the history channel.

Sam

Futo Inu
September 16, 2003, 01:50 AM
:scrutiny:

Nando, so is the conclusion of those 2 paragraphs that Army grunts took 200,000 per kill, and Marine grunts took only 50,000 per kill (4 times the efficiency of the Army soldiers)? The first sentence of the first paragraph doesn't specifically say Marine soldiers, but that seems to be implied, because if it doesn't imply Marine soldiers (non-snipers anyway), then it conflicts with the 2nd paragraph.

Or, maybe they mean that Army soldiers (NOT counting snipers), took 200,000 shots per kill, whereas in the Marines, the average of BOTH non-sniper and sniper Marines averages out to 50,000, but the non-sniper Marines alone (for which no stat is given), would also be up there close to 200K, but averaging in the 1.3-per sniper kills, it comes down to 50,000. No that's not it, because paragraph one says "with the M16". That must mean that the Marine non-snipers were actually better than 50,000 (less than), because the 1st sentence of the 1st paragraph doesn't distinguish any branches, and thus in order for the average soldier (of any branch) to make a kill per 50K rounds, and if the Army soldiers are firing 200K rounds, then to come up with the average, the Marine (and other branch soldiers) must on average do much better (lower) than 50,000 shots per kill.

Actually, on second thought, the distinction in the paragraphs could mean 2 things: (1) that Marines didn't expend as many shots per kill from the M16, if you take paragraph 1 to imply Marine soldiers, or (2) that all soldiers using the M16, regardless of branch, took 50K shots per kill, BUT when you factor in mini-guns and other "rounds/shots" from every conceivable piece of armament including chopper door-gunners, Puffs and whatnot - don't know how big you can go and still call it a "round expended" - 20mm?? Bigger?? - then the average raises to 200K. Needs more clarification on the distinctions of Marine/Army (or non-Army/Army), and M16 vs other armament shooting "rounds".

SteelyDan
September 16, 2003, 02:55 AM
I've never served in the armed forces (missed Vietnam by less than a year, thank you), and I'm certainly not passing judgment on those who were there. If I'd been born a year earlier, I probably would have sprayed more lead than most. But still, these figures are amazing. If one goes shooting some afternoon and gets through 500 rounds, that feels like a lot of shooting. I understand it's generally not full auto, but still, the figures say you could do those 500 rounds every day, for a full year, and still not shoot as many rounds as it took for one kill in Vietnam. My initial inclination was to be horrified by the poor marksmanship, but on further reflection, I'm more horrified by what those soldiers must have endured. I would have been spraying ghosts, too.

C.R.Sam
September 16, 2003, 04:00 AM
Ideally...
A highly skilled rifleman will place the majority of his shots on target.
If he can see the target.
Sometimes the incoming is coming from cover and the counter is to put as much fire into that cover as possible. In hopes of either hitting the enemy or convincing them of the wisdom of going elsewhere.

As the years have gone by, we have obtained the means of putting ever more fire out in a shorter time. So we do.

But, generally, the number of combatants in a given engagement hasn't changed much......so the rounds per combatant number gets ever larger.

Or sumpin.

Even now, there requirements for both capabilities. Carefully and expertly aimed fire and throw out all you got and hope for the best.

Sam

Daniel Watters
September 16, 2003, 07:36 AM
Just today I ran across a claim that during the Revolutionary War, the average trooper had to fire 15 shots per casualty. Somehow I don't think anyone here would suggest that the average smoothbore, blackpowder musket is more accurate or possesses a longer effective range than the average modern rifle, including the worse of the Sturmgewehr.

Rate of ammo expenditure per enemy casualty has expanded with:

1) Smarter tactics (Maybe we should take cover and seek concealment instead of advancing shoulder to shoulder in massed ranks)

2) Longer engagement ranges (Maybe we shouldn't wait until we see the whites of their eyes)

3) More ammo carried (Between the two World Wars, it was not expected that the average trooper would need to fire more than 100rds a day. As late as Korea, the average US trooper probably would carry no more than 96 to 120rds.)

4) Higher rates of fire (This includes the speed of loading along with the speed of fire. A well trained shooter with a muzzle-loader could load and fire about 3 shots per minute, at least until fatigue set in. A well-trained shooter with a Springfield M1903 could not last more than 4 minutes of continuous fire until severe fatigue set in.)

5) Larger magazines

6) Adoption of cartridges with less recoil

--------------------

A basic mastery of marksmanship is necessary, but training on an open, flat rifle range over known distances with bullseye targets and generous exposure times is not the complete end-all/be-all solution.

Take for instance this quote from the memiors of General George S. Patton, Jr.:

Fire on Infested Areas: Owing to the pernicious traditions of our known distance rifle marksmanship, we are prone to hold our fire until we see targets. In battle, these are seldom visible. When any group of soldiers is under small-arms fire, it is evident that the enemy can see them; therefore, men should be able to see the enemy, but seldom are. When this situation arises, they must fire at the portions of the hostile terrain which probably conceal enemy small-arms weapons. I know for a fact that such procedure invariably produces an effect and generally stops hostile fire. Always remember that it is much better to waste ammunition than lives. It takes at least eighteen years to produce a soldier, and only a few months to produce ammunition.

In 1944, years before studies by the ORO and BRL stated many of the same conclusions, Patton advised:

In battle, casualties vary directly with the time you are exposed to effective fire. Your own fire reduces the effectiveness and volume of the enemy’s fire, while rapidity of attack shortens the time of exposure....

Infantry must move in order to close with the enemy. It must shoot in order to move. When physical targets are not available, the fire of all infantry weapons must search the area occupied by enemy. Use marching fire. It reduces the accuracy of his fire and increases our confidence. Shoot short. Ricochets make nastier sounds and wounds. To halt under fire is folly. To halt under fire and not fire back is suicide. Move forward out of fire....

The M-1 rifle is the most deadly rifle in the world. If you cannot see the enemy, you can at least shoot at the place where he is apt to be.

Teufelhunden
September 16, 2003, 09:10 AM
Aside to the thread but,
The first sentence of the first paragraph doesn't specifically say Marine soldiers,

The word is MARINES.


:fire:


-Teuf

HankB
September 16, 2003, 09:54 AM
I wonder how many rounds were actually firedfrom rifles at the enemy?

We had those converted C-47's with three miniguns . . . they sprayed out a LOT of ammo in a hurry, and certainly, most missed the enemy.

Then there's the ammo we provided to the ARVN troops . . . I wonder how much was simply dumped or sold for scrap, but still added to the total?

How much ammo was stockpiled or warehoused and later simply abandoned?

I find it very, very, hard to believe that U.S. troops in combat would have to expend 50,000 rounds - let alone 200,000 - for each enemy casualty. I mean, by these numbers, you'll wear out several rifles before you so much as hit a bad guy!

There must be something else at work in the way they figure things to generate these kinds of numbers.

seeker_two
September 16, 2003, 11:48 AM
Last night I was playing with the computer, trying to do some work, and kinda watching the History Channel's "Mail Call." I thought I heard R. Lee say that: (1) during World War II, US forces fired about 20,000 rounds for every enemy casualty (or maybe "death," I'm not sure), and (2) during the Vietnam War, US forces fired about 200,000 rounds for every enemy casualty (or death).

Disappointing, ain't it? :uhoh:

Fortunately, our enemies have adopted the same "spray & pray" tactics, so we're running about even.

I wonder what the ratio will be in the 2 Iraq conflicts & Afghanistan?...:scrutiny:

BigG
September 16, 2003, 11:59 AM
I wonder if, like many stats, they "normed" it by saying, "Well, a pound of TNT has so many joules of energy, a 5.56 has so many joules of energy so they converted all ordnance delivered into the smallest unit, i.e., the 5.56? Cops do it on drug busts all the time. 2 kilos of reefer become $80,000 (or whatever) "street value" of marijuana when broken down to the individual joint. :uhoh: :rolleyes:

Futo Inu
September 16, 2003, 12:50 PM
Teufel

Oops, Marines...

I was making a distinction between a Marine SNIPER and a rank-and-file Marine, and mistakenly used "soldier" to mean non-sniper.

Double Maduro
September 16, 2003, 02:57 PM
Had to love "Puff".

Gotta love her descendants.

http://www.polkcounty.org/vn/OtherAircraft/PicturesFromNet.html

DM

Teufelhunden
September 16, 2003, 03:14 PM
Oops, Marines...

No harm no foul...

We're just kinda prickly about being called soldiers :evil:

-Teuf

fourdeuce82d
September 16, 2003, 03:14 PM
"Ideally...
A highly skilled rifleman will place the majority of his shots on target.
If he can see the target."

Most of E6s & up I met in the army (80-83) were vietnam vets- can't recall one ever saying he saw whom he was shooting at.

Ed Straker
September 16, 2003, 07:21 PM
Futo, glad to see the Devil Dog got to you. I was going to say, next time just use Marine Rifleman, that's what we all are.
Anyway, what I heard about the 3 shot Burst on the M16A2 was that the Army was basically unable to teach trigger control to such a large pool of recruits in the time allotted, so, of course, 'technology' is the answer...

Jrob24
September 16, 2003, 07:53 PM
I attended Col. Grossmans lecture "The bulletproof mind" @ my University.
Despite being designed for LEO's I found it very interesting.

280PLUS
September 16, 2003, 08:34 PM
the boys had a saying...

"It takes a ton of lead to kill a man."

it indicates that even back then "spray and pray" was the order of the day,

and theres really not all THAT many real marksmen on any battlefield

if you got a hit, it was mostly a lucky shot

and if you got hit, well, that would have been bad luck on your part...and good luck on the enemy's...

so in all actuality, things havent really changed much in the last 100 years or so,,,

when i see the film clips of battle aftermaths in iraq i notice an awful lot of spent shells layering the ground, so chances are we'll see the same kind of rounds spent per kill ratios as we have in the past

m

Cameron
September 17, 2003, 01:37 AM
Anyway, what I heard about the 3 shot Burst on the M16A2 was that the Army was basically unable to teach trigger control to such a large pool of recruits in the time allotted, so, of course, 'technology' is the answer...

I've read that the 3-shot burst was a Marine Corp. idea that was eventually adopted by the Army when they replaced the A1.

RustyHammer
September 17, 2003, 04:41 PM
Total cartridges produced in wartime (any caliber) devided by the number of enemy killed.

This includes rifle, machine gun, and AA type rounds as well.

At least, that is what I seem to recall reading once.

Will see if I can find reference and will post, if found.

BigG
September 17, 2003, 04:46 PM
Rustyhammer, I suspect you're right. So that means whatever stats the armories produced, i.e., we produced 50 quintillion rds of ammo divided by the official body count. No allowance for folks getting blown up, ammo never issued and declared surplus, etc. etc. In other words, like most stats, IMPRESSIVE, but fraught with problems, ambiguities, fallacies, etc.

Nightcrawler
September 17, 2003, 05:58 PM
Anybody can make up statistics. 68% of people know that.

Wombat
September 17, 2003, 10:40 PM
Dang it Nightcrawler - get your numbers right!

Since 89% of people went to publik skul and only 42% of publik skul graduates can add, much less do statistics, only 37% of people can make up statistics.

;)

GSMD Fan
September 17, 2003, 10:59 PM
Although it makes an interesting topic I also think these stats are worthless.

Who did the VC/NVA send their casualty feeder reports too?
That would be the only way to know the true casualties. I would venture to say there is no way we know the true number of casualtys the Iraqs have had.

How many body parts are needed to get credit for a enemy casualty? I mean if a 2000lb bomb hits a bunker who the hell knows who are what was in there?

What heck is the story with the ammo? Like others suggested, was that total ammo sent over there? Did that include lost, destroyed, given to allied troops? Was brass counted after it was policed up?

Did you discount any misfires?

See, I just think it makes for an interesting discussion. Without the story behind the statistics it is worthless.

BigG
September 17, 2003, 11:04 PM
GSMD: That's it buddy, just a lot of talk, and you know how much talk is worth! ;)

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