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Now they're saying we can't even trust the military with ammo?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Drizzt, Mar 14, 2003.

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  1. Drizzt

    Drizzt Member

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    Mask, gun: check. Bullets: not so fast.
    Series: DISPATCH FROM THE 101ST AIRBORNE

    St. Petersburg Times; St. Petersburg, Fla.; Mar 13, 2003;
    WES ALLISON;

    This may surprise the folks back home, but the U.S. Army forces massing across the Iraqi border are largely unarmed.

    Even though all U.S. soldiers deployed to the six main Army camps in northern Kuwait must carry their rifles at all times - even to the latrine in the middle of the night - few are carrying any bullets.

    This is not an oversight, or a lame-brained cost-saving measure ordered by the Pentagon, or an indication that American military leaders believe they can take Iraq without firing a shot.

    Rather, it's an effort to stave off the sad inevitable: Once the Army starts issuing ammo en masse, soldiers will accidentally shoot themselves and each other.

    Those who served in Afghanistan, Desert Storm and other conflicts can attest to it.

    At Wednesday's morning briefing at Camp Udairi, American leaders were told that four soldiers in the British sector were injured when one of their rifles accidentally discharged.

    Last week, a U.S. Marine was shot in the neck by an officer who was cleaning his pistol in another tent. He survived but required major surgery, doctors said.

    Officers say the safety risk far outweighs the security risk.

    "We may be rolling the dice, but I can guarantee that you're not going to have any large forces rolling across the border and over- running our camp," said Maj. Spencer Smith, a logistics coordinator for the 101st Airborne Division.

    In the meantime, the soldiers patrolling the perimeter and the sentinels have all the rounds they could ever need. The Apache and Black Hawk helicopters patrolling the skies above the camps can quickly bring a hellstorm of cannon and missile fire on any approaching enemy, and Patriot missile batteries stand ready to shoot down any Iraqi Scud missiles.

    Smith and others couldn't recall a combat deployment where the bulk of troops remained without bullets for so long. Some got here in December, although most of the 101st Airborne arrived about 10 days ago.

    Many soldiers say they feel silly carrying empty guns.

    "If something kicks up, we're s--- out of luck," said Pfc. Jessica Ruth, 19, of Florence, S.C., supply clerk in the Division Supply Command of the 101st Airborne.

    At the same time, she said, "I don't feel comfortable with (ammo) because we got some careless people around here."

    On base, it's easy to tell which soldiers are ready for ammunition. Infantrymen - who have been given some bullets - and former infantrymen wield their weapons as deftly as a chef handles a knife and saute pan. The M-4 rifle is the tool of their trade, and they practice with it for hours a day. It is an extension of themselves.

    But even in the Airborne, the famously aggressive combat unit from Fort Campbell, Ky., and in the 3rd Infantry Division of Fort Stewart, Ga., many support personnel lack fluidity and comfort with guns.

    For some, the rifle is like a third arm, awkward and heavy and forever in the way. They drop it, or leave it behind, or use it as a tool.

    They lean it against a cot or a tent post, then knock it over, sending it clattering to the plywood tent floor. They forget about it when they turn around in the tent, bonking friendswith the barrel or butt.

    Early this week, a private was reprimanded for using her gun barrel as a pry bar while she was assembling the frame of a cot.

    "No, no, no," her sergeant barked. "What are you thinking?"

    In Afghanistan, medics with the 101st Airborne treated three soldiers who were inadvertently shot by their friends, including an engineer who lost the lower half of one leg, said Sgt. 1st Class Jesse Carabajal, 39, a senior medic who deployed to Afghanistan, and is now serving in Kuwait.

    One night as Carabajal and other medics lounged in their tent, a bullet whizzed through the canvas and struck a center support poll, then ricocheted through the roof. A soldier in the tent next door had fired his gun accidentally while cleaning it.

    The M-4 rifle, the standard weapon of the U.S. Army soldier these days, is a shorter, lighter, more maneuverable version of the M-16. It carries a magazine with 30 5.56-millimeter rounds.

    Officers also carry 9mm pistols, and each squad has an M-249 machine gun. Many infantry platoons carry a heavier M-60 machine gun as well.

    Accidental discharges, as the Army calls them, typically occur in a war zone while a soldier is cleaning an M-4 or a pistol, or while "clearing" it - removing the magazine, emptying the chamber and pulling the trigger.

    Each day, every soldier must disassemble the firing mechanism - including the bolt, the firing pin and a large spring - and wipe out the grime inside.

    This keeps the gun firing smoothly, and is especially important in the desert, where sand and dust infiltrate every moving part. After cleaning and reassembling the gun, the soldier then must pull the trigger, listening for the comforting "click" of the firing pin.

    Only then should the soldier re-insert the magazine. Unfortunately, soldiers sometimes confuse the steps, and insert the magazine before they check the trigger, Carabajal said.

    "I'm scared, like everybody else, of getting shot accidentally by another soldier," Carabajal said. "It happens. Hopefully it won't, but it's happened everywhere we've gone."

    Meanwhile, U.S. troops at Udairi on Wednesday received an unwelcome order: They must now wear "full battle rattle," minus the Kevlar flak vests, whenever they leave the tents.

    That means carrying gas mask, biochemical protective suit and weapons, and wearing helmet and the heavy load-bearing vest, where most soldiers carry essential battle items such as canteens, a compass, and pressure dressing.

    And ammunition, if they had any.
     
  2. Hutch

    Hutch Member

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    It seems that the training budget has been reduced more than we can imagine. I am aghast.
     
  3. Kharn

    Kharn Member

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    Pvts can do some dumb stuff when left to their own devices. Of course, they also buy lots of stupid crap, and pawn it later. Gun prices can be pretty good if you're looking for an inexpensive pistol in the pawn shops around a military base.

    Kharn
     
  4. Teufelhunden

    Teufelhunden Member

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    They have to carry all of their OTHER war-gear, but without rounds? SO we're worried that they'll need to mask-up to against an NBC attack, or use their field dressing to assist a wounded comrade, but give them nothing to repel the SOB coming over the wire that caused the injury?

    Forget not giving me rounds for safety. Not having any ammo while within a few miles of the enemy is what makes me feel un-safe. If someone gets a ND for being stupid while cleaing their weapon and injures someone else, remove them from the combat zone and court-martial them. Rattle the cage and remind these idiots that they are responsible for every round that comes out of their muzzle.

    Besides, what happened to keeping your weapon pointed in a safe direction? I know MCRD Parris Island taught that rule--I guess other boot camps and TBS gloss over those...:fire:

    -Teuf
     
  5. mpthole

    mpthole Member

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    Not to be sexist or anything... but did anyone else notice that all of the soldiers mentioned seemed to be women?
     
  6. Jmurman

    Jmurman Member

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    that is so stupid. How can we have soldiers that DONT KNOW how to properly treat their firearms.
     
  7. Ebbtide

    Ebbtide Member

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    Blame the demonization of firearms in the American culture. If young men grew up around guns they would have better understanding of firearm safety. I'm sure that many soldiers never fired a shot before boot camp, and many have not since.
     
  8. synoptic

    synoptic Member

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    This has been going on for a while - I got the quote from a former marine who posted in another forum (if anyone cares). You'd think after some of these situations they would decide to give them live ammo. But think about this like an old congressprick...A friendly fire incident looks bad, real bad, the american public doesn't like it one bit. A situation where troops are killed in some sort of bombing or similar incident causes the american people to support the war more due to anger at the enemy... I may be wrong, but it seems logical to me
     
  9. natedog

    natedog Member

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    Since when did the M4 become standard issue? And how hard is it to teach the 4 basic safety rules? I've seen 5 year old children that learned it in about 5 minutes. They should be walkling around with mag pouches, at least.
     
  10. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Moderator Emeritus

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    ehenz read my mind. This has more to do with unfamiliarity of firearms than it does with military training.
     
  11. TallPine

    TallPine Member

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    Yeah, right - statements like that go down in history.


    I agree with enhenz - I doubt they had these problems back in WW2 when nearly every boy grew up with guns.

    Scares the daylights out of me. If they can't control their weapons while safely in camp, how the heck can they control them under the stress of battle?
     
  12. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Moderator Emeritus

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    The same kinds that watch the crap on MTV are the ones handling rifles in the Middle East. Is anyone really surprised that they don't know what they're doing?
     
  13. Quartus

    Quartus Member

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    I hate to burst some bubbles, but I saw the same unsafe practices tolerated when I was in, and that was '74-'78. The Four Rules? What are those?

    Safe gun handling was NOT taught. What was substituted was ridiculous restrictison when we were at the range, to make sure that no ammo got off the range. But general safety? Nope. No training.

    I kicked a guy down the barracks front steps when he pointed his '16 at me, and didn't get in trouble, but that's about the only training that guy got, and the only evidence that the drills cared about weapons safety.


    And they were all Vietnam combat veterens.


    :rolleyes:
     
  14. cdbeaver

    cdbeaver Member

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    Soljers & Ammo

    Some things never change.

    During the Korean War hostilities, front-line troops were "trusted" to carry live ammo (my goodness!). But when we moved into regimental reserve--about three to four miles behind the MLR-- we were ordered to turn in all our ammo.

    I traveled with the regimental CO and refused to turn mine in because we were at the MLR and beyond virtually every day. I never caught any flak from the first sergeant because he knew I had to be combat-ready.
     
  15. Tamara

    Tamara Senior Member

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    mpthole,

    Maybe you want to re-read it. I only saw one woman mentioned.
     
  16. MPFreeman

    MPFreeman Member

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    Also earlier this week, this same private had her second labotomy. <sp?>

    I was watching the history channel or TLC about boot camp, and many of the kids had never shot a gun. WOW!

    As to these poor saps, why not teach the four rules, wouldn't it be better, and cheaper???
     
  17. BigG

    BigG Member

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    Ain't raisin many Davy Crocketts 'n Alvin Yorks round the burbs these days...
     
  18. Baba Louie

    Baba Louie Member

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    Interesting... sad, but while not actively engaged in combat, understandable; given the current training and mindset of civilians. I'd like to think that once the balloon goes up they'd probably be given at least 25 rds. Isn't that what the Brits used to do?

    On a sidenote, I was watching FoxNews yesterday and noticed several of the Special Forces (assumption on my part... but they were not Iraqi) type carrying AK's.

    Did anyone else catch that?

    Not all were holding onto M4's, but honest to god, good looking (if ya like that type of thing...I do) AK variant rifles.

    I wonder if Lake City is still making that headstamp-free 7.62 x 39?

    Hmmmm... Leave us pause to wonder.

    Adios
     
  19. Ebbtide

    Ebbtide Member

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    quote:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Blame the demonization of firearms in the American culture.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    The "demonization" started long before 1978 oldtimer ;)
     
  20. Hkmp5sd

    Hkmp5sd Member

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    Even in Vietnam, which effectively had no "front line", the troops were routinely disarmed when on base or in towns. Especially in the latter part when race and fragging became more popular than fighting against the enemy.
     
  21. Joe Demko

    Joe Demko Member

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    That time never existed. Read some military history from the Revolution on up and you will see a recurring theme: Officers and NCO's complaining about the lack of marksmanship and general familiarity with firearms among the enlisted personnel. Not just at enlistment either, but even among units that had seen combat.
     
  22. Quartus

    Quartus Member

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    [Walter Brennan voice][irritated] WHAT! WHAT'S THAT YOU SAID?!?! OOLD! OOOLD! DID YOU SAY, "OLD"??? WHY YOU YOUNG WHIPPERSNAPPER! WHO DO YOU THINK YOU'RE A'CALLIN' OLD???
    [/Walter Brennan voice][/irritated]

    :D





    <sigh> 'Freeman, the sad thing is that she didn't have the first one. This is about as good as it gets in today's Army.

    :(
     
  23. Quartus

    Quartus Member

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    The Old Timer Himself attmpts to impart some of his ancient wisdom to a new Army recruit, but kids these days just don't listen.

    [​IMG]




    (Yes, that IS Walter Brennan. )


    :D
     
  24. Average Guy

    Average Guy Member

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    IIRC, before we (USMC) got on the planes to Saudi in 1990, we were each issued 20(!) rounds. It was quite a trip to see M60s and mortar tubes inside a commercial airliner. In any case, we were ammo'd up from that day forward. (They even gave us--gasp!--two live grenades before we crossed into Kuwait.)

    One day in the rear, a guy in the room across the hall put an ND into the concrete floor with his M16. He spent the next few weeks giving weapons safety lectures to the widely dispersed unit.

    Sad, inexcusable--but every grunt knows you can't trust a zero with anything more dangerous than a ballpoint pen. :D I once watched our platoon leader struggle to pop the plastic strap on an MRE case with a SHOVEL.
     
  25. Mark D

    Mark D Member

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    Beggin yer pardon, BUT WHAT KIND OF ID-JUT USES THEIR RIFLE AS A PRY-BAR!!!

    Yes, I know it's been done before, and that it will happen again. But can't we do something important with folks who get caught do things like that? Like issuing them a shovel and telling them to dig latrines for the rest of their stint?

    I have plenty of scars from substituting my body for my rifle when it was going to suffer dmage. Bang into this, whacked by that. Why? Because your rifle won't heal-up, you will. What ever happened to "This is not your weapon. This is your life. Make sure nothing happens to it."???
     
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