"...Without firing one shot" v 17m Rounds

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by OldSnowy, Mar 29, 2010.

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  1. OldSnowy

    OldSnowy LE Moderator Book Reviewer

    I know this is from the Daily Star, not known as a bastion of investigative journalism, but interesting nevertheless:

    BRITISH troops have fired over 17 million rounds of ammunition in Afghanistan in the last three years.
    The incredible arsenal of bullets, shotgun, cannon and artillery rounds has been used between August 2006 and October 2009.
    In April 2006, then Defence Secretary John Reid said: “We would be perfectly happy to leave in three years’ time without firing one shot.”
    Instead, UK armed forces fired 17,004,910 shots, which is more than one each for the country’s 12 million-strong population.
    And analysis of the £44.7 million worth of fired ammo – uncovered by a Daily Star Sunday freedom of information request – showed them fighting harder during last year’s bloody summer offensive than ever before.
    It comes as no surprise that while Operation Panther’s Claw hogged the headlines and 72 soldiers died, Our Boys fired a record number of rounds for a six-month tour.
    They unleashed 4.7 million shots, compared to just 2.3 million on the previous tour.
    Brit troops used the 5.56 millimetre SA80 assault rifles, Light Support Weapons and Minimi machine guns 2.7 million times last summer, almost double the previous most bullet-heavy tour in 2007-08.
    They also blasted the Taliban with 337,000 of their half-inch .50-cal heavy machine gun bullets, way more than the 2007 record.
    And they smashed the previous mark for 7.62mm rounds, firing 1.6 million of them from General Purpose Machine Guns.
    The figures show how troops in Afghanistan are seeing far more fire fights than those based in Iraq.
    In Iraq from 2004 – the year after the initial invasion – until last year our troops fired a total of 9.1 million rounds, costing taxpayers £11.3 million.
    But UK forces have nearly doubled that already fighting the Taliban, despite the figures running for two years less than the Iraq records.
    The numbers include all infantry bullets and shotgun rounds, 105mm and 155mm artillery shells, and 30mm rounds fired by Warrior armoured vehicles and the Apache helicopter gunships."

    Interesting figures. We've been there several years now, and frankly things do not seem to be getting any better. The media this weekend was full of stories of ANP corruption and desertion, there is more of this to come, and several of those who I have talked to, having recently returned, are not at all sanguine of our prospects.

    The question is - which will be the first political party in the UK (other than the BNP and the Jury Party, who don't count) to break the consensus and call for a (phased) withdrawal? Will our move from Helmand to Kandahar be a good opportunity to start this?

    We're spending immense amounts of treasure and, more importantly, blood, and appear to be achieving little. In Iraq I could see real progress and improvement in people's lives between 2003 and 2006, yet in Afghanistan it's impossible to say the same thing.

    Is it all worth it?
  2. snowy have you served there yet? and met the locals?
  3. OldSnowy

    OldSnowy LE Moderator Book Reviewer

    Served? Sort of - many months out there, but not armed. Met the locals? Oh yes, an awful lot of them. Having talked recently to a few others who have done similar jobs, not one was optimistic for the future. I was, but I'm afraid I've seen no improvement. The re-election of Pres K last year was pretty much the last straw sa far as many Afghans are concerned, and I can't say I blame them.
  4. What winds me up more than anything about the whole 'withdrawal discussion' is when the Pub General inevitably mouths "Why don't they just burn all the poppy fields and be done with it - it's not our problem etc etc"

    And it's always some fat real-ale drinking guy.

    But then one of the biggest problems I feel is the fact that someone could be working for the ANP one day, and the next day Mr Taliban comes along, waves a $20 note under his nose and the next day he goes mental, brassing his 'mates' up in the process.
  5. Bit of a non-story in my view.

    The amount of ammo used is about as relevant as the amount of petrol, the number of tyres, or the number of sausages.

    At 37p per round, I'll not be feeling sorry for poor old Mr Taxpayer.

    If using more ammo helps conduct a difficult operation at a (albiet slightly) reduced level of risk, crack on.
  6. I always like hearing the "wall around UK" argument. If there are XYZ Thousand blokes in theatre at any given time, and the UK Border force consists of PQR Thousand blokes, then why don't we withdraw from ganners, reduce the size of our army and beef up the border patrol force? That would give us XYZPQR Thousand on the Border Farce. Bound to be strong enough, eh?
  7. well i was out there 07 and looking to go back, but back then the locals were very friendly and always wanting our help were possible, I know there were more than likly dickers as well but hey ho every ones got to make money, but i just hope it hasnt changed that much for the general population

    other wise we are wasting our time
  8. Whatever happen to 'Dr' Reid?
  9. why not just fire 3 rounds

    trident its a form of disarment :twisted:
  10. Well, their opinion of their readership is obviously similar to your opinion of their journalism if they feel the need to point out that 17 million is a bigger number than 12 million ;)
  11. Cow

    Cow LE

    Thats a fair bit of ammo! Makes you wonder how much incoming we've had and who's been paying for that..
  12. OldSnowy

    OldSnowy LE Moderator Book Reviewer

    He gave up the booze a few years ago, after an alleged 'incident' involving a (female) Labour MP.

    He's still an MP, also Chairman of Celtic FC, and a consultant to Group 4 Security, among other things. We can assume therefore that he's managing to scrape by.
  13. The situation for so-called 'ordinary Iraqis' got substantially worse between 2003 and 2006.

    According to iraqbodycount.org, civilian deaths reached their highest point in 06-07.

    'Progress' and 'improvement' were words used by politicians whilst troops in Basra were literally fighting running battles against the Iraqi Police, and US troops in the North were sustaining several fatalities a day.
  14. OldSnowy

    OldSnowy LE Moderator Book Reviewer

    A couple of points:

    Firstly, I'm only pointing out what I saw. For many Shias, pre-war and post-war were very different - and they much preferred post-war.

    Secondly, if you believe the Iraqbodycount numbers, then nothing else will convince you. I don't believe them - I think their numbers are nonsensical.

    No point getting into a pissing match in this - the situation in Iraq has improved immensely when you compare pre-invasion to post-invasion for most Iraqis (Shias and Kurds - I won't say that's the situation for many Sunni, Yezedi, or Christian Iraqis). The same cannot be said for Afghanistan, despite our having been there longer, and fought harder.
  15. The situation deteriorated severely between 2003 and 2006, making life much worse for almost everyone in Iraq, but has since stabilised. Academics aside, I agree with your assessment that the situation for a lot of people in Iraq is much better now than it was before.

    That said, making life better for Iraqis isn't why we invaded. We invaded to rid Iraq of 'weapons of mass destruction', and failed in that we found none. We also created a country-sized recruiting ground for militant extremists, and handed them a massive amount of training and propaganda - which has probably gone a long way towards fuelling the Afghan war. The so-called 'progress' seen in Iraq post 2007 was simply a costly recovery from a catastrophic disaster that we had created.

    On Afghanistan, I don't know enough about the 'big picture' to comment on whether we're making any real progress. However, the measure isn't (necessarily) the quality of life for Afghans, the number of casualties sustained, or the number of rounds fired.

    I suppose that's the point. There are no clear-cut objectives (other than 'destroy the Taliban', which is virtually impossible given the nature of the "Taliban"), so it's very difficult to know if we're getting anywhere near to achieving them.