It’s conspiracy day at PW: “Why are the feds loading up on so much ammo?” [UPDATED]
We’ve discussed this before — Ernst and I had an exchange in the comments recently, and my SF buddy was dubious about some hidden agenda as well, concluding as I and others had that such ammo purchases are in fact routine, if perhaps profligate (using hollow point ammo for plinking and certification practice seems excessively expensive, but then, this is the federal government we’re talking about) — and yet Andrew Malcolm, a seasoned journalist whom I trust and whom I don’t expect to adopt conspiracy theories readily, raises some very compelling questions. IBD:
The Social Security Administration, for instance, not normally considered on the frontlines of anything but dealing with seniors, explained that its purchase of millions of rounds was for special agents’ required quarterly weapons qualifications. They must be pretty poor shots.
But DHS has been silent about its need for numerous orders of bullets in the multiple millions. Indeed, Examiner writer Ryan Keller points out Janet Napolitano’s agency illegally redacted information from some ammunition solicitation forms following media inquiries.
According to one estimate, just since last spring DHS has stockpiled more than 1.6 billion bullets, mainly .40 caliber and 9mm. That’s sufficient firepower to shoot every American about five times. Including illegal immigrants.
To provide some perspective, experts estimate that at the peak of the Iraq war American troops were firing around 5.5 million rounds per month. At that rate, DHS is armed now for a 24-year Iraq war.
The perceived need for so much ammunition in federal custody is especially strange given Obama’s double-barreled emphasis in his inaugural address on the approaching end in Afghanistan “of a decade of war.” And he also noted, “We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.”
The lack of a credible official explanation for such awesome ammunition acquisitions is feeding all sorts of conspiracy theories, mainly centered on federal anticipation of some kind of domestic insurrection. Napolitano has at times alluded to threats from the extreme right-wing.
Other conspiracists harken back to an Obama Colorado campaign speech in July, 2008. That day he deviated from his prepared text to say:
“We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.”
Writing at American Thinker, Lee Cary noted at the time that the speech context seemed to involve expanded opportunities for community service. But as still happens when Obama goes off-teleprompter, his non-fortuitous word choice on the fly such as “national security force” prompted numerous writers to speculate since about some kind of national Obama para-military force.
And as great as Obama’s unlikely, newly-revealed passion for skeet-shooting might be, that involves shotguns, not handguns over-heated from blasting off millions of rounds.
Referring back (again) to my post that led off today’s output — and realizing now that I may have gathered my thoughts incoherently (or, if you wish to be kind, inelegantly) — let me phrase my question this way: Are we being too cavalier in our dismissals — that is, too assured of our own sophistication that we are easily passing off as commonplace what may only be camouflaging itself as such?
update: from a SF buddy:
If you click through the two articles, to get at where his “5.5 million rounds per month” number comes from, you’ll see why [the facts are being misconstrued]. Soldiers in a combat zone don’t shoot much – not only do the combat zone soldiers make up a small portion our our nation’s military, but they are too busy running missions/operations to sit around training. The numbers would be similar if you were measuring how many pairs of running shoes they go through – choosing combat zone soldiers to cherry pick those facts is stupid – soldiers in combat zones don’t spend much time running on the track either.
From that same article, you’ll see that the DoD ammunition allotment for training is: “Subsequent to 9/11, … the total DOD training requirement increased to 1.1 billion rounds per year.” There are only a couple million people in the military. These numbers that people are freaking out about, “Oh my god, they bought 150,000 rounds of ‘sniper’ ammo” or “The police state bought 26 million rounds combined, of mixed ammo types” are a trivial drop in the bucket. They are several orders of magnitude away from being even minorly significant, but these authors want us to believe that they are non-trivial NOW.
To put it in perspective, I was once on a 10,000/month training regimen. Sure, that is absolutely not typical. But I was personally going through 120,000/year, and my unit was in the combined tens-of-millions. There are thousands of SWAT teams around the country, and I’d guess they probably average 500-1000/mo minimum per officer.
Until these numbers were in billions per year, I wouldn’t even blink. In a different perspective, if you take this number of bullets (21 million) Homeland Security is buying, civilians are buying 1/10 this many GUNS PER MONTH (2.4 million)!
These numbers seem amazing when they put them in these articles. “21 million! That’s a lot!” You start putting them in perspective, and they are laughably small potatoes. I’d like to see the amount of ammo estimated that civilians buy. I bet it’s several billion per month.