Monday, July 18, 2005

At Least the Canadian Army Had Paintball ...

(Hat tip: The National Review Corner.)

It has to be admitted that nowadays the British are better known for the Navy rather than the Army. Nonetheless it was the Army that won Waterloo, and marched into North Africa, and helped to liberate Europe during World War II, yadda yadda yadda.

And now, look at this story from the Daily Telegraph:

Soldiers are facing the undignified prospect of being forced to shout "bang, bang" on military training exercises after an admission by the Army that it is running out of blank ammunition.

Details of the fiasco emerged after a letter from the Headquarters Land Command, the organisation responsible for training the Army in Britain, was leaked to The Sunday Telegraph....

The letter from Headquarters Land Command states that the Army has informed the Cadet Branch "that there is expected to be a significant shortage of 5.56mm blank ammunition this summer".

The 5.56mm ammunition is the standard round used with the SA80 semi-automatic assault rifle. Blank rounds fit into standard-issue magazines and emit a loud noise, meant to simulate rifle fire.

The letter continues: "This is an Army-wide issue and has been brought about as supply has not been anticipated to meet demand. The Defence Logistics Organisation are looking to find a solution, but the likelihood of this being found before the end of August is slim."

The letter says that the shortage will "undoubtedly have an adverse affect on field craft training" and that Headquarters Land Command has "not offered an alternative". It adds: "Units should therefore be ... ready to amend their training programme to reflect the situation."

.... A senior Army officer said that the ammunition crisis was "shambolic" and came at the worst possible time for the Army.

He said: "There is nothing more dispiriting than soldiers having to go on exercise and shout 'bang, bang' because there is not enough blank ammunition. Any benefit from the exercise will be lost because soldiers just won't take it seriously. Why should soldiers who are being sent to Iraq, where their lives will be endangered, be forced to shout 'bang' in training because someone in the Ministry of Defence can't do basic arithmetic? It's a disgrace."

Remember, this is the British Army; they're supposed to be better supported than the Canadian Forces, simply because they have more troops and have lots more to do.

Fact of life that bureaucrats tend to forget: bullets cost money. And soldiers need bullets, even if they're not going into combat, to keep up their weaponry skills. (Nobody is born knowing how to shoot people.)

And fake bullets -- blanks, wax or rubber, whatever -- are needed for training, but they still cost money. Even paintball weapons will do in a pinch.

Y'know what worries me about this story? That some DND suit will read it and think that shouting "bang bang" would be a good idea, as a cost-saving measure for the Forces.