That DHS Ammo Buy

I’m no great fan of the Dienst Heimat Sicherheits, but this latest kerfluffle over their RFQ for 1.6 billion-with-a-B rounds of small arms ammunition is overblown. But not a lot.

The original report was Denver Post quoting AP. Then Forbes picked it up in an opinion piece that talked about DHS arming up for a twenty year war against America, using a Belfast Telegraph item on US ammunition expenditures in Iraq as a basis, and getting some of their numbers wrong (Army expenditures during Iraq were closer to 125 million/month; there’s no information on expenditures in Iraq).

As far as I can tell, the fact is that DHS wants to buy 1.6 billion rounds of small arms ammunition over a four-year period. That’s about 400 million per year. I tried looking for details in FedBizOps, the new 21st century name for the Commerce Business Daily, but that only shows postings over 30 days old unless you register with them.

How do those numbers compare historically? Well, according to a student paper (1.2MB .pdf) at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, the Army bought about 1.5 billion rounds per year during the height of the Iraq war, and about 400 million per year during the interregnum between the end of the Cold War and the start of the GWOT. The latter figure therefore represents the training requirements of the peacetime Army, while the former includes more active training and actual combat usage.

So no, DHS isn’t preparing for a twenty year war. They are just preparing to burn ammunition at a rate comparable to the peacetime Army. You know, the entire forty-five combat brigade, machine gun and automatic-rifle-equipped peacetime Army. That’s bad enough.

The Forbes article is a little overwrought, but its conclusion still stands — we need to have a national conversation about the militarization of the police.

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