[News] U.S. Army told not to use Israeli bullets in Iraq

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Fri Jun 25 13:50:58 EDT 2004



U.S. Army told not to use Israeli bullets in Iraq
Fri June 25, 2004 12:36 AM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Israeli-made bullets bought by the U.S. Army to plug 
a shortfall should be used for training only, not to fight Muslim 
guerrillas in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. lawmakers have told Army generals.

Since the Army has other stockpiled ammunition, "by no means, under any 
circumstances should a round (from Israel) be utilised," said Rep. Neil 
Abercrombie of Hawaii, the top Democrat on a House of Representatives Armed 
Services subcommittee with jurisdiction over land forces.

The Army contracted with Israel Military Industries Ltd. in December for 
$70 million (4.85 million pounds) in small-calibre ammunition.

The Israeli firm was one of only two worldwide that could meet U.S. 
technical specifications and delivery needs, said Brigadier General Paul 
Izzo, the Army's program executive officer for ammunition. The other was 
East Alton, Illinois-based Winchester Ammunition, which also received a $70 
million contract.

Although the Army should not have to worry about "political correctness," 
Abercrombie was making a valid point about the propaganda pitfalls of using 
Israeli rounds in the U.S.-declared war on terror, said Represenative Curt 
Weldon, the Pennsylvania Republican who chairs the subcommittee on tactical 
air and land forces.

"There's a sensitivity that I think all of us recognise," Weldon told the 
Army witnesses, including Major General Buford Blount, who led the U.S. 
Third Infantry Division that captured Baghdad in April 2003.

Blount, now the Army's assistant deputy chief of staff, said the Army had 
sufficient small calibre ammunition -- 5.56mm, 7.62mm and .50 calibre -- to 
conduct current operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

But taken together with training needs, the United States had strained its 
production facilities, he testified.

"To fight a major combat operation in another theatre will require the Army 
to impose restrictions on training expenditures and to focus current 
inventory and new production on combat operations," Blount said.

As a result, he said the Army hoped to stretch U.S. supplies to supplement 
the capacity of the government-owned Lake City plant in Independence, 
Missouri, that currently makes more than 90 percent of U.S. small calibre 

The Lake City factory, operated by Alliant Techsystems Inc., has nearly 
quadrupled its production in the past four years. This year, it will 
produce more than 1.2 billion rounds, Karen Davies, president of the ATK 
arm that runs it, told the panel. Lake City provided more than 2 billion 
rounds a year during World War II and Vietnam, she said.

The Army's needs will grow to about 1.5 billion to 1.7 billion rounds a 
year in coming years, Blount said.

"In the near-term, balancing training requirements with current operational 
needs is a manageable risk-mitigation strategy," he said.

The Army does not want to repeat its history of building capacity during 
wartime "only to dismantle it in peacetime," Blount added.

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