The US Army is short of its workhorse-calibre ammunition, the .50-cal.
Washington- U.S. troops in Iraq are firing .50-caliber machine guns at such a high rate, the Army is scrambling to resupply them with ammunition – in some cases dusting off crates of World War II machine gun rounds and shipping them off to combat units.
At the Blue Grass Army Depot in Richmond, Ky., ammunition left over from Desert Storm, Vietnam, Korea and even World War II had been stored in massive concrete bunkers, including some 12 million rounds of .50-cal.
Staffers began shipping it off to Iraq.
By the time the war stretched into its second year, the Blue Grass stockpile of .50 cal had shrunk to 4 million rounds.
Four years ago, Lake City [ammunition plant] was manufacturing about 10 million rounds a year; currently it is producing at an annual rate of 50 million rounds and rising.
Even that fivefold increase hasn’t been enough.
At Blue Grass, Darryl Brewer, a combat medic in Vietnam, is chief of logistics for the ammunition depot. Recently, he started pulling out .50 cal. crates marked 1945.
The 1945 ammunition was opened and test rounds fired to check for reliability and accuracy, standard testing done for all aging ammunition. “They find anything wrong, they’ll do a suspension,” Brewer said, adding with some pride, “Very seldom you see that in a fiddy- cal.”