August 18, 2007

How many bullets are we firing in anger in Iraq?

An AP article says:

Wars squeeze police ammunition supplies across US
Shortage curtails officers' training

Troops training for and fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are firing more than 1 billion bullets a year, contributing to ammunition shortages hitting police departments nationwide and preventing some officers from training with the weapons they carry on patrol.

Last year, I tried to figure out how many bullets we are firing at people in Iraq every year. (This new AP article drops some hints, but never comes out and says.)

I think a lot of Americans have a hard time grasping just how much firepower the
U.S. military expends. Many Americans seem to assume that because we are in Iraq to help, that our boys must be as lightly armed as policemen back home. Further, we have this image in our heads of America as the plucky underdog winning battles through intestinal fortitude, although the last time that happened on a big scale might have been a couple of hours of the Battle off Samar in October 1944 when Admiral Halsey got snookered by Japanese feint and left a weak fleet of small USN ships to heroically fight off the biggest battleship in the world. In reality, American doctrine going back at least to Grant has been to bury the enemy under the firepower that our industrial might provides. And soldiers aren't carrying single-shot M1s anymore. The M16 can fire at least 12 rounds per second.

What I found last year was that the
U.S. government does not make it easy to figure out how many bullets are fired in anger, let me tell you. I found that the military's consumption of bullets increased by over a billion between peaceful 2000 and bellicose 2005, but nobody seems eager to break that down between increased training and combat.

The best I could come up with was this: In testimony before the House of Representatives on June 24, 2004, references were made to "less than 10 million rounds per month being expended in hostilities" and an annual expenditure of "a hundred million for the war" outside of training.

So let's call it 100,000,000 bullets per year or 8.3 million fired per month in Iraq in mid-2004.

So, that's about 275,000 bullets fired in anger per day by U.S. forces. (If you have a better estimate, please let me know in the Comments.)

Of course, the vast majority of bullets fired never hit anybody, but you can imagine the emotional impact on Iraqis of having 275,000 American bullets per day flying around their county trying to kill somebody. It's kind of hard to win the hearts and minds of Iraqis when you are firing ten thousand bullets per hour, 24/7, in their homeland, some of them winding up in random living rooms.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


Anonymous said...

And soldiers aren't carrying single-shot M1s anymore.

The M1 Garand is semiautomatic with an 8-shot capacity.

Your redneck card is hereby revoked.

Anonymous said...

What about Bastogne? Chosin? Mogadishu?

Screw-ups make heroes.


Anonymous said...

You have a point, but I'd be careful on this. You seem to be making some pretty large assumtions on very scanty data. The implication is that American soldiers are just spraying bullets around the country. This may be true, but it certainly is not what most returning Iraqi war veterans relate. Many say that they are afraid to fire their weapons, for fear of investigation. But admittedly, someone is firing a lot of bullets somewhere. Does this include the ammo we give to our Iraqi allies? If so, at least some of that total is probably fired back at us...

Anonymous said...


So the conclusion is, the US needs to be makin’ mo’ bullets!

That article has to be b.s. And I'm sorry, but your spin on it is silly. I agree that invading Iraq was a mistake, but this antiwar lieberal/War Nerd stuff is your weak suite.

Anonymous said...

"While the accuracy of aerial bombing has increased, lessening collateral damage compared to, say, Dresden..."

this is outrageous! The Dresden bombing was intentional. Allies knew that Dresden had been declared a refugee city and had little industrial output. Dresden was intentionally destroyed in order to demoralise the German public. The collateral damage was intentional.

Dresden has always been known as a particularly beautiful city, more so than any city in England or the US. Taking it down was a crime which the Queen conceded by paying for the silver cross on the newly resurrected Frauenkirche.

Anonymous said...

I remember Laurence Auster attacked you as an unpatriotic scumbag for your previous speculation on this. Only someone who hates America would suggest that American troops might shoot any nearby Iraqis in the aftermath of attacks that kill American soldiers... -SN

Anonymous said...

There are US Armed Forces ammunition inefficiencies on the battlefield? I think we all know where the problem really lies.

Steve, it is obvious that the only reason we haven't had complete success in Iraq [and frankly every other area of society] is that our new Jewish/Asian cognitive elite have not yet penetrated the leadership positions in those areas.

Once the trend lines emerging in the Ivy League enrollments [as described in your other thread] manifest in these other sectors of the economy, then we can expect everything to operate at higher level from both an intellectual [Jewish] and engineering [Asian] standpoint.

That is obvious judging from the overall greatly improved output of the Ivy Leagues in the modern era. The modern Ivy's have given us Political Correctness, Multiculturalism, Free Trade, Derivative Debt, War for Universal Democracy, and a million other improvements of humanity small and large.

These are the lasting achievements for which the USA will be revered through the ages. That is obvious.

The truth is, once we have a lot more Jews and Asians running things at the Pentagon, in the US Government, in corporate America, and essentially everywhere else in the country, things will dramatically improve across the board.

Anonymous said...

i'm sure 90% of this is training people how to use semi/auto weapons. buy alliant techsystems (ATK). they make bullets.

Anonymous said...

The Dresden bombing was intentional. Allies knew that Dresden had been declared a refugee city ..

… by the Nazis, for retreating Nazi soldats/refugees.


Prepared by:
USAF Historical Division
Research Studies Institute
Air University


1. The reasons for and the nature and consequences of the bombing of Dresden, Germany, by Allied air forces on 14-15 February 1945 have repeatedly been the subject of official and semi-official inquiries and of rumor and exaggeration by uninformed or inadequately informed persons. Moreover, the Communists have with increasing frequency and by means of distortion and falsification used the February 1945 Allied bombings of Dresden as a basis for disseminating anti-Western and anti-American propaganda. From time to time there appears in letters of inquiry to the United States Air Force evidence that American nationals are themselves being taken in by the Communist propaganda line concerning the February 1945 bombings of Dresden.


The foregoing historical analysis establishes the following definitive answers to the recurring questions concerning the February 1945 bombings of Dresden by Allied strategic air forces: a. Dresden was a legitimate military target. b. Strategic objectives, of mutual importance to the Allies and the Russians, underlay the bombings of Dresden. c. The Russians requested that the Dresden area be bombed by Allied air forces. d. The Supreme Allied Commander, his Deputy Supreme Commander, and the key British and American operational air authorities recommended and ordered the bombing of Dresden. e. The Russians were officially informed by the Allies concerning the intended date of and the forces to be committed to the bombing of Dresden. f. The RAF Bomber Command employed 772 heavy bombers, 1477.7 tons of high explosive and 1181.6 tons of incendiary bombs, and American Eighth Air Force employed a total of 527 heavy bombers, 953.3 tons of high explosive and 294.3 tons of incendiary bombs, in the 14-15 February bombings of Dresden. g. The specific target objectives in the Dresden bombings were, for the RAF Bomber Command, the Dresden city area, including industrial plants, communications, military installations, and for the American Eighth Air Force, the Dresden Marshalling Yards and railway facilities. h. The immediate and actual consequences of the Dresden bombings were destruction or severe damage to at least 23 per cent of the city’s industrial buildings; severe damage to at least 56 per cent of the city’s non-industrial buildings (exclusive of dwellings); destruction or severe damage to at least 50 percent of the residential units in the city’s non-industrial buildings (exclusive of dwellings); destruction or severe damage to at least 50 percent of the residential units in the city, and at least some damage to 80 per cent of the city’s dwellings; the total disruption of the city as a major communications center, in consequence of destruction and damage inflicted on its railway facilities; and death to probably 25,000 persons and serious injury to probably 30,000 others, virtually all of these casualties being the result of the RAF area raid. i. The Dresden bombings were in no way a deviation from established bombing policies set forth in official bombing directives. j. The specific forces and means employed in the Dresden bombings were in keeping with the forces and means employed by the Allies in other aerial attacks on comparable targets in Germany. k. The Dresden bombings achieved the strategic objectives that underlay the attack and were of mutual importance to the Allies and the Russians.


Steve: The M1 rifle allows once shot per trigger pull. When that shot is fired, the rifle automatically ejects the spent catridge, and cocks the bolt for the next shot. That's what they mean by "semiautomatic," which is not the same as "single shot."

Again, Steve, your're at your weakest when in War Nerd mode. Otherwise, I am very much a fan of yours.

Anonymous said...

In reality, American doctrine going back at least to Grant has been to bury the enemy under the firepower that our industrial might provides.

The Civil War brought the death of traditional Jeffersonian democracy and the ascendence of federal absolutism and imperialism. The debate over state's rights and nullification had been going on for a long-time, of course, but the Civil War ended it conclusively.

Before the Civil War America had wars for self-defense, wars for independence, and wars for lebensraum. After the Civil War we saw wars of outright imperialism.

A discussion for another day, of course.

Anonymous said...

I agree that invading Iraq was a mistake, but this antiwar lieberal/War Nerd stuff is your weak suite.

This is the definition of "war nerd"? I thought a "war nerd" was a pro-war journalist with an Ivy League education in such poor physical shape that he was never in any danger of being drafted.

Anonymous said...

Steve --

I have to tell you, you are outside your expertise on this one. Not only are you wrong but you're dead 100% wrong.

First, off, there's that little thing called AFGHANISTAN. Remember that one? Lots of ammo being expended there, properly.

Second, we are not trying to "win hearts and minds" in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Just old fashioned power-play to turn critical regions to our advantage. That means killing some people, bribing/playing along with others, and offering "deals" to some others. JAM and the various tribes in Al-Anbar are not our "friends" but can be allies of convenience against people who are most assuredly our enemies, namely Zawahari.

Surrendering in Iraq and/or Afghanistan means more attacks here at home from safe havens and the sense that we can be easily defeated.

Steve -- are you a combat veteran? Have you served in the military? Have you embedded in both Iraq and Afghanistan? No. Michael Yon who can answer in the affirmative for all those cases, believes from first hand evidence that we are winning in Iraq but losing in Afghanistan. Given that he is a combat veteran (Special Forces) and has been more or less continuously embedded in both theaters since 2005 I'd pick his expertise and arguments over your own.

[Yon has argued that the logistical nightmare and Pakistani rear area protected by nukes and horrific terrain allows AQ/Taliban safe havens. Almost all supplies to Afghanistan have to be flown in over a rickety and non-scalable air bridge. We are essentially "capped" at how many troops we can supply and rely on the good will of other nations to fly over and supply folks in Afghanistan. Further we have unreliable and zero-effective combat troops in Southern Afghanistan, mostly the Dutch, German, and French who are restricted by their governments from active combat. Next we have concerted efforts to over-run firebases and take captives or kill them for propaganda efforts. Several attempts have been made so far beaten back by air and artillery fire. In contrast Kuwait's excellent seaports and land bridge allow lots of material to be rolled into Iraq and the terrain in that nation is friendly to US operations (mostly flat, no mountains restricting air operations, etc). Iran is making a LOT of trouble in both Iraq and Afghanistan, supplying EFPs, troops, material, etc. but doesn't have nukes like Pakistan YET so we don't have to tippy-toe around them like Pakistan.]

It's a matter of record that ROE within Iraq are very restrictive. Soldiers cannot fire back unless they can establish that no civilians are endangered. They cannot fire upon Mosques even if people are shooting at them from there. And so on. The AP article is garbage. It argues that police forces can't get enough ammo because of the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Police forces use pistol ammo which is not being expended at all in either theater. Pistols being useless in combat except as a last ditch weapon.

The real problem with ammo is that various anti-gun measures by Congress including "green" ammo requirements means that manufacturers scaled down or left the business. So it costs more and fewer rounds are being manufactured.

Anonymous said...

Your numbers are screwy. You have 1. left Afghanistan out of the equation, 2. assumed the maximum *cyclic* rate of the M-16 can be attained for longer than a couple of seconds without melting the barrel, and so on.

Using your logic, we can assume the following: Since most troops never fire their weapon (wasn't it in Vietnam that we learned only a small percent of engaged troops actually fire their weapons? And that only a small percentage of deployed troops are actually engaged in combat?) Therefore, there are probably 3-4 soldiers in Iraq firing several hundred thousand rounds per day.

Yes, this makes sense to me, too lol

Anonymous said...

The M16 can fire at least 12 rounds per second.

The M4 carbine fires at least 12 rounds per second. The M16A2 (the version of the M16 we've been using in recent decades prior to the M4's introduction) can fire a three round burst per trigger squeeze. You would have to squeeze that trigger pretty damn fast to get off 12 rounds in a second. The old Vietnam era fully automatic M16A1 hasn't been used in eons.

Anonymous said...

Actually, let me amend my last comments after having looked into the M4 a little further. There are apparently two versions of the M4: the regular M4 and the M4A1. The regular M4 is the one most commonly used by our forces and is a selective fire weapon like the M16A2: a squeeze of the trigger delivers a three-round burst. The M4A1 fires fully auto but is evidently only in wide use among Special Forces. Thus, our average infantryman in the field is not firing anywhere near 12 rounds per second.

Anonymous said...

The M1 Garand is semiautomatic with an 8-shot capacity.

Your redneck card is hereby revoked.


lol. I saw that one too.

Ammo has gotten a lot more expensive. The .556 (.223 inches) ammo I have seen is about twice as expensive as it was a few years ago.

One thing about the .556 M4 ammo is that it doesn't penetrate much, so you should be safe inside a house even if they are being fired close by. However, .50 (12.7 cm) caliber slugs fired from M2s atop humvees will go right through a house and then some from over a kilometer away. We are firing an awful lot of those in urban combat, and I'm sure plenty of innocent Iraqis have been killed in their homes by them.

The M2 machine gun has been in use for nearly a century. My grandpa operated twin M2s as a B-17 belly-gunner in WWII.

Anonymous said...

A former platoon sergeant (and new second lieutenant) acquaintance of mine told me that his unit's policy in Iraq was that if they took any fire or were anywhere near an IED that went off they engaged in "the mad minute" - 60 seconds of everyone shooting up whatever town they happened to be in with all of the weapons at their disposal, which were personal M-16s of mounted troops plus the .50 cals on the gun trucks. That results in a lot of ammo expended because two guys with AK-47s fired some shots over your head and then disappeared.

Anonymous said...

Somebody over at Ace of Spades is questioning this AP report. They make a good point: our military usually uses 9mm ammo in handguns. Police usually use .38, .40 (.40 hollowpoint is very popular these days), and .45, so how can supplies be short?

In response, people in the comments section are saying that some military units do employ .40 ammo (probably in units where individual soldiers are free to carry what they want as a sidearm). Somebody mentions Special Forces and I know some Special Forces units and Force RECON Marines still use the old .45 pistols, but that is a small market.

One commentator recommends the Seattle Times story. According to the Times, high metal prices are the real problem.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I don't buy that "single-shot" (or many other gun-related terms) has such a precise definition. It can be used to mean a weapon with no magazine (Thompson Contender, trapdoor Springfield, etc.)

It can be and often is also used to refer to semi-automatic weapons, especially when they are contrasted with full automatics. I wish it weren't (just as I wish "automatic" weren't used to refer to semi-automatics) but historically it just hasn't always been so. What's the definition of "load" that everyone agrees on ... chambering a round or inserting a magazine? Does "clip" refer properly to stripper clips, or en bloc clips, or both? An absolutely strict firearms lexicon is mostly wishful thinking.

Anonymous said...

I'll add that there is a link here from Bill Roggio on a guy embedded with Petraeus's command. He's an Ivy Leaguer, but apart from that he's alright.

Several things stand out:

1. Petraeus and his command are smart guys. They have intensely studied Vietnam (Petraeus has a Phd on the subject from Harvard I believe) and have had to take up the slack from the total failure of State and other agencies to do anything at all in Iraq.

2. If the comments at Roggio's site are to be believed, Bremner and the CPA rejected a similar approach: force to peel off elements of the insurgency one by one and reduce them early on.

3. Many others have commented on the total failure of the other branches of the Government, which basically wants to sit down in Parisian cafes and sip wine instead of being shipped off to dusty places like Baghdad, Mosul, Karachi, and other important cities where real threats to America exist but can be manipulated with some effort.

See Westhawk's view here:

Bottom line, only our military is actually TRYING to do something. The rest of the institutions want to party in Paris. Given that the military commanders are accountable, seem to have a clue and plan, and have the trust of those under them they ought to be given a fair shot. It's not like we have ANYTHING else on tap: the legal, media, diplomatic, and entertainment parts of America have all checked out because doing something for them is too much hard work in nasty, difficult places.

There are no movies for example where a suicide bomber changes his mind because Americans are good people. No news efforts to show the brutality and idiocy of Al Qaeda's barbarism. No diplomatic efforts to bribe, manipulate, or cajole tribes into turning against Al Qaeda in all sorts of places. No reformation of the legal system to allow soldiers on the battlefield to be soldiers not cops with Miranda warnings. Since ONLY the military is carrying the load we ought to see how it plays out is my way of thinking. Outside of Petraeus we got nothing.

Anonymous said...

Ammunition manufacture requires lead, copper, and brass along with specialized primer explosives and smokeless propellant. Those are all commodities going up in price. (Steel can be substituted in some cases at increased manufacturing cost.)

The use of full auto in battle rifles has never been proven to increase effectiveness but it sure does burn a lot of ammo. Troops spray and pray, rather than precisely put rounds on target.

Part of this is psychological. Most people, and particularly Whites, have an ingrained aversion to putting a bullet in another human being and so will shoot wildly. The Arabs have less of a problem with this, but they have little concept of precision marksmanship and little patience, which evens things up in our favor-as long as it's a shooting war.

That's why IEDs are the standard weapon in this conflict.

Steve, by the way, you need to take the Intro to Things That Go Bang class at the local range.

Anonymous said...

A German:

Britain's Air Marshall Arthur Harris wanted to give the Dresden treatment to Lübeck as well. Lübeck was saved thanks the efforts of a Jew, Eric Warburg. Warburg, of the eponymous German-Jewish banking family, was serving as an officer in the U.S. Army at the time, after having been forced to flee Germany by the Nazis.

My German is a little rusty, but it looks like your countrymen were kind enough to name a bridge after Eric Warburg for this.

AK said...

By War Nerd, commentators are referring the likely fictional columnist of the Exile, the War Nerd. See for more.

Anonymous said...

The full version of the article has numbers you might use:

It's mostly BS, though. I shoot competitively, and the Black Hills 175gr match .308 is the same one used by military snipers. No supply problem, and we buy by the pallet.

If there were .223 problems, I'd have heard of those too.

togo said...

The Dresden bombing was intentional. Allies knew that Dresden had been declared a refugee city ..

… by the Nazis, for retreating Nazi soldats/refugees.

If only we could find a way to kill unborn Nazis in the womb.

Steve Sailer said...

Well, nobody seems to have any numbers better than the ones I dug up last year: the military upped its consumption of bullets by over a billion from 2000 to 2005, and about 10% of that is going for combat, so we're shooting about 3 bullets per second in anger, 60/60/24/7/52.

Grumpy Old Man said...

That's a lot of lead in the ground in Iraq. When the war is over we can send them Al Gore to clean things up.

Anonymous said...

so we're shooting about 3 bullets per second in anger

Two words: Covering Fire.

In modern war explosive rounds (shells, rockets, grenades) do most of the killing, not bullets. The mass quantities of rifle rounds are fired to suppress enemy movement and set the enemy up for delivery of explosive rounds.

There is some strategy at work here. But your posting makes it sound like US forces are untrained yahoos.

Re Spray & Pray: we can assume that there is a high rate of panicked suppressive fire in this stage of the conflict. This would be a natural reaction to the guerrilla tactics the coalition troops face day after day. Meaning the psychological strain of units losing men one at a time to ambushes, snipers and IEDs leads to blow-offs of extreme pressure.

Also, considering the poor oversight the Pentagon exerts in general, I wonder how many rounds are actually being shipped, are actually being spent on the battlefield, and how many unspent rounds are finding there way to other locations around the world.

Anonymous said...

It seems like commenter IQ drops 15 points here when Iraq is discused; a kind of 'red mist' effect.

Anonymous said...

David Davenport,
Then why were the victims almost exclusively civilians?

Sounds like the Air Force propaganda was concocted to prevent any claims. That the bombing of Dresden was an atrocity is by now common knowledge and historically acknowledged. Too bad it does not suit your clean vest self-image.

Anonymous said...

A Jew,
Thanks for that posting. Most Germans can accept the fact that they were not innocent bystanders. What irks them is the intentional destruction of heritage which can never be rebuilt. The enormous investments in Dresden since reunification have only managed to rebuild the most important buildings. Most of the inner city was irretrieveably destroyed. Surely it was possible to win the war without such wanton destruction?

For instance, much of the former inner cities of Berlin and Essen (+1000 years old) were also destroyed. But everyone accepts that's because in Berlin there were the HQ's of the Army, the Police and the NSDAP, and in Essen there was Krupp with his Panzer-works. So most people accept that the destruction of these cities was inevitable.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many bullets are fired in anger, and how many bullets are fired not-in-anger.

Steve, does anyone break that down?

Are bullets fired in covering fire fired in anger? Or something else?


Anonymous said...

"Most Germans can accept the fact that they were not innocent bystanders. What irks them is the intentional destruction of heritage which can never be rebuilt. The enormous investments in Dresden since reunification have only managed to rebuild the most important buildings. Most of the inner city was irretrieveably destroyed. Surely it was possible to win the war without such wanton destruction?

By A German, at 8/19/2007 4:27 AM"

Most Poles feel the same way about Warsaw. There was no need for the Germans to raise the city after the uprising was supressed. It was done solely for spite and vengence.

Wars are not fought with hindsight, but in light of facts as known at the time. The only conclusions that the allies could draw in 1945 were that a.) The Germans had lost the war and thier position was hopeless, and b.) they still wouldn't surrender. What does one then do? A certain amount of frustration may lead one side to simply conclude "Okay then, you won't give up, well, then we'll just kill all of ya'".

Brutal, yes, but not un-understandable. And I say this as a great admirer of german culture and of the german people. I would agree with you, that the allies - Americans and British both - did not have clean hands. Killing children is evil, regardless of whether those children are jews, poles, english, germans, or japanese.

The only thing I can conclude from the singular brutality of the world wars is that our nations should never engage in anything like them again. The different parts of western civilization bled each other nearly to death in the 20th century. We should now stand together to defend our common inheritance.

Dan Kurt said...

re: "anonymous said...
What about Bastogne? Chosin? Mogadishu?"
8/18/2007 5:16 AM

They represent the following:

1) Bastogne. An example of German Blitzkrieg where one avoids Surfaces ( Bastogne ) and exploits Gaps. The advancing Germans bypass strong points, isolating them for later mop up. Had the Germans command of the air, more reserves and fuel, Americans at Bastogne would have surrendered as their supplies dwindled and the front receded to the West as the Germans did so often in Russia in 1941 when moving East.

2) Chosen. A Reverse Corps Maneuver is probably the most difficult operation an Army is called on to perform. The American Army historically has had little success when called on to do one when needed. While the Marines at Chosin managed to fight out of a developing pocket and escape to the East and the sea, the Army in the West disintegrated under Chinese attack losing by death and capture men and material because they were incapable of a reverse corps maneuver. One hears about the heros at Chosen but never about the failed American Army to the West.

3) Mogadishu. An example of the incompetence and cowardice of the American General Officers involved for not standing up to their civilian overlords to insist that the mission was doomed to fail unless the troops were given adequate support. Iraq is Mogadishu writ large.

Anonymous said...

The firebombing of Dresden was a major war crime. It was the intentional targeting of innocent men, women, and children. In a word, mass murder. In the name of what principle were we fighting the Nazis?

I guess had to burn up all the little blond goyim because of the Holocaust. Nothing is more important, according to David Davenport.

Now we're in fresh pastures, killing all the little brown Palis, Sunnis, Arabs...If we don't kill them there, they'll kill us here! cries David. Say, David, aren't they already here?

Being a light unto the nations means never having to say you're sorry.

I'm not the only one who notices these things, David.

Anonymous said...

"Now we're in fresh pastures, killing all the little brown Palis, Sunnis, Arabs...If we don't kill them there, they'll kill us here! cries David. Say, David, aren't they already here?"

This puts me in mind of the as yet unresolved cognitive dissonance that plagues our society. You can be vilified to the point of having your life destroyed for holding the "wrong" beliefs about ethnicities other than your own. Yet, no one blinks an eye at the slaughter of innocent civilians in Iraq which may well be occurring because our government refuses to respect or even acknowledge cultural differences between Westerners who prefer secular states and Muslims who want to live in theocracies.

Build a few foot baths in Michigan and all is forgiven? And what happens when we keep importing these Muslims who want to live in theocracies? That elementary school in California that gives its Somali students an hour session of Muslim prayer each day might give you some idea.

Anonymous said...

The firebombing of Dresden was a major war crime. It was the intentional targeting of innocent men, women, and children. In a word, mass murder. In the name of what principle were we fighting the Nazis?

The basic principles were: defeat and unconditional surrender of the Nazi regime, while keeping Allied casualties relatively low.

Anonymous said...

The Feb. 13, 1945 bombing of Dresden by the British Royal Air Force has become a symbol for excessive, gratuitous violence on the part of the Allies during World War II. But with the 60th anniversary of the bombing on Sunday, a new book by British historian Frederick Taylor argues that this view may not be quite accurate. SPIEGEL ONLINE spoke with the author.

August Schreitmueller's sandstone sculpture "The Goodness" looks over destroyed Dresden from the Town Hall Tower in 1945.
Some critics have accused you of writing a justification of the bombing of the city of Dresden. Is this accusation misplaced?

Taylor: Yes it is. Some people mistake the attempt at rational analysis of a historical event for a celebration of it. My book attempts to be distanced and rational and where possible I try to separate the myths and legends from the realities. I personally find the attack on Dresden horrific. It was overdone, it was excessive and is to be regretted enormously. But there is no reason to pretend that it was completely irrational on the part of the Allies. Dresden had war industries and was a major transportation hub. As soon as you start explaining the reasons for the attack, though, people think you are justifying it.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Was it a war crime?

About the Author

Frederick Taylor is the author of a new book about the Allied bombing of Dresden in World War II called "Dresden: Tuesday, Feb. 13, 1945" (HarperCollins Publishers, 2004). Conventional wisdom has long had it that the bombing of the cultural pearl in eastern Germany was gratuitous violence and an inhuman attempt to kill as many civilians as possible in a city that had little in the way of an armaments industry or strategic importance. It is exactly this image of the Dresden bombing that Taylor's book goes a long way toward correcting. He shows that, in fact, Dresden hosted dozens of factories, many of them smaller but important workshops located in the old town, devoted to the war effort. His book also presents a much lower death toll (25,000 to 40,000) than previous estimates, some of which claim that hundreds of thousands died. At the same time, however, Taylor doesn't seek to minimize the horrors visited upon the city. He has sympathy for the suffering of the population and has grave misgivings about air warfare in general and the Dresden raid in particular.

Taylor studied history and modern languages at Oxford and Sussex universities in Britain and focused on the history of the extreme right in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. He traveled widely in both East and West Germany during the Cold War and has edited and translated a number of works from German. He lives in Cornwall, England with his wife and three children. more... Taylor: I really don't know. From a practical point of view, rules of war are something of a gray area. It was pretty borderline stuff in terms of the extent of the raid and the amount of force used. It's comparable with other air attacks in the war such as the German attack on Belgrade or even Stalingrad before it was besieged and of course other British and American attacks as well including the big ones in Japan (Hiroshima and Nagasaki). These are examples where you get close to saying "you absolutely cannot do this," and I think bombing is the most dubious form of warfare possible. But a war crime is a very specific thing which international lawyers argue about all the time and I would not be prepared to commit myself nor do I see why I should. I'm a historian. ...,1518,341239,00.html

Anonymous said...

SPIEGEL ONLINE: The neo-Nazi National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) recently referred to the bombing as the "Holocaust of bombs." This is, of course, a viewpoint held by more than just the German right wing. What is the problem with this viewpoint?

Taylor: The whole "Holocaust of bombs" thing has been around on far-right Web sites for years and is only now emerging into the NPD's antics in the (Saxony state government). I frankly don't understand what they're saying. All sides bombed each other's cities during the war. Half a million Soviet citizens, for example, died from German bombing during the invasion and occupation of Russia. That's roughly equivalent to the number of German citizens who died from Allied raids. But the Allied bombing campaign was attached to military operations and ceased as soon as military operations ceased. But the Holocaust and the murder of all those millions would not have ceased if the Germans had won the war. Bombing is ruthless war making, but to use the word Holocaust to describe ruthless war making is to confuse two entirely different things.,1518,341239,00.html

Anonymous said...

Most of the ammunition bought by the Pentagon is used for training. Prior to Iraq and Afghanistan, the army (but not the Marines) had cut back marksmanship training for soldiers with non-combat specialties. As a result of things like ambushes on supply convoys, the army began to realize that the marines had something when they stated that every marine is a rifleman first. As a result, the live fire training for soldiers with non-combat specialties was drastically beefed up. Since most soldiers have non-combat jobs, the ammo usage for training went way up.

Steve Sailer said...

Right. As I pointed out in 2006:

"The military's annual need increased from 733 million small arms rounds (.50 caliber or less) in 2000 to 1,790 million rounds in 2005, but training requirements were greatly increased, so it's hard to figure out how much of the 1,057,000,000 bullets increase in annual demand goes to combat operations."

So, the question is, what % of that increase of over a billion rounds per year went to training. I'm assuming, based on testimony to Congress in 2004, that increased training ate up 90% of the increased consumption, which would still leave over 100,000,000 rounds per year being expended in fighting. By that calculation, we're firing 10,000 bullets per hour round the clock in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, which might help explain why we aren't all that popular over there.

Anyway, if the government has actually released any new documents on combat usage of bullets in the ten months since I researched it, please let me know. But it does appear that the government isn't too enthusiastic about publicizing whatever the precise figure is, and that the media isn't in much of a hurry to find out (although that may just reflect the press' innumeracy).

Anonymous said...

David Davenport Extensively and exclusively citing the USAF’s own historical analysis of its (or its predecessor, the US Army Air Corp) justification for the bombing of Dresden in your initial argument about the morality of such action was disingenuous. Did you really expect anything but vindication, no matter what the reality, from the very party under question?

Your second post seems to be justifying the bombing:

The firebombing of Dresden was a major war crime. It was the intentional targeting of innocent men, women, and children. In a word, mass murder. In the name of what principle were we fighting the Nazis?
David Davenport said...
The basic principles were: defeat and unconditional surrender of the Nazi regime, while keeping Allied casualties relatively low.

Is this an acknowledgement of war crimes or are you implying war crimes can only be committed by the defeated or simply do not exist in the practical pursuit of ends? It seems the latter which renders the term “war crime” pretty meaningless.

You seem to take one further step back in your third post by selecting quotes from Frederick Taylor who evades the entire subject of war crimes on his study of the Dresden bombing: “But a war crime is a very specific thing which international lawyers argue about all the time and I would not be prepared to commit myself nor do I see why I should”.

I prefer the refreshing honesty of General Curtis Lemay who remarked about his similar firebombing and targeting of civilians in Japan:

“LeMay was quite aware of both the brutality of his actions and the Japanese opinion of him — he once remarked that had the U.S. lost the war, he fully expected to be tried for war crimes, especially in view of Japanese executions of uniformed American flight crews during the 1942 Doolittle raid. However, he argued that it was his duty to carry out the attacks in order to end the war as quickly as possible, sparing further loss of life.”


Anonymous said...

Check out the "Deuce House Killaz" and maybe you'll get a sense of where a lot of our ammo is going in Iraq.

Funny, but kind of sad too, in a Clockwork Orange sort of way.

Anonymous said...

I just want to put in a few words on behalf of State Department. No doubt we aren't perfect, but there are quite a few of us in Iraq. I am spending the year in Basra, with at least 10 other State colleagues. And, I have other colleagues serving in the field all over Iraq, including those embedded into military units.

Anonymous said...

"I guess had to burn up all the little blond goyim because of the Holocaust."

Anonymous, the British didn't bomb Dresden because of the Holocaust. If they were that concerned with the genocide at the time, they could have bombed the rail links leading to Auschwitz and other concentration camps. They weren't and they didn't.

This is the short history of the the savage bombing campaigns between Germany and Britain in WWII. Initially, Germany's bombing campaign against Britain had a military logic: to target Britain's airfields, to destroy its airpower and prepare it for German invasion. During one of these raids, bombs accidentally fell on London. The British reciprocated by bombing German cities. Hitler was so enraged that he scrapped his targeted bombing campaign and launched The Blitz against Britain. Britain again reciprocated.

Jörg Friedrich, the author of The Fire, a book about the allied bombing campaign against Germany, was on C-Span's Book TV a few months ago, speaking and answering questions at a Jewish-owned bookstore in D.C. Interesting discussion.

When a questioner asked why Germany didn't surrender earlier, to avoid this destruction, Friedrich pointed out that elderly German civilians didn't have any influence on the Nazi regime; in response to a similar question about why the German military didn't surrender earlier, he responded that they would have been willing to do so to the Americans, but were unwilling to surrender unconditionally to Stalin's Red Army. Of course, that wouldn't have been an issue if Germany hadn't invaded Stalin's Russia.

The irony is that had Nazism been more like Mussolini's early fascism, Germany wouldn't have come to such grief. It could have had the authoritarian government keeping Communism at bay, the spiffy uniforms, and the healthy command-capitalist economy, without the pointless genocide and disasterous world war. Unfortunately for Germany and the world, Hitler converted Mussolini and not the other way around.

Anonymous said...

A Jew:
"Unfortunately for Germany and the world, Hitler converted Mussolini and not the other way around."

As with money supply, bad fascism drives out good?

togo said...

An excellent study of the development of terror bombing in WW2 is FJP Veale's Advance to Barbarism.

Anonymous said...

a jew said: Of course, that wouldn't have been an issue if Germany hadn't invaded Stalin's Russia.

Hitler didn’t have a choice with regards to invading Stalin’s Russia. Both sides detested each other, were natural enemies and were actively arming, massing men/material along the boarder in preparation for attacks timed to their best advantage.

Meltyukhov’s book,'s_Missed_Chance, is based upon recently declassified Soviet archival material. In it, he concurs with Viktor Suvorov’s book Icebreaker that claim that Stalin was planning to attack Germany in 1941. From wikipedia on Meltyukhov’s book:

”The Soviet economy had been on war footing from 1939 on, and preparations for mobilisation (sic) were made from that time on… According to Meltyukhov, the material resources and the system of mobilization ensured the development of the army, considerably exceeding the German army in the quantity of armament and combat materials.

As Meltyukhov shows with his study, the General Staff of Red Army had already begun developing a plan for an assault on Germany in October 1939. This process intensified in March 1940, and at least four different versions of the plan were developed throughout 1940 and 1941. The concentration of troops was disguised as maneuvers; in May/June 1941 the preparation for Soviet invasion in Germany reached the final stage, as the full-scale concentration of troops began.”

With the Battle of Britain decided and the Western front stalemated, time and inaction were Hitler’s enemies. Roosevelt was doing all he could to enter the war against Germany despite American popular opinion and the major powers in the industrial world were ramping up war machines Germany would be clearly be overwhelmed by. Hitler needed to use what little temporary advantage in quality of men and material Germany had to quickly move towards an early victory or face inevitable defeat. At the opening of hostilities, Russia had 2.1x more men, 2.4x more artillery, 4.4x more aircraft and 8.7x more tanks than the advancing Germans.

War with Russia was inevitable, it had the natural resources Germany’s war machine desperately needed and the East was the only meaningful front the decisive action could be made to bring the war closer to a victorious end for Germany. Despite popularization of the irrational myth of a defenseless, unprepared peace-loving Stalin, history (and common sense) shows that Hitler made the only and best decision available in attacking Russia when he did with his Operation Barbarossa. If he didn’t have to bail out the Italians in Albania, deal with a coup in Yugoslavia and spring 1941 had been drier, he may have been able to seize key southern oil fields and Moscow and drag out the war a little longer before losing.

Hilter may have been evil, but people let this cloud the fact that he was demonstrably very clever especially when things initially went well for him. It’s exactly because he combines these traits in such extremes that he was able to mastermind the system he did. Check out an interesting discussion that touches on this issue of the unusually high IQ of many Nazi leaders.


Anonymous said...

American war tactics using overwhelming fire-power to subdue the enemy is called second-generation warfare and was learned from the French in WW I (not US Grant). Grant's tactic was the holding attack: pinning the enemy down on one front while reaching around his flank with a separate force (still used by the US Army as recently as Gulf War I). Incidentally, although Grant has been tarred as a butcher, he preferred maneuver warfare and his casualty percentages were actually lower than Robert E. Lee's.

Anonymous said...

Rising materials cost based on Chinese buying, buying, buying is a big factor.

It's possible to use steel or aluminum cases for centerfire cartridges, and in some calibers steel core projectiles are feasible.

But the big use of ammo is training, and every year the reduced interest in marksmanship and shooting is taking a toll on the quality of shooting.

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that Grant Doctrine/Zhukov Doctrine means hammer-blow tactics that emphasise using all reserves to exploit success (rather than eg shore up a weak part of the battle line) and avoid any pause for the enemy to recover. It uses superior resources in men, artillery etc to the best effect, and is a good approach for states with superior military-industrial capacity, such as the WW2 Soviet military and US Civil War Union army. If done well it doesn't necessarily lead to high casualties - the 1991 Gulf War was a classic Grant-Doctrine war, massive force employed to maximum effect, up until the ceasefire, which was called earlier than you'd expect for political reasons.

Lind's Generations of War don't seem to distinguish Grant-Zhukov from the French artillery-centric approach, possibly to make 2nd gen war seem something foreign and French. In reality it seems to me that it's the Union way of war, it suits US military psychology, and it's not surprising that switching to 3rd gen war tactics is proving very difficult.

Anonymous said...

... War with Russia was inevitable ...

“Inevitable, inevitable, inevitable!” says the armchair general, handing holding drink waving in air.

"Most Germans can accept the fact that they were not innocent bystanders. What irks them is the intentional destruction of heritage which can never be rebuilt. The enormous investments in Dresden since reunification have only managed to rebuild the most important buildings. Most of the inner city was irretrieveably destroyed. Surely it was possible to win the war without such wanton destruction?

By A German, at 8/19/2007 4:27 AM"

Herr A. German, when will you guys take Konigsberg back, and re-beautify that historic city?

Anonymous said...

Lind actually is an student of 4th generation warfare (state vs. non-state forces) which he believes will be the pattern of future conflict. His 3rd generation category is blitzkrieg (maneuver warfare). Patton was its major American advocate in WW II with opposition coming from the traditional infantry generals who had learned 2nd generation warfare in WW I. Incidentally, we stink at 4th generation warfare. If only those damned insurgents would put on uniforms and stay in one place long enough to be blasted by artillery and aerial bombs!!

Anonymous said...

anon 9:24: Yes, although at least Gen Petraeus seems to be aware of basic counter-insurgency techniques, which is a big step up, hence successes in western (Sunni) Iraq. I think Lind's big point re 4th gen warfare is that all States have a vital interest in the maintenance of other States and the Westphalian State system. This argues for doing everything to maintain and validate opposing States even in war; giving defeated armies the 'honours of war'. This was the common wisdom of the West until very recently.

This is the exact opposite of neocon 'creative destruction' approach of deliberately destroying hostile (to Israel) States, thus opening the door to 4th gen forces. -SN

Anonymous said...

David Davenport:..inevitable…says the armchair general…

Mikhail Meltyukhov is a respected Russian military historian but the archives he cites supporting the "inevitability" claim are based upon a number of war plans drawn up by the General Staff of the Red Army (many Soviet generals) and advocated for by Gen. Georgy Zhukov.

Even without these recently-revealed facts from the Soviet archives, the preponderance of evidence combined with a little logical reasoning leads to the same conclusion regarding the inevitableness of the Nazi-Soviet conflict. In the spirit of iSteve’s “live not by lies”, this is one of history’s bigger lies and is as often repeated as it is easily exposed. It seemed apropos in what was evolving into a “war nerd” and “armchair general” thread here.

You seem to hold the mainstream opinion that Stalin was yet another unprepared innocent victim of Hitler’s evil rapaciousness. That Stalin would be fine with Hitler building a militarized fascist European megastate along Russia’s boarders. If you advocate this canard, you are uncritically naïve, uneducated in the history, men and events of the time and/or have some new facts that undermine Meltyukhov’s and other’s recent research (as well as by looking at simple intelligent answers that arise from asking Lenin’s “Who whom?”). Any productive counterarguments you can field will help explain where your skepticism comes from (silence or insults are just as explanatory).

“Knowledge is Good” – Emil Faber, philanthropist and father of the modern American lead pencil.


Anonymous said...

In The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William Shirer guessed that Stalin wrongly figured Hitler would make war with the nations to his west (like France) and that this would exhaust all parties involved. An unscathed Russia would be left in a position to pick up the pieces in a weakened Europe.

Anonymous said...

"Herr A. German, when will you guys take Konigsberg back, and re-beautify that historic city?"

Last I heard Russia was thinking of selling it to Germany. I know a few people here who are descendent from former residents of that city who had to flee the Soviet advance, and would love to move back.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how this article ended up in a discussion of the morals of bombing Dresden, but I have two comments: 1) I don't think a $13 trillion GDP is going to have any trouble coping with the number os small calibre bullets being fired in Iraq/Afghanistan. 2) In this age of moral equivalence, it's hard to remember that once the allies adopted and announced that unconditional surrender would be our position with respect to the Axis powers, peace was in the hands of the enemy. All they had to do was surrender. When they finally did they became affluent and welcomed in the family of nations. Curtis Lemay and Harris understood then. Why is it so hard to understand now? John

Anonymous said...

Last I heard Russia was thinking of selling it to Germany. I know a few people here who are descendent from former residents of that city who had to flee the Soviet advance, and would love to move back.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a bit of land connecting Konigsberg to the rest of Germany?

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