Owning Every Single Bullet?
NYC, as so often in history, leads the way in such innovation. Every single police gun ever discharged, accounting for every single bullet, all packaged up in reports used for “lesson plans.” More than that, though, is the public’s sense of responsibility for its police: you own every single bullet, every single death.
What’s so cool about such analytical efforts and how they change both the training and the culture: in 1966 NYC cops fire 1,292 bullets. In 2006, they shoot only 540 bullets, including all the accidents and even the suicides. Only 60 times in 2006 do police fire at people, killing 13.
Ultimately, this is the standard our military will adhere to: every single round. I know it sounds fantastic from today’s perspective, but the technology is not, just the policy and the effort. Meet that standard and we’re talking a far different global security culture. Just moving in that direction will speak volumes to the world about who we are as a nation.
This is an interesting idea in limited applications but it seems inapplicable to most military operations. With rare exceptions, cops carry a handgun and fire one to six shots against a single assailant. Soldiers, by contrast, mostly use assault rifles, which have automatic and burst capability, and crew-served machine guns that fire hundreds of rounds a second. There are situations when massive firepower is employed against no target in particular, simply for purposes of suppression and to aid movement. Do we keep track of tracer rounds, too?
The policy strikes me as a good idea, though, at least in theory, in peacekeeping, counterinsurgency, and other stability and support operations. It makes sense to have very strict fire control those situations.
Ultimately, I’m not sure this would make all that much difference. We’re alienating potential friendlies in stability and support operations not because of a lack of ammo discipline but because of poor civil affairs procedures, our inability to communicate, and a sense that all locals are potential target sets. To the extent that we’re killing too many innocents, it’s not because of trigger-happy riflemen but because of a fondness for shooting from a safe distance using missiles and bombs.