“In its campaign across northern Syria and Iraq, the jihadist group Islamic State has been using ammunition from the United States and other countries that have been supporting the regional security forces fighting the group,” C.J. Chivers reports. Drawing on data compiled by Conflict Armament Research, the New York Times correspondent concludes that the analysis of ISIS’ ammo “carries an implicit warning for policy makers and advocates of intervention.” Which will, no doubt, be ignored. Just like the fact that Mexican cartels use “assault rifles” originally sold to the Mexican Army and police with the blessing, indeed financial support of the U.S. government. Anyway, “Ammunition transferred into Syria and Iraq to help stabilize governments has instead passed from the governments to the jihadists, helping to fuel the Islamic State’s rise and persistent combat power. Rifle cartridges from the United States, the sample shows, have played a significant role.” Specifically . . .
Another sizable fraction of the cartridges matched ammunition that the United States supplied to Iraq’s military and police units for nearly a decade during the occupation after the American-led invasion in 2003.
“We have a lot of ammunition that comes from Iraqi security forces, which was captured on the battlefield, and a lot of ammunition that previously came from Syrian defense forces, which would be captured on the battlefield as well,” Mr. Bevan said.
Among Conflict Armament Research’s findings were that 323 of the cartridges — nearly 19 percent — were from the United States. These were typically 5.56-millimeter cartridges manufactured from 2005 to 2007 at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Missouri.
The ammunition is the standard cartridge for American M-4 and M-16 rifles, which, along with these classes of rifles, was widely distributed by the United States to Iraqi security forces during the latter years of the occupation.
The sample also included 147 cartridges bearing the distinctive WOLF stamp used by Sporting Supplies International, an American company that sells Russian-manufactured ammunition under its own brand.
The company has provided bulk military ammunition to the United States government for distribution to security forces under its training, raising the possibility that an additional 8.5 percent of the ammunition documented in the Islamic State‘s possession was sent into the region by the United States.
Surprised? Me neither. In terms of America’s fight against ISIS, the question is not where the jihadists’ ammo comes from. It’s “can we find reliable and well-trained fighting forces to use our ammo against . . . our ammo?” Other than Israel, I’m thinking no. Where does that leave us?