"A CAR field investigation team photographs belted ammunition captured from Islamic State forces near the town of Kobanê in Northern Syria." (caption and photo courtesy conflictarm.com)

“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?

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71 Responses to C.J. Chivers: U.S. Supplying ISIS With Ammo

  1. Wonder if they’re also using other things we provided to the region: food, vehicles, TP, money, uniforms, optics, p0rn, roads, buildings, computers, etc, etc, etc, etc?

    Are they allowed to do that?!?

  2. Sometimes you really don’t know what’s going on, you just know that someone is hiding something. Personally I get this feeling a lot, concerning a lot of issues (scandals) with this administration. For instance, Benghazi. What do they have to hide? Why are they obstructing congress? Because they’re hiding something. The only thing I can come up with is they’ve been arming ISIS for quite a while now. And on purpose.

  3. Son of a bitch! Now I understand the root cause of the ammo shortage. Uncle Sugar isn’t buying it all for DHS, but for the jihadists!

      • It seems to me that the margin on 22lr is necessarily small, so that if I was an ammunition manufacturer with a government contract to supply ammo, I would be shelving 22LR production and using most if not all of my resources filling the contracts and the civilian supply chain with the highest margin ammunition – that being the gov’t contract stuff and the larger popular rounds.

        My point is that 22lr may be a red-headed step child right now because its the least profitable thing to make.

        • You are correct. .22LR disappeared because the manufacturers were understandably running higher margin cartridges all the time and had less equipment and personnel for low margin rounds. If GM could sell every Cadillac that they could make, why would they be building Chevys?

      • It’s close to 28%, counting LCA and Wolf ammo. Nearly 1 in 3 rounds; also, “captured,” probably covers a wide variety of acquisitions. For example, when the Iraqi’s just recently “accidentally” dropped supplies and ammunition in ISIS controlled areas, they probably call that “captured”. http://tinyurl.com/pfk3h46

    • Captured, definitely, but I’d say a majority of it is also coming from Qatar & Saudi Arabia. The people we sold close to $20 Billion in weapons & military technology… our “allies”.

      Furthermore, knowing the blatant and rampant corruption within the Iraqi military, I’m sure there were many Iraqi commanders that sold the ammo to ISIS, ammo that was eventually used to kill their own men when ISIS made the strategic push into Iraq. Greed & money does strange things. Hell, look at BAE selling Pakistan weapons and Dakota Meyer protesting bc those weapons, he knew and is 100% correct, would be used against our guys….

      • Give this man a SEEgar! And when you add in purchases by ISIS on the black market, there is no need to go looking for a direct link to the US Gov.

  4. If it ever comes out that ISIS had any .22 ammo, I want boots on the ground immediately! All out assault to get that back!

  5. Where have I seen this trend before… OH YEAH! That bitch hillary lied when she said that mom & pop gun stores were supplying 90% of all the weapons used in the mexican cartel wars, even though her own GD state dept she was supposedly running had issued a memo 2 weeks earlier stating that while the 90% of weapons were US sourced, they were from the US Government military aid to mexico/south-american countries that wound their way north into mexico.

    Quick, someone blame ISIS’s ammo sources on american mom & pop stores!

  6. You expected something different?

    The administration was considering major support of the people that morphed into ISIS when they were the “moderates” who were opposed to the Syrian government.

    This administration has overseen the largest expansion of fundamentalist Islam in since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Actions speak louder than all the words Obama could utter. He’s on the side of the Salafists in every country where the leadership prior to 2008 has been removed.

    So a little 5.56 ammo being diverted to ISIS? That’s par for the course.

    • A few months ago, I would have said these are the underpinnings of a nutjob conspiracy theory. By now, you at least have to stop and think about it for a while. The facts just sort of keep piling up on one side more than the other.

    • 100 years ago, who would have thought the West would miss the Ottoman Empire? Doddering and corrupt as it was, it helped keep a lid on the mess that is the Middle East. We’ll be dealing with the continuing fallout from that for the next hundred years, at least.

      • One doesn’t have to go 100 years back. As ruthless and sadistic as Saddam was, the area was kept in check. Kind of makes you wonder if it will take another murderous dictator to get that area back under control.

        • The oil is what messed up those countries, just like diamonds in Sierra Leone. Libya was a pretty good place to live in, until “democracy” spread and it became a wasteland remniniscent of the Fallout video games sans the radiation. Why? Because people want oil.

        • And are willing to pay for it. Corruption was rife throughout Africa and Arabia long before oil, and it will be there long after.

  7. We need to ban private ammunition sales among civilians so it doesn’t wind up in enemy hands……

  8. Sooo, let me get this straight. The enemy defeats the incompetent morons they’re fighting, capture equipment and ammo, which they find useful, so they turn around and use the stuff, and this equates to the administration supplying them with ammo? I can see where this twisted logic might serve to support the political beliefs of many (most?) of the people who post here, but, as for bearing any resemblance to reality…..nope. That headline was every bit as misleading as the worst drivel coming out of the anti-gun establishment. We can, and should, lead by example and do better. However I agree with S. Crock, if it turns out that they’ve got any of our 22LR (or .380) then count me in on the raid. Just, y’know, give me some time to get in shape.

    • Agreed. This was really a stupid post. On top of your points, WTH does 320 rounds prove out of a theater that probably has billions of rounds floating around?

    • All you have said was true, and it won’t matter a bit. He’s got a D after his name and that stands for Devil. Facts be damned.

  9. This also shows just how vulnerable ISIS is to logistics failure. Since it lacks the ability to make its own ammo, its rather sizable army is resorting to using scavenged ammo that it picks up on the battlefield—apparently it doesn’t have formal relationships with the kinds of gun-runners you’d think it would have. Come to think of it, if I were one of the usual underworld gun-runners (i.e., East European or Asian), I wouldn’t touch an outfit like ISIS with a stick. Who in their right mind would trust those guys? What this may (note I said “may”) mean is that ISIS is basically surviving on the large stocks of ammo that it captured from the 5 routed Iraqi divisions and not much else. It’s currently fighting on 3 different fronts and that requires a lot of logistics support that they may not have. If they do have sophisticated logistics, able to keep that sizable force supplied, then there is going to be a supply train which will be very hard to hide (think train loads 155mm and 105mm artillery rounds and millions of .50 caliber machine gun ammo for instance). This movie is about to get even more interesting.

    • If I had to take a wild guess, that just might be why US air-power was used first to attack the few rear-area logistics bases ISIL has. Then increasing sorties should push the ISIL fighters forward, make them feel time is short, make them overreach. Then butcher them. Clearing out Karbane is about six hours’ work with the right aircraft and FAC’s/FOB’s. But I’d expect “we” will only take the last steps when we’ve got some agreements hammered out. Subject to sunny-day golf delays. Dramatically moving on ISIL in Kobane would make a great October (non) surprise.

      • I kinda think that too. The lack of secure supplies was likely behind the—albeit remarkably successful—multi-front operations. They may have figured that what they have may be all that there is and, if it is, then they’d go for broke. The 5 divisions worth of gear was a definite windfall, but they’re using it up at a prodigious rate. Right now, however, they’re certainly fighting as though they have a full logistics train in place. Just keeping that many people in boots and bandages is formidable enough, let along keeping food and ammo and gas supplied to three active fronts. That’s a lot of stuff to be moving around and it’s not easy to hide. Surely somebody over there is interested in where their supplies are coming from. Cut those off and their dead meat for the Kurds.

    • I’m not sure there is any evidence that ISIS is reduced to scavenging ammo. Just because they have Lake City and Wolf ammo, doesn’t mean they scavenged it. They could have easily purchased it and delivered it through established supply lines. To me, the greater weight of the evidence shows that ISIS is a fully-functioning army. The territory they have captured and continue to hold is the best evidence.

      The fact that ISIS uses tanks, heavy artillery, and humvees tells me they’re buying weapons and munitions easily. These purchases may well be through pay-offs to Syrians and Iraqis that ensure the items get left behind in working order (or air-dropped in), but that’s a purchase nonetheless. There are plenty of corrupt people in that part of the world to make off the books deals with.

      • “The fact that ISIS uses tanks, heavy artillery, and humvees tells me they’re buying weapons and munitions easily.”

        This says a lot, doesn’t it? They’re fighting a well-coordinated, combined arms, fight on the Turkish border while, just last week, they successfully ambushed and surrounded elements of two Iraqi brigades. It takes some coordination, lots of men, and lots and lots of munitions to do something like that. You are right that ISIS is functioning as a real army. And, as third world armies go, they’re pretty doggone good. But, if there’s a military axiom for the Middle East it’s that third-world armies cannot stand against first-world armies. It’s a little surprising that we haven’t figured out where they’re getting their stuff.

        • We know where they are getting it, they are taking it from their defeated enemies. Along with thousands of recruits.

      • Using the weapons, munitions, equipment and vehicles of your dead enemies is not “scavenging”, it is effective and time honored successful tactics. And Al Queda has embraced it since they all got together and started raping and sodomizing and torturing and murdering their own women and children.

        • All well and good. But it is a poor way to supply the kinds of large-scale, multiple front, military actions ISIS is now carrying out. They can’t possibly sustain those kinds of operations just by collecting supplies and munitions from those they capture or kill. Although they apparently got their hands on substantial war-stocks when the Iraqi army disintegrated, I wonder what ISIS will do when those start running out?

        • “But it is a poor way to supply the kinds of large-scale, multiple front, military actions” Really? Appears to be working swimmingly for Al Queda.

  10. Well, we could avoid giving them anymore (or targets, for that matter). I know it’s tempting to give them ammo in a kinetic fashion…

  11. Jefferson:
    I swore an oath to preserve this nation
    It will be a long, hungry, and painful march
    bring food and band aids

  12. Man this is starting to stank to high heaven. Hell with ISIS or ISL or whatever Sheik-O is calling tem this week. If your even over there to get beheaded your stupid for being there in the first place. He is hitting them with missles so he can run us out of Tomahawks because its out there that we only had 100+ left in stock and he (Sheik-O) only let the military order just a little more than 100 to keep in stock. Let the muslims kill eachother out, who gives a steamer! Im sick of Sheik-O and his Islamic feiends!

  13. Looting dead enemies and overrunning their supply points is as old as war. Add to that the fact that Al Queda(changing their name every few months don’t change who they are) has been infiltrating and recruiting from our “allies” and yes, Virginia, we are supplying our enemies.

  14. The Kurds (boots on the ground) are saying we are getting NO GUNS ETC and almost no Ammo… And how about the TURKS do something ( NATO takers) but gutless givers also…

  15. I think the “study” also pointed to Chinese ammo manufacturers, although I didn’t catch the percentage.

    • Meh… that’s what they said in the media so it must be true, therefor everyone should just believe it.

      Why anyone would start to think about that now? They might get the wrong idea to think it could be great thing in any conflict to feed both side, even if on of them becomes a complete uncontrolled monster that will backfire pretty hard. Otherwise the conflict would end up too quickly and wouldn’t allow the perpetual military deployment around the world and the “war on something”. So it wouldn’t last long enough for lobbies, politics, elites and corporates to make profit out of it, even if it would cost trillions of American taxpayers dollars and too much American troops lives. And it would be impossible to impose our neo-imperialism policies to some countries.

      So yeah… let’s not start to think too much about it and let things escalade, even if it will escalade so badly it will definitely get out of control 😉

      • Of course they captured it, numbnuts, either when the people we gave it to were killed or ran away, or when the people we gave it to handed it over when they joined Al Queda. Either way it was captured.

  16. I love it when people piously state we shouldn’t have gone “there” in the first place. So the alternative was what? Do nothing and see what happened next?
    Such masters of foreign policy, brilliant planners one and all.

    It matters less where they got the ammo and more about what we are going to do about them. Nothing?

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