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I was either in, or worked for, the U.S. Army for over 30 years. During that time I had some experience with what ammunition guards were issued before going on duty. My brother brought my attention to a video, titled “The Wing” about F-15s in Bitburg, Germany, in 1981, at the height of the cold war. In the video you can see a Tech Sergeant being issued four magazines, all with rounds in them. He makes sure his chamber is clear and inserts one magazine. In the screenshot above (about 7:26 on the video) you can see the other three in his left hand. They are clearly 30-round mags for an M16 . . .

If they were loaded with 28 or 29 rounds each, I would be pleasantly surprised. It’s shocking that he was issued four magazines with rounds in them. It wouldn’t make sense to issue him four magazines with five rounds each, when he could be issued one magazine with 20 rounds.

The reason for my surprise is that, contrary to the movie, my experience has been far different. As this was a commercially-produced video made in cooperation with the military, the number of magazines may have been exaggerated for dramatic effect, disinformation purposes, or operational security.

My first experience with ammunition issued to guards was in California, six years before the video was made. I had been assigned extra duty as a military game warden on the Hunter Liggett Military Reservation. I wasn’t issued a weapon, but I carried my own, an Argentine Ballister Molina .45 that accepted Colt magazines. It was a decent pistol, and didn’t have the grip safety of the Colt 1911A1. My partner carried a Smith & Wesson Model 19 .357. We both carried them fully loaded with extra ammunition.

We had also been briefed about a potential threat. A tip had been recieved that elements of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) were considering a raid on an Ammunition Supply Point (ASP) somewhere in California. We received a report of shots being fired behind the ASP, and took our Jeep to investigate.

We didn’t find anything. The way back around the ASP was mountanous and long, so we decided to short cut back toward the headquarters area through the ASP and a guard stopped us with a hand signal. He pawed at his shirt pocket. We moved forward. He stopped us, and moved back the distance that we had moved forward. He pawed at his pocket; we moved forward. Everything was repeated. Finally, we got out of the Jeep, he made it be known that he needed to see ID. We tossed it to him as he wanted to maintain his distance. After verification, he let us pass through.

I was curious about the pocket pawing, and asked about it. It turned out that the guards were issued one .45 magazine with five rounds in it, and it was to be kept buttoned in the shirt pocket. Very Barney Fife and everyone that I talked to thought it was a stupid policy.

The next experience was in Panama, at the Rodman ASP abdout 1985.  I do not think the guards there were Marines; they were some other brand and for some reason, Air Force comes to mind. They were allowed to carry one magazine for their M16s. Trouble was heating up prior to the U.S. invasion (Operation Just Cause). It wasn’t clear that Manuel Noriega intended to declare war, but he clearly said on Panamanian television that the country was in a state of war with the United States.

At Rodman, the guard were issued a magazine and five rounds were to be kept in a magazine pouch. If a guard did not have all five rounds at the end of his shift, the entire company was turned out to hunt for the missing round.

Guards were confronted by armed poachers several times. One SOF member (almost certainly a SEAL) was killed by a poacher while training on a night patrol at Ft. Sherman while I was there, but the policy didn’t change until the Marines took over security in the face of growing Noriega regime hostility.

There have been other instances in which U.S. military security personnel weren’t allowed to have loaded weapons, or allowed only limited ammunition in the face of a deadly threat including the bombing of the Marine Barracks in Lebanon in 1983.

I would like to know this: What experience did you have with ammunition issued to U.S. military forces on guard duty and were you ever issued more than five rounds of ammunition?

©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Gun Watch

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  1. I can remember one time as I was given Staff Duty at the barracks and was given a beretta M9 with 3 fully loaded mags. This was state side in 2010, also in the Marine Corps but YMMV.

  2. When I was a young airman in the USAF Air Police (changed shortly thereafter to Security Police, and now I guess it’s “Security Forces”) I had guard duty at a fighter-interceptor alert hangar in Bangor, Maine and also a few miles down the road there at a nuclear weapons storage site. We were issued M-16s with one fully loaded 20-round magazine, and S&W .38 Special revolvers loaded with six rounds and that was it.

    I doubted at the time that we’d see Charlie or his Murkan equivalents humping through those north woods in the dead of a Maine winter, with the winds howling off the north Atlantic, and then scaling a ten-foot chain-link fence topped with triple-standard concertina wire, and heading toward the underground storage bunkers sheathed in concrete with alarmed heavy steel doors. With a half-dozen of us in there with our rifles and revolvers. Big white bunny boots outside, with long underwear, regular fatigues, insulated flight pants, Eskimo mittens, etc., and I still got permanent frostbite in my fingers, toes and ears.

    Six months in that mofo and then off to ‘Nam when they deactivated the site and turned it over to Maine Air National Guard. From chill factor of 60 below zero to 110 in the shade with 100% humidity.

    Graduated to the Pig and belts of .30 ammo, plus M79. Big tall guys can carry more chit, ya know.

  3. While doing armed Quarter Deck watch in the CG I was issued an M9 and 2 spare mags, all full. I was actually allowed to carry the firearm before I was allowed to carry the pepper spray. I checked with my BM2 about that and he said that if I felt threatened I should use the tool I had available.

  4. I served in an Army signal battalion in Germany around 1970. The duty officer had five rounds of .45, the guard for the Crypto area had three rounds of 7.62 for his M-14, and the motor pool guards had empty rifles.

  5. Wildflecken, Germany 1988-91. Hawk ADA missile site. All guards were issued a full 30 magazine. Took a serious threat before magazines could actually be inserted. I don’t remember a time magazines were inserted. NATO ammo site Giessen, Germany in 1986. Full magazine inserted in our M16A1s but nothing chambered. Post guard in Ft Campbell, Ky 1983-84. Bunk adapters and helmet liners. Dumbest thing ever. The only things that got stolen was your gear back at the ready building while you were on shift.

    • I was also in the Army in Germany at a HAWK missile battery, but almost 20 years earlier, in 1970-72. At the time the Army was transitioning from the M-14 to the M-16, and in either case when we were on guard duty we were issued two full 20-round magazines. (This was before 30-round magazines became standard for the M-16.) We also were not allowed to insert the mag into the rifle unless there was trouble, be we never carried a rifle on guard without being issued ammo for it.

  6. I was USAF Combat Arms (weapon repairer and firearms instructor), 1979-1995, stationed on ATC, SAC, USAFE, and PACAF bases, and passed through several USAFE bases in Germany during temporary duty in the 1980s. Basic load for USAF Security Police (flight line and/or air base ground defense security forces) was 4 full 30-round magazines for their M16/M16A1 or GAU/GUU submachine gun (GAU was issued K9 troops). One mag was inserted into the weapon, chamber was empty.

    Do not confuse these folks with USAF Law Enforcement (base patrol cops and/or gate guards) personnel, who were only armed with a S&W revolver (6-shot model 15 .38 Special) and two reloads.

    • Exactly. USAF is vastly different then the army. For M-16, the mandatory minimum carry was 120 rounds for stateside, and 240 rounds in Europe. The .38 model 10 revolver was 18 and the M-9 was 30 rounds. M-9 was carried with one round in the chamber and safety off. The army commanders hated it. In Berlin, the army tried to dictate to the USAF that we couldn’t carry a round in the chamber and full magazines. In a not so polite way, we told them to pound sand. When you see USAF SF, trust me when I say their guns are loaded , they seldom take crap from anyone, and the signs on USAF bases the say deadly force is authorized are real.

      • Just as the idiots in the stolen car in 2010 discovered when they tried to run the gate @ Luke AFB…while running from Glendale Police. One DRT & one in the ER. They were shot by US Air Force security forces airmen. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

        The comment about the Air Force carrying their sidearms loaded and off safe is true. That’s USAF regs. Here in CONUS, they’re issued JHP ammo as well.

  7. I was in air force security forces and our magazines were always topped off. That being said, I had one deployment to one of the states of the Persian Gulf where because of our SOFA with the local government, we weren’t allowed to carry mags in our weapons. it got to the point where we had to stay after work and do loading drills with our weapons.

  8. I believe the practice started in post ww2 Germany shortly after the war ended. The reasoning behind it was the higher ups thought those standing guard would shoot friendlies by accident, or their German counterparts on purpose as posts at checkpoints were usually manned by German and Allies. So they thought less rounds meant less casualties. I could be wrong though….

  9. was a USAF SP in the late 80s early 90s…loaded out with 120 rds of 5.56mm while stateside and the Philippines and 240 in Korea…

  10. While state side with the Marines (2007-2011) we were regularly issued 30 rounds for the m9 when on gear watch/ armory guard but a lot of the senior enlisted would lose their minds if we ever made a condition 3 or 1 weapon.

    • I also participated in the transition from the M15 .38 Special revolver to the M9 pistol at two different stateside USAF bases. Basic load for the M9 was always two full 15-shot magazines, and the weapon was carried with a round in the chamber, with the safety/decocking lever moved to the “off safe/ready to fire position once the weapon was loaded.

      I still possess (somewhere) the first 9mm/M9 bullet ever fired into the Armory clearing barrel at one base, by an inattentive Law Enforcement troop and assisted by his equally inattentive clearing barrel monitor. As part of their punishment for being some the first folks to have a ND with the M9 in the USAF, they were assigned to sit in every M9 pistol class we held at that base for an entire month (about 6 classes, as I recall). They “assisted” with the section of the lecture on Safety, and it’s importance, by talking about how easy it is to get distracted and make errors if you’re not paying close attention.

  11. in the USAF 1995-2000; Mobile Com-unit. m9’s for courier duty, never officially carried for that, but as I recall it was 3 full 15 round magazines. We were trained to load magazine, load chamber, safe on (M9’s safety is decock as well as safety) safe off – holster.

    When we went to Qualify on M-16 we would check ours out from the Armory – funniest thing happened the first time we did that the SF’s not used to other’s checking out m-16’s issued our rifles & handed us full magazines as well (it was at least 2 a piece); Which we didn’t need, Ammo for training was provided by CATM.

    So yeah, when I was issued a weapon it was with ammo as well. Unless it was for exercises. Then issued a blank adapter.

  12. Technical Sergeant…. This video appears to be from the late 70s – late 80s with the OD green fatigues.
    I was Security Police/Forces for 17 years and then 3 as a 1st Sgt. Depending on command we carried 180, 210, or 240 rounds( wartime load out) of 5.56( back in my day. it may have bumped up) With the M9 30 rounds, one loaded in the chamber on “fire.” I qualified once with the .38, so six in the cylinder and 12 in two separate pouches. M-60 was kept in a “half loaded” condition for mobile and alert fire teams. M-203 gunners kept their loadout in an ammo can with a very easy to break seal. Like most line/non-elite troops I wish we shot more. Twice a year with M-16/M4 including night course, M9 once a year, 203, 240,249, M-60 once a year.

  13. I’ll have to ask my son who was an MP…oh wait he’s anti-gun and doesn’t want me to mention guns.Oh well…

    • So then, he is truely anti gun, because he doesn’t even want to hear about them?

      Which I can at least respect. It’s the guns for the state only people I can’t stand, because that not anti gun, it’s just pro state guns.

      • ex-military works for DOD…he’s been in Iraq,Kuwait,Jordan and Egypt…speaks Arabic and told me he disagrees with me 97% politically. More of a guns for the state and you can’t trust the average mouth breather…But I’m really only concerned that my grandkids are pro-tected in his :gun-free House. Oh yeah he voted for Ralph Nader…it is what it is…and he lives and love sMaryland.

        • That sucks, my friend.

          My youngest sister mooches off the state cause she’s lazy and unmotivated. And my mom, though she’s pro gun and pro freedom, wants Hiliary to be the next POTUS… All families have them.

        • At least your son loves Maryland enough to stay there. Not like so many others that vote for lousy policies and high taxes, dislike it, move to Virginia and then repeat the cycle all over again.

  14. Spent 10 years in the Navy as a Gunners Mate. All weapons that were issued were issued with full magazines, except shotguns (obviously) which we’re issued with a pouch containing 15 rounds. The Quarterdeck Watch and the Roving Security Patrol were each issued an M9 with 2 15 round magazines. At times overseas (depending on the port and THREATCON, an M14 Topside Security Rover was stood up with 2 20 round magazines. magazines were never inserted, but only because we never face any real threats. VBSS teams were sent out with three 15 round magazines for their M9s, one magazine inserted but no round chambered. There would be an additional M14 and/or M60 on the ship ready to provide support if needed (though I don’t recall how many magazines the M14 had). When we called the SCAT (Small Craft Action Teams) there were 4 M2HB machine guns with at least 100 rounds each, and an M60 machine gun with the same. The only time we had less than full mags was during gun quals, because the course of fire dictated magazine capacity (for the M9 there were 8 magazines with 6 rounds each – 2 mags at 3 and 7 yards, 2 mags at 15 yards). During swim call there was an M14 issued with a full 20 round magazine.
    On my shore command, the watches I stood were all unarmed (was at a school command)

  15. My uncle is retired USAF and talked about doing SF augmentee duty, guarding the flightline with an empty magazine in his M16. This being the 70’s. I never did augmentee duty during my time, but a friend who did had the standard two 30rd mags issued, fully loaded. This being Tinker AFB in OK with a terrorist threat level of -10. He did say that he was bored and would set his hat on the ground would rack the bolt to flip the rounds into the hat, but about 1 out of 3 would jam due to improperly-seated bullets. They were also responsible for every round, but they had a bucket of ammo at shift change for people to “make up” for any lost singles or such, “take-a-penny” style.

    Myself being aircrew, we were supposedly issued M9s while deployed, but we never saw any unless it was at pre-deployment quals. They were probably in a container in some Gulf nation’s depo the whole time. Just like our chem gear was.

    • Occasionally I was tasked to provide some poor airman for an Armory “magazine party”, where the rounds were stripped from all the M16 magazines, and each round was visually inspected for defects such as dents, bent case necks, and loose bullets. Picture a half-dozen 5 gallon buckets, with four people sitting around each bucket. Each person has a round-ended plastic pusher rod that was used to push the rounds out of the mag into the bucket. Once all the mags were unloaded, the mags would be inspected, and any with damage would be replaced. Then each mag was reloaded with 30 rounds, visually checking each round as it was replaced in the mag. BIG fun. Your hands hurt for a week after each of these little social get-togethers.


      • Ya know, if the party started with shooting all the magazines empty then reloading the ones which did not jam with new ammo, that would seem sensible.

      • I wonder how much of that damaged ammo was a direct result of the proscribed procedure for unloading the magazines for inspection. I like the other guys idea of shooting the ammo first, then loading with fresh ammo. Then maybe the people being issued weapons would be competent enough that the services could trust them enough to actually issue loaded weapons with an appropriate load of ammunition.

  16. Dean, do think it’s smart to broadcast what our MPs carry in ammo when the Jihad would like to attack our defense facilities?

    • Given that these days we don’t play the “STOP, or I’ll say STOP again” game… Not so much. If dirka durka wants to do a frontal assault against a security checkpoint… Well… They are going to be charging some of the few people on base with loaded weapons and plenty of ammo for them.

      Boy, and I thought I was getting old. Fortunately, either the Marines never played that game, or they did so long before my time.

  17. When I was deployed to Afghanistan back in 2011, we were issued 30 rounds for our Beretta. The only thing that I could think of as to why that was the limit given is probably because I was not a first responder.

  18. I seem to remember the early 1980s bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon. Guards had empty mags in many cases, despite warnings of terror attack.

    • I used to work with a survivor of Beirut. He once told me (not necessarily regarding Beirut, but in general) of loaded mags locked in a box in the guard shack. Once a threat was detected, you had to go unlock the box to get the mags.

  19. When I was in the Navy we were issued 45 rounds when ever we drew an M9 from the armory, 15 for the shotguns, 90 for the M16 and I think the standard was 200 rounds for our crew served weapons. I never got issued one of those, although I did get to qualify on them a few times.

  20. After the Marine barracks in Lebanon was blown up, partly because the sentry was not allowed to have a round in the chamber of his rifle or a magazine inserted, Commandant Al Gray made some decisive changes: No Marine was allowed to carry a weapon as part of his duty that wasn’t loaded. The M9 and M16 had to have a magazine inserted and a round in the chamber. The M1911 had to have a loaded magazine but no round in the chamber, because the safety of the M1911 was considered inadequate (pace, 1911 lovers, I’m just reporting, not judging). I left active duty in 1993. When I rejoined the reserves in 2004 it seems that Al Gray’s rules have been changed again. I frequently see guards with no bullets loaded, and in fact there was a strict rule in Afghanistan that you were not allowed to have bullets in your weapon while you were on the major bases.

    • To be fair… The major base policy was because they had secure perimeters and QRFs on standby… Keeping individual weapons unloaded for everyone else with amunition on hand probably did quite a bit to minimize stupidity related incidents.

      • Yeah, and after I left Camp Leatherneck and they outsourced base security, Al Qaeda stormed the base and destroyed several aircraft and killed several Marines, including a squadron commander. It’s a wonder anyone had a weapon around.

        When I was in Iraq ammo was kept in buckets by the door of every company office, 5.56, 7.62, even grenades. Everyone was expected to stock up as much as they needed. Six years later in Afghanistan they inventoried every bullet. If you were issued 100 rounds then at the end of your deployment you’d better give 100 rounds back. Or else.

  21. Marines here, On deployment it was “How many do you want?” followed by “Okay well here’s two hundred more”

    As a pistol qualified Lance Corporal in the infantry I pulled security quite a bit (I liked it, it was easy and I could read) when Marines left base to transit to a range. M9 with 2 mags loaded

    On shore duty I had 4 mags loaded for my rifle, and an M9 with 2 mags, on security in peaceful foreign countries it was usually a single mag, and ammo was transferred from sentry to sentry

  22. US Army infantry 07-11, iraq. Stateside we never ever got issued ammo unless we were at a range. While on guard, CQ or Staff Duty no one ever had any ammo, or any weapons, and we got yelled at for having any knives that were too big. In theater we had a standard combat load of 7 mags each, though most of us carried more. I carried 14 mags and was constantly told I didn’t need that much, each time I essentially replied with “Shove it, Just wait till we get overrun.” In any of the various COPs or FOBs we visited we were restricted to one 30 rd mag each, so I also always carried a switch blade and a solid length of chain on me. I figured if the shit went down that 30 rounds would go quick and I’d fight like a 50s greaser until I was able to pick up more ammo laying on the ground.

  23. For an international perspective, Royal Guards Regiment, Denmark, changing of the guard and palace guard duty, mid 70’s, 7 rounds 30.06 in an M1 Garand, bolt closed on an empty chamber. And yes, you can load an en bloc clip with 7 rounds just fine with a little practice. Actually shooting wearing a bearskin is a different matter.

    • I’d be more worried about the thumb or finger that had to hold the top round down as the bolt was (carefully, I’m sure) eased closed. I’ve seen, but never fully experienced the dreaded “M1 thumb”, and I don’t ever WANT to experience it, either.

        • Another fun thing to learn real fast is to keep enough pressure on the bolt when disassembling the Pig or it will fly at great speed and power into whatever it was pointed at. Saw it go through a wall once in a training classroom at Lackland. You don’t wanna be on the end of that.

          Or anywhere near the back blast of a 90mm recoilless rifle. Everything loose in back of it becomes shrapnel.

  24. Ft Campbell, about 1978. Post Guard, most of the guards had a bedpost. The ammo dump had, I believe three rounds. Sentry named Troy, called on the radio about 2am, stating “they are coming to get me”. He climbed a small tree and somewhere in there maybe before he climbed the tree, he fired some rounds. It was a deer. Had another sentry in the ammo dump, after the Officer of the Guard checked him, he laid down in the road and went to sleep. The Officer of the Guard had drove away and came back in ten minutes and caught him. It’s sad, I can’t remember what punishment they got. Hey Troy S. are you out there? Call me and let me know what ever happened to that beautiful wife you went off to Germany and left her in Clarksville without an ID card.

  25. 1971-77: USAF Air Police (changed to “Security Police” during my time in training at Lackland AFB, TX, and I guess now known as “Security Forces”) (as distinguished from the Law Enforcement specialists on stateside bases, the military version of civilian cops)

    During my first gig at a fighter interceptor squadron with nukes in Bangor, Maine, dead of winter, we got M-16s with one full 20-round magazine and one in the chamber, plus a S&W .38 Special 4″ revolver, loaded.

    We had alert hangar guard duty and sometimes the jets would be taxiing out with nuke warheads and we’d have to run along beside it with our rifles at port, as far as the main strip. About six miles down the road was the nuclear weapons storage area, concrete underground bunkers with very heavy alarmed steel doors. With an entry control point gatehouse, ten-foot chain-link fence topped by triple-standard concertina wire, and surrounded by miles of north-central Maine forest and about six feet of snow on the ground.

    We were pretty sure Charlie or his American counterparts would not be traipsing through the woods at O-Dark-Thirty with satchel charges hoping to scale the fence and grab a nuke.

    60-below chill factor there, with the winds howling off the north Atlantic; then I got assigned to ‘Nam, 110 in the shade with 100% humidity and became part of the AF’s air base defense infantry for a while; graduated to the Pig and belts of ammo with spare barrel, plus an M79, ’cause big tall guys can carry more chit, amirite?

      • That fighter interceptor squadron at Bangor was not SAC; it was ADC; Loring AFB about 200 miles to its northeast was SAC, as was Pease AFB, NH to the south. Bangor was part of the NORAD network; on my return from ‘Nam I was stationed at a NORAD radar site in Marin County, CA, on top of Mt. Tamalpais. M-16s and .38s again there. No Pigs. No grenades.

        Then I was sent back to SEA for air base defense assignments in the northeast provinces of Thailand, on the Cambodian and Laotian borders. Lotsa neat stuff on that gig; M60s, 50s, grenade launchers, recoilless rifles, mortars, light armor, etc. The AF’s infantry in the absence of Army or Marine troops. Last six months was enlisted aircrew on choppers and Spectre gunships, part of the JUSMAGTHAI enterprise locating and recovering downed aircrew, remains, and classified gear and equipment all over SEA. That gig had me on the 60s, 50s and BOFORS, usually the youngest NCO there, thanks to more senior NCOs out of action for one reason or another.

        Missed Charlie in Bangor, Maine but caught up with him in ‘Nam, along with his NVA buddies, and his other pals, the Pathet Lao, Thai Cong, and last, but not least, my favorite little buddies in Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge.

        • I stand corrected. I knew SAC had a northern tier base in that general area, but I’ve never been east of a Detroit/Atlanta/Orlando line.

          Army and Air Force have always fought over Air Base Ground Defense. Both knew that it had to be done, but I swear neither wanted to do it (or do it right).

        • Nope; those units were deactivated before my time in ‘Nam and then reactivated again long after it, if memory serves. I was just standard-issue Security Police and had combat training back at Lackland and a nearby Army base (twice), again in-country (twice again) plus aircrew survival training later in the Philippines.

          As a lowly machine-gunner, though, I was part of the 56th Special Operations Wing out of Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai AFB on the Laotian border for six months; that unit was considered the military arm of Air America at one time, a CIA caper.

    • Posting has been a little bit “glitchy” this evening.

      I’ve been locked out of editing comments well before the end of the edit period several times tonight.

  26. Early ’80s at Minot AFB, ND, on nuclear alert (big shit, in case you couldn’t guess) my assigned guard, while climbing into the cockpit, dropped his mag, which disassembled itself upon hitting the ground, at below zero temperatures. Snow, ice, and 30 BBs scattered around under 300 tons of airplane, and one poor kid in a panic, seeing his future disappearing with those BBs. The entire crew deplaned and searched, 29 were pretty quick, fortunately we had the time to waste on that day, and I thought the boy was going to faint when someone came up with number 30. I never figured out why he did not carry one or two. I sure would have!

    • Ah, SAC’s Northern Tier, the best of the best!
      I already said it once, above, but it bears repeating…

      “Why not Minot? Freezin’s the reason!”

        • Yup, and insane of the best, or maybe best of the insane. It was down past 60 below during my short stint protecting nuke warheads in north-central Maine 43 years ago.

          Today here (northern VT) it was in the teens above zero and sure enough, peeps were strutting downtown here in tee shirts.

          But as per usual, the women hereabouts continue to wear their burkhas well into late May.

  27. unlike the army, the air force not only teaches weapons safety, but also issues ammo. when stationed in Germany during the cold war, we were issued 240 rounds of 5.56 nato ball every shift, plus 18 rounds 40mm if we were carrying an m203. I can’t remember how many 7.62 rounds for the m60, but all weapons were mag – in (no round in chamber, except m9) once on post.

    stateside it was only 120 rounds of 5.56.

  28. I came on active duty in 1984. At many posts only the desk SGT had any ammo and he had 5 rounds. The big problem was the rounds were so old and had been handled so many time the rounds were worse than useless.

    Later during the First Gulf War guards in Germany at most Kaserns had no ammo except for the 5 rounds the Desk SGT had. Only guards that actually had rounds were at Kaserns with a General Officer or weapons/ammo depots.

    • Mid 70s I was in SAC at Wright-Patterson. Our shop was right behind the command post. Found out that I was buying 38 Special surplus that was newer than what was in the guns that were issued to the command post personnel.

  29. Major US Army CONUS post 80s. Troops issued one 5rd M16 mag from the Co Arms Room if on ASP or Gate Guard duty. Had to keep in mag pouch.

    Drivers for Inf Bn ammo section drew one 5rd mag for convoy duty – moving tons of ammo including AT rounds and demo (mag also to stay in ammo pouch). Convoy OIC drew one 5rd handgun mag (also to stay in ammo pouch). I confess to the spirit of Ronald Reagan I always loaded my 5rd handgun mag.

    As I recall each Inf Co had a grand total of 6ea 5rd M16 mags and 5ea 5rd handgun mags. Don’t be starting anything until can get to the ASP. If the trucks are dripping any fluids, don’t have any dirt/mud on them, no litter in the cab or bed, and proper blocking/bracing and tiedowns.

  30. My grandfather was issued an empty 1911 for watch duty. So he took it off and replaced with his remington New model army.

  31. Army 1970 to 1973, stateside at Ft Gordon and Ft Campbell, 3 rounds for M16, magazine in weapon but not chambered.

    In Vietnam on a helicopter air base, 3-man guard posts every 100 meters around the perimeter, each guard post had an M60 with 1,000 rounds. Each man had four frags, an M16 with two taped together 30-round magazines, and a bandoleer of ten 30-round magazines. One of us had an M203 with 10 or 15 grenades.

    We always thought we were short on ammo.

  32. Camp Casey Korea 1989.
    In an air defense unit. Vulcan/Stinger.
    we carried a full combat load in our ammo storage unit of the Vulcan, and guards carried 2 30 Rd mags ea. 2 gaurds

  33. 1988 till the tail end of 1992 we were given 5 rounds of .45 for quarterdeck watch. (one armed man for the entire ship) a super sloppy colt .45 (Korea/Vietnam leftovers) I once and only once refused to assume the watch when I pulled the slide back (seemed loose)and twisted the slide came off. Had to wake up the GM and get another weapon from the locker. While tied up or anchored all around the world. (desert sheild/storm) We had a “bullet sponge” pier watch equipted with a baton (offical naval term for club or nightstick) at or near the gangway. His job was to give us a heads-up if we were rushed by dying loudly. When anchored he walked around the deck of the ship watching with no radio only his voice again told to die loudly (+600 foot ship)
    Any half-wit with a gernade could have blown us all to dust (fuel ship) OPSEC at it’s finest.

    Go Navy!!!!

  34. I was an Army MP with the 570th (Railborn) at Camp King 87-90. If we were TDY we carried 90 rounds 5.56 in addition to 14 rounds .45 ACP. If we were working the road we only had the 14 rounds for our 1911. Sometimes the Guard Commander would carry a 12ga but I don’t recall how much ammo was carried with it.

  35. I was in Al-Taji as part of NPDB Ramadi II/III for detainee operations. We were issued one fully-loaded 30-round magazine for our M16A2s.

  36. Army Engineer, Reservist. We had issues with the alarms for sensitive areas and ended up pulling guard duty at the reserve center more than once. It was on Post, and stateside, but near the outer perimeter. We were issued one mag of twenty rounds for M16/M4. The unit only had one M9, and no one who got stuck with guard duty during the various power outtages and system rebuilds was officially qualified on the pistol.
    At the time I felt it was fairly reasonable, as the MP office was quite literally just down the road, and there was a direct line phone there- no dial just pick up and it rings at the MPs- that with being stateside too. I suspect we were limited to 20 rds more because of that’s what was available in the arms room more than any thought out reason

  37. 1981, Zero Week for Jump School at Ft. Benning. The Inter-Service Rifle Matches were taking place and we were detailed with Guard Duty during the night. Our issued weapon was an M-16 with, count ’em, THREE rounds in a magazine that was to be kept in magazine pouch on our LBE. That was the first inkling I got of the army’s attitude towards us, vis-a-vis, being expendable.

  38. Even better, in 1982 my unit was sent to Roosevelt Roads Naval Base for jungle training. Being a Supply Clerk, I was tasked with guarding the Arms room. That time they gave me a Remington 870 with 3 00 Buckshot rounds. Never having fired a shotgun before, i asked for a block of instruction. The reply? “Point it at them and pull the trigger.”

  39. I’ve been Security Police/ Security Forces since 1996. Same as the Tech Sergeant in the video. During my entire tenure, we have carried either 120 rounds of 5.56, 30 rounds of 9mm, or both. Except when in a war zone, then its 240/45.

    We also carry a round in the chamber of the M9 with the safety selector on fire.

  40. Was FAP’ed to PMO (Lejuene) back in 2007 for a couple months. Carried M16A2 with 30 rounds, condition 3. I believe I had another 30 round mag as well, carried in a cargo pocket, but I don’t remember for sure.

  41. I was both Army Military Polic and USAF Security Forces/Combat Arms.

    In the Army I was origionally issued a M1911 and two mags 14 rounds for duty. Both mags in the pouch. They were nice enough to let me load a mag when sending me after an aggressive chow. Later after we got M9s we got two mags 30 rounds and were allowed to insert one mag but not put one in the chamber. Even when outside the wire in combat we were not allowed to chamber rounds untill we took fire.

    Of course the M16/M4 can fire if dropped on a loaded chamber due to the floating firing pin.

  42. I did guard duty one time in the 1987 year Air Force and I was issued 5 rounds for a 30 round mag.
    When we were recalled ( in Korea ) we were issued 200 rounds and 6 30 round mags with a 20 that was carried in the gun. My beretta had 2 mags and I was issued a 50 round box of shells.

    For some reason guard duty was 5 rounds. Good thing war wasn’t

  43. US Navy 1999-2003. Was issued various weapons for various watches – M14, M9 or either a Mossberg 500 or Remington 870. M14 and M9 had a full magazine in the gun and two spare full magazines. Shotgun was loaded to capacity and an ammo pouch with another 12 rounds or so was issued.

  44. 5 rounds, yes. But 00 buck in a 12 gauge pump with bayonet while guarding ammo dump on the Presidio of San Francisco. Most of my Army career I was staff & didn’t pull guard duty. Did have a weird stint outside of Camp Red Cloud where security couldn’t get some guys under control, so I inserted an empty mag into my empty M16, jacked the slide and pointed the empty weapon – the. unruly folks got docile instantly. 22 years in or working for the Army – and always heard how the mythical “army” was wonderful “someplace” but it’s “all messed up” at this location. The problem being everyplace I went was a mix of messed up and wonderful at the same time.

  45. When I deployed in 2006 I was AF working for the Army. Upon arrival I had to scrounge for 9mm ammo because the Army would not issue it to me since I was… not in the Army. I managed to find 27 rounds and that was all I had for the 6 months I was there. When I pressed the issue I was told I would be issued ammo if I needed it. Bringing up that by the time I needed it running to the armory would be a very bad idea was met with blank stares.

  46. In the late 1950s, I was assistant operations & training NCO at Hq. Co. in Ft. Belvoir, VA. as part of my duty every month, I had to act as payroll guard. I would draw the same 1911A1 and a full magazine from the arms room, and accompany the Executive Officer to the Finance Center to pick up a bag of cash, then stand by the payroll tables as everyone lined up for their pay. One time, our company commander walked up to me, pointed to the holstered pistol and asked, “Pete, is that thing loaded?” I said, “Yes Sir, it is!” He replied, “Well, you’d better unload it. Someone might get hurt.”

  47. Embassy Guard:

    “I, _______________have assumed post with (1) Beretta M9 and (46) rounds of 9mm ammo, and (1) M870 with (4) rounds of buckshot”

    Additionally there was usually another weapons rack carrying additional weapons within arms reach on post.

    Any Marines these days when conducting any kind of exercise have “guardian angels” in hidden, elevated positions with M16s.

  48. I was USAF Security Police for 12 years (1980-86 active/1987-1995 ANG). When armed with M16 basic load was 120(stateside). In the Middle East we carried 240. When armed with the 38, six in the cylinder and 12 in two separate pouches. M-60 was kept in a “half loaded” w/ assault pack (100 rounds) + 1000 round can and asst. gunner carried 1000 round can. M-203 grenadiers kept their loadout(18 rounds) in an ammo can with a very easy to break seal. Qualification was twice a year with M-16/M4 including night course, M15 once a year, 203 M-60 once a year. While assigned to EST (Emergency Service Team) we shot the M-16 and 38 once a month.

  49. Was on the LA in Pearl (may god rest her rusty soul) standing shutdown roving watch in the engine room 2007ish we had an m9 and three loaded mags, one in the chamber. At some point some guys on a boomer got caught wrestling each other for the gun. They then decided the nukes shouldn’t have firearms on watch.

  50. As I did not live this and am taking it second hand take it as you will, but I have no reason to doubt my grandfather.

    My grandfather was stationed in Panama at the end of WWII as an Army MP. He had a 1911 presumably with a magazine in and 2 spares. While the topic never came up specifically about how much ammo he had, some pictures of him show him wearing a standard pistol belt with the typical pouches.

    He also recently said each gate house had either a Thompson with 1 magazine or a grease gun with one magazine.

    I’ll have to ask him more specifics about what he was issued but I do know at one point he did make use of the 1911, a prisoner they had escaped and he was one of the people tracking him down. He came across the guy with a few others, gun in hand, and the escapee surrendered.

    He was also stationed at FT Knox at one point mid to late war where he transitioned from a tank driver to MP, I’m not sure if he was issued anything at that point. He did say there were many checkpoints/pillboxes with guards on Browning 1919s.

  51. I was once issued 3 thermite grenades (in addition to lots of other great stuff our Uncle lent me). They were for Heavy weapon/vehicle/coms&crypto destruction should I ever need to leave them permanently ‘unattended’.

    When given them, I said wow, 3? and Gunny said “that ain’t nothing, I burn my trash with thermite grenades”, and I immediately quietly thanked GOD that I was an American.

  52. Active Duty Air Force from 2001-2010. I never heard of five rounds. I carried a 9mm with one in the chamber, de-cocked, and on fire; or a M-16 (later an M-4) with at least 120 rounds of ammo with a magazine in, but not chambered. Depending on what resources were on the ground; there were other Airmen with M-249’s or M-203’s with the appropriate ammo. Shortly after 9-11 my base decided a mobile fire team was needed and we drove around in a HMMVW with a half-loaded M-60 in the turret.

  53. 1977 to 1980 in Norfolk, Virginia (CONUS). US Navy on a Destroyer Tender. PO of the Watch on the Quarterdeck was issued M1911A1 with one 7 round mag to be kept in the ammo pouch on the web belt unless there was a security alert. Even then, it could not be inserted into the weapon unless there was a direct threat or ordered by the OOD. Same goes for the roving security watch. The weapons spaces (torpedos, etc) watch had authority to carry his 1911 with mag inserted. The only time that I saws things get serious was when “alleged” nukes were being moved. A contingent of Marines appeared with locked and loaded M16s and complete lockdown (no personnel movement allowed) occurred.

  54. When I was in the navy in the late 80s they would issue our 1911 mags with 5 round. The reason given was longevity of the magazine springs.

  55. Up until about mid-1977, ammunition supply point (ASP) guards at Fort Campbell, KY were issued a magazine with three rounds, but the magazine had to stay in their mag pouch and only loaded into their weapon if faced with “imminent, personal threat.” After that point in time, guards were not issued any ammunition, nor their issue M-16, but only a “night stick” (more like an axe handle than a LEO’s baton). I was a primary witness to the incident that changed that policy, but do not know how long that policy remained in effect. The incident:

    ASP guard duty in the 101st was performed by the direct support artillery battalions on a rotating basis at that time. I don’t remember the date, but I was the Officer-of-the-Guard on a night shift in late summer/early fall. The Sergeant-of-the-Guard and I were making our second check of the ASP guards and had just pulled up the main ASP guardhouse in our jeep when we heard three, rapid gunshots from within the ASP. We immediately took off toward the sound of the gunfire, the guardhouse’s jeep hot on our trail. Rounding the corner of one of the streets between the bunkers we came to a halt behind soldier standing in the middle of the street with his back to us, his M-16 shouldered and smoke still curling out of the barrel of the rifle. We ran up to him and, before we could say anything, he yelled, “There’s a whole bunch of intruders down there!” and pointed to the end of the street. We looked and, clearly illuminated in the headlights of the two jeeps behind us, stood a herd of deer, staring back at us placidly from 100 meters or so away.

    Needless to say, the investigation was a very big deal and the DivArty commander subsequently issued the directive that ASP guards would no longer be issued rifles or ammunition, just a night stick for personal protection…

  56. Ten years both Active duty and Reserve Army starting in 2004. The only times I was ever armed for guard duty was in Iraq to guard our small compound and check every incoming vehicle for ID and occupants. I basically had the same load out on me that I had when we rolled out on convoys. Anywhere from 150 to 350 rounds. However, in the compound magazine was in the M16A2/M4 but no rounds chambered. I also had one M9 with two mags of rounds, but same deal, no rounds chambered until we rolled off the compound.

  57. The greatest joke was when your in the Army and at Camp Buehring in Kuwait for some initial train up and you go from the main camp to the ranges which were off post in the middle of nowhere. We all had M4’s with full kit on but only a couple of people were given mags. they were the “designated shooters” who were supposed to defend the bus if we were attacked. Of course when we were in Iraq we all carried as much ammo as you wanted in our humvees, but for some reason in Kuwait we couldn’t be trusted. Mainly because they (officers) were afraid some idiot would have a negligent discharge.

  58. 30 years NG: Noble Eagle, Katrina, and Afghanistan.

    Airport guards after 9-11, 3×30 round magazines. Magazine in weapon, chamber empty.

    Noble Eagle the actual guards had full combat loads of 5.56 or 12 Ga. Can not remember how loaded.

    Katrina we only had enough ammunition for 3×30 round magazines and 1×15 9mm magazine. If a soldier required a rifle/pistol for duty, they had live rounds on them. Where the rounds were depended on the threat level/mission. Once we were told to bring weapons and no ammo, I issued riot batons.

    Afghanistan (2009): On FOB we carried a loaded magazine in weapon with an empty chamber. Number of magazines was at soldiers discretion. As my unit was dual issued (M4 and M9), most carried M9 on the FOB. Most carried at least 3×15 magazines. Some carried more.

    My personal philosophy is that if any of my soldiers were required to carry a weapon, they had live ammo on them. The M16 is useless as a club and only marginal as a spear. The M4 is worse. None of my immediate superiors ever disagreed. Of course none of them ever made General either.

  59. My first police job was with the MP’s at 29 Palms. With less than three months to go on my contract, I was FAB’d over to the MP’s to ride out my time. Despite only fam firing the M9 at certain points in my 0311 career, I was handed one box of 9mm ball ammo with 45 rounds of 9mm and three empty magazines. The shift then promptly loaded the magazines, went to the clearing barrel, the loaded one in the chamber and put the other two magazine on our belts. This was 1993.

  60. I forward deployed from “an undisclosed location in southwest Asia” to Afghanistan in 2013, I was issued an M-16A2 and 60 rounds in two 30 round magazines. Keep in mind I’m an Air Force Intel dude.

  61. I pulled guard duty at Rodman ASP in 85-87. The guards were infantry from Ft Clayton(light Inf) or Howard(airborne). I was C 1/187 name change to C 5/87 at Clayton in front of the big Sat dish.

    2 on 4 off for a week and the rest of the crew was QRF, Sucked.
    I recall one 3 round magazine being issued. Thats it.


  62. 1985, Honduras with the 101st. PFC TmDaddy was issued 3 rounds for a shotgun, taped together with 100 mph tape. I was the lone man at a checkpoint on a road. We were on an airbase within the chainlink fence, but I was right next to that fence on the perimeter road. Oh, and I had a 1911 but no magazines for it. PFC TmDaddy also got a stern “don’t ever do that again” when they noticed I’d peeled enough tape back to make a pull tab.

  63. From early 1977 through late 1978 I commanded the guard force at Marine Barracks, Philippine Islands (USNB Subic Bay). Guards armed with the Government Model 1911A1 carried three 7-round magazines, one in the pistol (chamber empty) and two on the belt. The reaction force guards carried four (as I recall) full 30-round magazines on the belt and none in their M-16 service rifles. We also had shotguns in use, but I can’t remember any time we ever drew them from the armory.

  64. In Korea 1969-70,walked guard many times at Camp Kaiser with M-16 and no ammo. Were given one loaded 20 round mag when guarding motor pool or ammo depot. Had to keep magazine in ammo pouch. I always thought an unloaded rifle made us a target. Would have been better of unarmed. One night I was sargent of the guard. A private walking motor pool turned in a magazine one round short. I called it in to headquarters and started a crap storm that lasted far into the day.

  65. Army troops (except MPs) are pretty much never carrying ammo while in the US. Some exceptions if you’re guarding COMSEC Crypto. In peacetime, I had to issue live “guard” ammo1 time….I had 2 each 5-Ton trucks carrying LAWS rockets, we had to draw the ammo 2 days early before the ASP had an inventory. This meant I had an insane amount of explosive power in my motor pool….Had 3 sergeants who were high speed. Told all 3 of them they were spending the weekend in the motor pool and they could shoot anyone who came near the trucks. I had one run as a courier on a weekend where I had an M-9 stuffed in the back of my civilian pants. That was silly.

    Korea…The Brigade Duty NCO was always armed, I seem to remember the Battalion Duty NCO being armed too. They didn’t make a big deal out of it, but they were armed and so were the guards on the Infantry, Armor & Artillery motor pools…with loaded weapons. I understand this, because all the tanks & bradleys were uploaded with ammo and ready to go.

    AF are always carrying lots of ammo.

    One of the best things I’ve ever seen was during Desert Storm. The ASP was enormous, literally miles wide. Huge volume of HEMMTs were there picking up artillery rounds. All I needed was some small arms and boy did I ever have to wait a long time. We’re talking days in my Hummvee. I was with a separate brigade and I didn’t have any priority over Corps Artillery’s order, I was in the back of the line & bottom of the priority list.

    How I got my ammo….Bedouin Bob came by with a large herd of goats. He brought the goats into the ASP (why and how, I have no idea….Desert Storm was an eye opener on how messed up some things could be). All these guys heard the report on the radio about local national inside the perimeter, and they all run away from the front desk to pursue this guy. And yes, some idiots started shooting at Bedouin Bob, in an ammo dump. I was left there at the service desk by myself, walked to the front, gave them my order and got a bunch of stuff that was en-route to the other units. The movie “Jarhead” at the end where they’re blowing off every bit of ammo & pyro pretty well describes what we did with all the left overs.

    It was glorious.

    I remember that Field Exercises at Ft Bragg there was always at least 1 person with live rounds in the weapon…It was to stop local hillbillies from holding up troops and stealing weapons.

  66. Wow, they let you be armed!?! I did gate-guard duty (in the US Navy) for a couple of months in San Diego, and also in Philladelphia, PA. We had a clipboard and a radio. If something came up we called the “Real Soldiers” the Master of Arms (Naval Military Police). They actualy did police traing, whereas us “normal” military Naval personnel did not receive any police or combat training.

    I personally think all branches should teach combat training to ALL of the troops, and at the very least something equivalent to California’s PC832 (reserve police officer) training course.

    And 30 round mags kept in the receiver would be nice too 🙂

  67. First guard duty as an enlisted man I carried an entrenchment tool. Thats a little folding shovel for you sillyvillians.

    AS OG in Panama around 1992 we were issued a 1911 with one 5 round Mag. Were told not to load but I did it anyway.

  68. As a side note and living and working in the Ferguson Mo. area.

    Much has been made to do about Gov Nixon’s failure to respond to looters on Nov 24 with any of the thousands of activated National Guard. We all sat aghast and watched much of Ferguson business burn.

    Nixon stated that he “Did not want another Kent State.”

    A good source tells me on that night there had been no live rounds in the weapons of the Guardsmen. I’ve been unable to verify if the command structure had any rounds for their sidearms. Orders have been given for individual Guardsmen to steer clear of the press and to not ever discuss anything involving their actual activity while on duty there.

  69. No wonder they wanted the painting of the Lords Supper Taken down at the Air Force Academy, as From this Post it seems that they are the only ones really armed, if they do declare martial law, this Has been GREAT info….

    • My recollections of my time in the AF Air Police/Security Police in the early 70s was that the AF was deadly serious about protecting its resources, particularly its nukes, and we were usually armed, locked and loaded, as the saying goes. If there was ever a “Bent Spear” or “Broken Arrow” event, we were supposed to secure the area, and on the perimeter had orders to shoot to kill any intruders who did not stop on command. On entry control points at alert hangars we had full leeway to jack up officers and NCOs who forgot or didn’t have their line badges, to the point of spread-eagling them against the fence, doing the search, cuffing them, etc. and the base commanders always backed us up. I jacked up full-bird colonels who sputtered at me and threatened me with a very dire fate but the senior NCO back at the comm/plotter’s site and the wing commander, a general, backed me up 200% and wrote up said colonels. They were told in no uncertain terms: Do. Not. Eff. With. My. SP’s.

      If you plan to mess with them at whatever bases and fool around with the fence or the wire or whatever, I highly recommend against it. In SEA the K-9 SP’s had German Shepherd sentry dogs on the wire and woe betide the poor NVA or VC sapper who snaked through the concertina on their watch. The dogs had exactly ONE handler and upon release would simply EAT any intruders for lunch.

      Ah, those were the days; absolute power of life and death over the world. (just kidding.)

  70. We carried our weapons in condition 3 with one spare magazine for every guard shift in the Navy. They were fully loaded to capacity. Weather M9, M14/M16, M60/249, etc.

    And this was just general ship watches, not any sort of special watch. Usually we were inside a Navy base armed like that. On watch of course. Off watch you were required to be unarmed at all times. *rolls eyes*

  71. When I was in the USAF ( 80-84 ) I was a munitions systems tech ( aka AMMO ) and at my first duty station at Torrejón AB in Spain, each of the shops in the bomb dump had to take turns pulling gate guard duty. I remember having to show up at Central Security Control ( CSC ) at 6am to sign out an M-16, and four each five-round mags. I then hopped on my Peugeot Moped, and motored in the as yet dark, cool, morning air the mile and a quarter out to the bomb dump where I would sit from 7am to 4pm, when the assigned SP showed up to take over for the night. Of course, someone from our shop would have to relieve me for an hour to go have lunch, but then it was right back to gate duty an my rifle and four mags.


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