(NaturalNews) Is the U.S. Army getting ready to adopt a less-lethal round for its standard-issue M16A1 and M4 rifles? The answer is yes, according to some ballistics experts who are refuting the service's claims that its new, "green" ammo will be better at killing enemy combatants.
"Special Operations Command and now the Marine Corps are fielding a deadlier 5.56mm round, but the Army says soldiers can't have it. Instead, the service is holding on to its dream of environmentally friendly ammunition," says an April 2010 Army Times report.
According to the Army, however, that "environmentally friendly" approach is, well, more important.
Saving the planet - one U.S. soldier at a time
The bullet, called the Enhanced Performance Round, or M855A1, is essentially "lead-free," and replaces the standard 5.56 mm M855 that was initially designed in the 1970s and had been in use since then. Army officials said the service began developing the newer eco-friendly round after troops complained that the old one did not have enough stopping power. Once it was developed, the Army demonstrated the green round at its Aberdeen Proving Ground site in Maryland recently, claiming it is deadlier, faster and, of course, better on the environment.
"The EPR replaces the lead slug with a copper slug. This makes the projectile environmentally friendly, while still giving Soldiers the performance capabilities they need on the battlefield. So far we have eliminated 1,994 metric tons of lead from 5.56 ammunition production," said Lt. Col. Phil Clark, Product Manager Small Caliber Ammunition in the Program Executive Officer Ammunition.
The Army added further, "Thirty-two grains of lead are eliminated per M855A1 projectile, and 114.5 grains of lead will be eliminated per M80A1 projectile." The service began providing the new rounds to troops in Afghanistan a year ago.
Yet, if the primary reason for developing this new round was improved stopping power, then the Army is being disingenuous - with the public, sure, but - more importantly - with its soldiers. Because the new round, say ballistics experts, won't be much better.
"There is not a bullet in this world that will do that," Dr. Martin Fackler, former director of the Wound Ballistics Laboratory at the Letterman Army Institute of Research, and who also served in the Vietnam War as a combat surgeon, told the Army Times.
"Even if you take the guy's heart apart, he can still shoot back at you for 15 seconds because he's still got enough oxygen in the blood in his brain to do it," he added.
Then, of course, there is the cost of doing environmental business
Besides that, there is another aspect to this change that makes it entirely suspect - it's cost.
As noted by Jim Yardley at American Thinker, anytime the nation can reduce the presence of a toxic substance - lead, in this case - that's normally a good thing. And the new green bullets consist mostly of copper. What about the costs of making this environmentally friendly change? He explains:
Clark has said that they have already eliminated 1,994 metric tons of lead from the military's 5.56mm rounds, and as this program expands to the 7.62mm round, he reports that the total lead reduction in our small arms munitions 3,683 metric tons between 2013 and 2018. A metric ton is 1,000kg, or about 2,200 pounds, so 3,683 metric tons is approximately 8.1 million pounds of lead is the amount the Army will remove from its ammunition over the next five years. ...
[T]he current spot price of lead is $0.94 per pound. The current spot price of copper, on the other hand, is $3.21 per pound. That is a difference of $2.27, or to look at it another way, copper is 341% more costly than lead. ...
Then that cost differential is applied to the additional 3,683 metric tons of copper that must be acquired to replace the lead component of these small arms rounds, the total is $18,431,000.
Nearly twenty million dollars, not to improve the effectiveness of the ammunition used by our troops, but to protect the environment.
And with the military cutting benefits and personnel, is this expenditure for a not-much-improved weapon system a good use of taxpayer funds?