And they said it would never work. Yes, the military strategy used to deal with Terrorist Group #2476A was widely panned from the moment Obama unveiled it as simply a repeat of the same thing America’s been doing in the Middle East for the last 40 years. And now it seems that something completely unpredictable has happened — that is, the exact thing everyone predicted would happen.
Operation Faster and Furiouser began as part of the United States’ strategy to utterly destroy ISIS by equipping Syrian and Iraqi governments with training and weapons, allowing those governments to “stabilize” themselves and fight off ISIS. Because nothing “stabilizes” the Middle East like more guns.
Ask ISIS themselves; they been shooting at Iraqis, Syrians and Americans with captured American weapons for some time now. But, since the American solution to gun problems is always more guns, our hardware kept pouring into the region. And ours isn’t the only hardware going in. According to the latest study from Conflict Armament Research (a kind of forensics analyst who tracks weapons used in worldwide conflicts), the majority of the bullets and guns ISIS uses now originated in the United States and China.
The New York Times Compiled this visual summary on the origins of 1,730 captured ISIS bullets dating as far back as 1945.
As you can see here, ISIS — like any good religious conservative organization — has been collecting weapons and ammunition for years now. Above, we see where its ammunition came from, broken down into the age of the bullet. Most of the Cold War Era bullets came from the Soviet Union and China. Which makes sense — ISIS relies heavily on AK-47s, and there were plenty of Russian and Chinese AKs in use in the Middle East in the 1980s. Syria had large stores of Soviet armament in its defense force warehouses, before ISIS took them. But, the Soviet Union went bye-bye before the first episode of Friends, so they couldn’t retroactively supply arms forever.
Fortunately for terrorists, a new empire decided to invade the area. The big, blue block in the 2000s was all ‘Murrcia, and the ammo and guns collected then were U.S. Army M-4 and M-16 types. Along with the odd Bushwacker AR-15 knockoff. In fact, America has completely replaced China as ISIS’ primary arms supplier. Of course, China as and continues to supply AK-47 ammunition, while Serbia was home for the remainder.
And it gets better for us. While only about 19 percent of the total ammo studied came directly and verifiably from the U.S. (specifically an ammunition plant in Missouri between 2005 and 2007), that number could be about a third higher. The light gray block on the end represents AK-47 ammo stamped with the brand name “WOLF.” This ammunition originated in Russia, and was re-branded sold through American company Sporting Supplies International.
So, the Russians are still supplying bullets…they’re just doing it with some capitalist help. The Syrian Army itself may also be directly supplying old Soviet arms through the black market, but the number of such black market Syrian arms are probably very low. Most Syrian-origin weapons were likely captured during raids like the one on the Hama airbase last year.
China, for its part, makes and sells bullets to everyone, everywhere, all the time, and they don’t like to talk details about any of it. Shocking.
James Bevan, Director of CAR, summed the findings up.
“The lesson here is that the defense and security forces that have been supplied ammunition by external nations really don’t have the capacity to maintain custody of that ammunition.”
Or, to put it in terms that any American teenager will already understand:
“You don’t give the good gun to the undertrained noob. It’s only going to wind up with Red Team when he gets headshot and teabagged.”