Chancing on this article, I thought it a parody. I mean, isn’t the Army supposed to be preparing for–you know–war and stuff? Just in case it’s not, however, I’ll make a few comments, and observe that Mr. Trump has a great deal more work to do to return our military to its job of war fighting rather than social experimentation than I thought. I suspect we’ll still be finding and trying to repair the damage of the Obama era for decades. Fox News reports:
The U.S. Army gets through a lot of ammunition thanks to the amount of training it carries out. But that ammunition doesn’t come without waste which slowly degrades over hundreds of years polluting whatever ground (and nearby water sources) it happens to fall upon.
So the Department of Defense (DoD) decided to do something about it, and is requesting environmentally friendly ammunition for use during training exercises.
The request was made via the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. Specifically, the DoD wants “’biodegradable training ammunition loaded with specialized seeds to grow environmentally beneficial plants that eliminate ammunition debris and contaminants.’
The ammunition the DoD wants to replace with biodegradable alternatives includes ‘low velocity 40mm grenades; 60mm, 81mm, and 120mm mortars; shoulder launched munitions; 120mm tank rounds; and 155mm artillery rounds.’ There’s also cartridge cases and sabot petals, which can either lay on the ground or end up buried beneath it.
Do you see the likelihood this is a parody, gentle readers? The munitions mentioned are, of necessity made of steel and various other alloys. Even training munitions usually have some small explosive or pyrotechnic charge. Cartridge cases are generally made of brass. These materials aren’t in use because their designers want to pollute, but because they are a necessity to stand the stresses of firing. And might I point out that the primary rounds for the M1 tank fire a sub-caliber dart made of depleted uranium. It’s rather difficult to imagine how one will integrate specialized seeds into such munitions, or how they might survive the stresses of firing, flight, and detonation.
Oh, and “shoulder launched munitions” seems a euphemism for 5.56 and 7.62 rifle ammunition. Seeds in those bullets? And what, pray tell, will make up the difference in weight necessary to give those cartridges accuracy and range? Notice I’m not mentioning the problems of bullet stability such a scheme would like cause.
Sourcing the seeds for use in this new ammunition won’t be a problem as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) already bioengineered them so as not to germinate for several months, allowing time for the materials containing them to sufficiently biodegrade. The seeds can then take up any remaining contaminants as they grow, further reducing harm to the environment.
What?! The seeds will “take up any remaining contaminants as they grow?” The seeds are going to magically disintegrate metal, nitrates, and other chemicals? And they won’t germinate for several months? Oh great. Military ammunition is often kept in stock for many years. Won’t it be grand to open ammo crates and find all manner of plant life sprouting from the munitions? Having little ammo lawn mowers on hand to make it possible to chamber training rounds should really speed the training process. OK. Let’s see what these environmentally sensitive chairbourn warriors think can replace the metals necessary to make military ordinance work.
As for what materials could be used to form the ammunition, the DoD points to materials used for manufacturing water bottles, plastic containers and other composite plastics already on the market today.
Any contractor attempting to produce these bullets for the DoD will need to progress through a three phase SBIR process. Phase one involves demonstrating a production process for the biodegradable materials for 40mm-120mm training rounds. Phase two involves proving the fabrication process and passing government ballistic tests. Finally, phase three will involve working with ammunition contractors to turn the tech into a supply of training ammunition.
If successful, the use of biodegradable ammunition will lead to less ground contamination while at the same time ensuring anywhere training exercises are carried out will be left rich in plant life.
While engineered plastics can have substantial strength for some applications, it’s doubtful surviving the stresses of cannon fire are among them, and that’s just referring to the casings. It’s unlikely the projectiles could possibly have sufficient hardness and/or mass to survive firing and flight, nor would they be massive enough to achieve any sort of reasonable accuracy or range.
I really want to believe this is a parody, that no thinking officer in the Department of Defense could be this dense, but Barack Obama has labored for eight years to rid the Army of war fighters and replace them with pajama boy environmentalists.
One should also remember that our military maintains ranges for the firing of live ammunition. Those rangers are already designed and maintained for minimal environmental impact, and are regularly processed.
And then, perhaps I’m just unaware of brilliant new advances in military botanical technologies. Perhaps much has changed from the days when coeds put flowers in the barrels of National Guard soldier’s rifles, and the rifles are soon to become flowers.
But just for the sake of argument, let’s assume these contentions are correct. As strapped for cash as our military currently is, is spending man-hours and money on this what we want them doing?
Perhaps my original contention is right: Donald Trump has a much more daunting road ahead in rebuilding our military than anyone thought.