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Old May 16, 2011, 03:06 PM   #1
BarryLee
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U.S. Military & Unloaded Weapons

My late Father was a MP for several years in the Army mid 1950s to mid 1960s. They were issued a sidearm, but according to him they were not always issued ammunition. Apparently they were issued pre-loaded magazines based on the specific assignment. When they went off duty they returned the loaded magazines. This meant that sometimes they went on patrol with unloaded weapons.

So, has anyone ever heard of the US Military doing this? If so do they still do this?
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Old May 16, 2011, 03:23 PM   #2
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Unloaded weapons are more common than most people think.

The actual issuance of ammunition is very unpredictable for security and support troops. Sometimes political motivations trump safety. Sometimes an entire unit will have their munitions taken away, due to a single idiot that had a negligent discharge. Sometimes, the weapon itself is expected to be a better deterrent than the need to use it.


Everywhere you go, the rules and situations are different.
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Old May 16, 2011, 03:31 PM   #3
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Onboard the ship, all duty weapons were carried were carried with the pre-loaded mags in pouches.

I was one of the few that violated that rule - but only in one circumstance. Whenever I had to go to the bank to pick up payroll money, I would draw a weapon (1911) from the small-arms locker. As soon as I got in the vehicle, I popped a mag in but never chambered a round. When I got back to the pier and before leaving the vehicle, I would drop the mag and place it back in its pouch.

One disbursing officer was robbed and murdered while I was in Jax - but it was done by an idiot sailor on the ship. A couple of years before, one was robbed in Naples and they shot him in the leg. I figured that I had a better chance of surviving a robbery attempt if I started out with the mag in even if I had to rack the slide manually.
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Old May 16, 2011, 03:43 PM   #4
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I was a MP a while before I went to Vietnam (82nd MP Company, 82 Abn Div) and after I returned (67th MP Company Ft Devins MA). We were issued a loaded mag when we were issued a pistol. We carried the pistol loaded w/empty chamber.

The only time we carried empty guns was in training. I never saw a MP being required to carry empty guns while on duty.
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Old May 16, 2011, 04:01 PM   #5
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No ammo in or out of a mag.

Quote:
Unloaded weapons are more common than most people think.
Aboard ship, during security duties. We were issued a 1911, with emply mag. Holster and mag pouch; again, no spare mags or ammo. We didn't even have the Barney Fife option.

Pulled shore patrol duty, down in the docks area of old San juan, Poerto Rico and only issued a night stick. Thanks God it was election day as all the bars and "Rec" areas were closed.

Again, on the ship, during the Cuban Misslie Crisis, qualified on a Garand but was only issued one loaded clip/mag, out of the gun and only allowed to load, on command. .....


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Old May 16, 2011, 04:05 PM   #6
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Ever since 9/11, a lot of things have changed in regards to physical security onboard US Navy ships and installations.
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Old May 16, 2011, 04:28 PM   #7
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Cuban crisis 1962. I was on a coastal minesweeper inport at Dam Neck, Virginia.

My job was to guard the pier and the ship from "Cuban frogmen"...had a duty belt, helmet, leggings, M1 rifle and a cartridge belt full of . . .are you ready for this. . .22 lr.

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Old May 16, 2011, 04:54 PM   #8
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Quote:
cartridge belt full of . . .are you ready for this. . .22 lr.
Well, at least you had ammo that you could throw at the bad guys ....

Remember that life is not fair but still pretty darn good !! ....


Be Safe !!!
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Old May 16, 2011, 06:35 PM   #9
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Quote:
Pulled shore patrol duty, down in the docks area of old San juan, Poerto Rico and only issued a night stick. Thanks God it was election day as all the bars and "Rec" areas were closed.
The ONLY time I ever felt concerned for my safety when I was in the Navy was the night I pulled Shore Patrol Officer duty in Gitmo. I and my little Filipino Disbursing Clerk were assinged duty at the Marine Club. Do you know what happens when you get sailors, marines, women, and alcohol all together at the same time? Trouble.
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Old May 16, 2011, 06:52 PM   #10
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Had my usual night stick, that night in Gitmo

Quote:
The ONLY time I ever felt concerned for my safety when I was in the Navy was the night I pulled Shore Patrol Officer duty in Gitmo.
Did that too but assigned to watch the doors on the Cattle Cars that were transporing drunken crews back to their ships, from the E.M. club. Ten cents a drink and we had more money than we knew what to do with.

Camp Gitmo is not so bad .......


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Old May 16, 2011, 07:10 PM   #11
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I was a M.P. 83-97. When I was in charge of the P.M.O. I issued 3 magazines topped off with Black Talon's to all M.P.'s on duty 1 in the weapon and 2 in the pouches. One Commander we had even authorized PR-24 Batons if we were qualified with it.
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Old May 16, 2011, 09:22 PM   #12
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My brother in law, so the story goes, joined the Air Force. When he was assigned to pull guard duty at an airbase and was handed an M-14 and no ammunition, he pretty much told them to pound sand. He never talks about what happened after that (I'll have to ask him some day), but I have a feeling he accepted a dishonorable dischanrge over being an unarmed target. Can't say I blame him if he did.

When I was in the Marine Corps reserve, it was SOP to have an NCO with a 1911A1 and loaded magazines in a sealed mag pouch for each platoon to guard the unloaded M-16s. Break the seal and be prepared to do a lot of explaining!
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Old May 16, 2011, 09:38 PM   #13
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Through a long convoluted series of irregular events that I won't bore y'all with, my arrival in the big sandbox was not with the rest of my unit, but with my issue weapons, which I had drew ammo for.

Up until I arrived at my Troop's area in the FOB, I was constantly told by about a billion Air Force personnel not to load my weapon, or to chamber a round, about the only guy who I could understand his reasoning was the loadmaster on the C-17 who didn't want and I quote "No A-Ds on my plane. This thing costs more than an Abrams." Fair enough.

But once I got to my unit, I constantly had a mag in my M-9, round in the pipe, safety engaged. But everyone with a Beretta did that.
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Old May 16, 2011, 09:46 PM   #14
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Sentries on the USS Cole before it was bombed had unloaded weapons and could not fire unless fired upon.
http://abcnews.go.com/International/...d=82130&page=1

http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-an...?msg_id=0044Sy
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Old May 16, 2011, 09:55 PM   #15
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The guards at the Marine barracks in Beirut had unloaded weapons, and apparently only one guard managed to get off one burst from his M-16 before the truck exploded.
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Old May 16, 2011, 11:18 PM   #16
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MilitaryPolice.com, DoD/083 police...

For detailed questions about the US Army military police, I'd check the forum message board; www.MilitaryPolice.com .
I served four years on active duty in the early 1990s. 30mo at FT Lee VA.
We were issued M9/92F 9mmNATO pistols. On MP "road duty" or "law & order" missions we had a 15rd magazine in the M9, safety ON chamber empty(also called condition III). We were issued 02 15rd pistol mags from the company arms room. At the time we used 124gr FMJ ball. No JHPs or frangibles.
Today, 2011, most CONUS US Army posts have DoD police or DA(Dept of the Army) 083 police officers. These sworn federal officers are civilians & do not enforce the UCMJ(uniform code of military justice).
See www.Army.mil .

The US Army Military Police Center & School is now at FT Leonard Wood MO. Your dad may have gone to the MP Academy at FT Gordon GA.
See www.MPexperts.com for knick-knacks & chachis.
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Old May 17, 2011, 12:05 AM   #17
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I guess I was lucky. I pulled four years in the marine corps and always had a loaded weapon when on duty. did two of those years in security forces on ship and still always had a loaded weapon for duty and when we did drills. I would be a little ticked if I was givin a weapon and told I won't be getting any ammo.
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Old May 17, 2011, 06:44 AM   #18
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My son relates this story from his time in Iraq in 2006 and 2007. He was an army tank crewman but for the last few months his platoon was attached to a Marine Corps unit I think somewhere near Ramadi. Before that they were at Tal-afar. The marines, when they left the post or base to go an a mission, would only load their weapons after actually leaving the post and on one instance, received fire when they were doing that. I don't recall what he said happened next.

For my part, I once did guard duty when still in AIT at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, with an M14, the only rifle I ever saw when I was in the army. It was loaded with three rounds but there was virtually no instruction (that I recall) about what to do when. We guarded the artillery park.
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Old May 18, 2011, 06:34 PM   #19
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Served in the Army in the 1970s. Only time we were ever issued ammo (outside the firing range) was guard duty at the Logistics Center at Ft Lewis (15 rnds 5.56mm in mag, and the ammo was counted by the OD each time it was transferred! Mag stayed in the ammo pouch.

Guard duty at an ammo dump, in Germany, issued 5 rnds 12 ga. IN the tube, chamber empty. Guard duty at a tank park, barracks, or any other installation, you get a stick. If you're lucky.

Outside of hot zones (and sometimes inside them) the military is way more concerned with troops accidently (or on purpose) shooting something than they are with troops being able to defend themselves, or whatever they are guarding.

Exceptions are munitions, and nuclear weapons. Those they are kind of serious about.

Things may have changed some since, but I doubt it. Protection of the individual GI is always at the bottom of the priority list, if its on it at all.
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Old May 18, 2011, 11:37 PM   #20
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Tower rats; West Germany; US Army MPs...

My E-7 platoon sgt in my 1st duty station told us of how in Europe & Germany, lower enlisted US Army MPs would man huge forest ranger style towers in the remote areas of posts.
The MPs would get bored, radio each other to "DUCK" and shoot at open windows of the observation towers.

Fun fun fun.

CF
ps; This was back in the 1960s & 1970s when the US military was a lot looser.
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Old May 19, 2011, 06:04 AM   #21
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"Looser?" Must have been a different part of the army than I was in.

I also have a memory of MPs patrolling the reception station area just before basic training at Ft. Knox, Kentucky. The carried baseball bats. Honest.

My father and my son also took their basic training at Ft. Knox.
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Old May 19, 2011, 01:19 PM   #22
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Quote:
I also have a memory of MPs patrolling the reception station area just before basic training at Ft. Knox, Kentucky. The carried baseball bats. Honest.
It's not surprising.

I've seen some really odd "weapons" used for guard duties.

One particular camp I was at in Iraq had a very tightly controlled compound at its center. Anyone approaching the gate (already inside the camp) had weapons aimed at them at all times. ...Which lead to three people being shot "by accident", by Air Force SPs. After the third incident, all of their ammunition was taken away, and locked in an ammo can.

They carried empty M4s, with no magazine; and only the NCO on duty could man the mounted machine gun. ...But they were issued sim-grenades and tear gas, since there was still a need for a good deterrent. Anyone with a brain can figure out that idiots shooting other soldiers on a friendly base, "by accident", shouldn't be given explosives. After the first Port-A-Jon was destroyed, the SPs involuntarily turned that guard duty over to the Navy.
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Old May 19, 2011, 01:44 PM   #23
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In my experience, the Air Force was the least familiar/comfortable around loaded weapons whilst "down range."

I remember the Load Master on the C-17 I flew in on had a Beretta in a really nice drop down leg holster, no magazine in said weapon, and no ammo pouches on him any where.

The USAF SF I saw milling about trying to look official all had M-16A2s, no magazines, but lots and lots of pouches in which I'm sure they were squirrled away.

'Course, these were the guys wearing berets right off an active flight line, in addition to thier body armor. Everybody else was wearing either boonies or bear headed.
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Old May 19, 2011, 03:08 PM   #24
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I have for years complained of not having bullets to defend ourselves... I retired off active duty in 2007.... The worry is as always that you will do something bad with the ammuniton and end up on the news in a bad light.

It is easer to replace a dead service member than take the bad press. The very first fire fight I ever witnessed in Kandahar I had no bullets and only a knife and a empty M16A2. Our guard towers engaged 4 crazys charging through the ancient russian minefield. I had nothing to support the guy in the tower, I was roughly a hundred yards from the action when it began.

It is only one of many times in my career when I needed ammo and did not have it due to political reasons. The truth be known even engaging the enemy can land your hind in in jail as in many places you have to fill out a sworn statement every time you engage the enemy.

It is a sad state of affairs. We cannot win wars fighting this way...
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Old May 19, 2011, 04:08 PM   #25
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Hey, thanks everyone for the very interesting stories. Sounds like my Dad’s experiences were not unusual and may be still happening to some extent.

Funny thing my Uncle was career Air Force and spent time on the crew of a nuclear bomber. He said not only were they issued loaded weapons they actually slept with them when they were on call. I am not sure if he means they literally slept with them, but apparently they were close by. I guess they do take those nuclear weapons pretty serious.
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