Thursday, November 3, 2016

Help with historical comparisons

Recently, I got done reading this story about the US government sending 1.4 million weapons to Iraq and Afghanistan in the past decade plus.  While the authors acknowledge that there are conflicting accounts on the exact total, they've got a pretty decent rationale for those numbers.

What I'm most curious about is if folks here would know if that's historically a lot or a little.  Did we ship more to Vietnam for our war there?  Or to Afghanistan and Iraq before our wars there?  Or more to Europe during or after either of the World Wars?  Or if this is a constant amount that varies in where it is directed?

There's a number of historians in this group, so if you have advice on where to find the information, that would also be of use.  I'm thinking specifically about small arms mostly because that's the comparison point, but context on heavier weapons too is welcome.

Thanks folks.


  1. PFkhans -

    I don't know of specific historical sources that would answer those questions, although I am sure there are some out there.

    But we definitely provided weapons to the Republic of Vietnam. In 1975 after we had left and just before their fall to the NVA, there were over 1.3 million Vietnamese serving either in the Army or in popular and regional forces. That does not count the 42 thousand men in the VNN, or the 63 thousand in the VNAF, or the 15 thousand in the VNMC, or the 130 thousand of the National Police. All of those used US weapons, with the exception of a small number of Danish Made submachine guns used by some VN special forces. So the total would be somewhere well over 1.5 million, closer to 1.6.

    Afghanistan during the Soviet-Afghan War, I don't know other than the well reported Stinger surface to air missiles. I would guess not that many, a few hundred maybe but certainly less than a thousand.

    Sadaam's Iraq was I believe all Soviet or Warsaw Pact arms and ammo.

    Japan after WW2? Once in 1962 (or 63?) at Camp Fuji training area I saw JGSDF with US M-1 Garand rifles, same as we carried. But I believe they replaced that with a rifle of their own manufacture a year or two later. No clue on the numbers, but it had to be small as the JGSDF at that time was tiny.

    For Germany I do not have a clue.

  2. Oh, I forgot the Iran Contra deal by President Raygun. Although that was not part of your question.

    Between 20 August 1985 up through 28 October 1986, a cabal in the Reagan White house conspired and illegally broke an embargo and gave Iran the following weapons:

    2500 TOW anti-tank missiles

    18 Hawk anti-aircraft missiles and hundreds of spare missile parts so they could repair their existing Hawk missile systems left over from the Shah's regime.

    The Shah also had US made F-4 and F-5 fighter aircraft, not sure how many. Some I believe may still be in service.

  3. I can't give you a dollar-for-dollar match, PF but the ARVN was essentially a photocopy of the US Army circa 1955 complete with US heavy weapons to the extent it had them. VNAF pretty-much same-same.

    The US "military assistance" gimmick has pretty much always been "make a copy of the US military of the era" going all the way back to the Philippines (the PA of 1941 was a sad imitation of US infantry divisions with WW1-era equipment and no artillery...)

    So regardless of relative costs, what we're doing in A'stan is consistent with historic US practice...

  4. And re: mike's comment on the weapons supplied to the RVN the actual end-users turned out to be the NVA and THEIR clients such as the Pathet Lao. My VN-vet platoon sergeant at 1/505 referred to this as "Used rifles, great condition; never fired and only dropped once."