What's Happening

This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Red Shoe: I'm not quite sure I understand the difference between this and the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy. I have an intuitive sense that the two are different, but I'm not quite clear on how.

Silent Hunter: With Imperial School Of Marksmanship, the goodies can hit their target, the baddies cannot. In this trope, the goodies can hit when they want, but they are deliberately not doing so- keeping the other side's heads down, so to speak.

grixit: is there a separate term for the other effect of the A Teams guns? I mean the part where they cause the bad guys' vehicle to fly up into the air, roll, and land upside down with the occupants merely banged up and able to scramble out under their own power.

Taper W: Interestingly, I've read (notably in reviews of Lt. Col. Dave Grossman's book On Killing) that in the two world wars, only 15-20% of front-line soldiers actually fired their weapons, and further that many of _those_ may have been aiming above the heads of the enemy. (But I don't think this trope is ready to be Truth in Television .)

  • The point of this trope (and its difference with the Stormtrooper trope) is that Stormtroopers fire (and miss) for dramatic tension, while A-Team Firing is usually just action for action's sake.
  • Can'tRememberMyName: Grossman apparently relied on S.L.A. Marshall to make that 20% claim, but Marshall was something of an embellisher...

Silent Hunter: Heard the same and only 2% overall used them effectively. Remember, you are dealing with conscripts there. Not the case today.

Vorpal: Nothing to do with conscripts. Vietnam had 95% effective fire just 20 years later, and they were conscripts too. It's the brainwashing they put you through in boot camp that's changed. This is an ex-sergeant's opinion.
zinfandel: I deleted a bit of the Star Wars example that was about how Stormtroopers can't hit anything, which is its own trope and not A-Team Firing. I'm sad to see the hilarious Justifying Edit go with it, so I'll paraphrase:

"In the beginning of Star Wars, the stormtroopers were ordered not to shoot droids, since they might be carrying the Death Star plans."

I have this mental image of the stormtroopers who, when seeing R2 and 3PO wobble across the hall, went to extreme physical lengths to shoot around them. I love Star Wars and love its fans, but for two completely different reasons.

Sikon: No animated images, please.

Nornagest: I'm very uncertain about this:

This trope is an example of Truth In Fiction. Estimates of ammo usage in the ongoing war in Iraq suggest that United States military soldiers have fired NINE HUNDRED THOUSAND bullets for every insurgent they have killed.

Just for kicks, I did some math here. Let's assume that the average insurgent is fired upon at a range of 100 meters, which is probably high. With 900,000 rounds and the worst imaginable marksmanship (that is, an accuracy of 180 degrees of arc) you would on average put a hole into each 0.14 square meters of surface (or 1.5 square feet) at that range — more than enough to kill someone, even with 75% hard cover or better. We are not even talking stormtrooper marksmanship here; we're talking about shooting at literally everything and nothing, including the floor, the sky, and the soldier's buddies. It's an absurdly cynical set of assumptions, and it still predicts better results than the article claims.

There are two possible explanations. One, those rounds exist but aren't actually getting fired at insurgents. It's probably true that more ammunition gets used up in training than actual combat, and it's also probably true that most rounds that actually are fired in combat are used for suppressing fire rather than aimed shots, but neither of those facts adequately explain the claim. Two, the article was written by someone that made a grievous research error or simply lied. Given the evident bias, I'm inclined to believe the latter.

Anonymous: I can actually confirm the general statement, though maybe not the exact numbers. Simply put, marksmanship training isn't quite what it used to be, with budgetary constraints especially in ROTC programs and such limiting just how much time can be spent on the firing ranges. Also, the actual face-to-face confrontations that occur with insurgents are rather limited. There aren't Fallujah-style battles all that often. If an engagement comes down to an actual firefight, and not a roadside bomb, an absurd amount of firepower is poured out at the individual insurgent, who are often hiding behind corners blind firing, making it hard to score an actual hit. And if they break and run, well, then there's at least several hundred shots that were aimed in the right direction, the insurgents just put a higher emphasis on staying alive than zealously causing any real damage.

Different Anonymous: I've heard that several million bullets are expended per insurgent killed BY BULLETS. Roughly two percent of insurgents killed are actually killed by infantry weapons. The rest is from air power, artillery, and tanks. There's a reason the US hasn't upgraded its rifle in half a century. It doesn't really matter that much. We just bomb everything. Note that the bombs aren't really more efficient. The vast, VAST majority of those miss. But since we drop so very many of them, they're still responsible for the vast majority of casualties. Long story short: Combat is stressful and confusing. People who can bullseye targets easily in practice typically find themselves spraying at nothing in a real fight. The whole "The US is bullet for bullet the most lethal dudes ever" thing is just complete horseshit, however. In the first three years of Iraq, we expended over six billion bullets, with relatively little effect. Is that enough to put holes in everything in a wide arc? Yes. Yes it is. That still doesn't mean any of them went into people, nor that they were the correct people.
Rebochan: I ported the MST3K quote to the quotes page. It's not good to have more than one quote and..well...the remaining quote *should* be a quote related to the trope name, right?