Canadian Bullets, Dead Iraqis

With up to 13,802 Iraqi civilian deaths to date, Canadians will now be providing one of the most basic necessities for the US occupation forces in Iraq: bullets. The Canadian company SNC Technologies Inc. (SNC TEC) is now part of a multinational consortium of small-caliber ammunition producers whose purpose is to supply between 300 million -500 million more bullets to occupation forces per year, and potentially for at least five years.

Beyond Canada, General Dynamics, the US defence contractor, also awarded contracts to several small bullet suppliers – including Winchester, a unit of Olin Corporation and Israel Military Industries. Their also in discussion with several other international producers, including General Dynamics Santa Barbara Sistemas, Madrid, Spain in an effort to try to meet the ammunitions demand. Michael S. Wilson, president of General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, said,“Our goal is to ensure maximum supply support for the U.S. armed forces in their war against terror.”

The high demand in bullets is in response to a recent U.S. Army market survey for a “Small-Caliber Ammunition Systems Integrator”. The Financial Times reports that the US occupation forces “will need 300m to 500m more bullets a year for at least five years, or more than 1.5m a year for combat and training. And because the single army-owned, small-calibre ammunition factory in Lake City, Missouri, can produce only 1.2m bullets annually, the army is suddenly scrambling to get private defence contractors to help fill the gap.”

"We’re using so much ammunition in Iraq there isn’t enough capacity around," said Eric Hugel, a defence industry analyst at Sephens Inc. "They have to go internationally."

The Financial Times also reports that the “bullet problem has its roots in a Pentagon effort to restock its depleted war material reserve. But it has been exacerbated by the ongoing operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, where rearguard and supply units have been thinly-stretched throughout the countryside, occasionally without active duty combat soldiers to protect them.”

Recently rejuvenated after the historic demonstrations in New York, where half a million people were unified in saying “No to the Bush agenda”, a campaign focusing on these contracts could have a direct effect on saving the lives of Iraqis, and give traction to an again waking anti-war movement, beyond just large demonstrations. For the international anti-war movement, which is struggling to live up to it’s reputation as “the other super power”, such contracts could provide important anti-war campaigns in our own respective nations, raising the social costs and consequences for the US, and other complicit countries, in waging war on Iraq. For Canada, long in denial about it’s active participation in the US war on terror, the SNC Technologies contract should highlight the fact that Canada has not only provided previous military and diplomatic support for the war on terror, but is now literally, without doubt, providing the ammunition to kill Iraqis.

As for the general structure of the contracts, General Dynamics reports that they will serve as the systems integrator responsible for supply chain management, with Winchester serving as a principal supplier of all calibers of ammunition, including 5.56mm, 7.62mm and Cal. 50 ammunitions. Israel Military Industries Ltd. currently produces ammunition to U.S. military specifications for each of the calibers being sought and will be relied upon to be a significant production partner on the team. SNC will also be a critical provider of select ammunition across all calibers being sought.

For Canadians interested in SNC Technologies Inc., they are a developer and manufacturer of ammunitions and related defence products. Headquartered in Le Gardeur, Québec, their web site boasts of annual revenues of more than $ 266 million(CAD).

SNC TEC is the sole Canadian producer of military ammunition and produces over 70% of conventional military ammunition used by the Canadian Department of National Defence. In addition, the company is also a current supplier to the Department of Defense of the United States for both small and large caliber products. Internationally, SNC TEC provides conventional ammunition, or components, to a large number of other countries across Europe, the Middle East, the Far East, as well as Australia and New Zealand (according to their web site, these include Belgium, Denmark, France, Holland, Greece, Italy, Sweden, the UK, UAE, Oman, Jordan and Kuwait, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines).

The company is wholly owned by the SNC-Lavalin Group. “The SNC Group, which began as a small engineering consulting firm in 1911, grew over the years into a leading group of engineering and construction companies. In 1992, it merged Lavalin engineering firm to form the SNC-Lavalin Group Inc.”

SNC-Lavalin Group has offices across Canada, in 30 other countries around the world, and are currently working in some 100 countries. SNC-Lavalin has annual revenues of about $ 3.3 billion (CAD). The Corporate headquarters are located in Montréal at :

455 René-Lévesque Blvd.
West Montreal, Quebec
Canada H2Z 1Z3
Telephone : (514) 393-1000
Fax : (514) 866-0795
Email : info@snclavalin.com

Chris Spannos volunteers for ZNet, Vancouver Co-operative Radio and the Vancouver Participatory Economics Collective

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