Arms and ammunition are evidence. Many weapons carry marks that, combined with their physical characteristics, reveal important information about them, including their manufacturer, age, and origin. This information, in turn, provides vital clues about the sources and flows of weapons in the area in which they were found.
Ammunition is an expensive commodity and an essential resource for the implementation of a national defence and security policy. However, national ammunition stockpiles can also pose risks to national security and public safety. Poor accounting and inadequate physical security of storage facilities can facilitate the diversion of ammunition from the national stockpile to terrorists, criminals, and other armed groups, increasing insecurity and instability.
Unplanned explosions at munitions sites (UEMS) are a significant safety concern for governments and a major security challenge for the international community.
This Handbook contains analysis of this data, with many helpful tables, figures, maps, and annexes. It serves three primary purposes, striving to:
Surplus ammunition poses significant safety and security risks in post-conflict settings, which is why effectively managing such ammunition is vital to mitigating those risks. This Small Arms Survey Briefing Paper provides ten lessons learned on the establishment of a life-cycle management of ammunition (LCMA) system in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The lessons relate to national ownership, planning, stockpile management, and disposal.
Translated into Arabic by the EU-LAS project.
Emergent ammunition technologies are likely to prove key in future firearms designs. Emergent cartridge case technologies, the rise of the ‘general-purpose’ calibre, and other nascent technologies will affect the way in which firearms are designed, produced, managed in service, tactically employed, maintained, and sustained.
Consistent access to small arms ammunition is vital to armed conflict; this is particularly true in conflicts involving non-state armed groups that rely on illicit small arms and light weapons as their primary tools of war.
A detailed examination of seized or documented small arms ammunition may help to reveal the history and alliances of a conflict, while the tracing of illicit ammunition can identify
manufacturers and supply routes.
More than a decade of instability and armed conflict in Côte d’Ivoire has resulted in the proliferation of weapons and ammunition held by both the government and the Forces Nouvelles rebel movement.
These two publications, from the Security Assessment in North Africa, offer insight into the situation in Syria, investigating the variety and availability of small arms ammunition documented in the country, and the presence and role of foreign fighters in the ongoing hostilities.
In many countries, excess stockpiles of obsolete or unserviceable munitions have reached a level requiring demilitarization on an industrial scale, often in a race against time, because the ammunition tends to become unsafe with age.
Since states rarely have the capacity to demilitarize the surplus ammunition stockpiles of their collective security forces, they often turn to private demilitarization contractors.
The Headstamp Trail: An Assessment of Small-calibre Ammunition Found in Libya provides an analysis of 65 different small-calibre cartridge headstamps (ammunition identification markings) documented in Libya.