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Marine Inquiry: no evidence round came from CTA

Date Posted: 2009-04-02

Marine Corps Bases Japan (MCBJ) has concluded an inquiry into an alleged stray bullet discovered lodged in a license plate of a local resident’s vehicle in Igei District of Kin Town on December 13th.
The inquiry concluded that the object found was, in fact, a steel core penetrator from a .50 caliber ball round, but is not related to any recent weapons training in the Central Training Area (CTA). The inquiry further concluded that live fire training conducted in the CTA meets all U.S. military and Marine Corps safety standards.
The results of the inquiry were briefed to local officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Okinawa Defense Bureau, Okinawa Prefectural Government and Okinawa Prefectural Police Wednesday.
The inquiry further revealed that the time of the incident, as indicated by the victim and witness to Ishikawa Police, is not consistent with the period of time when live fire training occurred in the CTA. The inquiry found no ballistic evidence that the steel core penetrator was fired from a weapon at any range in the CTA. A range probability analysis reflects extremely remote odds of a .50 caliber round escaping from the CTA with current safety measures in place.
The MCBJ inquiry involved a review of evidence provided by the Ishikawa Police, a MCBJ review of range safety practices, and a preliminary investigation of the conduct of fire of a military unit at Range 7 during the period of Dec. 9th and 10th. The unit training on range 7 on Dec. 9th and 10th fired 8,000 .50 caliber rounds from a M-2 machine gun mounted on the turret of a 7-ton truck. However, Ishikawa Police reports indicate the victim’s car was not parked in the alleged impact site until after live fire had concluded on Dec. 10th.
Even though the time of the alleged incident, as related by the victim and witness, were not consistent with the period when live fire training occurred, MCBJ leadership invited ballistic experts from U.S. Marine Corps Training and Education Command to conduct a technical assistance visit, which was conducted Jan. 29th through Feb. 5th. Ballistic experts conducted an enhanced probabilistic analysis for firing of .50 caliber ammunition under the same parameters as the unit firing on Dec. 9th and 10th. The analysis demonstrated a statistically remote probability that a .50 caliber round could ricochet and escape the CTA in the direction of Igei District.
“The Marine Corps has put forth due diligence to determine the origin of the steel core penetrator and we cannot link it to any recent Marine Corps training,” said Col. Don Wayman, assistant chief of staff for operations, Marine Corps Base Camp Butler. “Our live-fire training is conducted in a safe manner in accordance with established range-safety procedures. Safety is always our first priority.”

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