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S. Korean Army to relax policy on retrieving bullet casings

Feb. 11, 2024 - 16:01 By Yoon Min-sik
Soldiers of the South Korean Army participate in a shooting drill in this Jan. 11 file photo. (Republic of Korea Army)

South Korean military said Wednesday that it is planning to revise the Army regulation on retrieving casings of bullets used in marksmanship training, by deleting the part mandating soldiers to collect every single casing.

The military is planning to revise Article 46 of the current Army regulation that states "soldiers must retrieve 100 percent of the used casings at the firing ranges and submit them" to "soldiers must retrieve the used casings at the firing ranges and submit them" by sometime next month. Those who cannot find the casings can submit the paperwork under the authority of one's commander.

The South Korean Army has a very strict rule on keeping track of all bullet shells used by their soldiers, although other branches of the military, such as the Navy, do not apply such strict measures. Each soldier is required to submit the exact same number of casings as the bullets they used in shooting ranges, and can be punished upon failure to do so.

Such strict regulation of bullet shells is to prevent anyone from sneaking bullets out. South Korea has a very strict firearms control policy that requires even legal owners of guns to store their weapons at local police stations.

In rare cases where a casing goes missing, the unit or troop usually halts training to look for the missing cartridge. In order to prevent such accidents, soldiers conventionally attach a shell catcher on their guns, which has sparked complaints for causing minor gun malfunctions.

The new, more lenient policy on retrieving bullet casings is currently on a test run at special ops forces including the troops under the ROK Army Special Warfare Command. Based on this test run, the Army will review if and how to revise the policy, and how to implement it.

Even if the article is revised, the change will not be applied to training for new recruits or drills for reserve forces.