A story from the United Kingdom this week reported that the nation's military recruits were training without live ammunition, due to a more than $1 billion shortfall in the country's military budget. Soldiers-in-training were using computer simulations instead of real rounds, to save the $0.30 (USD) or so per bullet that would be expended using live rounds, as a kind of real-life version of the military simulation portrayed in Chris Carter's short-lived television drama Harsh Realm.
Unfortunately, as the troops in Iraq can report, computer-simulated weapons are not very effective against real threats. While those British troops do switch to using live rounds during the several months of training prior to being deployed, valuable training time with real weapons has been lost. In the United States, much is invested in our military troops and technology, and that spending is often questioned by those far from an active battleground. But ask any of the troops returning from Iraq if the investments were worth it, and there is no doubt what the answer will be.