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Does the U.S. Military Still Use Bayonets?

At the final presidential debate, Mitt Romney accused Barack Obama of reducing the number of ships in the U.S. Navy to the lowest level since World War I. President Obama responded, “Well, governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets.” Does the U.S. military still use bayonets?

Yes. While the bayonet dates to the 17th century, it has evolved and been upgraded over the years. All Marines learn to use bayonets during their basic martial arts training. In 2003, more than 120,000 bayonets were commissioned to supply one for each Marine, at an estimated cost of $4.3 million.

In addition to potential use in hand-to-hand combat, bayonets are said to be useful for keeping prisoners under control and for “poking an enemy to see whether he is dead.”

Still, the use of bayonets is rare. The Army began to scale back on bayonet drills in 2010, and the last U.S. bayonet charge was during the Korean War way back in 1951.