Taking Back the Infantry Half-Kilometer

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 6 months ago

I weighed in over three years ago on the merits (or lack thereof) of the M-16 (although not comprehensively).  Since then, a certain Marine I know had to put a nine round burst (from a SAW) into an insurgent in Fallujah in 2007, only to see him keep advancing (they suspect that he was high on morphine and epinephrine like so many others at that time).  There are advantages (lighter ammunition leading to more ammunition carried on patrols) and disadvantages, e.g., lack of killing power at long range, to the Stoner system of weapons.  C. J. Chivers also has two very good articles on the same subject, and much more comprehensive than I have time for (Part 1 and Part 2).

But there is an interesting graduate paper from Leavenworth by Major Thomas P. Ehrhart entitled Increasing Small Arms Lethality in Afghanistan: Taking Back the Infantry Half-Kilometer (PDF here).  It is causing a stir, and is more applicable to Afghanistan than Iraq due to the protracted distances of fire fights (as opposed to the MOUT in Iraq).  We have covered some of this in our ongoing analysis of the Battle of Wanat (where the limitations of the M-4 figured prominently) and Kamdesh (where terrain loomed large, so to speak, similar to the situation at Wanat).

I observed of the Cubbison study that training is paramount for clearing jams and ensuring proper functioning of this system of weapons.

Mr. Cubbison also goes into some detail considering other tactical and weapons failures (specifically at OP Top Side).  Due to rate of fire issues, there were numerous weapons systems failures (e.g., jamming) of SAWs, M4s and M16A2s.  I know one Marine who has trained his “boots” hard in the art of rate of fire and other measures to keep their SAWs from jamming and the barrels from melting.  Clearing jams within mere seconds is necessary for proper functioning of the Soldier and Marine and his .223 closed bolt system of arms, and Soldiers and Marines must be extensively trained to accomplish this under duress.

However, there is also truth to the notion that this training is necessitated by the weaknesses in the system of weapons.  Another way to say it is that when fire fights have to depend heavily on the art of weapon jam-clearing, something is fundamentally wrong.

Increasing Small Arms Lethality in Afghanistan: Taking Back the Infantry Half Kilometer

I agree with the recommendations of Major Ehrhart to tool the fire team and squad with greater latitude and more available weapons depending upon the situation and their own choice.  But aside from this, two other observations are appropriate.  First, leaving aside the issue of lethal range for a moment, there is no reason whatsoever that the Army and Marines can’t replace the current M-4 / M-16A2 system of arms with an open bolt or gas piston system like the H&K 416.  This may not affect range, but it would go directly to the issue of reliability which was paramount at Wanat.

Second, it occurs to me that the Army (with their much more vehicle-borne approach) could take a page from the Marines (who are more foot-bound).  The Marines qualify (iron sights) at 500 yards, or around 457 meters.  The Army could as well, and it has to do with a strategic choice, not capabilities.  This might go a long way towards a remedy for the infantry half-kilometer.



  • Tim Hamilton

    With 20 years in the Army, I always found that our small arms marksmanship training was at best, mediocre. I’m no expert with small arms, but in my opinion, training in the Army needs to get to a higher level than what it is now. I found that the majority of Soldiers do not understand basic shooting fundamentals or fully understand the performance characteristics of the cartridge they are using. I don’t think a caliber or modifications to current weapons are going to change anything. If Soldiers can’t hit anything now, even with optics, why would we think this would change if we fielded something new? As MAJ Ehrhart’s monograph suggests, the Army needs to fix it’s training, before buying anything new.

  • PenGun

    Heckler & Koch G 36. Hard to beat as an assault rifle and perhaps a little bit more accurate than an F2000. Both modern weapons and much better than any AR 15 knock off.

    My sympathies to the poor fools with M4s in the Helmand desert. A bit strange that the richest country on Earth would economize on weapons.

  • john jay

    friends:

    make the ar-15 with a steel upper receiver, and the heat and stress issues with the ar-15 receiver go away. don’t mess with lower receiver, it is genius.

    get rid of those dumbass clam shell forends. go to an aluminum tube, as all commercial ar-15 variants do. same as w/ picatinny rails. co-index all sights.

    as to the bolt carrier and the bolt, … , well, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. all of the “rivals” for military contracts in small arms copy the ar-15 variants. except those rifles using delayed blow back systems and fluted chambers, and if you think the gas impingement system of the current ar-15/16 is dirty and leads to failure, i cannot imagine what those damn things would do.

    as to cartridge. tim hamilton puts the nail right on the head of the hammer, so to speak. if current training does no better than it does, equiping people with 7mm magnums is not going to do any damn better. if you cannot hit it, you cannot kill it, no matter what you are shooting.

    if the army & marines could shoot better, and i am talking about combat infantry, it really doesn’t make any difference what they shoot.

    i would be inclined to simply end by saying, “it is a poor workman who blames his tools,” recognizing that no weapons system has ever been perfect. they all break, they all misfunction, so keep the damn things clean and keep the ammo pristine.

    yes, i know, … , reality.

    but, i won’t say that, cuz i’ve not earned the right to do so, never having been shot at, and because i agree with pen gun. get rid of that cursed m-4, it is a piece of shit. the short barrel ruins the ballistics of the round, as it significantly lessens velocity, and plays hob with trajectory. and, it is the short gas tube, and the increased rate of fire/cycle, and the concomittant increase in residual chamber pressure during extraction, which is cooking and beating these poor damned things to death, and causing breakage and malfunction.

    whoever designed that g_d damned thing should be taken out in the street and just flogged.

    throw those dumb assed barrels with the short gas tubes away. get a decent length barrel, say 20-22 inchs, put a proper length gas tube on it, and don’t be making any dumbass cuts in the barrel profile for launching grenades and fixing bayonets. you gotta shoot a damned grenade, get a grenade launcher, or throw the son of a bitch.

    finally, they should all have a good low powered optic. i have a 2.5 power leupold on my 6.8mm rem spc, and it gives me point and shoot to about 350 yards. short distance, lay the horizontal reticle across the nipples, fudge a little lower: it will put the bullet high chest. 300 yards, dead on. 350 yards, don’t worry about it, you are in the neighborhood. 200 yards, figure it out.

    practice, practice, practice.

    if the scope manufacturers, say leupold, could be talked into putting a range adjustable yardage reticle in a low powered variable, say a 1.5 to 4 power, you could have a rifle that would be combat effective to 400 plus yards, which is about what all military rounds, including the vaunted 7.62x51mm nato is reasonably capable of: i wouldn’t want to be center punched with any of ‘em, but i don’t see much difference with any of ‘em to that distance if center punched, either.

    beyond that, reasonable probability of hits from your average shooter is pretty much zilch, anyway.

    there is absolutely nothing wrong with the basic design of the rifle. except the m-4 is a f_____g abomination.

    john jay
    milton freewater, oregon usa

    p.s. you don’t like the 5.56mm nato. put a 6.8mm remington in it, which is head and shoulders above the 7.62x39mm russian, … , or, for that matter, put a 6.5mm carcano or any number of similar european 6.5′s in it, or a 6.5 grendle, and you have a lethal round to 400-450 yards or so.

    the title of this piece is a misnomer. the infantry rifle, even the infantry battle rifle of wwii shooting .30-06, or 8mm mauser, or 7.62mm long russian, or the 7.7mm jap, or the fine 6.5x55mm swede, … , never owned the battle field to 880 yards. neither, for that matter does a .308 winnie (7.62x51mm nato), unless in the hands of a very compotent sniper team. and, i know that people have been sniped at that range, but it is mostly shithouse luck. i would venture to say more have been missed. a 168 or 177 grain sierra is a marvelous tool, but at those ranges and trajectories involved, unless the range is absolutely dead nuts known, and unless the cartridge matches the fps that it is supposed to, … , to hit something at that distance with any rifle that can be carried by a single person, … , is just luck.

    you wanna kill people at a half mile, use field artillery, and fire for effect.

  • john jay

    friends:

    i have read the linked articles. they are very interesting.

    i have also given herschel plenty of additional comment, regarding which i am sure he is most appreciative. laughing. well, he has borne it all in good grace, anyway.

    the basic ar-15/16 platform works. the m-4 seems a piece of shit.

    even so, the articles emphasize something that is not discussed very much, and that is, despite an overwhelming manpower advantage to the enemy, our troops inflicted very heavy casualties against the enemy, while suffering comparitively light fatalities.

    the one article mentioned 150 enemy killed as against 9 american killed.

    but, i find this loss very disturbing, because it seems so needless. it is needless because things known for hundreds of years are being ignored in the deployment of these men to remote areas in which they do not and cannot control the intimately immediate high ground, ceding to their enemy tactical and strategic advantage which cannot be reversed.

    and, there are two other things i do not read in these reports.

    1)there is no field artillery support for these bases, e.g., our infantry has no field artillery. and,
    2.)there is no mention of helicopter gunships being deployed to these bases while undergoing attack, nor while under immediate duress.

    what kind of bullshit is this?

    we have the world’s largest military, and we cannot muster the intelligence to place these bases where they are not subject to high ground, and being shot at by mortars and the like? i can gaurantee you, it avails little to try and shoot an infantry rifle uphill to try and attack a dug in gun emplacement.

    now, during these attacks, our troops should not have to be dependent upon using infantry rifles to take the place of heavy mortars, light field artillery, and helicopter gunship defense.

    it is criminal that they do not have this.

    now, the m-16 or the m-4 may have deficiencies, though i expect more are imagined that verifiable as cold hard fact, … , but, even so, training and aimed fire seem definitely to be in america’s favor. 150 killed enemy soldiers as opposed to 9 killed of our troops, under these kinds of conditions says a lot about the accuracy of our fire, and the lethality of the ammunition used.

    but, adequately defended, with adequate equipment, and certainly nothing exotic nor anything whose use and utility has not been recognized by even the thickest military mindset for centuries, … , the presence of artillery, mortars and helicopter support would have seen to it that 9 americans would in all probability not have died in the one attack, and 8 more in the other under discussion.

    two questions?

    1.)who is responsible for this idiocy? and,
    2.)why do they still were a u.s. military uniform and receive monetary compensation?

    the m-16 and m-4 are infantry weapons. they are not artillery, they are not mortars, and they are sure as hell not close air support. they cannot be used nor substituted for these things.

    it is criminal that our troops, fine soldiers that they are, are not equipped with weapons the use and utility of have been known for centuries. my good lord, even a heavy machine gun, three or four .50 caliber brownings, would probably have sufficed to hold these attackers at bay, and probably would have saved many of the lives that were lost, even in an outpost that was nearly over run, because it was remote from the main base.

    troops should not have to pay for the stupidity, cupidity, timidity (for not insisting upon adequate defense) and ineptitude of commanders.

    and, that goes for commanders-in-chief, as well.

    john jay

    p.s. reading about the placement and location of these bases, in terrain that invited the precise attack they were subjected to, reminds me of nothing more that goats being staked out to invite the tiger.

    what a world we live in, when navy seals are prosecuted for a split lip in apprehending, and not simply killing on the damn spot, a notorious terrorist, … , and a military command gets by with a free pass for the death of soldiers under its command, which never should have occurred. war is risky enough, without idiots running it.
    milton freewater, oregon usa

  • http://www.captainsjournal.com/ Herschel Smith

    John, as to your remark “if the army & marines could shoot better,” I won’t and can’t speak for the Army, but as for the Marines, go back and read the article. The Marines qualify with iron sights at 500 yards, pressing this rifle to its ultimate performance. This is about the maximum serviceable range of the 0.223 round.

    I’m suggesting that this could be a partial solution for the Army, while a newer system of weapons could help the other problems noted with the Stoner rifles.

    And yes, it’s criminal that our boys don’t have the best weapons when Obama and Geithner are throwing around trillions of dollars in cash at everything under the sun.

  • http://www.federaleagent86.blogspot.com/ Federale

    Better yet would be to replace the family of SAW, machine gun, and M16 variant weapons with a new family of 6.5 G weapons. A bullpup standard weapon with quick change barrels, a 6.5 SAW or automatic rifle with a larger magazine, and a new light machinegun to replace the M240, all using the same ammunition.

  • john jay

    herschel:

    this is off the top of my head, but … .

    it seems to me that the standard 100 yd. target black for military rifle targets is about 6″. if memory serves me correct, the ar-15 front sight subtends about 5 or 6 inches at 100 yds., so you just set “the black” on top of the front sight and blam away.

    at 500 yards the target black would have to be about 30″ to present the same size image above the sight. and, the bottom of the black would be 15″ below the center of the x-ring.

    to hit the center of the black at that distance would require holding the front post halfway up “the black”, and even with young eyes, it is hard to hold a 5 minute post half way up a 5 minute circle.

    no doubt the marines do a fair job of it to qualify. but, i am 5′ 8″ tall, 165 lbs., about 18 inchs across the shoulders and 11″ from nipple to nipple. about 5″ across the forehead at the brows. about 30″ from topnot to crotch.

    i think this points out pretty graphically that a marine, certainly better marksmen on balance than their soldier counterparts, could hit the 30″ circle at 500 yards and never touch me in a vital spot, on a day when g_d granted me considerable favor.

    my point?

    that a marine can qualify at 500 yards does not make him capable of delivering a shot to the vitals of a human target at 500 yards on the battlefield. range targets don’t move, they don’t hide behind rocks, and they aren’t shooting back.

    i think that the iron sighted ar-15 is about a 200 yd weapon. the use of good optics would probably double that range, and the use of really good optics would make it capable of keeping an adversary awfully cautious at 500 yards.

    federale:

    the 6.5 (.264) grendel is a great little cartridge.

    it shoots a 115-120 grain bullet about 2600 fps.

    the 6.8 (.277) remington spc is a great little cartridge.

    it shoots a 115 grain bullet about 2600 fps out of a standard length barrle.

    as far as i am concerned, you can cover them with a dime. both would make good replacements for the .223 in the ar-style rifles, without any modification at all except to barrels and bolt faces/extractors.

    it would be cheap as dirt.

    the grendel still leaves the ar-rifle, as almost ever other infantry rifle ever made, pretty servicable to 200 yards with iron sights, and deadly as hell with glass optics to about 400 yards.

    after that, trajectory realities take over.

    i do not think that you can expect anything more of an infantry rifle than that.

    john jay
    milton freewater, oregon usa

    p.s. i walk to a local target range every day, 4 miles round trip, to see if the ticker still works.

    today my “long range” friend was there with his savage .308, tripod and “super sniper” scope, a very nice scope made by folks who bought the rights to it from tasco who were trying to supplant leupold’s contract to the army for sniper scopes. just a tick below a leupold, and nightforce, in my estimation.

    he thinks the .308 is capable to a 1,000 yards, if, ……………… . and, there are a whole list of variables. he has a computer program which is capable wiht gps interface, that issues “shooting solutions” when bullet ballistic coefficient, temperature, altitude, distance and elevation are feed into it, so a person just adjusts his turrets, holds dead on, and makes a kill shot into an 8 inch circle.

    if, …. , you know the precise range to target within 4 or 5 yards, and if, …. , your data on muzzle velocity is correct, and if, …. , the bullet flies true within about 3/4′s of a minute of angle, and if, …. , the hold of the rifle is dead on the money. and, oh yes, if the target doesn’t stop if walking, or if, the target doesnt start walking if still, just before the shot, or bend over to tie his shoe laces. other than that, …. , piece of cake.

    i think it makes a hell of a rig to 500 yards. beyond that, it is problematic. now, in combat, how many people stand around stock still picking their noses within the sound and sight of gunfire.

    sniping, you can snipe a long way, even in support of troops in battle if you are a bit removed from it. but, combat rifles, … , i hold to the proposition that they are about 400 to 450 propositions, regardless of caliber and weapon. and, within that distance, i sure as hell hope nobody ever shots me, anywhere, with a .223. or, any weapon, for that matter. i don’t think it makes that much difference, if you, or me, or anyone else, is hit solidly.

  • http://www.federaleagent86.blogspot.com/ Federale

    I think part of the problem is the M-16 platform, as well as the 5.56 cartridge. Both need to be replaced. I am certain a new rifle will solve any problem the iron sights with M-16 platform have. Plus the replacement for the M240 could be greatly lightened. I also hope that the automatic rifle concept (BAR or Bren like) will be added to supplement a new SAW like weapon. I think it is pound foolish and penny wise to try and get a replacment based on a new upper for the M-16 platform. Yeah you save alot of money on magazines and lowers, but you loose on capability. The M-16 platform has outlasted its usefulness. It is a nice jungle weapon or urban terrain, but not a good general rifle. I also think that the arms room concept is too costly and a danger for the logistical train. Lets go new and then ammend the 1934 Act and let Americans by the surplus M-16 family of weapons. Or give them to Christians in Sudan, Nigeria, Indonesia, and Malaysia to protect themselves from Islamic agression.

  • Warbucks

    Guys I never went to advanced school on this stuff so I don’t know what I’m talking about on this subject but, it seems to me that we aught to change boot camp and include training for everyone to shoot reasonably accurately, the 50-cal sniper rifle. Then make every fire team has one in their quiver.

    This will begin to change the stand-off dynamics of the fight, making the enemy feel threatened inside 1 mile. That doesn’t mean we start firing the 50-cal a mile away. It means we built up a reputation that we got-em and we use-em. Then still close on the enemy as needed.

    Over time, this should reduce their exposure to enemy fire they allow themselves for each shot (reducing accuracy) and cause a lot more blind firing over the top of the positions, using up ammo without much effect.

    But this is outside my area of expertise totally. I’m not suggesting we train everyone to the high standards and excellence and advanced strategies we put into snippers. I’m just saying alter the engagement dynamics to reduce the enemy’s effectiveness and gain an additional psychological advantage.

  • Warbucks

    Taking the idea a little further regarding the 50-cal sniper rifle asset assigned to each fire-teams arsenal. Remember, this writer has no idea what he is talking about. These are half-baked theories that seem to contain some thread of intuitive logic. Continuing…

    The raw recruit, during book-camp, is given training on the use of his primary weapon until proficiency is reached. He is given additional training with the 50-cal sniper rifle with scope sites for a reasonable level of proficiency the idea being to build into the fire-team several characteristics that increase their killing power:

    • A slight psychological advantage spreads over time as fire teams make kills at extreme distances. Reputations spreads in the battle area quickly that US fire teams are an extreme threat up to a mile distance. This changes the dynamics of the battle engagements in several ways. The question is, will the changes advantage the US or the enemy? The enemy is given a new threat to which there are several responses:
    o Response Option #1: The enemy waits to draw in our fire teams to within 400 yards before giving up their position.

    o Response Option #2: Ambush at close range.

    o Response Option #3: Use equivalent or heavier fire power.

    o Response Option #4: Disengage from the battle.

    o Response Option #5: Accept higher causalities to engage US forces.
    o Response Option #6: Invest in much greater personal protective gear and equipment.

    • Smart bullets – Toon-Town Bullets. Remember the movie “Roger Rabbit” and Toon -Town Bullets. You just shoot the bullet and it chases down the target. Finally there is a platform worthy to develop such expensive bullets: 50-cal sniper rifle. These bullets will likely run in the range of $10 – $100 a shot in mass quantities. The ideal platform needs to be portable on the one-hand yet provide robust stand off distance for the fire team.

    o The reasoning behind the smart bullet is to offset the communal nature of the use of the weapon. Rifles have sighting characteristics which tend to make them personal to the frequent user. Even scoped weapons remain personal, especially at great distances of 500 yards and greater. Toon-town bullets off set this “personal” characteristic of the rifle. Any boot-camp graduate would feel comfortable lobbing a round at a target while looking through the advanced sighting scope, day or night. Their kill ratios become very high with little difference between a dedicated user of the weapon and a randomly picked member of the fire team.

    We got to come up with a better name than “toon-town bullets”, we don’t want to loose our mystique. Any thoughts?

  • Warbucks

    And since the Captain’s out for the weekend, let’s party…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEh8Y–EzdQ

    This here is how they hunt in Mississippi, it’s all in the head…

  • Warbucks

    Going back to the Toon-Town bullet or Toon-bullet, there have been some low priority efforts to develop Smart Bullets: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_bullet

    The 50-cal. appears to have the range needed to really alter the fire team engagement dynamics and rapidly change the perceived threat levels of our fire teams inside 1-mile.

    http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/dec99-03.asp
    Declaration III – On the Use of Bullets Which Expand or Flatten Easily in the Human Body , Laws of War :
    Declaration on the Use of Bullets Which Expand or Flatten Easily in the Human Body; July 29, 1899

    To be clear, there appears to be no lawful limitation on the Caliber size. Not many of us would consider the .50-cal weapon part of the small arms arsenal because of its heavier capabilities and heavier uses historically. A bullet that exploded with high explosive war head “might” be a violation of the Geneva Convention unless the bullet was designed to explode as a proximity device to saturate a target zone, for example. Also as long as the bullet is not the “primary weapon” of the foot soldier, but a community weapon of the fire-team, it would likely be lawful under Geneva Rules.

    Designing the “warhead” for the smart bullet needs to focus on 1-man operations and quick-use capabilities. You can not afford to design the smart bullet to require dial-in fuses, with one man setting distance on a timing fuse. The fuse would have to be set automatically by information sent to the bullet through advanced scope technology.

    It would be likely that the bullet would be designed to fire automatically within say 1 second after pulling the trigger on the rifle, as the scope made multiple light-speed sightings and electronic calculations, then electronically dial-in the fuse settings and operating parameters. Most likely the weapon would fire three rounds in sequence rather than one. First round going out is the kill round on direct hit with guided flight path and armor piercing. Second round and third round are high explosive going off in proximity of target.

    Any round not receiving fusing instructions (because of a broken scope) defaults into a guided flight path and armor piercing.

    Your thoughts?

  • Warbucks

    From Global Security.Org: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ground/m107.htm

    “According to Operation Iraqi Freedom PEO Soldier Lessons Learned [LTC Jim Smith 15 May 2003] “The Barrett 50 cal Sniper Rifle may have been the most useful piece of equipment for the urban fight – especially for our light fighters. The XM107 was used to engage both vehicular and personnel targets out to 1400 meters. Soldiers not only appreciated the range and accuracy but also the target effect. Leaders and scouts viewed the effect of the 50 cal round as a combat multiplier due to the psychological impact on other combatants that viewed the destruction of the target.

    “My spotter positively identified a target at 1400 meters carrying an RPG on a water tower. I engaged the target. The top half of the torso fell forward out of the tower and the lower portion remained in the tower.” 325th PIR Sniper

    “There were other personal anecdotes of one round destroying two targets and another of the target “disintegrating.”

    Back to my notions about Boot Camp training being extended to include a proficiency in using one’s primary weapon and extended training for everyone in using the M107 .50-cal snipper rifles. Default training would be of course using the current model M107, a beastly 28-pound weapon, one weapon issued per fire team, there for communal use. Last man to use it, carries it… your reward.

    The Toon-town bullets, or Toon Bullets (smart bullets) do not currently exist in combination with sights needed to compliment the strategy of a communal weapon. Currently there are only a few thousand M107′s in use. The increase of a few thousand to tens of thousands would be a significant financial incentive for manufacturers to enter this realm. Toon-bullets (a name I prefer and will never be used officially by the Army because of its reflection upon the ability of higher command to always act wisely and thoughtfully, and issue wise directives …. another Toon-town mission… “Hand me the fricking Toon-Town Ted,” with her out-stretched slender, sweaty bare forearm, she orders without taking her eyes off the head movement she thought she saw. His first impulse was to reach down and kiss her arm — God she is amazing — but he thought better and struggled to place the beast in her hand, loaded and ready. “Safety is on, ready to fire, Sarge,” with a her helmet. …. you see the problems at all these various levels.. right?)

    Back to Toon Bullet development. You see, the incentive here is enormous. The development company develops the bullet-scope combination. If that combination works for one level of small arms (even as the militarized .50 Cal is not in my mind small arms, it is nonetheless a small arm) it can be repeated in all small arm rifles. And then what have we created? Everyone is issued a Toon-Rifle. Markmanship awards? Hey just re-time you sync rate with shorter fusing and you get one round dead center and the other two fragged the target from head to toe in a typical three shot burst. Soon the bots will be on patrol and we’re all sitting in a room looking at screens. Where’s the fun in that? Or so the fear goes.

  • Warbucks

    Continuing and remembering the main point, that this writer has no idea what he is writing about from the stand point of training and focus of background. I am simply following one prospective future line of potentialities extracting what intuitively seems to be a reasonable probability.

    Developing the technologies of the advanced rifle scope (ARS) and its advanced rifle scope bullets (ARS-B). Developing Toon-Town Bullets (smart bullets). Fire and forget tracking capabilities. Is it really possible to build such advanced technologies in small arm bullets? Isn’t this bordering on a combination of (a) nano-technology (b) coded radio transmission technologies(c) solid state electronics (d) chemistry under high-g (high gravity) conditions?

    The underlying assumption is warfare will follow and explore every possibility until a successful niche is filled which serves us better than it may serve the enemy, keeping US forces one step or more ahead of its likely enemy.

    Gaining a stand-off capability for the ground force fire-teams from 500 yards out to 1400 yards is a significant change in battle dynamics over current Army capabilities (I think – based on various non-classified reports on line).

    The financial incentives of development. (Financial Incentives reflect demand for a product. The trick is to make certain the produce itself serves to create a real advantage and enhancement of capability for the ground forces). While it seems interesting to extend the dynamics of fire-team engagements out to 1400 yards from say 400 yards to 500 yards of today’s standards, it may be erroneous to assume 1400 yards is important when the enemy is willing to simply suffer higher casualties to engage US ground forces. Remember the old Mao quote, “what’s a billion lives?” when he confronted American Generals and their implied threat of ground invasion in China (a country most Americans harbor great affection and much admiration for by the way).

    Adding a 28-pound (plus ammo) weapon to a fire team may at best prove only to be a study in theory and not practical. But let’s look just one level closer because developing Toon-Bullets (smart bullets – I prefer Toon Bullets for its implications of the madness of war and war’s polarizing effects on our thinking in general) for small arms, or the primary ground forces basic weapon, seems to be a real advancement that must be considered and should be pressed.

    Some components of development that come to mind:

    (a) nano-technology (b) coded radio transmission technologies(c) protected solid state electronics – fail safe even after high impulse electronic disruptive impulse waves caused from atomic blasts (d) chemistry under high-g (high gravity) conditions? Where do we stand on each of these elements of development.

    We have the technologies, I think, to undertake the challenges of developing Toon Guns ( ARS and ARS-B’s). The key to the break through for the development of these Toon Weapons may be in realizing the combination is a double default protection. As our weapons are seized as contraband of winnings of war, they will eventually end up in the hands of our enemies. But what good is an advanced scope and all its bells and whistles with the corresponding ammo in great quantities?

    What we need to do right now, is to test the abilities of a well trained fire-team against the abilities of an average Toon Rifle fire team using the same standoff abilities but one team with existing weaponry and the other team with Toon Rifle weaponry.

    One of the aspects of experience is that experience and training usually can overcome the better weaponry. This is the old paradigm.

    In order for technology to be worth investing in, it must break the old paradigm as for example when we move from F-16′s and F-18′s to the new F-22′s and F-35′s, the advantage shifts over to the new weapons even with better trained pilots flying the older equipment. The new technologies breaks the paradigm. The modest experienced pilot flying the F-22 will on average over take the better trained pilot flying the F-16 or F-18. When that shift is apparent through testing, you probably are looking at a technology worth investing in, if you can afford it.

    A similar line of reasoning applies to development of Toon-Rifles. Does testing seem to indicate a break through of old paradigms?

    Your thoughts?

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You are currently reading "Taking Back the Infantry Half-Kilometer", entry #4655 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Weapons and Tactics and was published March 8th, 2010 by Herschel Smith.

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