Archive for the 'Army' Category



Will The Army Pick A Bullpup For Its New Rifle?

BY Herschel Smith
2 months, 4 weeks ago

Army Times:

As Army leaders look to the service’s next standard issue rifle or carbine, a lot of options are on the table.

One such option has been around awhile but still strikes many U.S. troops as a futuristic form of the rifle they think they know.

This past fall, officials with the Army Maneuver Center of Excellence’s lethality branch laid out several concepts being considered for the Army’s Next Generation Squad weapon and likely new designs for the ultimate replacement for the M4.

Some of those include major advancements to the fire controls and a likely change in caliber. But one was a possible bullpup design.

The bullpup has been around for more than half a century, and it was adopted by some foreign militaries. It reverses the design of the standard rifle or carbine by putting the action and magazine behind the trigger, automatically shortening the length of the rifle considerably.

Hey, that’s a swell idea.  Take the location where the explosion occurs, and the place where the initial sound wave goes greater than Mach 1 (not inside the barrel), and put it closer to the shooter’s ears.

Or otherwise, make wearing hearing protection with electronic communication with all of your teammates mandatory for all engagements, even unplanned ones.  Don’t patrol listening to the people or the crunch of the sticks in the bush, or even enemy fighters.

I read some forums today on noise from shooting, and the term “perceived noise” came up by some contributors.  There is no such thing as “perceived noise.”  That’s a myth.  Noise functions as dictated by Gauss’s law, where it increases or decreases as a function of the square of the distance.

I predict that use of the bullpup design will also make the shooters less accurate at distance than with any other design.

Yet Another “New Rifle” For The Army?

BY Herschel Smith
3 months ago

Good grief.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley has waged a relentless war against the Department of Defense’s acquisition process (hereafter referred to as “purgatory”) to replace the decades-old weapons currently in soldiers’ kit with new pistols and other small arms. So far, he’s had some major successes on the pistol front with the Army’s adoption of the Sig Sauer P320 as the XM17 to replace the M9 Beretta as the branch’s sidearm of choice.

But finding an upgrade for the M4 carbine has proven a more elusive challenge. In November, the Army’s plans to purchase a 7.62 mm off-the-shelf rifle as an intermediate solution finally gave up the ghost after months of budget-related uncertainty.

Now, the Army is currently evaluating a rifle that could actually be fielded relatively soon, Milley said Wednesday at an Association of the United States Army event in Crystal City, Virginia.

“There have been some research and testing done down at Fort Benning, [Georgia] and with industry partners that indicates that we could — it’s possible — have a rifle in the hands of American soldiers or Marines in the not too distant future — I don’t want to put a timeline — that can reach out at much greater ranges than currently exist with much greater impact or lethality and with much greater accuracy,” Milley said.

The rifle’s increased lethality can be attributed to the type of ammunition it uses, its chamber pressure and its optics, Milley said at AUSA’s Institute of Land Warfare breakfast. He did not reveal any specific information about the rifle, such as whether it chambers a 5.56mm or a 7.62mm round or if it is fully automatic, like the M27 infantry automatic rifle used by the Marines.

“It’s an excellent system,” Milley said. “They’ve done some proof of principles on it. It is real. It is not fantasy and industry is moving out quickly and we expect that, with appropriate funding, we should be able to have this particular weapon in the not too distant future – I won’t define what ‘not too distant future’ is.”

Although Milley said that soldiers currently have a rifle capable of matching adversaries anywhere in the world, the problems with the M4 and M16 have been well documented.

The M4s biggest design flaw is its gas impingement operating system, which can easily be fouled, causing the weapon to jam, said retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert Scales.

“That’s the fatal flaw of the M4,” Scales told Task & Purpose. “You cannot fix it.”

Here’s what cannot be fixed.  Old farts who don’t know when to shut up because they’re being paid to say ridiculous things.

Hey, here’s a unique idea.  I just thought of it.  Why don’t you train Soldiers to shoot, and then supplement their units with a designated marksman like the Marines, and hold them to higher standards?

Army Considers 6.5mm For Its Future Battle Rifle

BY Herschel Smith
6 months, 1 week ago

Kitup at Military.com.

The U.S. Army’s chief of staff recently made a bold promise that future soldiers will be armed with weapons capable of delivering far greater lethality than any existing small arms.

[ … ]

As Milley was speaking, Textron Systems officials were showing off their new Intermediate Case-Telescoped Carbine, chambered for 6.5mm on the AUSA exhibition floor.

Textron’s cased-telescoped ammunition relies on a plastic case rather than a brass one to hold the propellant and the projectile, like a conventional shotgun shell.

The ICTC is a closed bolt, forward feed, gas piston operated weapon, weighing 8.3 pounds. The 6.5mm case-telescoped ammunition weighs 35 percent less and offers 30 percent more lethality than 7.62mm x 51mm brass ammunition, Textron officials maintain.

“I think the most important thing is what we have been able to do with the intermediate caliber, the 6.5mm in this case,” Wayne Prender, vice president of Textron’s Control & Surface Systems Unmanned Systems told Military.com. “We are able to not only provide a weight reduction … and all the things that come with it – we are also able to provide increased lethality because of the ability to use a more appropriate round.”

Textron officials maintain they are using a low-drag “representative” 6.5mm bullet while U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, or ARDEC, is developing the actual projectile.

“We actually used three different bullet shapes and we scaled it,” said Paul Shipley, program manager for of Unmanned Systems. “We scaled 5.56mm up, we scaled 7.62mm down and took a low-drag shape and ran that between the two” to create the 125 grain 6.5mm bullet that’s slightly longer than the Army’s new 130 grain M80A1 Enhanced Performance Round.

Textron officials maintain that the new round retains more energy at 1,200 meters than the M80A1. At that distance, the 6.5mm has an impact-energy of 300 foot pounds compared to the M80A1 which comes in at about 230 foot pounds of energy, Textron officials maintain.

“The increased lethality we are referring to has to do with the energy down range,” Shipley said. “You can take whatever kind of bullet you want, compare them and it’s going to have increased energy down range.”

Okay, so let me get this straight.  The Army doesn’t know how to shoot as it is, and while focusing on racial diversity, gender issues, gays in the military, women in combat arms, and declining physical standards, are going to teach young boys and girls in the “Big Army” how to shoot 1200 meters with a battle rifle that will have a larger punch (to the shooter), be more physically demanding to shoot, and have no civilian analogue?

Consider.  Most of the real advancements to weapons design are made in the civilian market.  PMags came from the civilian market.  The 6.5mm Creedmoor came from the civilian market.  Less weighty rails and barrel shrouds came from the civilian market.  I could go on, but you get the point.  The military is the beneficiary of what happens in the civilian world, no vice versa (this is one reason I think that the limitation on civilian ownership of machine guns will eventually weaken the military, because no one is designing an open bolt system that gets vetted by the civilian market).

If you’re in the military, you use what you’re given.  If you are not, you get to spend your money however you want, and you do the research necessary to find the best product that meets your needs.   Innovation is driven in the market, not by the military.  If a company designs a poor product for the civilian market, it gets called crap ten thousand times over the forums and people don’t buy it.  The company goes out of business.

I see much pain if big army goes down this road.  They will have recoil issues, parts breakage, no one to whom they can turn for counsel who has actually shot this thing before, ammunition problems, accuracy problems, and on and on it goes.  I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.  If the military wanted this to work, they would have to vet it in the civilian market first.

But it all looks like a solution in search of a problem to me.

The NFL, Spenser Rapone, And the Project Of Cultural Terraforming

BY Herschel Smith
6 months, 4 weeks ago

Here is a recent graduate of West Point.

His name is Spenser Rapone.  His introduction to fame and glory apparently came from being associated with “Veterans for Kaepernick.”  AR15.com has a discussion on him, and West Point has issued a statement of condemnation of his actions.

Don’t be surprised.  And be aware that the NFL protests, childish and sophomoric that they are, aren’t about the American flag any more than the Antifa protests are about freedom and liberty.  Spenser and the NFL are related.

On the one hand, there are those who [mistakenly] say that “While I don’t support their views, they have a constitutional right to do what they’re doing.”  There are others who assert that no true patriot should risk his life for the benefit of multinational corporations.  Both of these views miss the point of all of this.

True enough, I begged my youngest son Daniel to get out of the Marine Corps when it came time to reenlist back in 2008 – 2009.  I told him he could possibly fight and lose a limb or die for the sake of helping one Islamist army defeat another Islamist army, the entire purpose being to open up rat lines for oil and weapons plays in Northern Africa for American elitists.  That warning turned out to be prescient, and I’m glad to say he listened to me.

But to the collectivists, there are still tried and true, staid institutions such as the military, and even football.  The Marxists have managed literally to transform the culture of the college campus, a battle that was begun some 50 years ago and won well before the attention turned directly (rather than opaquely) towards white, middle class, Christian America.  The battles aren’t just beginning for them.  This is the end game for them, unless America turns to weapons to settle the war decisively.

The end game involves the terraforming of the institutions in which America has [foolishly] placed its trust.  It’s no mistake that gun controllers and collectivists such as David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal were flag officers, and even into the ranks of staff officers there were many like Lt. Col. Robert Bateman, who is well known to most of my readers.  My son Daniel had some very direct thoughts about Bateman you might want to read again.  You can add to that growing list of collectivists young, ideologically leftist officers like Spenser Rapone.

Writing as @punkproletarian, He attacks his very alma mater as racist, but if you read into the first several paragraphs, you’ve read enough.  This may be managed by a wealthy benefactor such George Soros (who of course has hired many of the Antifa protesters), or it may not be.  It doesn’t matter.  The rot is so deep that the cancer cannot be excised.

As to the NFL protests, if you believe in property rights, contracts and covenants, you must hold to the view that a player doesn’t just have the right to do anything he wants to do, any time he wants to do it, any more than I do as an employee of a corporation.  I have no right to disparage my corporation in public, and as an at-will employee, my company has a right to fire me should I violate that trust.  The first amendment has no bearing on this subject.

This all leads us to the conclusion that the NFL owners must be in agreement with the protests, or at least not in disagreement enough to risk angering their employees.  Their employees, the players, want more bling to wear when out clubbing, or something, they know not what, and cannot communicate it to us because most of them are as dumb as a bag of rocks.  But we have nothing in common with them, not even a point of contact or agreement to which we can point.

If they object to overbearing police presence because of some black boy who didn’t pay taxes, lived off the public dole his whole life, stole whatever he wanted, and decided to walk down the middle of a road he didn’t own before he beat the hell out of someone, or if someone objects that Philado Castile was shot by the cops, we may object that white people have guns pointed at them all the time, have their dogs shot all the time, and get bullied all the time.  This has nothing to do with race, notwithstanding whatever the blacks who take the knee want us to think.

Here’s the point.  What the statists are telling you is that not even the flag, the U.S. military, or something so watched as NFL football constitutes a point of collaboration between you and them.  There can be no compromise.  They are in this to win, and just like the Chinese who sent men until the machine guns barrels overheated into South Korea, they are willing to sacrifice anyone or anything to get their way.  Civil war is coming should America eventually decide to settle this conflict with weapons.  If not, it’s essentially over.

As a final thought, I haven’t watched a professional sports game for so long I can’t remember.  I don’t do professional sports.  For those of you who do, find another way to spend your time.  Go hiking.  Find some intermediate or advanced single track and go mountain biking for the workout of your life.  Go to a park and read to your children or grandchildren.  Enjoy the shooting sports.  But if you sit on a couch all Sunday and watch someone else play games, you’re the same as a crack addict who devotes his life to something that pays no return.

The Army Wants An Everything-Rifle

BY Herschel Smith
8 months ago

Stars and Stripes:

The Army is hunting for a new universal assault rifle to arm infantrymen with a lighter, more powerful weapon as a potential replacement for systems ranging from carbines to light machine guns.

The Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle would fill capability gaps at the infantry squad level, the Army said in a federal contract posting last week.

The planning is in the early stages and no formal contract has been awarded, but the Army’s solicitation for concepts is part of a broader push to modernize the force.

In July, defense contractors asked about the ultimate purpose of the new rifle, which was initially billed as a replacement for the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, or SAW.

The Army answered that during the next two years, the government will decide whether a next-generation weapon should be able “to fulfill additional roles such as that of the squad designated marksman, medium machine gun, and the carbine,” according to the advisory posted on the government’s main contracting website.

The Army also has been at work developing a new cartridge to replace the 5.56mm round used by the M4 and M16. The aim is to develop ammunition that would be interchangeable with a next-generation weapon.

So the Army is saying, “We want a carbine that is also a light machine gun, capable of shooting any caliber, able to fill virtually any role we ask, with a larger bullet than 5.56mm, and oh, also serving as a designated marksman rifle for long distance shooting, even though we, the Army, have no such role or training as designated marksman.”  While they’re at it, let’s throw in ammunition that is just as light at the 5.56mm even though the bullet diameter is larger, so that women can carry the load.

I want … I want … I want … gimme gimme gimme … everything in one awesome package, right now, dammit!  Something tells me this isn’t going to go down well for the Army.

H.R. McMaster Versus America

BY Herschel Smith
8 months, 1 week ago

Codrea, concerning McMaster’s calling the car violence “terrorism.”

McMaster… isn’t that the guy who says “the Islamic State is not Islamic“…?

Yes it is, and he is also the one who is said to oppose everything the president wants to do.  And the one whose advisers are running a smear campaign to save his job.  And the one who emptied the National Security Council of everyone worthwhile, and the one whose folks are likely the leakers to the press.

Strange, who Trump surrounds himself with, yes?

 

Army Tags:

The Army Wants A New 7.62mm Infantry Rifle

BY Herschel Smith
8 months, 2 weeks ago

The Firearm Blog:

The US Army has released a solicitation for a new 7.62mm infantry rifle to replace the M4. The Interim Combat Service Rifle programknown to be in the works since April of this year, would replace M4 Carbines in use with combat units with a new weapon in the 7.62x51mm caliber. The new solicitation requires companies to submit 7 weapons plus ancillaries for testing, and includes the promise of up to 8 Other Transaction Agreements (OTAs, non-contract transactions), leading to the eventual selection of 1 weapon for a contract of 50,000 units.

The primary justification for the ICSR program are improved ceramic body armors that are resistant to existing forms of small arms ammunition. The logic goes that the Army’s new 5.56mm M855A1 roundcannot penetrate these new armors, and therefore the service must switch to a new round. However, this is misleading, as current 7.62mm M80A1 is incapable of penetrating these body armors either – and specialty tungsten cored ammunition in both 5.56mm and 7.62mm calibers are capable of penetrating armor of this type. The US Army seems to be banking on its yet-undescribed XM1158 ADVAP round to bridge this gap – however Chief Milley himself admitted in testimony to Congress that the ADVAP’s design could be applied to either 7.62mm or 5.56mm ammunition.

So the bolt action sniper rifles aren’t good enough.  They want a semi-automatic in 7.62mm (presumably the NATO round).  And also presumably so that the standard soldier can be as incompetent shooting 7.62mm as she is shooting 5.56mm, while she also has to carry more weight.  Sounds like a plan to me.

Or the Army could actually teach their soldiers to shoot 5.56mm with proper fire control and using fire and maneuver small unit combat tactics, techniques and procedures, sort of like they’re supposed to.  That way, they could let the designated marksmen shoot the long range shots while they conserve their ammunition for a protracted engagement.  Oh, that’s right.  I forgot.  The Army doesn’t have designated marksmen – the Corps does.

A new cartridge and/or a new gun can’t do what poor doctrine doesn’t do.

U.S. Army Chief: The Infantry Needs A New 7.62 mm Rifle

BY Herschel Smith
10 months, 4 weeks ago

Business Insider:

The U.S. Army’s chief of staff revealed Thursday the M4 Carbine’s 5.56mm round can’t penetrate modern enemy body armor plates and plans to arm infantry units with rifles chambered for a more potent 7.62mm cartridge.

Responding to questions from Senate Armed Services Committee members, Gen. Mark Milley conceded that the service’s current M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round will not defeat enemy body armor plates similar to the U.S. military-issue rifle plates such as the Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert, or ESAPI.

“The 5.56mm round, we recognize that there is a type of body armor out there, that it doesn’t penetrate. We also have that body armor ourselves,” he testified.

Milley told lawmakers Army officials at the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Georgia, have developed a new 7.62mm round to solve the problem.

“We have developed a pretty effective round down at Fort Benning,” he said. “We know we have a bullet that can penetrate these new plates.”

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, asked if the new bullet will require a new rifle. Milley said, “It might but probably not,” adding that weapons can be chambered for various calibers.

However, the M4 would require a new barrel, bolt carrier group, buffer system in addition to a new lower receiver to shoot 7.62mm ammo, experts maintain.

He later told Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, there are systems on the shelf today that, with some very minor modifications, could be adapted to meet the Army’s needs.

“I think there are weapons out there that we can get in the right caliber that can enhance the capability of the infantry soldier,” Milley said.

He also told lawmakers that not every soldier will need a 7.62mm rifle.

“This idea that the entire Army needs the same thing all the time, it’s not necessarily true,” Milley said. “There are some infantry units that are much more highly likely to rapidly deploy than others and conduct close-quarters combat that we would probably want to field them with a better-grade weapon that can penetrate this body armor that we are talking about.”

The subject of the 5.56mm round being underpowered came up at a May 17 hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Airland Subcommittee. Retired Lt. Gen. John Bednarek and retired Maj. Gen. Robert Scales Jr. testified at the hearing about the U.S. military’s future small-arms requirements.

Ernst said that Scales testified about “a weapon that could fill the role of the light machine gun and the rifle.”

“Is the need for a machine gun a higher priority than just a basic rifle?” she asked.

Milley said that infantry units need both to be effective. “I think what [Scales] is talking about is the Marines are adopting … the M27” infantry automatic rifle, a version of the 416 made by Heckler & Koch.

“We are taking a hard look at that and are probably going to go in that direction as well, but we haven’t made a final decision on it,” Milley said. “The infantry squads and infantry platoons — they’ve got to have an automatic weapon for suppression; they’ve got to have the individual weapon as well, so you need both … to be effective in ground combat.”

Wait.  So the Army infantry needs a new 7.62 mm rifle to be “combat effective.”  But not really, because then he mentions automatic weapons and suppression fire.  And then he points out that not all infantry needs this new rifle … er, crew served area suppression weapon … just some of them.  How many, he doesn’t say.  So for instance Army snipers need it.

But Army snipers already have the 5.56 mm, 7.62 mm, .338, .300 Win Mag, and .50.  So they don’t really need it.  You know, for this “new” body armor.  You know, the armor that a 7.62 mm NATO round can penetrate, i.e., the ESAPI plate.

But the ESAPI plate can’t withstand a 7.62 mm NATO round right now, and this is nothing new.  So let’s change the subject and talk about Gen. Scales and his paid advocacy of H&K.  And just think of all of those dead soldiers and the “new” body armor worn by the enemy (which isn’t the ESAPI plate, so it makes no sense to invoke that if he’s talking about the enemy).  So give us more money.  Just because.  And shut up.  And if you don’t, you’re not patriotic.

Ignore Scales on the 5.56 mm rifle, and the fact that we want to buy it too even though we’re in front of you talking about the 7.62 mm rifle.  He hasn’t been briefed on what we’re going to say, because neither have we.  We have absolutely no idea what to say to you except give us more money.  Because shut up.  We’ll figure out what to do with it.  And ignore the fact that the Army no longer teaches soldiers how to shoot.

The Overuse Of Special Operations

BY Herschel Smith
11 months, 3 weeks ago

I tried to warn everyone, but just like America has a cop-worshipping problem, it also has a special operator worshipping problem.  Abolish SOCOM, I said.  Distribute direction action capabilities among the units, get out of countries where we don’t belong, and whet our appetite for war-making.

No one listens to me.

The breakneck pace at which the United States deploys its special operations forces to conflict zones is taking a toll, their top commander told Congress on Thursday.

Army Gen. Raymond Thomas, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, called the rate at which special operations forces are being deployed “unsustainable” and said the growing reliance of the U.S. military on its elite troops could produce a dangerous strain.

“We are not a panacea,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “We are not the ultimate solution to every problem, and you will not hear that coming from us.”

About 8,000 U.S. special forces are currently deployed in more than 80 countries, Thomas said. Many are at the forefront of advising missions in Syria and Iraq as well as counterterrorism missions in Afghanistan. There are about 500 special operators in Syria.

Senators said they were worried about the military’s overreliance on special forces, who are increasingly being called on for missions outside their usual range.

“Our combatant commanders around the world have developed a seemingly insatiable demand for the unique capabilities of our special operators,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who chairs the Armed Services Committee.

The operational tempo is also wearing on the commanders, who in recent months have been called on to take the lead in anti-terrorism efforts and in monitoring the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said it was a “growing myth” that the U.S. “can use special forces and nothing else to achieve goals.”

Special forces are involved in operations against terrorist groups across the world, including the Islamic State and al Qaida in the Middle East and al Shabab in Somalia. On top of that, they are being assigned to a wide range of other conflicts, from “countering Russian aggression to preparing for contingencies in Korea,” Thomas said.

Thomas said special operators had engaged in “continuous combat over the past 15 and half years.”

U.S. special forces were deployed to 138 nations last year. Around 55.3 percent of Special Operations forces deployed overseas in 2016 were sent to the Middle East, a 35 percent drop since 2006, according to Special Operations Command. In the same decade, deployments to Africa rose steeply, by more than 1,600 percent, from just 1 percent in 2006 to 17.3 percent last year. Roughly 12.7 percent of special operators served in Europe, 9.2 percent in the Pacific Command region and almost 5 percent in Latin America.

The origins of this problem are actually quite simple.  First of all, allow meddlesome rulers control over the military.  Second, create military leadership who agrees with all this meddling.  Next, fling the borders wide-ass open and allow anyone to come here for any reason under the sun.  The resultant witch’s brew of toxicity requires you to control everyone, everywhere, all of the time in order to try to ensure that the country doesn’t completely collapse.

Further, invite gays, transgenders, women and weaklings into the military.  The only way to accomplish warfare then is to rely on the only remaining bastion of capability, SOCOM and the U.S. Marine Corps.  The general purpose forces have become a jobs program, and it’s doubtful whether “big army” will ever be capable of fighting another major war.

Perhaps one good side effect of this is that we leave those 138 counties where we deployed last year and mind our own business.

Problems And Solutions In Rifle Caliber And Training

BY Herschel Smith
1 year ago

In The Army Wants A New Rifle, we discussed my view of the Army’s searching for a larger caliber rifle to replace the M4.  Experience in Afghanistan is the pretext for this need, and while as I show below I support a copious choice of weapons, selection of a different caliber won’t make marksmen out of Soldiers.  In fact, perhaps just the opposite.  You can go read the discussion for yourself.  I hope I’ve adequately dispelled the ridiculous notion that The Battle of Wanat is justification for anything at all except being smarter in the future in your COIN strategy.

Soon after this commentary, a active duty friend who has been with me for nearly ten years (basically ever since I was doing military blogging and commentary) and who can tell you more about these things in an hour than I will ever know in a lifetime, wrote to continue the conversation with me.  I am always richer when he does so, and honestly, this is one big reason for writing.  I always learn more from my readers than they learn from me.

I will not supply his name, but as you can see below, we build on our notes to each other like Lego blocks, and always have.  Each subsequent note presupposes that I recall what he told me before, which is usually a lot.  There are notes that preceded this one, on shooting uphill, mountain training of soldiers (which he knows a lot about), and various and sundry things.  But even in the absence of those notes, you may be able to benefit from his knowledge.

One “Lego block” that I didn’t add yet was that while he heaps praises on the Marine Corps shooting program, I think the MC could take a page from the army on a few things.  The MC still has in its stable of DM and sniper rifles the 5.56mm, 7.62mm, and Sasser .50.  When Carlos Hathcock did his work in Vietnam, he used the Winchester 30-06 (not the .308), which has a slightly higher muzzle velocity, and when that wasn’t sufficient he used the .50.  He was the first to do so.

When something works, it’s difficult to get the MC to change.  But their shooting program might benefit from inclusion of the .300 Win Mag and the .338 into their stable of weapons.  I know one Marine Corps Scout Sniper, in impeccable condition, his physique a literal specimen, who told me that in not too many rounds shooting the .50, he had headaches.  Why do this if it isn’t necessary?

Again as you can see, I support the inclusion of many weapons and weapons systems in the stable of tools for both the Army and Marine Corps, but I will never jettison my trusty AR-15 for CQB and medium range shooting.  With that said, here is our exchange of notes.

As ever, my congratulations to you for your tireless efforts on your Blog. You are still slamming them!

I read your “Army wants a new rifle” post with interest. I have a little different perspective. Nothing you say is wrong or incorrect. How could it be? You are more emphatic of late in general and no less here. I’ll explain myself, but I do need to admit that I think that the Army is full of shit on this issue, in general and will do something or nothing in this case, for all the wrong reasons.

I’ve tested a lot of gear for the U.S. Army over the years. The Army has a civilian in charge of boots and boot development. He’s a huge, overweight man who wears worn loafers on his own feet. But he has a Doctorate in “footoligy” or some such thing and a very keen understanding of the politic’s of procurement.  Our relationship with this idiot got so shady that he would bring bullet headed body guards with him to attempt to shut I and my peers up. So the Army has garbage boots because that is what they want.

I’ve tested and trained and conducted training on lots of weapons too; long arms, sniper rifles and the full suite of Warsaw Pact weaponry.  My favorite is the SVD with the wacky Soviet scope; it’s quick, easy to shoot, accurate and people are scared of it. The RPD is an LMG that is greatly underrated. That is because the “PiKa”, Pkm, PK, is so dominant. I cannot say enough good things about getting hosed down by this bad boy. It is  a real attention getter!  Even beyond it’s 600m sweet spot, its plunging fire is stunning. The 240B is a honey but the Pkm has it beat for down and dirty warfighting.

5.56 v/s 7.62; ask a man who has taken 7.62 rounds into the chest or back plates, who also has the experience of dumping 5 or 6 rounds of issue 5.56 into an enemy to stop him. He will tell you that one 7.62 round in the plates will knock you down now and that the 5.56 will not return the favor. A few of the high-speed-low-drag elements get special 5.56 rounds that are one-shot-one kill specials. Our General Purpose forces don’t get this round though.

The Marines have established in their 24-72 hour protracted, static, fire fights in Southern Afghanistan, that three 30 round magazines will do the job, if you have NCO directed, well aimed and properly spoted fire. Shoot from cover, control your security and do not allow an element to maneuver unobserved on your position. Maintain indirect fire back-up for surprises and to exploit enemy error’s. It sounds basic but we do not routinely practice this doctrine. So we kill and maim our troops because of and regardless of, the grain count of our issue rounds. As you point out.

I’ve trained lots of guys to shoot both 5.56 and 7.62 in all sorts of long arms out to 1000m and lots of it on a high angle range; aim low, practice shooter spotter and get your point of aim and point of impact details worked out ahead of time. I can teach an experienced and confident soldier to shoot an Acog equipped M4 out to 600m with an hour of class room time and with 30 rounds on the range.  He will of course have to practice these new shooting skills to develop their value.

I cannot train an inexperienced and unconfident shooter in this ridiculously brief time span and round count. In fact I’ll make him a worse shooter because he will do so poorly and understand zero of what I’m telling him. Even shooter/spotter will blow his mind. The exception here is with young Marine’s. They can often hang enough to get in their heads what is going on.

If you give me a 7.62 round weapon, even the M14 variants kicking around, and a little more time; I can get the confident guy consistently out to 850m. He’ll be able to read bullet trace, call his shots and walk a less experienced shooter quickly on to a target.

Good for me, so what. Hopefully the details are instructive. Again, as you point out, unless there is a solid grounding in the fundamentals of marksmanship, and or well trained NCO leadership in all our maneuver units; we may be better equipped to kill if we carry spears. We can conduct the training. But our Army does not currently know how to train, so maybe new magic rifles with new magic rounds are the answer.

Thank you,

[Name Redacted]

I respond.

Very good to hear from you.  I like the MC idea of a number of DMs who have something a little different.  My own son was trained as a DM even though he was a SAW gunner. [But] The notion the new 7.62 guns will make all soldiers marksmen is overreach versus what big army management wants.  Too many poorly educated kids from homes with no fathers who look to the *.gov for a meal and education.

He responds.

You are correct; the DM is the way to go. The Army took this seriously from about 2005 to 2010. The POI was really the 1st week of Sniper school; grouping, range E, calling your own shots and wind, point of aim/point of impact. And they issued a lot of “black rifle rigged ” EBR’s. A good shooter, but without a LaRue tactical mounting system for the optic, it would not hold a zero.  The iron sights are fine but that is another training challenge.

So if we could get a Marine or a Ranger Regiment soldier, he got the EBR and a chance to step up!

Lets face facts though; the Marine Corps base of marksmanship training is superior in every way and the U.S. Army’s base of rifle training is a hand wave. This disparity puts a lot of pressure on Army units gaining Basic Trainee’s. If the US Army has a trained DM in every Infantry Squad, then we have an opportunity to make up for this ridiculous institutional disparity.

In fact, as a First Sergeant, I’d get soldiers back from their Basic Training and Infantry AIT who had never qualified with the M4!  One young man was so bereft of basic skills that I issued him a black plastic, “rubber duck” rifle, until his platoon was able to prove he could safely carry the real thing. We did turn him into an Infantryman. But as you point, we were fighting 17 years of neglect.

Nothing gave me as much confidence, in a platoon, as a shit-hot SAW gunner.  Imagine one man who can fill in for a two man machine gun team. Would not believe it unless I was a witness! The enemy does not like the SAW either!  It takes a huge amount of skill and dedication though. Its worth the effort but it puts a lot on one mans shoulders.

You are most welcome to print what you choose Mr Smith! All I can say is; don’t quit! We need what you are doing.

As you can guess, I am actually much more concerned about how we incorporate these lessons in our work than with whether Big Army incorporates anything I have to say.  Let’s make it more personal.  I’m much more concerned about whether I incorporate these lessons than anything else.


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