Maj. Gen. Scales Traffics In Half Century Old Rhetoric On Stoner Design

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 12 months ago

Task & Purpose:

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert Scales hates the M16 family of rifles, and he won’t stop until everyone knows it.

Scales has spent the last few years railing against the standard-issue infantry rifle as little more than a lighter but less effective version of the infamous M16 model that left so many American troops dead in the jungles of Vietnam (In response to Scales’ condemnation of the M4 in the pages of The Atlantic in January 2015, Task & Purpose’s Christian Beekman mounted a vocal defense of the rifle).

Wednesday was no different. Appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Scales decried the Department of Defense’s post-World War II small-arms programs as “inferior.” Thousands of American troops “have died because the Army’s weapon buying bureaucracy has consistently denied that a soldier’s individual weapon is important enough to gain their serious attention,” said Scales in his prepared testimony.

“A soldier in basic training is told that his rifle is his best friend and his ticket home,” he told assembled lawmakers. “If the lives of so many depend on a rifle why can’t the richest country in the world give it to them?”

[ … ]

To their credit, DoD officials are moving slowly but surely to outfit ground forces with new weaponry. In November, the Marine Corps’ 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines began conducting pre-deployment exercises to evaluate the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle as a replacement for the M4, which replaced the M16A4 in infantry battalions in 2015.

“It is the best infantry rifle in the world, hands down,” Chief Warrant Officer 5 Christian Wade told Military.com of the IAR at the time. “Better than anything Russia has, it’s better than anything we have, it’s better than anything China has. It’s world-class.”

This is a weird article.  As soon as the author is done with Scales, he launches into a discussion about how the DoD gets it with the USMC work on the IAC – which I would point out, is a 5.56 mm gun.

This is the same, tired old rhetoric we saw half century ago, and the alleged problems Scales likes to cite have all gone away.  McThag summarizes.

The M16A1 and its M193 ammunition stopped being the standard more than thirty years ago and was replaced with the M16A2 and M855.

The M16A2, where almost every part was revised, isn’t even the standard today; that’d be the M4A1.

M855, even, is on its way out with the advent of M855A1.

In a nutshell, everything that was causing problems in 1969 has been revised and replaced.  The bore diameter didn’t cause those three guys you constantly cite to die with broken rifles.

It’s far more likely the lackluster quality control from the mighty UAW workforce at Colt had more to do with it than the design.

To former Major Ehrhart; the infantry half kilometer was “lost” to artillery.

Remember combined arms?

Well, the max effective range of the small arms overlaps the normal range of artillery.  So, yes, the infantry half kilometer demands a larger bore size, I suggest 60mm for starters.  Willard even posits that the reason we’re having problems in Afghanistan is the enemy has figured out where our small arms peter out and won’t close; because to close is to die.  If to close is to die, then it means our weapons do work.

Don’t use logic on Scales.  He won’t listen, or he’ll cite the battle of Wanat, where we ensconced a platoon of soldiers in a valley after letting enemy fighters prepare for a total of one year to attack them with a battalion size force.  Scales blamed that one on the M4 too.

And don’t tell Scales that the Army doesn’t teach soldiers to shoot anymore.  He won’t listen.  Because shut up.

If you want to have a larger bore weapon, then buy one.  I have a larger bore rifle than the 5.56 mm too.  But remember that you always give up something to get something, and that all decisions concerning weapons selection are a compromise.

As for Scales, who exactly pays this guy to continue to work the Stoner system over with false rhetoric?


Comments

  1. On May 22, 2017 at 2:06 am, Nosmo said:

    I’m not contesting the argument that 5.56 may not be the optimum bullet diameter, because there are many things that factor into bullet performance: diameter, mass, bullet construction (including where the bullet mass is concentrated in the bullet), aerodynamics of the bullet, velocity….the list goes on.

    As McThag points out, within its effective range, 5.56 is effective (circular reasoning, but true). The argument seems to be two-part: first, does the effective range of standard issue shoulder-fired weaponry need to be extended, and, if so, how far? Second, is there a better way of tactically managing the overlap between shoulder-fired and low end and crew-served?

    A projectile change – diameter, construction, velocity – of more than a small amount also means a platform change. It’s possible, I suppose, to build a 7.62X51 rifle within the physical confines of an AR-15 (except for magwell size; other .308 case dimensions could be accommodated) but we already have financially acceptable forms of that in the M1A, M14, AR-10, etc. so it seems a pretty pointless exercise to do so.

    A standard polemic against 5.56 is “there’s nothing you can do with 5.56 that you can’t do with 7.62X51 250 meters farther out.” So, is 250 meters the correct range extension? Are any additional advantages conferred within the new extended range that are sufficient to justify the conversion effort? Should we be looking at standard issuance of .338 Lapuas to go another 500 meters beyond that? How far do we need to extend the effectiveness distance to get beyond the enemy’s effectivensss range? Is that the point? What’s the ratio of “pound per round” – and the effectiveness of those rounds – between a reliable 800 meter shoulder-fired weapon and a 2000 meter crew-served one? What about million meter air-delivered ordnance?

    I suspect the salient point here may be “follow the money.”

  2. On May 22, 2017 at 2:51 am, mandaloin said:

    The range question always leaves out what kind of optics you’re using. Sure you CAN shoot irons or red dots out to 300 yards and beyond, but doing so is very slow and iffy, even for someone proficient. Not to mention 500 yards and beyond. So then you issue everyone 6x or higher optics. Okay, what happens when someone comes up close? Bindon aiming concept flat out sucks on even 4x or higher and requires a high contrast reticle. Even then it’s very slow. So issue everyone a 1x-6x? Very expensive for something durable enough for Joe, and not to mention heavy. Like, 2 pounds heavy. On top of your heavier, larger caliber rifle. Then on top of that Joe probably wasn’t given sufficient training to make those shots.

    So yes, we can get guns to reach out farther, but at a very heavy price. If we really want to switch rifles and calibers the answer is probably somewhere near the 6.5mm range and a variable magnification optic. But I’m not sure we really need to.

  3. On May 22, 2017 at 5:22 am, DAN III said:

    Scales….a fucking flag officer and thus a political hack.

  4. On May 22, 2017 at 5:29 am, DAN III said:

    BTW….let me remark again….when Susie Rottencrotch and Tommy Transvestite have to lug around an 11#, 30 cal wpn with a 27-30 ounce optic on it, whining “it’s too heavy”, the ass clowns of the military-industrial complex, like Scales, will be crying for weight reductions. The rifle will go full circle as it is doing right now, from 30-06 to 5.56mm and back again.

  5. On May 22, 2017 at 10:33 am, Tommy said:

    To answer the question you asked at the end of your post – H&K. Scales has been a paid consultant for them. The story was covered on Weaponsman.com

  6. On May 22, 2017 at 10:04 pm, jon spencer said:

    The multi billions that would be needed to change from the 5.56 to any other caliber is rarely mentioned either.
    Let alone going to a different rifle. Which would cost even more.
    The bucket of money eventually will empty.

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You are currently reading "Maj. Gen. Scales Traffics In Half Century Old Rhetoric On Stoner Design", entry #17154 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) AR-15s,Firearms,Guns and was published May 21st, 2017 by Herschel Smith.

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