Wait, Defense Secretary Mattis Put Bob Scales In Charge Of WHAT?

BY Herschel Smith
6 years ago


The lead man tasked by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis with transforming everything infantry and close combat on Tuesday challenged industry and government leaders to put a leap-ahead rifle in his boss’ hands in less than two years — or else.

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Bob Scales was a keynote speaker at the annual National Defense Industry Association Armament Systems forum here, and he didn’t waste any time launching into a takedown of key components that equip the close combat infantryman.

Scales recounted how he’d spoken at the conference three years ago, pushing industry and government procurement officials to create an intermediate caliber rifle with a piston action, polymer ammunition casing, a suppressor and digital fire controls.

“Now, in 2018, does any of that sound familiar?” he asked.

Scales is the chairman of the Department of Defense’s recently created “Close Combat Lethality Task Force.” The task force formed at Mattis’ direction and has $2.5 billion to fundamentally transform all things close combat for Army and Marine infantry and Special Operations troops.

The rifle he described in his opening remarks is handled under the Next Generation Squad Weapon project, headed by the Army.

But there, too, are problems, he noted.

The NGSW program was aimed at making a rifle or carbine to replace the flawed M16/M4 system, which Scales has railed against since his own experience with early versions of the M16 in Vietnam.

But an incredulous Scales told the audience that developers on the NGSW are now prioritizing the light machine gun in a program called the Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle to replace the Squad Automatic Weapon, with the rifle or carbine to come later.

“It’s the Next Generation rifle or carbine, damn it,” Scales said.

The change in focus means that under current schedules, the rifle/carbine won’t be ready until 2024.

That is not acceptable, Scales said. To either him or his boss.

“Let me tell you something, folks. It’s not working,” Scales said. “Make the rifle by 2020. My God, folks, it’s a nine-pound piece of steel. The cost isn’t as much as a lug nut on a B-1 bomber.”

I confess I didn’t know this.  Scales is an imbecile.  Mattis is an imbecile for putting Scales in charge of anything except taking out the trash.  Scales isn’t qualified as a gunsmith, engineer or mechanic to order decisions on cartridge size, type, caliber, or anything else, much less to order that it be a pistol gun rather than DI.

Good Lord.  What an idiot.

So, Scales, here are some questions for you to ponder as your play Napoleon with the would-be weapons makers.  Are you prepared to change not only weapons, but training and doctrine?  You see, the notion of a light, small caliber, automatic gun with high projectile velocity, line of recoil along the axis of the gun, and quick sight-picture recovery, is necessary for the doctrines on which the current militaries of the entire world are built.

They are aided by snipers and DMs carrying larger caliber guns.  So where is the money coming from to change everything?  Why do you want a piston system?  Who told you it is better?  Do you know more than my friend the training NCO in the Army, who told me this?

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 spotted 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 (Army) 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.

My friend goes on to explain that the gun isn’t the problem – it’s the shooter.  It’s almost always the shooter.  Hey Scales, do you know more than my buddy does about what’s happened in any theater of conflict in the past 40 years?

Hey Scales, tell me all about the caseless cartridge you want so badly?  I want to hear the engineering aspects of this thing.  I also want to know all about how easy you think it is to keep recoil down while giving the shooter better ballistic coefficient, less weight, more reliability, a cleaner weapon, and instant recovery of sight picture?

Where did you get your engineering degree to insult design engineers like that, you insufferable old fart?  If it’s so easy, why don’t you do it?

What do you know about the cost of a bolt on a B-1?  Why did you use that analogy?  As for this gun, it’s a nine pound piece of steel.  Steel?  Is that what it is, Scales?  Steel?  None of it is polymer or aluminum?  And it’s nine pounds?  Nine pounds?  I own a 6.09 pound AR, and you’re going to put a 9 pound gun in a woman’s hands to carry?

Hey, speaking of that, how much of this has to do with trying to reduce weight for women in combat?  Or are you trying to reduce weight?  Nine pounds isn’t a weight reduction.

How much has changed since you saw the gun in action in Vietnam, Scales?  Is it the same gun, or not?  Have you shot one lately?  Field stripped it and cleaned it?  Are BCGs even made of the same material these days, Scales?

You moron.  The fact that Mattis put you in charge of this effort makes me laugh and sad at the same time.  This is a living example of the Dunning-Kruger effect.   Without metacognition, low-ability people cannot objectively evaluate their actual competence or incompetence.

You’re an incompetent dumbass.


USMC M38 DMR Not Ready For Battle

Scales Traffics In Half Century Old Rhetoric On Stoner Design

Problems And Solutions In Rifle Caliber And Training

Blaming The Gun For The Battle Losses

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  1. On May 9, 2018 at 6:21 am, DAN III said:

    Mr. Smith,

    Once again, you take the words right out of my mouth (keyboard) regarding this political hack Scales.

    Recently, the Russian military has officially adopted the Kalashnikov AK-12. A modernized version of the AK74 incorporating Piccattiny rails, new grip and adjustable buttstock. They RETAINED the 5.45mm, 53 grain cartridge and improved the sighting system. Seems the Russkis know something Scales does not.

    Re: Piston vs DI. I shoot a couple of LWRCi piston uppers. They are reliable. After two hundred rounds of 75 grain. 223 Russian steel the BCG and chamber are clean. But, not the forearm or my support hand. Covered in grime. That soot from firing has to go somewhere. And with the LWRCi piston that is where it goes….gas hand !

    Re: Mattis. I have never been a fan of him for many reasons. ‘Nuff said.

  2. On May 9, 2018 at 7:01 am, JoeFour said:

    So…how do we end up with the generals we end up with anyway? Here’s an interesting and thought provoking take on the selection process:


  3. On May 9, 2018 at 7:51 am, H said:

    Not exactly a nit, per your quoted words, and following the link you supplied to another article, he’s not calling for caseless ammo, but something that “shoot[s] dart-like projectiles from polymer, telescoped casings.”

    That sounds like a dangerous leap in a compressed timeframe, but if he was (still) advocating caseless ammo it would be certain he was insane.

    (And direct impingement still sucks. :-)

  4. On May 9, 2018 at 8:06 am, bob sykes said:

    People have been trying to get rid of Stoner’s gun for over 50 years. But it’s still here. Maybe the Marines should take over Army basic training, and give the Army its sergeants.

  5. On May 9, 2018 at 8:08 am, H said:

    Wait a second, if you’re going for polymer cases, you’ve got to discard direct impingement, that makes chambers and what’s behind them even more hot, e.g. we’ve heard reports of polymer coated steel cased ammo sticking in AR-15 pattern rifles if left too long in a chamber that’s fired a lot of rounds. Confining gas to a piston and the barrel forward of the chamber will help with that, although very possibly not enough.

  6. On May 9, 2018 at 8:15 am, Jack said:

    An alternative view:

    Mattis thinks replacing AR-patterned rifles a fools errand and tasked it out to a fool.

  7. On May 9, 2018 at 8:36 am, Bill Sullivan said:

    H- I had the problem with the steel case ammo. Left in the chamber too long, it will rip the rim off with the extractor. You need a cleaning rod to get the case out. Stag-15.

  8. On May 9, 2018 at 9:30 am, Herschel Smith said:


    Thanks for the nit. I stand corrected. Scales is advocating telescoping ammo, not caseless. Although I don’t know that what he advocates is any better and it may be just as stupid.

    I have run tens of thousands of rounds through my ARs, never a single failure. My own son, Daniel, ran (as best as we can figure) close to a million rounds through AR pattern rifles without failures (in his workup to Iraq).

    So here are the correct definitions for those who are interested:

    (1) Piston-device for AR pattern rifles: A stupid, unnecessary, additional failure mode for a gun that does nothing but add weight to the front end of the gun, virtually ensuring that after eight hours of room clearing ops and CQB, the shooter can no longer hold the weapon upright because of the stupidity of the design.

    (2) AK pattern guns: A rifle design for conscripts who don’t give a shit about their equipment and refuse to clean it or care for it, that doesn’t shoot very accurately (minute of man rather than minute of angle).

    (3) AR pattern guns: Guns made by engineers, for engineers, machinists, gunsmiths, mechanics and professional soldiers who care about precision, fine machines and accuracy (and don’t want to listen to the constant rattling of the poorly made AKs when they shoot them).

    (4) Genesis chapter 2: Man is fallen, and it affects the entire universe.

    (5) Second law of thermodynamics (based on number 4 above): Entropy always increases. Things get dirty and break. That means pistons in AKs too. People who refuse to acknowledge the 2nd Law also refuse to care for their guns, refuse to clean them, refuse to change parts, and throw their guns around like they are shovels.

    Anyone who thinks that a machine can be made that doesn’t break or doesn’t corrode or doesn’t rust or doesn’t need to be maintained, coated, cleaned and replaced is an idiot who doesn’t believe in science. This includes conscripts who want a gun that they don’t need to work on.

    Like my son tells me, if you work it, the AR is an exquisite weapon based on an exquisite design.

  9. On May 9, 2018 at 9:53 am, H said:

    (3) AK pattern guns: A rifle design for conscripts who don’t give a shit about their equipment and refuse to clean it or care for it, that doesn’t shoot very accurately (minute of man rather than minute of angle).

    Unless by AK pattern guns you mean any piston or piston over the barrel design, that’s not necessarily true, including the “for conscripts” bit. Except for Canada I don’t believe anyone who we haven’t given a lot of M16s and/or M4s to have adopted the AR-15, so there’s lots of designs out there, at least some with a reputation for reliability (and you have to be careful in interpreting reports, e.g. the British problem appears to be in manufacturing, 1 of the 3 sets of tooling didn’t match the dimensions of the others). Do you have anything bad to say about the SIG-55x series as long as they’re not (mostly) made in the USA in the later days of SIG SAUSER production?

  10. On May 9, 2018 at 10:02 am, Herschel Smith said:


    I was being a little coy. If you like yours and it works for you, then use it well. I just don’t like the weight it adds to the front end.

    I’ll tell you that my opposition to additional parts runs deep. I’m an engineer. I hate oxygen sensors, onboard computers, emissions controls, and anything that clutters up the simplicity of the engineering design of a structure, system or component.

    I HATE UNNECESSARY FAILURE MODES. Hate them. When we introduce them because we’re trying to be smarter (e.g., Smart Guns), we’re just showing that we don’t know how to do fault tree analysis. DI is simple and works like a charm for me.

  11. On May 9, 2018 at 10:02 am, Gryphon said:

    I’ll Throw this in for Consideration – Since the feral government ‘banned’ the New Manufacture of Automatic Weapons for The People, there is NO incentive for small, experimental Gunsmithing Work that will Advance the Craft of Gunmaking in this niche- leaving only the MIC and Idiots like Scales making ‘decisions’ on subjects they Know Nothing About.

    What could we be Fielding Today if there had been Millions of Guns Designed, Produced, and Tested privately, in the category of Selective-Fire “Assault Weapons” (in the true definition)? Certainly, many of the issues that are constantly being Debated within the Military would have found ‘Crowd-Sourced’ Solutions by now.

    The Stoner DI System is Mature and Robust, it only Needs a Well-Trained, Skilled Operator to mitigate any slight disadvantages it may still have. As for the New AK Platforms, they are likely to be Far Better than Mr. K’s original Design of a Cheap Simple, Disposable Weapon for Mass Warfare where Casualties are counted in the Thousands per Day.

    When you see stuff like the Army having trouble finding Recruits who are able to Throw a Frag far enough not to get Hurt, there are much larger Problems that must be addressed than a Search for a “Better, High-Tech Weapon”.

    Disclaimer: I have a Sig 5.56 ‘Pistol’ with a Gas Piston. Not Sure I’d want a Full-Size version, with the Weight, but given that it’s a Semi-Only, I’m not too worried about a few Extra Parts that >might< Break.

  12. On May 9, 2018 at 10:05 am, Herschel Smith said:


    “Feral government.” Yes.

    Scales: His picture should be on the Wikipedia page as an example of idiot.

  13. On May 9, 2018 at 11:34 am, Fred said:

    @Gryphon is exactly right.

    FedGov; “firearms innovation is illegal. You may now have utopia.”
    American People; “Ok, screw you!”
    FedGov; “We demand that you give us a highly innovative new product in this same banned category.”
    American People; “It’s your law, we are now incapable, screw you some more. Oh, and Lawn Darts, retards.”

  14. On May 9, 2018 at 11:42 am, H said:

    I was being a little coy. If you like yours and it works for you, then use it well. I just don’t like the weight it adds to the front end.

    I’ll tell you that my opposition to additional parts runs deep. I’m an engineer.

    So am I, and I was originally intrigued by Direct Impingement (DI) … but then my first JROTC SAI was one of the infantry officers who figured out the powder problem with the M16, and I continued to learn about how it faired in the field. The fewer moving parts, the greater inherent accuracy from the lack of moving parts up front, and removing that weight from the front are indeed positive features, but for me they don’t overcome the disadvantages of blowing hot gas with incompletely burned powder directing into your action. To me, above all things a battle or assault rifle must be reliable.

    Let’s me demonstrate this with an example, from my domain. Original Ethernet was done in bus fashion with a single piece of coax cable that each transceiver would tap into. This was considered to be more reliable than the Token Ring approach which required each computer to manage the floating token, and in practice required a star topology with an active device in the center to deal with lost tokens, e.g. by cutting out of the network the offending computer that was losing them.

    In practice, that single piece of Ethernet cable kept getting damaged in the field (and finding damage could be difficult without a $$$ time domain reflectometer), so as part of Ethernet switching over to twisted pair cables it moved to a star topology with active hubs (and then switches). Which ended up being more reliable, despite the added parts.

  15. On May 9, 2018 at 12:39 pm, Herschel Smith said:


    I understand your objection. It would have more traction with me if it had actually happened.

    As I said, it has never happened with me, and it didn’t happen with my son. He tells me my ARs are much better than the crappy Colt he was issued.

    If you’re concerned about fouling, get a coated BCG and clean it about every 1000 rounds or so. Shouldn’t be a problem. Never has been for me, never was for my son.

    Then again, I have invested a good bit of money in high quality ARs, and we shouldn’t ignore the effect of manufacturing quality. The boys at Wanat had crappy guns, weren’t trained to shoot uphill, and were ensconced in the wrong place, didn’t have DMs, and relied on too much fire and not nearly enough maneuver. They were poorly led and poorly trained, and the location was poorly conceived.

    Bottom line: shoot what you like and be good at it. And learn how to work on it because it will break, no matter what kind of machine it is.

    Too bad I lost all of those ARs in that boating accident on lake Keowee.

  16. On May 9, 2018 at 2:56 pm, moe mensale said:

    “Mattis’ infantry reformer blasts weapons makers to quit stalling and make a better, more lethal rifle”

    Either the writer or Scales is retarded or just stupid. Are there now degrees of lethality? Can one bad guy become more deader than another bad guy?

    “[Scales] pointed to lives lost due to small arms and other infantry equipment holes from Vietnam to Afghanistan to last year’s deaths of special operations soldiers in Niger.”

    A bit off topic perhaps but maybe some lives wouldn’t have been lost if the US wasn’t killing people and destroying things in places where we have no legitimate business being.

  17. On May 9, 2018 at 3:06 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    “Infantry reformer.”

    I prefer “Infantry retard.”

  18. On May 9, 2018 at 5:09 pm, Pat Hines said:

    I have the “big book” version of the FAL history, which includes the comparison of the FAL and M14.

    Distilling it down a lot, a Lieutenant Colonel decided to chose the M14 and reject the FAL (which had won all tests) simply bases on his ability to say no and desire for a “built here” rifle. This smacks of that sort of deal.

    The FAL was a far superior weapon compared to the M14, had it been the choice, it’s my opinion that the FAL would have lasted much longer than the M14. Hard to say.

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You are currently reading "Wait, Defense Secretary Mattis Put Bob Scales In Charge Of WHAT?", entry #19183 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) AR-15s,Army,Firearms,Guns and was published May 8th, 2018 by Herschel Smith.

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