Dude, Where’s My Carbine?

Mitch Berg points to a story from a servicemember in Iraq about the drawbacks of the M16 rifle. Indeed, the M16 is a very accurate and lightweight rifle. However, it’s designed to precise tolerances, and with the crappy lubrication that’s used with it, sand tends to cling to every part of the rifle, making it prone to jams at the worst possible times. This wouldn’t be the first time a soldier has complained about the M16 jamming – when the M16 was first introduced in Vietnam the military had to distribute comic books to the soldiers on how to clean the rifles – something that had to be done frequently to avoid jams.

Compare that to a typical AK-47, which was stamped out of cheap metal and put together on the cheap. The AK-47 is not known for its precise tolerances, and while I’ve never gotten to fire one, it’s known for not being the most accurate of weapons. It’s pretty much a “spray and pay” rifle in which you fire randomly hoping to hell you hit something. Considering that most people outfitted with AK-47’s have no clue how to shoot, it’s a wonder people anyone makes a hit at all. However, all it takes is one lucky bullet to wound or kill a soldier.

Jason Van Steenwyk, the soldier who wrote the original entry goes on in some detail about why a better alternative like the MP5 isn’t made available to troops.

It’s the same lesson we should have learned years ago. The M16 is a fine weapon for dismounted ops, and engagements on the rolling planes of Europe. But this is has got to be the most widely anticipated urban peacekeeping operation in the history of modern warfare, and we’re still trying to use a hammer to turn a screw.

The army should proceed apace with the issuing of the M-4 carbine–starting with the Oregon and Washington national guard units recently mobilized for service in Iraq. They can still get to a range at the Mobilization station and properly train on and zero their new weapons.

The Army should also liberalize the procurement system down to the battalion and brigade level, and allow commanders to tailor their weapons mix to the mission at hand, BEFORE the deployment. And the ammo supply chain needs to fill the increased 9mm usage you’d get with the expanded issue of MP-5s. We have the cargo capacity. It’s a low intensity war. Ammunition expenditure rates are not taxing the available transport. It’s simply a matter of fixing the bureaucracy.

Take it from Scottie said on Star Trek: “How many times do I have to tell you, use the right tool for the right job!!!”

This might be a good thing to mention to your Senator or Representative. Our troops out there need the right tools to do the job, and if the bureaucracy is in their way, then the bureaucracy needs to be changed. If the M4 or the MP5 works better, than that’s what our soldiers should get. When lives are on the line, saving a few bucks in ammo shouldn’t be a priority – giving our troops the edge should be.

4 thoughts on “Dude, Where’s My Carbine?

  1. Perhaps your first wasn’t (it was wrong, but not in jest).

    However – the FA-MAS, unlike so many previous French infantry weapons (the Lebel, the Chauchat at the AAT-52 spring to mind), appears to be a fairly well-conceived, reliable weapon. I’ve never shot one, but know people who have, and have read the literature on it; it seems reliable, accurate, and useful. I doubt it’s the “best in the world” – the SIG550 and the various Galil and HK variants are all superb – but the FA-MAS might seem to be a better bet than the M-16A2…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.