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December 21, 2007

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but I have seen no evidence that would suggest that soldiers, who are trained to go in harm's way, cannot discipline themselves to deal with the far less dangerous prospect of serving alongside LBGT individuals.

It's interesting that you phrase it this way - implying that the "soldiers" are all heterosexual.

My bet would be that the dangers involved would be the soldiers - trained to go into harm's way or not - who have to deal with the dangerous prospect of serving alongside homophobic and potentially violent men who are aware that these soldiers are LGBT.

It's not as if the US doesn't have LGBT soldiers: it's just that they're required to lie about their sexual orientation or transgender identity in order to serve.

That's a valid point. I should have said that heterosexual soldiers are probably capable of disciplining themselves to serve alongside openly LBGT individuals. I should hope that the rest of the piece makes it relatively clear that I am quite confident that there are plenty of LBGT soldiers currently serving.

It's a slightly picky point, actually, sourced to my being AT WORK, dammit, on a day I'd planned to be ON VACATION, dammit. It's a very good blog post otherwise. ;-)

G'Kar: Good to hear from you.

I hadn’t heard that about the M4. That really sucks. You would think that after the fiasco with the M16 they would have learned a lesson or two…

I find it less plausible that a similar situation obtained across the entire military.

Obviously I can’t speak for the entire military of the 80s. But I served in units on both coasts of the US and two different parts of Germany. Gays I knew had of course served in yet other units, and knew other gays who had served in other units. Combining all those experiences yields a fairly representative sampling I think. At the same time Jes’s numbers speak for themselves. I think it would be interesting to determine if specific commands were responsible for large percentages of those numbers.

But I can say with complete confidence that I would greatly prefer going into combat with a gay man than with a criminal…

Ditto.

Bravo, G'Kar.

First of G'Kar, thanks for saying it. I couldn't have said it better myself. Stay safe over there.

You would think that after the fiasco with the M16 they would have learned a lesson or two…

The M4 is essentially the same weapon as the M16 A2. The only big differences are a collapsible butt stock, a shorter barrel, and a system for easily attaching accessories (flashlights, hand grips and laser sights). All of these are intended to make the weapon better for close combat. Otherwise the inner workings of weapon have not changed at all between the 16 and the m4. (Although the M16-A2 is a significantly more reliable weapon then the original A1 that was released during Vietnam that made all the stink).

Great post.

I alluded to this at TiO but want to clarify the issue more.

Although one of the points of the article that hilzoy posted about did specifically refer to West Point graduates, there is also some increase in departures of Captain level officers who came out of ROTC and OCS. The question of whether or not they are of the hisghest quality is, of course, debatable and ultimately a judgement call.

My son is ROTC trained, educated, etc. Many of the officers he has served with and whom I have met and talked to are also ROTC.

I am not in a position to assess quality of their leadership, but I do know of some who have left who I thought were of high caliber.

When an officer with 6 plus years in the Army makes a decision to leave, basically throwing away any pension he/she would have received, plus other added benefits, to move into the civilian sector, many considerations have to be made.

From a financial point of view, civilian employment ahs to be very rewarding. My son and his wife did a calculation of what kind of salary he would need to compensate for everything (including loss of pension) and it was a salary I would very much like to have.

At the same time, there has to be a degree of marketability. My son has a history in the Army that would make him marketable in the private sector and to some degree both I and my wife have wondered why he has chosen to stay.

And I think the reason plays to your last comments. He entered and was commissioned prior to 9/11. As such, his view of the Army was somewhat along the more traditional lines. However, his mind was still capable of recognizing differences. He strongly believes that changes will have to occur, as do many of his fellow junior officers.

His fear, to some degree, is that if all the best leave, what remains will not be willing to challenge some of the old beliefs. He is staying to be there to assist in the changes he sees necessary. He does not have any delusions of grandeur or overestimations of his ability to force those changes. Nor does he aspire to be part of the JCS someday.

But he believes strongly in the role of the military and the need of adaptability.

Finally, for some reason, as your were talking about the lowering of recruitment standards, the film The Dirty Dozen came to mind. Let us hope it doesn't become The Dirty Half Million.

Prior to the Cold War, the United States maintained a small cadre Regular Army that was sufficient for handling minor tasks, and ramped up to a larger, citizen Army when war loomed.

It's my understanding that the large standing Army and huge military-industrial complex we've had since WWII have the strategic goal of averting another Pearl Harbor. (At this point, I think they're *actually* kept in place by the fact that they've made many people very rich.) Yamamoto had very accurately predicted that a sneak attack destroying significant US materiel would buy Japan a window of a year or so, before the US military & industrial systems ramped up to overwhelming levels. Our current military-industrial complex is supposed to close that window, and *that* is the reason the Joint Chiefs, etc., will give for not having a small, tight peacetime force.

Some of this is covered in Andrew Bacevich's The New American Militarism. Have you read it? Is there any way to ship you a copy?

(Although the M16-A2 is a significantly more reliable weapon then the original A1 that was released during Vietnam that made all the stink).

I know almost nothing about weapons, but I do remember the fuss about jamming during Vietnam. How is it possible that it's still a problem?

And as for the story G'Kar tells about the first day in Kuwait, is it really the case that the Army, before buying the M4, didn't take some out into the desert to see how they worked? Sure, as G'Kar says, " The trick remains determining just what is, in fact, good enough." But field testing under a variety of harsh conditions seems like a basic step.

What's going on?

After firing 6,000 rounds through ten M4s in a dust chamber at the Army's Aberdeen test center in Maryland this fall, the weapons experienced a total of 863 minor stoppages and 19 that would have required the armorer to fix the problem. Stacked up against the M4 during the side-by-side tests were two other weapons popular with special operations forces, including the Heckler and Koch 416 and the FN USA Special Operations Combat Assault Rifle, or Mk16.

They’re happy with that performance.

"The M4 carbine is a world-class weapon," said Brig. Gen. Mark Brown, the Army's top equipment buyer, in a Dec. 17 briefing at the Pentagon. Soldiers "have high confidence in that weapon, and that high confidence level is justified, in our view, as a result of all test data and all investigations we have made."

Sheesh. Get your self an AK-47 G'Kar.

I don't know much about weapons, either. But I've thought about what makes a weapon "better" after hearing a radio program about the AK-47 and its effects on the course of history in less politically stable regions of the world (and, thereby, the rest of the world to some degree). The thing that struck me was the near indestructibility of the AK-47. According to what I heard, you can bury it in the ground, dig it up a significant amount of time later (months? years?)and it will fire. It will fire poorly homemade shells. It very rarely jams. It very rarely overheats. Of course, this tolerance to bad conditions comes, I assume, a cost. I have to think that, when an M-16 or M-4 is actually working the way it's supposed to, it works a lot better than an AK-47 (in whatever ways matter - accuracy, firing rate?). But, if a (potentially) superior weapon doesn't work too much of the time, is it really superior?

And as for the story G'Kar tells about the first day in Kuwait, is it really the case that the Army, before buying the M4, didn't take some out into the desert to see how they worked? Sure, as G'Kar says, " The trick remains determining just what is, in fact, good enough." But field testing under a variety of harsh conditions seems like a basic step.

If I had to guess, I would say that the M-4 was extensively field tested...in Germany. Why would it ever need to be tested anywhere else? Everyone knows the US Army is supposed to fight in Germany...

Some people say we always fight the last war, but I never thought that was a goal to work towards...

Of course, this tolerance to bad conditions comes, I assume, a cost. I have to think that, when an M-16 or M-4 is actually working the way it's supposed to, it works a lot better than an AK-47 (in whatever ways matter - accuracy, firing rate?).

Actually it is pretty inexpensive to manufacture. It’s easy to clean and has more stopping power.

The downside is that it is not as accurate at longer ranges and it has more recoil. Wiki has a pretty good comparison here.

I guess it’s pretty sad that we’re even talking about a Russian weapon designed in 1947 as possibly being a better choice…

This is the first thing I've read that suggests metalstorm might actually make sense for something other than point defense. Can't get much more jam resistant than preloaded, disposable, electronically triggered barrels.

And I thought the SA80 was bad... (well, it is.)

This is shocking:
"After firing 6,000 rounds through ten M4s in a dust chamber at the Army's Aberdeen test center in Maryland this fall, the weapons experienced a total of 863 minor stoppages and 19 that would have required the armorer to fix the problem."
So, the way those numbers work out (assuming it was 6000 rounds per M4, i.e. a total of 60,000 fired) you should expect one minor stoppage every two and a half magazines (69 rounds) and one stoppage every hundred or so mags (3100 rounds) that makes the weapon unfixable in the field?

The first figure is rather worse than the famously pernickety SA80A2; I'd expect, in field conditions, maybe one stoppage per eight mags. The second is shocking. I've never known anyone with an -A2 to have a stoppage so bad it required an armourer. Either this dust chamber is amazingly brutal, or you have a really bad weapon there...

One of the Dark Lords of the Site needs to do a name-edit in the post.

I honestly have never understood why some Western nation hasn't just backwards-engineered the AK47, given it a fancy name, and started selling it. All my CAF buddies absolutely loathe the Colt C7, the M16 ripoff that's the standard rifle of the Canadian Armed Forces.

I don't have time to go into much detail, but I would recommend that anyone interested in current news and studies concerning sexual minorities in the US military bookmark The Michael D. Palm Center. They have more info -- and more reliable info -- than anyone else I know of.

re: the M4, I have heard that some SpecFor units have been using the latest variants of the old M14s because the action is less susceptible to jamming and because they are chambered for 7.62 NATO rather than 5.56 NATO, giving them a bit more oomph against body armor. The big drawback is weight, with the M14 variant weighing about a pound more than the M4 and the larger rounds adding even more weight to the rig.

The biggest drawback to the AKs is that the ultra-reliable actions come as a result of being engineered for looser tolerances, which in turn makes for a less accurate weapon and a shorter effective range.

I'm sure you're right, nous, but the market dominance of the AK-47 should re-inforce the traditional military principle that reliability is *far* more important than accuracy or range.

The fact that the G'Kar as to trust his life to a less-than-trustworthy weapon proves, once again, that US military procurement is not driven by actual what you might call military considerations.

The fact that the G'Kar as to trust his life to a less-than-trustworthy weapon proves, once again, that US military procurement is not driven by actual what you might call military considerations.

Sure, though in this case I'd argue that it has more to do with G'Kar's current job being viewed as a sort of military sideline by the Brass.

Switching to something like the AK means shifting doctrine away from precision firepower and greater range and pretty much guarantees higher casualty rates. I don't think that the US military's top-heavy institutional culture is at all comfortable with this change. The whole Revolution in Military Affairs was aimed at putting bodies and intelligence farther away from harm while still being able to direct firepower on targets. You are basically asking them to embrace the very conditions they had worked so hard to engineer away and that worked so well in Gulf I when faced with a conventional foe in open combat.

I don't know anything about weapons and war an whatnot either, Doctor Science, but I can imagine the Army might have balanced a number of competing priorities in choosing the weapon (in addition to the usual priorities of graft and corruption): reliability vs accuracy vs ammunition requirements vs doctrine vs supply chain and so on.

pretty much guarantees higher casualty rates

Do you think that's true in messy practice? That is, does a precise, distant weapon that jams give lower casualty rates *in the kind of situation G'Kar is in* than a sloppier but more reliable weapon?

I may have been too hasty about procurement in this case being political(/economic) rather than military, but that makes it more of an instance of the general pattern G'Kar is talking about: that the situation he's in is not the situation the Army was planning for.

And one of the points Bacevich makes is that as early as the 1970s the Pentagon faced a choice: plan for brushfire & counter-insurgency conflicts, or plan for a war in Europe. They chose the latter even knowing that the former was much more likely. Bacevich calls this "refusing to learn from Vietnam" -- which is one of the reasons G'Kar is where he is today.


"I honestly have never understood why some Western nation hasn't just backwards-engineered the AK47, given it a fancy name, and started selling it. All my CAF buddies absolutely loathe the Colt C7, the M16 ripoff that's the standard rifle of the Canadian Armed Forces."

Posted by: mightygodking

It's call the Galil (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galil)

nous: "Sure, though in this case I'd argue that it has more to do with G'Kar's current job being viewed as a sort of military sideline by the Brass."

Nous, G'Kar is being issued a standard rifle. The same one that everybody gets, AFAIK.

The M4 carbine is a world-class weapon," said Brig. Gen. Mark Brown, the Army's top equipment buyer, in a Dec. 17 briefing at the Pentagon. Soldiers "have high confidence in that weapon, and that high confidence level is justified, in our view, as a result of all test data and all investigations we have made."

A note - this problem is a 40-year old problem; it's not something which cropped up in '07.

The real reasons for this are that people like Mark Brown will (a) not be fragged, (b) not live in a small country like Israel, where one is fewer degrees of separation from casualties' families, and (c) will undoubtedly retire to a cushy job with a manufacturer of some of the fine weapons that he's approved.

G'Kar: "'d be curious to see the actual evidence that the Army is, in fact, losing its best young officers, though. While graduates of the United States Military Academy do cost the Army more than ROTC or OCS graduates, I have seen no evidence in almost 20 years of uniformed service that USMA grads make superior officers."

I believe that the assumption is that USMA graduates are far more likely to go for 20 years than ROTC graduates. The figure mentioned in the Washington Monthly article is "But the problem isn't one of numbers alone: the Army also appears to be losing its most gifted young officers. In 2005, internal Army memos started to warn of the "disproportionate loss of high-potential, high-performance junior leaders." West Point graduates are leaving at their highest rates since the 1970s (except for a few years in the early 1990s when the Army's goal was to reduce its size). Of the nearly 1,000 cadets from the class of 2002, 58 percent are no longer on active duty."

As pointed out, the last times that anything near such figures were seen, the Army was trying to *reduce* its size; now it's trying to *increase its size. In addition, some percentage of officers would be frozen due to deployments. Given a freeze zone of from a few months beforea 15-month deployment to a few months afterwards, the lenghth of freeeze would be from 18-21 months. This could apply to 1/4 - 1/2 of the class of 2002. *That* suggests that the intent to leave rate is catastrophically high.

In the comments to a post on Intel Dump (http://www.intel-dump.com/posts/1198021022.shtml), it was claimed that "To make it's established reenlistment projectiosn, the Army is offering soldiers in the ranks of E-3 to E-6 anywhere from 12,000 to 23,000 to reenlist for 12 months!"

If that's true, it suggests that things are *really* going downhill; the last I had heard of such bonuses, they were for 4-6 year reenlistments.

In various books and articles I've read over the past few years, people had reviewed the late/post-Vietnam Army (including at Intel Dump). One of the important points was that, by the time that the statistics were unambiguously pointing downwards, it was too late to take preventive action. Not only were the statistics lagging indicators (they told one what *had* happened over the past year), but also that peoples' minds were made up.

For example, for every young officer who left last year, rather than going career, or at least another few years, there were others who had made that same decision, but who weren't eligible for action yet (e.g., if the figures for the Class of 2002 are bad, the ones for the Class of 2003 won't be good).

G'Kar: I’m sure this is going to be a very tough holiday for you and your family. You’ll be in my thoughts and I’ll raise a glass to you and yours. Stay safe.

I find these posts really informative both b/c (1) they're good; and (2) i am shamefully ignorant

Barry- I know that G'Kar's weapon is standard issue. I was commenting on the US Army's reluctance to do low-intensity conflicts. They view conventional warfighting as their primary mission and everything else as a sideline.

The USMC is our small wars branch. Of course they are (or at least were until recently) using the M16A2 as their standard issue weapon, so there's not much difference there.

Re: Officer Quality and Guns

I went through a tough, one-year, academic curriculum with a combination of Academy grads, OCS grads, and ROTC grads. The Academy guys had the lowest average GPA but also the lowest failure rate. The OCS guys had the highest academic average. I chalk it up to four years of standardization versus a few months of standardization. There are excellent guys from all three pipelines.

The best weapon on the civilian market today is the Yugoslavian AK-47 (M-70?). As was mentioned above, the thing is a tank. The police types I know far prefer it to the AR-15 knockoffs and you can get one for half the price. You can still buy a ‘Yugo’ at the True Value hardware store for just over $500. In my little town, they are selling three per day at one small store. Don’t buy the Romanian ones for $350, they are pretty shaky.

nous:
They view conventional warfighting as their primary mission and everything else as a sideline

Precisely. Bacevich views this as common to all the services, and (as I said) as a choice that was solidified in the post-Vietnam era, when they *could* perhaps have their missions -- but didn't.

I'm sure you're right, nous, but the market dominance of the AK-47 should re-inforce the traditional military principle that reliability is *far* more important than accuracy or range.

The fact that the AK-47 is also very cheap should not be neglected in this calculation.

"I'm sure you're right, nous, but the market dominance of the AK-47 should re-inforce the traditional military principle that reliability is *far* more important than accuracy or range."

I'll go further than PJB, and say that I'm pretty sure the main reason for its market dominance is price.

If I were the Perfesser, I would suggest that the civility of ObWi has to do with the fact that some many people seem to know a lot about guns...

I'm sure price is also involved, though in military tech the price of training is likely to be a greater factor. But for something to be both cheaper *and* more reliable is an unusual win-win.

Yikes, so you are saying it would be worse in a disarmed society? ;)

I'm not the Perfesser, but I feel pretty sure that he would.

heh

No practical experience with guns (an air-rifle twice my age excluded and not much with that either) but generally interested in military history and equipement. From what I remember "the brass" (and of course the manufacturers) in the US always had the habit to praise the newest toy as the best in the world ever, especially when they were actually at best mediocre and at worst engines of suicide. Take the Sherman tanks of WW2 with more flaws than a dog has fleas or the torpedos of the same era. And because they were claimed to be the best, the authorities fought tooth and nails against any attempts to get rid of the flaws. Just one example: Even when a sub commander fired all tubes and all eels failed either exploding early, behind the target or not at all when hitting it there was an official veto on even testing the faulty fuses.
---
On the matter of officers. Until after WW2 the US army always was short on (esp. experienced) officers and had for example to field divisions twice the standard size in WW1 because there were not enough officers around for the normal structure. In WW2 officers became notoriously less experienced than the troops they commanded and the losses showed it.

On demand I can back that up with references to books but I have to go through my overcrowded shelves for that.

Doctor Science,

I have, in fact, read Bacivich's book and was quite impressed with it, although I have some quibbles with some of his lesser points. I think his thesis is quite correct and I feel that we would be very wise to look for ways to reduce the trend towards militarism in American society.

Stay safe G'Kar, maybe I'll finally get around to watching B5 over the holidays in your honor.

The biggest drawback to the AKs is that the ultra-reliable actions come as a result of being engineered for looser tolerances, which in turn makes for a less accurate weapon and a shorter effective range.

Continuing my ignorance-based comments, wouldn't the optimum trade-off depend on the circumstances in which the weapon is likely to be used? If you have a small unit fighting a skirmish against a relatively close enemy it seems that jamming could be a disaster, and maybe range and accuracy carry less weight. Larger units maybe can stand some jamming in exchange for these benefits.

Is there any likelihood that this question of a trade-off between range/accuracy and reliability is really not on point when you are comparing a piston and connecting linkage action with a purely gas blowback action in the M-16 and derivatives. When that gas escapes on the M-16 bolt, you don't cycle, but the good ole mechanical linkage doesn't give until you're really talking jam. Isn't the real promotion of the M-16 the rate of fire? I seem to recall something to that effect during Viet Nam. Here we are comparing AK47 with M16 again. Ahh, nostalgia.

nous: "re: the M4, I have heard that some SpecFor units have been using the latest variants of the old M14s because the action is less susceptible to jamming and because they are chambered for 7.62 NATO rather than 5.56 NATO, giving them a bit more oomph against body armor."

From the cited article:

SOCOM appears to agree as well. While US special Operations is moving ahead on their own SCAR rifle program with FN Herstal, they're also significant users of the M4 Carbine's SOPMOD version. By the time Capt. Self was fighting of al-Qaeda/Taliban enemies in Afghanistan with a broken weapon, Dellta Force had already turned to Heckler & Koch for a fix that would preserve the M4 but remove its problems. One of which is heat build-up and gas from its operating mechanism that dries out some lubricants, and helps open the way for sand damage.

In response, H&K replaced Colt's "gas-tube" system with a short-stroke piston system that eliminates carbon blow-back into the chamber, and also reduces the heat problem created by the super-hot gases used to cycle the M4. Other changes were made to the magazine, barrel, et. al. The final product was an M4 with a new upper receiver and magazine, plus H&K's 4-rail system of standard "Picatinny Rails" on the top, bottom, and both sides for easy addition of anything a Special Operator might require.

In exhaustive tests with the help of Delta Force, the upgraded weapon was subjected to mud and dust without maintenance, and fired day after day. Despite this treatment, the rifle showed problems in only 1 of 15,000 rounds – fully 3 times the reliability shown by the M4 in US Army studies. The H&K 416 was declared ready in 2004.

A rifle with everything they loved about the M4, and the fire-no-matter-what toughness of the Kalashnikov, was exactly what the Deltas ordered. SOCOM bought the first 500 weapons right off the assembly line, and its units have been using the weapon in combat ever since. Other Western Special Forces units who liked the M4 Carbine have also purchased HK416s, though H&K declines to name specific countries.

And it goes on at further length about this.

"Switching to something like the AK means shifting doctrine away from precision firepower and greater range and pretty much guarantees higher casualty rates."

The HK416 wouldn't appear to require that trade-off. Or, again citing the article, Colt claimed they could do a similar job of a gas piston weapon.

Incidentally, here's a memoir of an even worse war, and far more broken Army. So, hey, look on the bright side!

Incidentally, if Charles is out there, I'd like to direct his attention to this.

Gary- Thanks. I've been braving the gun blogs to track down some more on this. It seems that the HK 416 is H&K's latest development for the US Mil after the military pulled the plug on the XM8 battle rifle development in 2005.

I think this is a good near-term fix from the sound of things. I'm not sure what will happen farther out, because there's a lot of buzz about changing munitions as well (in partial response to the Soldier Weapons Assessment Team Report from June of 2003.

Discussion: There have been many engagements with the M855 spanning ranges from 10 feet to 250 meters against soft targets (non-armored individuals) during OIF. Observations from the field cover many different responses from “I shot him in the gut and he ran away”, “I had to put multiple rounds in him to stop him”, to “I shot him in the chest and he went down” and “I shot him in the head and he dropped on the spot”. There are many different views on the lethality of this round ranging from the need for a heavier bullet (the need for more stopping power), to “We have no complaints with the M855 ammunition. It is satisfying the operational need.” One brigade of soldiers interviewed made a very interesting statement concerning the lethality of the M855. Their focus groups indicated that based on proper target acquisition with the improved M68 (CCO), shot placement, basic rifle marksmanship, and firing controlled pairs they were very satisfied with the round’s performance/ terminal effects.

Recommendations: A Government Lethality IPT has been stood up to standardize GEL block testing and an engineering study will be conducted extensive, soft target terminal effects of COTS and military 5.56mm ammunition. The characteristics of each bullet terminal performance will be determined. Based on requirements and using the engineering information, a new round should be type classified and made available.

This may necessitate replacing the upper receivers yet again if they adopt a new round due to lethality concerns.

This also points to a small change in doctrine. It used to be that the military liked non-lethal rounds because a wounded enemy took two or more people from the fight rather than one (the second one taking the wounded one to the rear for medical attention). Again a clash between conventional war and low-intensity conflict paradigms.

nous,

Soldiers never liked low lethality rounds. When you shoot someone, you want them unable to shoot back.

"I think this is a good near-term fix from the sound of things."

Not if the HK 416 goes only to SOCOM, and not to the mainstream Army. Which is the point: the Army isn't currently planning to supply the HK 416, but to just buy a whole lot more of the current M4s with the awful jamming rate.

Getting the Army to switch to a large buy of the HK 416 would be a solution, yes. That's the argument. That's what the article G'Kar cited and wrote about says; it's where the discussion was started by G'Kar in the above post.

Well, since a conventional war involving an enemy army is an existential threat, while a counter-insurgency is not, maybe it is in fact more prudent to build a military to deal with the former, and accept the lack of fit when dealing with the latter. I guess we could create another branch of the military to police the nations we conquer, build armies for the puppet governments we install, and obliterate the rebels we create. Then we could arm this nation-building branch with AK-47s, which makes sense, since the military they will be repurposing is bound to be quite familiar with them already.

Why haven't I been employed to plan the future of our imperial army? Is it the drinking? It's the drinking, isn't it. Now I'm out of ice. I hate the holidays.

G'Kar -- If I were a soldier I'd want the most lethal round I could reliably put on target as well. I'm not just making this argument up or repeating the collective, (and questionable) "wisdom" of a gunblog. This is something that I read from Lt. Col. Dave Grossman (Army- Retired) on his website:

Almost all of this development of gun powder weapons occurred in the 19th century. By the early 20th century this developmental process had reached its culmination. One common myth in this area involves the increasing "deadliness" of modern small arms, which is largely without foundation. For example, the high-velocity, small-caliber (5.56 mm/.223-caliber) ammunition used in most assault rifles today (e.g., the M-16 and the AK-74) were designed to wound rather than kill. The theory is that wounding an enemy soldier is better than killing him because a wounded soldier eliminates three people: the wounded man and two others to evacuate him. These weapons do inflict great (wounding) trauma, but they are illegal for hunting deer in much of the United States due to their ineffectiveness at quickly and effectively killing game.

I'm not sure where he gets the information from in this case, but he's never struck me as being careless in his research.

Gary - I know what the article G'Kar cited says. I hadn't commented on the article, but rather had replied to those who wondered why the US Mil never adopted the AK. My response to you was to indicate that there has been some talk of replacing the M16/M4 with the HK 416 as the standard service weapon at some point in the future but that there are other sticking points in the plans besides just the weapons. Given that after five years of study on the matter the US Mil wants to study the matter some more before making a decision, I'm betting that nothing will be done in the near term about any of this.

Also there is a prejudice in using something foreign, at least if it has not been "improved" first by US engineers* (I love the German term verschlimmbessern, "to disimprove" doesn't have the same impact). In the past the danger of the supply drying up in certain situations may have been a "reasonable" reason but I think that it does not carry that much weight today.

*not that this way of thinking is completely foreign to other countries.

G'Kar: Soldiers never liked low lethality rounds. When you shoot someone, you want them unable to shoot back.

Basic training many many years ago…

So training money is tight, and we find out we are firing .22 rounds, with a chamber adapter. Then of course we discover that the M-16 5.56mm ball round, is, uhm, a soup’d up .22 round. “Excuse me Drill Sergeant, you do realize that I generally have to shoot a squirrel at least twice with a .22?

DS: yup.

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