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"The M4 dilemma...." Topic


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Action Log

08 Feb 2011 6:04 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Changed title from "The M4 dilema...." to "The M4 dilemma...."


1,079 hits since 8 Feb 2011
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member08 Feb 2011 4:33 p.m. PST

Ive seen similar discussions somewhere at TMP before. Not sure if these exact links were posted so thought Id share and I apologize if these are repeat posts.

In summation, with budgetary cuts looming on the horizon, it looks like the M4 may be the US Amry and Marine platform through at least 2020.

Interesting reading if you have the time:
link
link
link

Jay Arnold Inactive Member08 Feb 2011 6:11 p.m. PST

Reading the first link did not make me happy.

Allen, take it on home.

aecurtis Fezian Inactive Member08 Feb 2011 8:38 p.m. PST

Oh, my. I'll pass, Jay. I know I'm trying to get my account locked, but I don't want to get whiplash from how fast I'd sail into the DH.

Suffice it to say there are good, reliable, combat-proven weapons already out there, if anyone wants to look--and they don't cost unnecessary treasure. Anything likely to show up down the road is less likely to benefit the troops than to line the pockets of a well-represented contractor.

I know what I'd want if I were entering a building, and neither an M4 nor an M16 is it. But I'm a dinosaur.

Allen

Personal logo Dan Cyr Supporting Member of TMP08 Feb 2011 9:13 p.m. PST

Well, I shot and carried both the M-14 and M-16. Liked the range and knock-down power of the M-14, but did not want to carry it (smile). The kick also bothered some folks, but I liked the 6-800 yard range that one could use it at.

The M-16 was good for ranges of up to 3-400 yards in the hands of a good marksman, but the ones I handled at the end of the VN war were all shot out and in pretty poor condition. Light weight, not that long (I'm 6'5"), but make a 15-25 mile march with one and your shoulder feels like it is coming off also due to the weight (smile). Everything is relative.

My daughter carries the M-4 for training DIs, but given a choice claims she'd rather carry her civilian AR-15.

Sad that the M-4 is not being replaced if there is a better option, but one always wonders who's palm is getting greased by whom in these matters.

Dan

Jay Arnold Inactive Member08 Feb 2011 10:54 p.m. PST

I see no reason why we aren't buying HK 416s by the truck load.

Or at least upper receivers.

MahanMan Inactive Member08 Feb 2011 11:21 p.m. PST

*shaking head*

Well, there's nothing new under the sun; I'm glad to see the US Army has the same officers in charge of procurement issues that were serving under Gen. Ripley, as well as during the 1920s.

CPT Jake Inactive Member09 Feb 2011 4:43 a.m. PST

When the first link used the 507th as an example they lost some credibility in my eyes.

Klebert L Hall Inactive Member09 Feb 2011 6:23 a.m. PST

Meh.

The M-4/M-16 kills people well enough, though it isn't the ultimate perfect rifle.

Changing guns costs money, and the acquisition cost of the new guns is the very least of that money.

We are extremely (really, really, extremely) unlikely to ever lose a battle because of the weaknesses of the M-4/M-16 family of weapons. Heck, in any given engagement with any likely opponent, we're pretty darn unlikely to lose at all.

These rifles, like a whole lot of U.S. military equipment throughout history are "good enough". We still use plenty of M-113 family vehicles in combat, too, and they aren't exactly cutting edge wonder weapons.

Besides, the way the Pentagon runs acquisition programs these days, we're probably better off not trying.
-Kle.

aecurtis Fezian Inactive Member09 Feb 2011 8:36 a.m. PST

For Jay:

YouTube link

Anything I could say would be redundant.

Allen

Jay Arnold Inactive Member09 Feb 2011 8:54 a.m. PST

These rifles, like a whole lot of U.S. military equipment throughout history are "good enough". We still use plenty of M-113 family vehicles in combat, too, and they aren't exactly cutting edge wonder weapons.

By that rationale, we'd still be using AN/PRC 77 radios.

Buying the HK 416 uppers wouldn't be that big a difference. Better rifle, more reliable, fewer parts, same ammo, same magazines, same lower.

My opinion isn't swayed so much by the cost issue. How much do we spend on the Osprey when there are plenty of other aircraft that are "good enough?"

If the reporting in the first link is correct and the testing is set up in favor of the M4, then we need to seriously look at who is running testing and why is the M4 so entrenched.

Jay Arnold Inactive Member09 Feb 2011 9:00 a.m. PST

And furthermore, if the UCP (ACU pattern) was inferior to Multicam, why was it selected over Multicam? Now we're playing catch up, but only for troops in theater.

aecurtis Fezian Inactive Member09 Feb 2011 9:20 a.m. PST

"…why is the M4 so entrenched…"

link

Connecticut's congressional delegation has been *very* supportive of the state's defense industries. With both current senators retired (Dodd last month) or retiring (Lieberman in 2012), there maybe less influence in the future, and this has caused concern for things like the F-35 already: Pratt & Whitney in Hartford makes the primary engines.

But as far as Colt is concerned: it has had political patronage since Andy Jackson, and its first government contract was during the Second Seminole War. But Colt's revolving rifles are reminiscent of more recent problems: 'The soldiers in Florida loved the new weapon, but "the unusual hammerless design, sixty years ahead of its time … led to difficulty training men used to exposed-hammer guns and many curious soldiers took the locks apart. This resulted in breakage of parts, stripped screw heads, and jammed actions"'.

It's not a new thing to blame weapons problems on the troops rather than the design.

Allen

Garand09 Feb 2011 11:24 a.m. PST

How many M-4s are made by Colt? During my brief flirtation with military service, my M-16 was a Colt weapon (possibly a re-manufactured one, because it didn't have matte black receivers, but steel painted), but I saw a few of FN M-16s as well…

Damon.

Randall09 Feb 2011 12:52 p.m. PST

Allen (or anyone else that wants to chime in), can you say more about this?

Suffice it to say there are good, reliable, combat-proven weapons already out there, if anyone wants to look--and they don't cost unnecessary treasure.

I don't want to get anyone in trouble or start a debate. I'm genuinely curious what you like/would recommend.

Thanks.

Jay Arnold Inactive Member09 Feb 2011 2:48 p.m. PST

@ Garand. I've had FN-made M16A2s before. Unless I'm mistaken, all M4s are made by Colt.

@ Randall. The HK 416 is a candidate. Parts interchangeability for the lower receiver, magazines and ammo is a good start. Add in interchangeability of accessories already issued (stocks, bipods, grenade launchers, flashlights, fore end grips, IR Lasers, BUIS, etc.) and it seems a natch to me.

Since you're issuing half the same weapon that's been issued for almost 50 years, it shouldn't be that big a deal to change the training to take into account the new half.

aecurtis Fezian Inactive Member09 Feb 2011 8:00 p.m. PST

Correct: Colt is the only manufacturer of M4s.

The HK 416 upper offers an appealing and inexpensive upgrade. I just wouldn't want any 5.56 weapon, if going into a building.

Allen

Jay Arnold Inactive Member09 Feb 2011 8:29 p.m. PST

Well, you can have a 12 Ga. pump, also:
link

aecurtis Fezian Inactive Member09 Feb 2011 9:47 p.m. PST

Now you're talking. I'd just as soon have my Mossberg 500 and a .45, though.

Allen

Jay Arnold Inactive Member09 Feb 2011 10:59 p.m. PST

I had a M590 (Mossberg 590) in my turret. I liked to keep it handy to repel boarders.

Klebert L Hall Inactive Member10 Feb 2011 6:02 a.m. PST

By that rationale, we'd still be using AN/PRC 77 radios.

And you should be happy that we aren't.

Buying the HK 416 uppers wouldn't be that big a difference. Better rifle, more reliable, fewer parts, same ammo, same magazines, same lower.

You've been in the Army, right? I mean, it sounds that way to me (though I have not).

You really think it's bureaucratically efficient as an organization? Changing the whole logistical chain and un-confusing all the armorers is going to cost enough money that it would certainly seem to be a fortune if I found it in sacks in my front yard.

I have nothing against the HK 416 in part or as a whole. I bet you that we will never adopt it though, and I suspect that not adopting it will not demonstrably cost even a single US Soldier's life.

My opinion isn't swayed so much by the cost issue. How much do we spend on the Osprey when there are plenty of other aircraft that are "good enough?"

Such as?
It's replacing the CH-46, which hasn't been built in decades. Maybe they could use CH-53s, but that's about all I can think of. The Osprey program also started when we had money. We don't have any money, now.

Besides, would you be happy if we hadn't bought Osprey? If so, that's an argument for the M-4.

Well, you can have a 12 Ga. pump, also:
Now you're talking. I'd just as soon have my Mossberg 500 and a .45, though.
I had a M590 (Mossberg 590) in my turret. I liked to keep it handy to repel boarders.

You'll get no arguments from me there. The 12ga shotgun is a fine weapon. I have a gussied-up 590 up in my bedroom closet, just in case the vanishingly unlikely ever happens and I need one.

However, neither the 12ga shotgun nor the .45 caliber pistol can fill the requirement for a rifle.
-Kle.

KatieL Inactive Member10 Feb 2011 7:57 a.m. PST

So what are these soldiers currently armed with if it's not the M16 or M4?

Jay Arnold Inactive Member10 Feb 2011 8:08 a.m. PST

I recall using AN/PRC-77s. Easy to use. Woefully under performing compared to modern radios. No complaints here.

Osprey appears to have cost more money and lives than it's worth. Full disclosure: As an Army type, I'm on the outside looking in. I'll probably never ride in one and am not fully aware of all of its capabilities and features.

Changing the whole logistical chain and un-confusing all the armorers is going to cost enough money that it would certainly seem to be a fortune if I found it in sacks in my front yard.

And yet we adopt new equipment and weapons all the time. Google "Rapid Fielding Initiative."

How about fielding multiple models of MRAP without first developing training regimens for drivers and mechanics, both. How about sending Soldiers to pick up vehicles from an airfield without them ever seeing one before, let alone know how to operate one safely and effectively. Happened with us the first time we saw a Max-Pro. USAF load masters are not impressed when a gang of dusty grunts hop on their C17 and stare at the vehicle in the belly of the aircraft with a mix of awe and confusion.

Staged deployment of something such as the HK 416 could easily be achieved in the same manner as all the other weapons and equipment programs that have come down the pike. First to SOF units (already happening anyway), then to Regular Army BCTs, then to Guard BCTs during pre-mobilization, then to rest of Army.

The shotty was a nice compliment to my other weapons, never used it in anger, though.

Jay Arnold Inactive Member10 Feb 2011 8:21 a.m. PST

So what are these soldiers currently armed with if it's not the M16 or M4?

Most Soldiers deploy with a M4. Those less likely to be outside the wire go with their M16s. Various other weapons get sent with Soldiers depending on their unit and role.

Some of them are:
M9 – a terribly effective paperweight pretending to be a combat sidearm. Usually given to officers and senior NCOs so they'll have one more item to leave in the latrine. Also sometimes given to machine gun crews. In our case, everybody got one when we mobilized.

M249 – A vicious little machine gun that fills a role in the fireteam. That being to provide high volumes of fire when and where needed. Also helpful as a means of punishment for the sin of being the senior Specialist E4 in the team. The designers also included a persistent practical joke in the guise of a slot to insert M16/M4 magazines "just in case."

M240B – An even more vicious bigger machine gun that fills a role in the platoon. That being to provide even higher volumes of fire when and where needed. Really handy on a vehicle. Uses a real combat round, unlike the M16/M4 and M249.

M203 – A 40mm grenade launcher attached to a M16/M4. Handy for placing high explosives in random places, hopefully where you want them on occasion. Also useful for firing flares, smoke grenades and removing options for attaching accessories.

aecurtis Fezian Inactive Member10 Feb 2011 11:15 a.m. PST

Adding the HK 416 upper would not complicate logistics as much as diddling around with limited fielding of several new alternative rifles. Any idea how many different small arms are currently in service in small numbers, when you count up all the ones they've been messing with field testing, or the special ones the "special" people have? *That's* a nightmare.

And armorers love new toys. Not a problem.

Allen

Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member11 Feb 2011 3:43 a.m. PST

Best quote from the article,

"There have been sporadic attempts to field more modern weapons during its tenure, including the unwieldy 20-or-so pound, 2 barrel, "someone watched Predator too many times" XM-29 OICW".


On a serious note, cost issues aside, this would seem to be the more important point when deciding on a new weapon system:

The M4 Carbine:
882 jams, 1 jam every 68 rounds
The HK416:
233 jams, 1 jam every 257 rounds
FN SCAR:
226 jams, 1 jam every 265 rounds
XM-8:
127 jams, I jam every 472 rounds

That, pretty much, seems to speak volumes to me. I currently use the AR-15 at my job and while it is a decent weapon that kills as good as the next weapon it would not be my choice of long rifle were that choice up to me.

Klebert L Hall Inactive Member11 Feb 2011 6:49 p.m. PST

And yet we adopt new equipment and weapons all the time. Google "Rapid Fielding Initiative."

I'm not saying we can't do it, I'm just saying that it will cost some money, and most of the money it costs won't be the purchase price of the item in question.

How about fielding multiple models of MRAP without first developing training regimens for drivers and mechanics, both. How about sending Soldiers to pick up vehicles from an airfield without them ever seeing one before, let alone know how to operate one safely and effectively. Happened with us the first time we saw a Max-Pro. USAF load masters are not impressed when a gang of dusty grunts hop on their C17 and stare at the vehicle in the belly of the aircraft with a mix of awe and confusion.

Yeah, that was all pretty stupid.
How is it an argument for buying other new gear?

Staged deployment of something such as the HK 416 could easily be achieved in the same manner as all the other weapons and equipment programs that have come down the pike. First to SOF units (already happening anyway), then to Regular Army BCTs, then to Guard BCTs during pre-mobilization, then to rest of Army.

Again, I do not mean to imply that I don't think we could successfully do this, or even that I don't think it would be a decent idea.

All I am saying is:
(a) It will cost money. Costing money is not popular on the Hill these days.

(b) It isn't an order of magnitude better than what we already have, and anything less than an order of magnitude improvement is really hard to explain to politicians.

(c) We only buy anything European for our military every third time Hell freezes over, it's like some kind of demented phobia in D.C.

(d) I really don't see it happening, and it doesn't bother me all that much because what we have now more-or-less works. I think it would be way better if we built some new SP Artillery, for example. The 109s are older than their dang crews, and by the time we replace them they might be older than their crews ages all added together.
-Kle.

Klebert L Hall Inactive Member11 Feb 2011 6:53 p.m. PST

Adding the HK 416 upper would not complicate logistics as much as diddling around with limited fielding of several new alternative rifles. Any idea how many different small arms are currently in service in small numbers, when you count up all the ones they've been messing with field testing, or the special ones the "special" people have? *That's* a nightmare.

Yeah, I know, and agree.
AFAIK, there are at least four models of 12ga shotgun in service for some unknown reason (Remington 870, Mossberg 500, Mossberg 590, Benelli M-1014). Special Forces guys seem to have at least one of every gun ever made, just in case.

And armorers love new toys. Not a problem.

Only the good ones.
-Kle.

Jay Arnold Inactive Member11 Feb 2011 8:36 p.m. PST

Yeah, that was all pretty stupid.
How is it an argument for buying other new gear?

Illustrates the precedent. Where there's a will, there's a way.

We only buy anything European for our military every third time Hell freezes over, it's like some kind of demented phobia in D.C.

Just from memory:
Krag-Jørgensen
Chauchat (not a sterling case for my argument)
Rolls-Royce Merlin
M9 Beretta
M240
M249
M320
M1014
MP5

Again, there's plenty of precedent.

Also, with questions over the efficacy of the M4 due to Wanat still lingering, the response that it's "good enough" rings hollow after a while.

The 109s are older than their dang crews, and by the time we replace them they might be older than their crews ages all added together.

So are B52s and B1s are getting that way soon.

Klebert L Hall Inactive Member12 Feb 2011 10:09 a.m. PST

Illustrates the precedent. Where there's a will, there's a way.

Sure, but it seems more like an example of goofy political pressure causing the DoD to buy and deploy (poorly) something of dubious value.


Just from memory:

That's over a century, it really isn't much. You missed stuff too, the Rheinmetal 120mm, the Harrier, and the Canberra bomber come to mind. Still compared to all the stuff we bought locally, I expect foreign purchases are a tiny percentage.

What do we use the MP5 for?

Also, with questions over the efficacy of the M4 due to Wanat still lingering, the response that it's "good enough" rings hollow after a while.

Really?
We lose nine people, they lose the battle, and that's supposed to be controversial?
-Kle.

Jay Arnold Inactive Member12 Feb 2011 8:41 p.m. PST

You missed stuff too …

You'll note I said "from memory." Roughly a quarter of a U.S. Army infantry platoon's personnel are equipped with foreign-designed weapons. "Not U.S." syndrome is plenty dead.

Some of those special guys use MP5s for putting 9mm holes in bad guys.

My bottom line is it seems to me Big Army is designing tests so that they treat the M4 with kid gloves and it still fails to perform as well as a number of viable alternatives. As someone who has actually had to depend on the M4, this does not make me happy. If Big Army is willing to fudge the tests to keep the M4 going, what else are they fudging?

Do I expect Big Army to make a change? No. The about face on UCP for Multicam was a surprise, granted.

Klebert L Hall Inactive Member13 Feb 2011 10:37 a.m. PST

Some of those special guys use MP5s for putting 9mm holes in bad guys.

Neat. Didn't know we had them, now.

My bottom line is it seems to me Big Army is designing tests so that they treat the M4 with kid gloves and it still fails to perform as well as a number of viable alternatives.

Yeah, almost certainly so.
Probably Congress is behind it somewhere, as the initial instigator.

As someone who has actually had to depend on the M4, this does not make me happy.

Don't blame you.
Aren't you used to it by now, though?

If Big Army is willing to fudge the tests to keep the M4 going, what else are they fudging?

Lots of stuff, probably. They're at least as much a bureaucracy as they are a fighting force.

On the bright side, it's an awful lot better (insofar as not dying, not being intentionally/casually/callously screwed over, and achieving victory go) to be a Soldier now than previously, crappy rifle or not. We had a great rifle in WW2, and soldiers were expended like ammunition.
-Kle.

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