Congress Limits Funding For M27 Automatic Rifles For Infantry Marines

Military Tech

The Marines want to give infantry riflemen the deadliest automatic rifle available, but Congress is holding up the plans, concerned that the Corps and the Army may end up fielding the weapons in completely different calibers.


Over the next five years, the Marines plan to buy 15,000 automatic rifles from the Germans small arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch, which makes the HK 416 that the Corps uses as the M27. Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller believes the IAR will make 0311smore deadly on the battlefield. The Corps expects to spend a total of $29.4 million on the IARs.

But a provision in the fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act withholds 20% of that money until the commandant lays out for lawmakers how the Marine Corps plans to update its small arms — and how the purchase of more M27s fits in with the Army’s study on modernizing small arms. Marine Corps Times first highlighted the provision on Wednesday.

Lawmakers want to know if it makes sense for the Marines to purchase automatic rifles that chamber a 5.56mm round, because the Army is testing a weapon that fires 6.8mm rounds to replace the M4 carbine, a congressional staffer told Task & Purpose on Thursday.

The Marine Corps is working to quickly provide lawmakers with the information they need “to satisfy the Congressional requirement and enable full execution of the M27 procurement plan,” said Richard Long, a Corps spokesman.

“The Army and Marine Corps work closely together to achieve common solutions for the majority of small arms capabilities, to include ammunition and fire control,” Long said. “Marine Corps participation in the Army-led Small Arms Ammunition Configuration (SAAC) study that examined optional ammunition configurations for the infantry squad is another example of this close collaboration and will lead to common requirements and materiel solutions for the next generation of squad weapons.”

The Army is testing both a new carbine and an automatic rifle to replace the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, Brig. Gen. Christopher Donahue, then-director of the Army’s soldier lethality cross functional team, told T&P; in May. Donahue declined to say when the weapons would be fielded, but he said the Army plans to replace the SAW first.

“We will do everything to make sure that we as rapidly as possible get the right capability into the hands of our soldiers, but we will make sure that the capability that we give them is ready – it is tested, to include significant soldier test points – to make sure that we get is exactly what they need to fight, win, and survive in combat,” Donahue said.

But because the Marine Corps is a maritime service, its needs for weaponry are different than the Army’s, said retired Chief Warrant Officer 5 Christian Wade, former gunner for the 2nd Infantry Division. For example, the M27 can fire after being submerged in water, while M4 carbines can blow up if they get water in them.

“The Marine Corps and Army are divergent on their small arms programs because they are divergent on their doctrinal employment of the squad,” Wade told T&P; on Thursday. “That’s not a judgment on the U.S. Army. The Marine Corps has a different squad size with a different composition and different weapons.”

The Army can also take at least 10 years to field new weapons, while the M27 is available right now for infantry Marines, he said. And some of the Army’s ideas for weapons end up being abandoned, such as the 7.62mm interim rifle, he said.

To Wade, Congress’ decision to withhold 20% of the funding for the IARs makes no sense.

“It’s frustrating to me that they would go: ‘OK, we’re going to let you buy 80%. That’s fine. But we’re going to withhold 20% and let 20% of your riflemen not have that fine rifle,’” Wade said. “What the hell? That does not suggest to me that the motive behind withholding that money has anything to do with warfighting.”

WATCH NEXT:

An Oregon Air National Guard F-15C Eagle that made an emergency landing on Wednesday ditched its entire arsenal of live air-to-air missiles before touching down at Portland International Airport, The War Zone reports.

Read More Show Less

Several hundred U.S. troops will remain in Syria after allied forces clear ISIS fighters out of their last stronghold in the country, officials said on Friday.

President Donald Trump announced in December that he would withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, but Sen. Lindsey Graham has since made a strong push to keep a small residual force along the Turkish border along with troops from European allies.

Read More Show Less
Chris Osman (Photo: _chris_osman_designs/Instagram)

The former Navy SEAL among a group of eight men arrested earlier this week in Port-au-Prince on weapons charges says he was providing security work "for people who are directly connected to the current President" of Haiti.

"We were being used as pawns in a public fight between him and the current Prime Minister of Haiti," said Chris Osman, 44, in a post on Instagram Friday. "We were not released we were in fact rescued."

Read More Show Less
Former Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis (DoD photo)

A Richland, Washington city councilman thinks native son Jim Mattis would make a terrific governor or even president.

Read More Show Less

It's a photo for the ages: a Marine NCO, a Greek god in his dress blues, catches the eye of a lovely young woman as her boyfriend urges her on in distress. It's the photographic ancestor of the much-loved "distracted boyfriend" stock photo meme, made even sweeter by the fact that this is clearly a sailor about to lose his girl to a Devil Dog.

Well, this photo and the Marine in it, which hopscotched around Marine Corps Facebook and Instagram pages before skyrocketing to the front page of Reddit on Thursday, are very real.

The photo shows then-Staff Sgt. Louis A. Capozzoli — and he is absolutely not on his way to steal your girl.

Read More Show Less