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Why Marines Absolutely Love the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle
Marksmanship, the ability to shoot accurately and service targets with the minimum expenditure of ammunition, has always been part of the Marine Corps ethos. The adoption of the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle over the older M249 Squad Automatic Weapon marks a return to that ethos across the service at the small unit level. More accurate and capable of accomplishing its mission with fewer expended rounds, the M27 is now being considered as the front-line rifle not only for a handful of squad members but across the Corps’ front line units.
The Marine Corps, accustomed to heavy losses against strong enemy defenses and beach assaults, maintains robust, thirteen-man infantry squads. These squads further divide into three fire teams led by a single squad leader, each of which has two riflemen, a grenadier, and an automatic rifleman. Compared to a nine-man U.S. Army infantry squad, the Marine squad has four more personnel and a third rifle team. The result is increased flexibility and more tactical options for the squad leader.
For decades the fire team automatic rifleman has been equipped with the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. Originally developed by Fabrique Nationale as the MINIMI, the M249 was capable of laying down a large volume of fire, up to 900 rounds per minute, using 200 round belt-fed packs of ammunition. This made the M249 useful for suppressive fire, keeping the enemy’s head down while other fire teams closed with the enemy. The M249 was a Marine Corps staple through the 9/11 era.
As useful as the M249 was, it did have problems. A 2006 report conducted by the CNA Corporation found that among U.S. Army combat veterans, the M249 scored below average in third place (after the M16 rifle and M4 carbine, but generally ahead of the M9 pistol) in handling, accuracy, maintainability and corrosion resistance. Nearly 30 percent of troops issued the M249 reported experiencing a stoppage in contact with the enemy, and 35 percent expressed a lack of confidence in weapon reliability. Although a U.S. Army study, the weapons involved in the study were identical to those issued at the time by the U.S. Marines.
The most glaring problem with the M249: it was never a good institutional fit for the Marine Corps. Although the weapon could hose down an enemy position with fire it wasn’t particularly useful for accurately engaging individual targets. The increase in ammo consumption meant an increase in carried ammunition weight. Ammunition consumption went up, the weight of carried ammunition went up, and accuracy went down—not an ideal situation for infantry.
In 2010, the Marines introduced the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle (IAR). The IAR is based on the Heckler and Koch 416 rifle, which outwardly is very similar to the M4 carbine. Unlike the M4 carbine, the M27 uses the gas piston operating system, which uses a piston to drive the bolt. Instead of recycling hot, dirty propellent gases to cycle the weapon the M27 vents them, resulting in a cooler running, cleaner running, if slightly front-heavy rifle.
The M27 differs in other ways. The rifle barrel is slightly longer and heavier than the M4 carbine, giving the M27 a slight range advantage over the carbine. The thicker M27 barrel can fire longer than the M4 before overheating, but will also disperse heat longer. The M27 is also much lighter, weighing nearly ten pounds fully loaded, versus twenty-two pounds fully loaded for the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. This is an appreciable difference during long periods of carrying the weapon.
Marines fire M27 Infantry Automatic Rifles during a squad-sized, live-fire range at Camp Lejeune, N.C., March 29, 2017.Photo via DoD
The main difference between the M27 and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, however, is accuracy. The M249 is first and foremost a machine gun and is accurate to about twelve minutes of angle, meaning rounds will hit within a foot of their target at 100 yards. The M27, on the other hand, is approximately a two minute of angle weapon, meaning it will land rounds within two inches of the target at 100 yards. In the hands of a trained automatic rifleman, this scales upward, so the M27 will deliver rounds within twelve inches of the target at 600 yards.
Other factors further improve the M27’s accuracy. The weapon features a Harris folding bipod, giving it a stable shooting position while prone or from behind cover. It also features a Trijicon ACOG Squad Day Optic, which sports 3.5 power magnification and allows target identification and precision fire out to distances of up to 600 yards. The ACOG also incorporates a rugged miniaturized reflex (RMR) sight for close quarters shooting at 100 yards or less.
The M27 is described by marines in the field as “two weapons in one”: a rifle capable of precision fire to eliminate individual targets but also capable of providing area suppression fire, like a SAW, if necessary. The difference is that the improved accuracy of the M27 leads to the need to fire fewer rounds to suppress a target, and less ammunition consumption in general. By contrast, the M249 it replaces is primarily an area suppression fire weapon with no precision fire capability.
The M27 has become so well-liked in August 2017 the Marine Corps issued an intent notice to procure another 50,000 rifles—enough to equip every infantryman and automatic rifleman in front-line combat units. Such an upgrade would give the Marine Corps an impressive boost in aimed firepower and mark a return to the Corps’ tradition of marksmanship.
This article originally appeared on The National Interest
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NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — A Navy SEAL sniper on Wednesday contradicted earlier testimony of fellow SEALs who claimed he had fired warning shots to scare away civilian non-combatants before Chief Eddie Gallagher shot them during their 2017 deployment to Mosul, and said he would not want to deploy again with one of the prosecution's star witnesses.
Special Operator 1st Class Joshua Graffam originally invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege before Navy Judge Capt. Aaron Rugh gave him immunity in order to compel his testimony.
Graffam testified that Gallagher was essentially justified in the shooting of a man he is accused of unlawfully targeting, stating that "based off everything i had seen so far ... in my opinion, they were two shitheads moving from one side of the road to the other."
Spotting for Gallagher in the tower that day, Graffam said, he called out the target to him and he fired. He said the man was hit in the upper torso and ran away.
Graffam, who joined the Navy in 2010 and has been assigned to SEAL Team 7's Alpha Platoon since September 2015, deployed alongside Gallagher to Mosul in 2017, occasionally acting as a spotter for Gallagher when the SEALs were tasked with providing sniper support for Iraqi forces from two towers east of the Tigris River.
Another SEAL, Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Dalton Tolbert, had previously testified under direct examination by prosecutors that, while stationed in the south tower of a bombed-out building in June 2017, he had observed Gallagher shoot and kill an elderly civilian.
"He ran north to south across the road," Tolbert testified on Friday. "That's when I saw the red mark on his back and I saw him fall for the first time. Blood started to pool and I knew it was a square hit in the back." Over the radio, he said he heard Gallagher tell the other snipers, "you guys missed him but I got him."
Former SO1 Dylan Dille, who was also in the south tower that day, testified last week that he watched an old man die from a sniper shot on Father's Day. He said the date stuck out in his mind because he thought the man was probably a father.
Later that day, after the mission, Graffam said he spoke with Dille about the shooting and they disagreed about the circumstances. Dille, he said, believed the man was a noncombatant.
"I, on the other hand, was confident that the right shot was taken," Graffam said, although he said later under cross-examination that the man was unarmed. Dille previously testified that the SEALs were authorized to shoot unarmed personnel if they first received signals intelligence or other targeting information.
Graffam described the man as a male between 40 and 50 years old wearing black clothing, giving him the impression of an ISIS fighter who was moving in a "tactical" manner. He testified that he did not see anything like Dille had described.
Graffam further testified that he didn't see Gallagher take any shots that he shouldn't have on that day or any other.
Although Graffam said he did not hear of allegations that Gallagher had stabbed a wounded ISIS fighter on deployment, he testified that he started to hear rumblings in early 2018. Chief Craig Miller, he said, asked him at one point whether he would "cooperate" with others in reporting him.
When asked whether he would like to serve with Miller again in a SEAL platoon, Graffam said, "I don't feel as confident about it." A member of the jury later asked him why he'd feel uncomfortable deploying with Miller and he responded, "I just wouldn't."
Graffam said he would serve with Gallagher again if given the chance.
Under cross examination by prosecutors, Graffam said he couldn't say whether there were warning shots fired that day, though Dille and Tolbert both said happened. "There were multiple shots throughout the day," Graffam said.
Prosecutors also asked him about his previous statements to NCIS, in which Graffam said of Miller that "he has good character" and was "a good guy." Graffam confirmed he said just that.
Defense attorney Tim Parlatore, however, said those statements were back in January and "a lot had happened since then." Parlatore said Graffam had also said at the time that Gallagher was a good leader.
"That part remains unchanged, correct?" Parlatore asked.
"Yes," Graffam said.
The defense is expected to call more witnesses in the case, which continues on Thursday.
US troops are using dating apps more and condoms less as sexually transmitted infections surge within the ranks
The U.S. military is seeing an increase in sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis in part due to dating apps, according to the Military Health System.
"There appears to be an increase in high-risk behaviors among service members; that is, having sex without a condom or having more than one sexual partner," Air Force physician Maj. Dianne Frankel said in a news release.
Three Marines killed in a December plane crash are finally coming home.
Five Marines aboard a KC-130J Hercules and one Marine on an F/A-18 Hornet were killed when both planes went down about 200 miles off the Japanese coast.
A recent salvage operation of the KC-130J crash site recovered the remains of three of the Marines, who were later identified, Corps officials said.
The Air Force is investigating an airman after he posted a video on YouTube rife with homophobic slurs and insults.
A man in an Air Force uniform, identified only by the YouTube username "Baptist Dave 1611" ranted in a recent video, calling gay people "sodomites," "vermin scum," and "roaches" among other slurs, according to Air Force Times, which first reported the story Wednesday.
"The specifics of the situation are being reviewed by the airman's command team," said service spokesman Maj Nick Mercurio, confirming the incident. Mercurio did not provide any identifying details about the airman.
Two U.S. troops were killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday, defense officials have announced.
Operation Resolute Support issued a terse news release announcing the latest casualties that did not include any information about the circumstances of their deaths.