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Combat Troops Have Been Complaining About The M4 And M16 For Years. Now The Pentagon Is Doing Something About It
For decades, troops have been complaining about the limitations of the M16 rifle and M4 carbine, both of which are hindered by the same flawed operating system that makes the weapons jam easily. But after years of ignoring small arms in favor of expensive aircraft and warships, the Pentagon is taking a long, hard look at how to give the Army 11 Bang Bangs and Marine grunts a better weapon.
Defense Secretary James Mattis has ordered the creation of a task force to make American small arms more lethal to give infantry soldiers and Marines an extra advantage in the close fight, Pentagon personnel chief Robert Wilkie said. It has been decades since the Pentagon last looked at the combat effectiveness of small units.
“We don’t want any more fair fights,” Wilkie told Task & Purpose on Wednesday. “We want to overmatch any adversary out there.”
Close combat, in which opposing troops are no more than 600 meters from each other, accounts for up to 90 percent of U.S. casualties, Wilkie said, and America’s adversaries have made advances in this type of fighting in recent years.
The Israelis had planned to destroy Hezbollah using airpower in 2006, but they found themselves in close combat with a conventionally trained force that lured Israeli tanks and infantry into kill zones.
“The bottom line for us is we don’t want that to happen,” Wilkie said.
To ensure that U.S. troops can annihilate any enemy in the close fight, the new task force will look at how to update troops’ training and equipment based on lessons learned from special operations forces, he said. One aspect of the review is whether infantry soldiers and Marines need a new rifle, he said.
When asked if the Task Force’s work could result in the Army and Marine Corps fielding a new rifle, Wilkie said: “It could. We just haven’t gotten to that point yet.
But Wilkie stressed that the task force’s focus is to make sure that infantry troops have the training to be dominant in the close fight, adding that discussions about how soldiers and Marines are equipped “will flow from that.”
Mattis has said that he wants U.S. troops to experience 25 simulated battles before they get their first actual combat experience, Wilkie said. To accomplish that, the task force will look at expanding the use of simulators that are currently in the works at Fort Benning, Georgia, and Camp Pendleton, California, he said.
Over the last 70 years, small infantry units have done most of the fighting and dying in America’s wars, but a Pentagon Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation review recently determined that infantry troops get less than 1 percent of the Defense Department’s resources for training and equipment, said retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert Scales, who was an advisor to the CAPE review.
Meanwhile, any U.S. casualties can have strategic implications, Scales told Task & Purpose on Feb. 23. For example, the deaths of four soldiers in Niger in October 2017 has led the U.S. military to rethink its entire posture in Africa, he said.
“We’re very, very sensitive to casualties,” Scales said. “So, it make sense to me that the nation should do more to keep alive who are most likely to die.”
While small arms and other infantry equipment cost far less than the Defense Department’s modernization programs, they have not been a top Pentagon acquisition priority.
For decades, expensive weapons programs like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and Gerald R. Ford class aircraft carrier have eaten up a large part of the Pentagon’s budget, but Wilkie said the task force will now look at whether the Defense Department needs to spend more money on grunts.
“The focus for this secretary will be on the point of the spear where the most of the casualties occur,” Wilkie said. “We are going to determine whether or not we have devoted sufficient resources to that fight. My view is, yes, we will be spending more money on that.”
Two airmen were administratively punished for drinking at the missile launch control center for 150 nuclear LGM-30G Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, the Air Force confirmed to Task & Purpose on Friday.
Two F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters recently flew a mission in the Middle East in "beast mode," meaning they were loaded up with as much firepower as they could carry.
The F-35s with the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron took off from Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates to execute a mission in support of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Air Forces Central Command revealed. The fifth-generation fighters sacrificed their high-end stealth to fly with a full loadout of weaponry on their wings.
The U.S. Senate closed out the week before Memorial Day by confirming Gen. James McConville as the Army's new chief of staff and Adm. Bill Moran as the Navy's new chief of naval operations.
McConville, previously vice chief of staff of the Army, was confirmed on Thursday along with his successor, Lt Gen. Joseph Marin. Moran, currently vice chief of naval operations, was confirmed Friday along with his successor, Vice Adm. Robert Burke.
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is prohibiting service members who work there from being in the area of a Ku Klux Klan rally scheduled for Saturday in downtown Dayton, Ohio.
Pentagon: We won't reveal proof Iran is behind recent Middle East attacks, but have we ever been wrong before?
The Pentagon is producing precisely diddly-squat in terms of proof that Iran is behind recent attacks in the Middle East, requiring more U.S. troops be sent to the region.
Adm. Michael Gilday, director of the Joint Staff, said on Friday that the U.S. military is extending the deployment of about 600 troops with four Patriot missile batteries already in the region and sending close to 1,000 other service members to the Middle East in response to an Iranian "campaign" against U.S. forces.