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This Retro Video Is The Perfect Tribute To Navy SEALs’ Vietnam-Era Weapon of Choice
The Stoner 63 machine gun is one of the most powerful U.S. military weapons platforms you may never have heard of. Developed by AR-15/M16 designer and small arms legend Eugene Stoner and Cadillac Gage in 1963, the Stoner 63 mainly saw combat in the hands of Navy SEALs during the Vietnam War. Only 4,000 of the 5.56mm modular weapons system were ever produced.
But at the height of its limited use, the muscular machine gun “added to our firepower like no other weapon could have,” according to retired SEAL Lt. Cmdr Michael J. Walsh, who appears in a newly surfaced mini-documentary The Stoner Machinegun: A Navy Seal Remembers. “Once you got used to it and you fell in love with the weapon, you never really carried anything else.”
The Stoner Machinegun, produced in the 1990s and posted by Arms of The 80s on Jan. 1 is a delightful 30-minute meditation on a powerful weapons system, as seen through the eyes of Walsh, a 26-year SEAL veteran described by Military.com as an "outspoken renegade and consummate survivalist" who was among the first U.S. troops to work their way up Vietnam’s Mekong Delta as part of the Mobile Riverine Force in 1967.
As one of the earliest modular weapons systems, the Stoner was designed to maximize firepower in a lightweight, compact platform. The multi-use receiver offered up six distinct weapons configurations, from a folding-stock carbine to a solenoid-operated fixed machine gun for mounting on a ground vehicle or aircraft. And although Stoner embraced 5.56mm NATO ammo over 7.62mm rounds due to weight considerations (a trade-off that the Department of Defense is grappling with today), the average 5.56 bullet fired from a 63A light machine gun variant could penetrate standard U.S. body armor (and 4.5 inches of pine boards) at 600 yards, according to its systems pamphlet published in Death in the Delta: Diary of a Navy SEAL.
Navy SEALs pose for a photo on a dock near Ben Tre in southwest Vietnam, 1970. The SEAL in the center of the group, Lt. Michael Collins, is carrying a Stoner 63A1 Mk 23 Mod 0 Commando with a short 15.7 in (398.8 mm) barrel. Lt. Collins was killed in action on March 4th, 1971.U.S. Navy/National Archives/Wikimedia Commons
The Stoner 63’s versatility made the platform an ideal pick for Naval Special Warfare missions, like Walsh’s trip up the Mekong Delta, during the opening years of the Vietnam War. According to Death in the Delta, SEAL Teams One and Two both evaluated the reliability and capabilities of the 63A during 1,345 combat missions between 1963 and 1974, concluding that the system was “significantly superior” to the M60 machine gun and recommending at least six Stoners per SEAL platoon. A SEAL Team One C.O. even stated that SEAL detachments equipped with the 63A actively developed firefight tactics around the weapon.
Although a handful of U.S. Marines used the platform during the 1983 invasion of Grenada, the Stoner 63 never saw broader adoption despite its popularity. After the Army issued the 63A LMG variant to several Green Beret units for evaluation in the 1970s, the branch determined that the unique platform was simply too complicated for battlefield maintenance — ironic, considering it’s was the Stoner 63’s unique recoil buffering system that, in conjunction with the multi-use receiver, made the platform so versatile in the first place.
While the Stoner 63 was eventually replaced by the sassy but fabulous M249 Squad Automatic Weapon and most of the machine guns destroyed, Stoner fever persists today. In August 2017, Knight Armament unveiled a Stoner X-LMG 5.56mm machine gun that, according to We Are The Mighty, completely bypasses the need for such a complicated buffering system, without extra recoil. Based on his testimony in The Stoner Machinegun, the longevity of the Stoner 63’s reputation would probably make Walsh smile today.
“If you had six Stoners and four M60s in a 14-man SEAL platoon, you’ve got company-sized firepower just with machine guns alone,” he explains in the doc. “That got you home.”
A Minnesota Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with three Guardsmen aboard crashed south of St. Cloud on Thursday, said National Guard spokeswoman Army Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens.
At this time, the National Guard is not releasing any information about the status of the three people aboard the helicopter, Heusdens told Task & Purpose on Thursday.
The Pentagon's latest attempt to twist itself in knots to deny that it is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East has a big caveat.
Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said there are no plans to send that many troops to the region "at this time."
Farah's statement does not rule out the possibility that the Defense Department could initially announce a smaller deployment to the region and subsequently announce that more troops are headed downrange.
The Navy could deploy a second carrier to the Middle East if Trump orders an Iran surge, top admiral says
The Navy could send a second aircraft carrier to the Middle East if President Donald Trump orders a surge of forces to the region, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said on Thursday.
Gordon Lubold and Nancy Youssef of the Wall Street Journal first reported the United States is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to deter Iran from attacking U.S. forces and regional allies. The surge forces could include several ships.
I didn't think a movie about World War I would, or even could, remind me of Afghanistan.
Somehow 1917 did, and that's probably the highest praise I can give Sam Mendes' newest war drama: It took a century-old conflict and made it relatable.
An internal investigation spurred by a nude photo scandal shows just how deep sexism runs in the Marine Corps
"I will still have to work harder to get the perception away from peers and seniors that women can't do the job."
Some years ago, a 20-year-old female Marine, a military police officer, was working at a guard shack screening service members and civilians before they entered the base. As a lance corporal, she was new to the job and the duty station, her first in the Marine Corps.
At some point during her shift, a male sergeant on duty drove up. Get in the car, he said, the platoon sergeant needs to see you. She opened the door and got in, believing she was headed to see the enlisted supervisor of her platoon.
Instead, the sergeant drove her to a dark, wooded area on base. It was deserted, no other Marines were around. "Hey, I want a blowjob," the sergeant told her.
"What am I supposed, what do you do as a lance corporal?" she would later recall. "I'm 20 years old ... I'm new at this. You're the only leadership I've ever known, and this is what happens."
She looked at him, then got out of the car and walked away. The sergeant drove up next to her and tried to play it off as a prank. "I'm just fucking with you," he said. "It's not a big deal."
It was one story among hundreds of others shared by Marines for a study initiated in July 2017 by the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL). Finalized in March 2018, the center's report was quietly published to its website in September 2019 with little fanfare.
The culture of the Marine Corps is ripe for analysis. A 2015 Rand Corporation study found that women felt far more isolated among men in the Corps, while the Pentagon's Office of People Analytics noted in 2018 that female Marines rated hostility toward them as "significantly higher" than their male counterparts.
But the center's report, Marines' Perspectives on Various Aspects of Marine Corps Organizational Culture, offers a proverbial wakeup call to leaders, particularly when paired alongside previous studies, since it was commissioned by the Marine Corps itself in the wake of a nude photo sharing scandal that rocked the service in 2017.
The scandal, researchers found, was merely a symptom of a much larger problem.