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As Army weapons officials near the end of a bold effort to arm close-combat units with Next Generation Squad Weapons, new details have emerged about the program's elusive 6.8mm ammo, designed to pierce enemy body armor.
The Army's long-standing effort to develop this revolutionary round, capable of taking on a sophisticated peer enemy on the battlefield, has required gunmakers to challenge design assumptions and innovate. Now that plans to develop and field the bullet are taking shape, it remains to be seen whether it will live up to its promise to transform the fight for infantrymen.
Just recently, the three gunmakers selected for the final phase of the effort have presented a much clearer picture of the three distinctly different cartridge designs. Both Army and industry officials have disclosed concrete information on the composition of the 6.8mm projectile and how gunmakers have designed their NGSW auto rifle and rifle candidates to cope with potential problems created by the new high-velocity ammunition.
I have a problem.
I can't stop thinking about the poor, innocent U.S. Army soldier who in September asked Reddit for help identifying the training rounds he found at the Hohenfels Training Area in Germany. And I can't stop thinking about the consistent piece of advice he received from dozens of fellow U.S. service members: put 'em straight up your butt.
America's lean, mean fighting machine may get a bit more lean in the coming years when it comes to ammunition. The Marine Corps is close to picking up a new polymer ammo for its tried-and-true M2 Browning .50 caliber machine gun to lighten the load for grunts downrange.
The U.S. Army is one of the mightiest fighting forces in the history of mankind. It's also populated, at least in the enlisted ranks, by a bunch of 20-somethings who hold both millions in high-tech equipment and power over life and death in their hands.
So naturally, when someone asks a question of our fighting men and women, the answer tends to be elegant in its uniformity: the best way to get an answer is to put something up your butt.
The head of Army Materiel Command said recently that he is putting a high priority on munitions readiness to make sure Army units are prepared for the next war.