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.
In their race to field a more powerful automatic rifle, the Marine Corps sidestepped the normal acquisition process and approved a contract to buy them at price tag five times that of the current M4 rifle. The $150 million deal, which may have involved a government employee who recently worked at the foreign arms maker that won the bid, is now under intense scrutiny from Congress — and raises questions about the Corps' aggressive focus on fielding more lethal gear into troops’ hands as quickly as possible.
The Marine Corps had a busy, bellicose 2017, from returning to Afghanistan’s turbulent Helmand province to bombarding ISIS fighters in Syria with such ferocity that the Marines burned out two M777 Howitzers in the process. Now, almost a year after unveiling an ambitious plan to outfit an increasingly indispensable Corps, leaders plan on giving Marine the world’s most lethal makeover in 2018.