Wednesday, July 19

Dear Senator Clinton: Soldiers Need a better Rifle

Earlier this year Senator Hillary Clinton with a couple of other Democrat Congressmen took up the issue of inadequate protection for our troops in Iraq:
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton claims that hundreds of U.S. soldiers may have died "needlessly" in Iraq because of inadequate body armor and wants the Senate Armed Services Committee to hold hearings into the safety of the standard armored vests issued to troops.

Clinton's request comes days after Soldiers for Truth, a defense watchdog group, obtained a secret Armed Forces Medical Examiner's report suggesting that 74 of 93 U.S. Marines killed by torso wounds since the 2003 invasion might have lived if their vests better protected their sides and arms.

"The number of lives lost to inadequate armor could reach the hundreds if Army deaths attributable to inadequate armor not included in this survey are counted as well," Clinton wrote yesterday in a letter to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner (R-Va.).

"Lives may have been needlessly lost because of inadequate equipment." - Newsday
As we can see, Senator Clinton is very concerned about whether equipment issued to troops is adequate for the job they are asked to do, at least as far as protective gear. But what about the weapons issued to the troops? Weapons are as important as the protective gear as it is the weapons that stop enemy fire and there are claims (and some evidence) that the M-16 rifle is not powerful enough at killing the enemy and soldiers want a weapon that kills better.
"(CBS) As American troop casualties in Iraq continue to mount, concern is growing they may be outgunned. That includes new questions about the stopping power of the ammunition that is used by the standard-issue M-16 rifle.

Shortly after the U.N. headquarters was bombed in Baghdad in August 2003, a Special Forces unit went to Ramadi to capture those responsible.

In a fierce exchange of gunfire, one insurgent was hit seven times by 5.56 mm bullets, reports CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian. It took a shot to the head with a pistol to finally bring him down. But before he died, he killed two U.S. soldiers and wounded seven more. "

The lack of the lethality of that bullet has caused United States soldiers to die," says Maj. Anthony Milavic. Milavic is a retired Marine major who saw three tours of duty in Vietnam.

He says the small-caliber 5.56, essentially a .22-caliber civilian bullet, is far better suited for shooting squirrels than the enemy, and contends that urban warfare in Iraq demands a bigger bullet. "A bullet that knocks the man down with one shot," he says. "And keeps him down." - Minstrel Boy
This sounds like an issue that Senator Clinton should be pursuing. After all, the enemy can't test the effectiveness of your bulletproof vest if he's dead. But can Senator Clinton's Presidential hopes survive her demanding that the military investigate the need for American Soldiers to be equipped with deadlier weapons?

So how did the military get in this predicament? Here is one take from the Free Patriot:
Many in the U.S. Army are in favor of using a larger caliber bullet (7.62mm, as used in sniper rifles like the M-14), or a 6.8mm round. The problem with the 5.56mm round was that it was not designed to take down man sized targets (or animal equivalents like white tailed deer, or black bears), and is less effective in blasting through walls and vehicles during urban fighting. When first introduced, it was intended for use by draftees, who were often in need of automatic fire capability (because so few were marksmen). This meant troops had to be able to carry more ammo, thus the utility of the 5.56mm round. The 5.56mm bullet could wound, or kill with a head or torso shot. But a determined enemy was often not stopped by 5.56mm fire. Today, all the infantry are volunteers, much better trained to hit targets with single shots, and increasingly demanding a bigger bullet for doing that - Free Patriot
Yes, you can carry more ammo if the size of each one is smaller. Then again, how useful would a BB gun be in Iraq even if you could carry 50,000 BBs because they are so light. If the soldier carrying the rounds is better at hitting targets, then perhaps he does not need to carry so many. If carrying ammo is such an issue, then why do we still have the heavier Caliber weapons around? Those suckers burn through ammo like there is no tomorrow. They are still around because they are so effective, but then why don't they use the lightest rounds in order to fill the air with bullets?

Here is an extract of a summary I found of our weapons used in Iraq:

Jordan spent 7 months at “Camp Blue Diamond” in Ramadi. Aka: Fort Apache. He saw and did a lot and the following is what he told me about weapons, equipment, tactics and other miscellaneous info which may be of interest to you. Nothing is by any means classified. No politics here, just a Marine with a bird’s eye view’s opinions:

1) The M-16 rifle: Thumbs down. Chronic jamming problems with the talcum-powder-like sand over there. The sand is everywhere. Jordan says you feel filthy 2 minutes after coming out of the shower. The M-4 carbine version is more popular because it’s lighter and shorter, but it has jamming problems also. They like the ability to mount the various optical gunsights and weapons lights on the picattiny rails, but the weapon itself is not great in a desert environment. They all hate the 5.56mm (.223) round. Poor penetration on the cinderblock structure common over there and even torso hits cant be reliably counted on to put the enemy down. Fun fact: Random autopsies on dead insurgents shows a high level of opiate use.

2) The M243 SAW (squad assault weapon): .223 cal. Drum fed light machine gun. Big thumbs down. Universally considered a piece of shit. Chronic jamming problems, most of which require partial disassembly. (that’s fun in the middle of a firefight).

3) The M9 Beretta 9mm: Mixed bag. Good gun, performs well in desert environment; but they all hate the 9mm cartridge. The use of handguns for self-defense is actually fairly common. Same old story on the 9mm: Bad guys hit multiple times and still in the fight.

4) Mossberg 12ga. Military shotgun: Works well, used frequently for clearing houses to good effect.

5) The M240 Machine Gun: 7.62 Nato (.308) cal. belt fed machine gun, developed to replace the old M-60 (what a beautiful weapon that was!!). Thumbs up. Accurate, reliable, and the 7.62 round puts ‘em down. Originally developed as a vehicle mounted weapon, more and more are being dismounted and taken into the field by infantry. The 7.62 round chews up the structure over there.

6) The M2 .50 cal heavy machine gun: Thumbs way, way up. “Ma deuce” is still worth her considerable weight in gold. The ultimate fight stopper, puts their dicks in the dirt every time. The most coveted weapon in-theater.

7) The .45 pistol: Thumbs up. Still the best pistol round out there. Everybody authorized to carry a sidearm is trying to get their hands on one. With few exceptions, can reliably be expected to put ‘em down with a torso hit. The special ops guys (who are doing most of the pistol work) use the HK military model and supposedly love it. The old government model 45’s are being re-issued en masse.

8) The M-14: Thumbs up. They are being re-issued in bulk, mostly in a modified version to special ops guys. Modifications include lightweight Kevlar stocks and low power red dot or ACOG sights. Very reliable in the sandy environment, and they love the 7.62 round.

9) The Barrett .50 cal sniper rifle: Thumbs way up. Spectacular range and accuracy and hits like a freight train. Used frequently to take out vehicle suicide bombers ( we actually stop a lot of them) and barricaded enemy. Definitely here to stay.

You can read the whole article here at Instapinch which includes a summary of the weapons used by the enemy. Their main weapon is the world-famous AK-47, and there are reports that some Americans are using captured AK-47s. Surely, the US can come up with a better weapon. The Barrett sniper rifle (mentioned above) is a perfect example of that.

So Senator, can you come out to help the troops a little more. the other Senators can feel free to investigate this as well. I am sure Senator Clinton is busy as it is and would appreciate the assistance.

Clinton: Vests not protecting troops in Iraq - Newsday
Guns that Work in Iraq -
US Troops Want a Better Bullet - The Free Patriot
Is Faulty Ammo Failing Troops - Minstrel Boy

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