Some thoughts from someone at War.

One of our friends over in one of our active War Zones sent us some of this thoughts:

-Massive reduction in the number of general officer positions.
-Closing of most European bases.  Eventual goal of no US land forces permanently stationed in any European Union country.  All bases in the UK, Italy, and Turkey would be closed immediately.  Bases in Germany would remain for the time being.
-The United States would unilaterally withdraw from NATO.  That organization is a useless Cold War dinosaur.  All it does now is have the United States protect decadent Western European countries from a threat that isn’t there anymore.

-The land forces of the United States would be reduced, with much of it being moved into the reserve component.  Occupying third world nations and doing counter-insurgency missions for a decade at a time would not be considered a primary mission.  The US would retain the capability of COIN or, better yet, intensive counter-guerrilla operations, but COIN would no longer be the leading doctrine of the US Army.  Elite divisions, special operations, and the Marine Corps in general would have more money thrown their way for training and equipment.  This, I think, is better than a massive active-duty Army trying to maintain huge numbers without the budget to do so.
-The Air, Space, and Naval forces of the United States would be maintained or increased, but restructured to cut out the fat.  Space would be emphasized.  The Navy would be increased in sized, but the number of Carrier Battle Groups would be reduced from twelve to nine, over time.  Primarily because right now, the Navy doesn’t have enough planes to man twelve battle groups.  And also, aircraft carriers are going to be increasingly vulnerable and difficult to defend in the 21st century.  What the Navy would get would be a larger number of smaller, more versatile ships.  Not as small and useless as the Littoral Combat Ship, but capable of doing everything from counter-piracy to submarine hunting to engaging the Chinese Navy on the high seas.
-The emphasis on space capability would, in time, also reduce the need for carriers.  The plan would be for THOR: persistent, orbital, unmanned kinetic strike platforms firing “Rods from God” at hyper velocities.  As accurate as a JDAM, no nuclear or even conventional high explosive component.  As this system came online, manned strategic bombers could be retired.  Aircraft carriers would be much less important.  Would this instigate a space arms race?  Yes, it would.  But that’s okay.  A space war, with satellites and shuttles shooting each other down, entails a lot less people killed than the sinking of an aircraft carrier.
-This would, in turn, create an industrial revolution in military and civilian space development.  The Air Force and Navy would get a joint, 70/30 share of space operations and management, with the Army and Marines having limited involvement by their own space personnel.  Manned military spaceflight would be a reality.  The decaying mass that is NASA would not be involved in any military spacelift.
-The United States would start issuing expanding/enhanced lethality ammunition to its troops. If soft points, hollow points, and ballistic tips are okay for American police to shoot American citizens with, then they’re okay for American soldiers to shoot the enemies of our country with.  No more ancient Hague Accord bullshit.
So what of the small arms?  Personally, I wouldn’t change much.  Evolutionary development of the weapons currently in service, mostly.  An entirely new small arms family would not be adopted until there was some significant advancement.  For example, the research into lightweight small arms and reduced weight ammunition.  I wouldn’t bother replacing a 5.56mm M4 with a 6.8mm ACR.  Not a big enough difference to justify the expense of having to replace all the rifles, all the parts, all the magazines, all the manuals, and retrain all the armorers.

But there would be changes, rapid changes.  Each service would get new weapons.  Old M16s and M4s would be converted to the extent possible to the new configurations.

For the Army, the M4 and M4A1 would be superseded by the M4A2 and M4A3.  The A2 would be converted M4s with three round burst trigger groups.  The new A3s would be the standard.  They’d have 14.5″ barrels and monolithic uppers with mid-length free-float handguards.  Attached to the rails would be metal back up iron sights.  The bottom section of the rail would detach for low-profile mounting of an M203 type grenade launcher.  The stock would be a Magpul or Crane type improved carbine stock.  The grip would be improved, with an enlarged trigger guard.  Ambidextrous selectors and magazine releases would be standard, and not a jury-rigged one.  The lowers would be designed around them.  The charging handle would include a tac-latch.  Standard optics would be the Aimpoint M4 and the TA-11 ACOG.  Grips, stocks, magazines, optics, and rail covers would all be flat dark earth in color.  Painting of weapons while in-theater would be approved.

For the Air Force, I’d field the first AF-specific small arm since the 1960s.  It’d be dubbed the GUU-7/P personal defense weapon.  Essentially, it’s an AR-15 type weapon, semiauto only, with an 11.5″ barrel and a telescoping stock.  The lower would share all of the improvements of the M4A3.  It would come standard with folding front and rear sights, and a plastic, non-railed handguard.  PIG type muzzle brake to aid functioning.  Aimpoints would be fielded across the board as budgeting allowed.  This would be the standard weapon of Air Force personnel that don’t have any type of combat mission but may need to carry weapons on duty.  For example, jet maintainers don’t carry weapons on duty.  There’s no point.  But Civil Engineers, for example, would get the new carbines.  Ground combat AF personnel, like Security Forces, AFSOC, and EOD, would get M4A3s as standard.

The Marines would replace their entire inventory of M16s with Mk 25 battle rifles.  These would, essentially, be infantry-grade SR-25 type rifles in 7.62x51mm, developed specifically for the Marine Corps (in fact, they’d have the EGA logo engraved on the magazine well).  The lower would have an enlarged trigger guard and ambidextrous selector and magazine release.  Firing mode would be semiauto only.  The rifle would have an 18″ barrel with a full length free float handguard.  The upper is monolithic, like the M4A3, and the bottom rail detaches to allow mounting of the M203.  The standard optic would be a TA-11 ACOG.  Stock would be of an improved telescoping type to enhance use while wearing body armor.  Bayonet lug remains.

This rifle would be developed around a new 7.62x51mm round.  It would be a heavier, 168 grain or so, bullet over a hotter charge.  The load is specifically tailored to give the best muzzle velocity out of a short (16-18″) barrel.  This round would have superior range and penetration compared to the ancient M80 ball round.  It would have a steel penetrator, like the SS109 round, around a copper bullet designed for controlled expansion.  In other words, better barrier penetration and increased lethality.

Another rifle designed for this round would be another Air Force specific weapon, the GUU-9/P carbine.  Essentially a short version of the Mk 25, the 9/P shares most of its features, save a mid-length gas system and a 16″ barrel.  This weapon would be issued in small quantities to AFSOC, EOD, and Security Forces, equipped generally with an ACOG.  Just because I want to carry a .308 battle rifle.  Is that so wrong?

Finally, the pistol.  I would immediately retire both the M9 and the 9mm round.  If we’re no longer in NATO, screw NATO compatibility.  Why use a 60s-designed Italian pistol with a hundred and ten year old, German designed round?  The new pistol, the M13, is based on the S&W M&P.  It would have a 5″ barrel like the M&P 9L.

The difference is it’s in .40 caliber, issued with 165 grain JHP ammunition for duty (and a ballistically matched ball load for training).  Unlike the commercial models, the M13 has straight cocking serrations and less fancy markings.  It is issued with an ambidextrous thumb safety and a GI green frame.  A shorter version, like a standard M&P, and a compact version, would be available for OSI, CI, CID, etc.   I have no love of the .40 S&W round but I’d gladly adopt it just to say screw the Europeans.

Special Operations Command would have developed for them a large, powerful 10mm pistol that they would have the option to use.
-All sniper rifles in 7.62x51mm would be SR-25 style autoloaders.  The Remington MSR in .338 Lapua would be the standard long-ranged bolt action rifle.  Perhaps a Chey-Tac Intervention for the best, longest-ranged-shooting snipers in the Army and Marines, if the mission calls for it.  Snipers would continue to get a large budget, like EOD and Special Operations, even after the restructuring.  They’re economical and effective, there’s nothing to not like.

I would roll with 6.8 ACR’s.  Refreshing the Arms Locker isn’t a bad thing and retraining with the ACR’s is pretty much a one hour class at most.  This would be an M4 replacement.  Then work on a battle rifle as well as a new round for it.   And I’d go further, making sure that all issued guns are accompanied with suppressors.  There is no magical or mysterious thing about a suppressor… they just make guns much less noisy when inside of a building.  M&P .40’s would be great.  I can agree with that.  But I’d rather see 10mm roll out across the board.  Just because little girlie FBI Accountants and Lawyers couldn’t handle the 10, but any serious shooter should be able to use it effectively.  I’d rather see the 10mm adopted than to go back to the .45 or continue with the 9mm.

12 thoughts on “Some thoughts from someone at War.”

  1. Good read, thanks.

    I like a lot of the points given, but it would be Fedzilla cutting it’s own monetary throat. Slim chance of that happening. Trying to apply logic, common sense, American values, or even American progression with the .gov is seemingly futile.

  2. I’ve never understood why full-auto rated suppressors aren’t standard on every M-16/M4 being carried by our troops today. You increase our soldier’s ability to communicate with each other and on the radio in combat, reduce their signature when firing at the enemy, and help reduce long term hearing loss. If they can find the money for ACOG’s, they can find the money for suppressors.

  3. The M&P is the very best platform for the .40 in my opinion. It takes that snappy round and makes it act like a 9mm in recoil. An M&P in .40 would probably be the best next military sidearm.

  4. Considering the fact that we are supplying most of Nato’s force and produce more ammo than any other member, I see no reason why we should continue to comply with Nato spec ammo. If we would be better off with 6.8 in rifles and .40 or .45 in pistols, so be it. Screw the rest of Nato.
    I would also be more than happy to do my duty as an American and buy up all of that surplus 5.56 and 9mm.

  5. Author did not mention machine-guns.
    As he retains the 5.56 round I assume the SAW will be retained in his plan.
    Any attempt to replace the M2 … well, that’s a non-starter.

  6. Concerning NATO, I’m surprised there aren’t more like-minded observations from OEF vets. I don’t agree with the joke “ISAF: I suck at fighting” but I definitely understand how it got started.

    Totally agree with revamping strategic assets and scrapping the space weapon ban.

    Don’t agree with drastically different specs for shoulder arms for the seservices: ACRs f

  7. Not a fan of the GUU-7 idea. It’s been demonstrated repeatedly that 11.5 inch barrels for 5.56 are garbage. While I do believe that the M16 for airmen inside the wire is overkill at best, a clunky annoyance most of the time, and an article 15 waiting to happen at worst… it should be replaced with either a carbine in a chambering better suited to short barrels, or a pistol. Especially for troops like the aforementioned jet maintainers who are still expected to be armed when they’re not working on the flight line.

    1. “But we can’t let masses of lower enlisted carry a pistol! They’ll lose them or have NDs!” said the LTC that shot his copilot in the foot, the LT that left his pistol in the portajohn, and the pilot that left his pistol on the outside of the aircraft to be lost forever. /snerk

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