G-Code

What Exactly Did Chief of Staff of the Army GEN Mark Milley Say To the SASC Regarding Small Arms?

GEN Mark A Milley is the finest Chief of Staff our Army has seen in recent memory. He gets it. The story goes that earlier this year he sat all of the Army’s Program Executive Office’s and told them that the acquisition system is taking too long. PEOs are too focused on the process and not on getting the product to the troops. It’s no coincidence that late last year we began to see numerous “directed requirements” from senior Army leaders, instructing the PEOs to figure out how to procure certain capabilities. In some cases, they are pieces of equipment which will be used in new ways and in other instances they are items already in use by SOCOM. One of those directed requirements plays a serious, behind the scenes role, in GEN Milley’s testimony.

GEN Milley

After GEN Milley’s testimony on May 25th before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the state of the Army, a couple of press reports detailing what GEN Milley said regarding the direction of Army Small Arms caught my eye. As they contained some nonspecific information, I decided to share what he actually said in his testimony.

Below is his prepared testimony:

Our Soldiers remain the backbone of every Army capability, and our infantry units must be equipped with modern weapons. We request support to increase readiness by completing M4A1 Carbine pure-fleet fielding, developing Next Generation Squad Weapons, procuring anti-tank weapons, such as the Javelin and tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided (TOW) anti-tank guided missiles, and beginning procurement of the Lightweight Command Launch Unit for Javelin. Additionally, we seek congressional support for a variety of simulators and virtual training devices to significantly increase the repetition and experience base of our Soldiers and leaders at the tactical level in individual, collective, squad, and small unit operations given intense, complex, combat scenarios.

As you can see, the Army’s official budget position is that it wants to continue fielding the M4A1 (which is in 5.56mm) and develop Next-Generation Squad Weapons. What should raise everyone’s eyebrows is the emphasis on anti-tank weapons. GEN Milley has been very vocal about the Russian threat, stating, “The greatest capability remains Russia.” However, he also acknowledged that North Korea is the most immediate threat.

SASC

During the Q&A with the committee, GEN Milley was a bit more forthcoming about threats, countering them, and the M4. Although, he often spoke in generic terms, he did offer a couple of revelations.

Senator Angus King (I, ME) asked GEN Milley specifically about the M4 and whether the Army needed a new weapon. GEN Milley responded that the Army has concerns about body armor penetration. He said, “We recognize the 5.56mm round, there is a type of body armor it doesn’t penetrate. We have it as well. Adversarial states are selling it for $250.” He went on to say, “There’s a need, an operational need. We think we can do it relatively quickly,” and went on to say, “The key is not the rifle, it’s the bullet.” GEN Milley sated that they’ve done some experimentation at Ft Benning and they have a solution. When asked by Sen King if it would require a new rifle, GEN Milley responded, “It might, but probably not.” GEN Milley went on to explain that the “bullet can be chambered in various calibers, it can be modified to 5.56, 7.62.” We believe he is referring here to the Enhanced Performance Round projectile found in the M855A1.

M855A1

GEN Milley specifically mentioned a 7.62mm round later in his testimony to Ranking Democrat Jack Reed of Rhode Island when asked if this new cartridge would be interoperable with NATO. GEN Milley stated he believed it was, but would prepare a formal answer for the committee. GEN Milley also informed Senator Reed that the new 7.62mm round could be in production within a year or two. GEN Milley went on regarding the choice of 7.62mm, testifying, “This idea that in the Army, that everyone needs the same thing all of the time is not necessarily true. There are some units, some infantry units, that are much more likely to rapidly deploy than others and conduct close quarters combat, that we would probably want to field them with a better grade weapon that will penetrate this body armor that we are talking about.”

While he didn’t come out and say it, based on what we know has been going on, we believe he meant the M80A1 paired with the H&K G28. This testimony falls right in line with what we heard months ago and wrote about in early April regarding Army interest in fielding a 7.62mm Interim Service Combat Rifle. Additionally, there is currently a Four-Star level directed requirement for 6,069 G28s configured as Squad Designated Marksman Rifles to be fielded to the BCTs. The 7.26mm NATO G28, which is a Squad Designated Marksman Rifle variant of the Heckler & Koch 417, developed for the German Bundeswehr, came to the attention of the Army thanks to its selection as the M110A1 Compact Semi Auto Sniper System. Additionally, the Army is quite satisfied with the performance of the M855A1 cartridge and by extension, its 7.62mm counterpart, the M80A1.

As we mentioned last week, there are multiple weapon solutions, currently fielded and readily available. The services just need to make a decision and move forward. Based on what’s currently on the table, they will field a “Better” capability than what they currently have at their disposal. Even GEN Milley agrees. When Senator King asked him if there was an off the shelf rifle which could be an upgrade to the M4, Milley replied, “Yes, there are several out there.”

Bottom line, the Army is asking for money to pure fleet to the M4A1, but it’s also letting Congress know that it’s open to a new service rifle. However, as the testimony went on, this position took an interesting turn.

Senator Joni Ernst, (R, IA) echoed Senator King’s concerns about the M4 and mentioned that it does not penetrate Russian body armor. A retired LTC, she served in the Army Reserve and Iowa Army National Guard as a logistics officer; commanding the 185th Combat Support Battalion at Camp Dodge. She stated there is a need to prioritize small arms in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act.

Senator Ernst asked if that, once the Army has settled on a caliber, would prefer a new, purpose-built weapon or an off-the-shelf solution. GEN Millie responded, “I don’t know that the two of those are mutually exclusive. There are systems out there today, on the shelf, that with some very minor modifications could be adapted to munitions that we’re developing at Fort Benning that could be used to penetrate these SAPI plates that our adversaries are developing.” He went on to amplify his answer, “It’s not necessarily an either or proposition on that one. I think there’s weapons out there that we can get, in the right caliber, that can enhance the capability of the infantry soldier.” Senator Ernst was pleased to hear that MCOTS solutions were an option in light of potential savings.

Everything we are seeing happen on the acquisition side demonstrates the Army’s interest in the G28, but during this next round of questions, there was an unexpected answer. Senator Ernst brought up MG Scales’ testimony to the Airland Subcommiitee which we recently shared. She mentioned MG Scales’ testimony, referring to a weapon which could fulfill the role of rifle and light machine gun, asking which is more important. GEN Milley responded that they complement one another. Now, here is the bombshell. GEN Milley said, “I think what’s he’s (MG Scales) talking about is the Marines are adopting the M27. We’re taking a hard look at that and are probably going to go in that direction as well, but we haven’t made a final decision on it. Infantry squads, infantry platoons they’ve got to have an automatic weapon for suppression. They’ve got to have the individual weapon as well. So you need both, it’s not one or the other.”

Once again, the budget priorities of M4A1 and Next Generation Squad Weapon follow the spirit of the service chief’s testimony. What’s more, the comments regarding the 7.62mm cartridge follow what we see going on behind the scenes. However, the revelation that the Army is considering the 5.56mm M27 is quite a surprise considering he mentioned a new 7.62mm round earlier. Perhaps he means the M27 as a future 5.56mm weapon for non-Infantry forces, as he was quite specific that the Army doesn’t intend to pure fleet the 7.62 solution, but rather field it to Infantry formations.

Regardless of specific systems requested, our opinion is that the US military’s greatest challenge is the Budget Control Act of 2011 which has hamstrung efforts to not only modernize, but just recapitalize capabilities worn out by over a decade of constant warfare. To make matters worse, continuing resolutions stymie efforts to spend consistently through a budget cycle, resulting in last minute purchases. Additionally, over the past eight years, the Army had to reduce end strength by over 100,000 Soldiers. This reduction included removing 17 brigade combat teams from the Army. Considering we go to war with the Army we have, these cuts were short sighted. When the Army talks about the ability to “Fight Tonight”, there’s no way to develop a replacement for that lost capability overnight. It will take years to rebuild what the last administration dismantled. GEN Milley testified that it would take three years to but a Brigade Combat Team together from scratch. As a hedge, the Army plans to stand up five Security Force Assistance Brigades in the near-term, which are made up of leadership structure, essentially chains of command, with no line troops. They will be used to advise allies and serve as a standing force structure for new troops to fall in on during mobilization, similar to the COHORT units of the 80s. Such plans withstanding, concerns of a “Hollow Army” are valid and there are those who are comparing our current situation to the early 80s recovery from the damage done to the military by the Carter administration. Unfortunately, the President’s budget calls for no increase in end strength and current operational demands are consuming readiness as fast as the Army can produce it. This means that as quickly as Army units are deemed at the highest readiness level, they are committed to use, which will degrade their readiness. With this challenge, it’s no wonder modernization has taken a back seat.

All of the services have a lot of rebuilding to do, in terms of both personnel and equipment. Just as daunting a task is to build capability for future threats. We have to be able to do both, simultaneously. Hopefully, Congress will have the wherewithal to consistently appropriate the funds needed to ensure America’s Army remains the world’s most dominant land warfare force.

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60 Responses to “What Exactly Did Chief of Staff of the Army GEN Mark Milley Say To the SASC Regarding Small Arms?”

  1. Joshua says:

    So now they want to give everyone a M27?

    Can they just make up their minds?
    Why not just do what CRANE is doing and upgrade the M4.

    • SSD says:

      I don’t think it’s true. I believe GEN Milley misspoke.

      • Joshua says:

        Possibly, Maybe he was meaning go with a automatic rifle for everyone….ala the M4A1 which can be employed in a similar manner to the M27.

        Plus the M4A1 is the standard now.

        Overall the comment was rather confusing.

        • SSD says:

          M4A1 and M27 used in similar manner?

          • Joshua says:

            Yes. The M4A1 if outfitted with a modern rail like a Geissele rail and a new trigger can serve in similar rolls as the M27.

            By that I mean employed as an automatic weapon, like what Milley mentioned.

            But as you said he could have misspoke on them employing the M27 and honestly his comments were kind of all over the place.

        • Kinetix says:

          That seems most likely from a doctrinal standpoint, but it is entirely possible that he was also simply providing a bad answer to a bad question. Scales’ testimony seems to have influenced at least some Senators, making them believe that there are weapons than can be both infantry rifles and squad automatic weapons all of the time (and thus save Congress some money). Since that is essentially the guise under which the M27 was procured, it makes sense that he (General Milley) would provide a directed answer (we are looking at the M27) to the nonsensical but direct question (can one weapon fulfill both roles).

          • Kirk says:

            That makes sense of the senseless…

            And, again, buttresses my point about “Rectification of Names”. You start confusing the language you use to talk about things, and everything that flows forward from that is similarly flawed, and you then have a hell of a time trying to get back to solid ground.

            Scales did not understand a lot of the stuff he was throwing around. I doubt very seriously that he understands the distinctions between an automatic rifle, a light machine gun, or why those two weapons are distinct classes operating within the same tactical space as a squad support weapon. Since he lacks the ability to lucidly utilize the correct terminology, it thus is implied that he doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about in general, with regards to small arms. Unfortunately, it’s guys like him that get the ear of Congress, and away we go.

            This is how we got the damn M14 and the M16, in the first place. So nice to see that we’re again refusing to learn from history, and that we’re repeating things all over again, but this time as a farce.

            • SSD says:

              He got the attention of Congress and that’s good. This is what I was talking about in the piece the other day on “better”.

              The services will ask for what they need but they can’t buy it if Congress doesn’t appropriate.

              • Joshua says:

                It’s a simple fix.

                Upgrade the M4A1 to a FF rail and maybe a mid length gas system depending on the CRANE results.

                Upgrade the M2A1 to the .338 MMG.

                Upgrade the M240 to the Barret M240.

                Problem solved.

                • SSD says:

                  The Army is still upgrading to M4A1, a weapon SOF has had since the early 90s.

                  There’s no reason to kill the M2 just yet.

                  I think the M240 will be the first of those three to go and its replacement will be in .260.

                  • Joshua says:

                    The 240 may or may not go. Depends on how happy they are with M80A1.

                    For an example even Textron is solely focusing on 7.62 for the MMG now, they have put 6.5 on hold.

                    And yes while SOF may have been using the M4A1 since the 90s, they continue to do so with no end in sight.

                    From what I’m hearing the carbine gas system is going no where, and the G rail will be the Block III rail.

                    • SSD says:

                      LSAT remains a science project. SOCOM will adopt a 6.5 cartridge early CY18 and will commence with an Lightweight Assault Machine Gun program in that caliber. Considering the Army’s budget priorities are M4A1 and Next Generation Squad Weapon, I’ll stick by my analysis.

                    • Joshua says:

                      You may be right about the 6.5LMG.

                      Will certainly be interesting to see where that goes.

                      That said I do feel it’s wise to prioritize the budget around the M4A1.

                    • Steven S says:

                      The Army is not 100% sure what they want yet and with funding restraints, they can’t get to the next step the lsat program needs to take. Which is the affordablity study for the CT ammo.

                      So right now, the army is buying their time with the program by having them explore different variations of a lsat rifle and optimizing them.

                      That is why it’s still remains a “science program”. Not because the program has inherent technical obstacles at the moment, but rather they do not have the funding for the affordablity study, and that the Army still does not know what they want in the next generation of small arm weapons.

                      Hopefully we can afford to satisfy both our immediate desire for better weapons today, but also afford the “leap ahead” weapons of the near future. However, I don’t think that will be the case. What we choose to acquire in the next 2-3 years we will be stuck with for awhile.

                    • Kirk says:

                      Given that the cased telescopic LSAT solution is really irrelevant to the question of what ballistic solution we go with, the way we might wan to proceed forward is figure out the ballistics we need to support our tactics and operational intent, get that working in a conventional case, and when we’ve figured that out, fielded it, and have it working properly, go to LSAT cased telescopic as an incremental change–If we can get that to work reliably, and it proves to be worth it.

                      Small increments of improvements in an evolutionary framework will probably prove to be better than this blue-sky “Let’s go for the bestest thing ever!!!!” mentality that all too many of our programs seem to be focused on. The “golden BB” approach to design does not work out, an awful lot of the time. I still think that the F-35 would have been better run as a bunch of separate little programs like “improved airframe”, “improved avionics”, and “improved weapons”, instead of this huge integrated mass of stuff that is prone to collapsing under the weight of one sub-system failing. That way, you can continually upgrade the sub-elements, keeping up with the state of the art. When it comes to integration, that might be a problem, and not be readily adaptable to some of the big projects, but the idea has merits.

                      Consider the M16–The TDP has been frozen for how long? And, what all has improved, since the 1960s? Whole range of things, like coatings and materials that have improved, and we’re only now looking at updating that Parkerizing and broached rifling on the barrels? WTF?

                      We ought to be taking a more evolutionary approach to these things, and looking at easing product improvements into the system. Little stuff, like cold hammer-forged barrels, that the Canadians slipstreamed into their C7/C8 program. FN has those machines at their plant; it’s one damn reason their machine gun barrels are so superior to a bunch of other stuff on the market–If I’m not mistaken, there’s a guy out there who was buying FN MG barrel blanks, and turning those into barrels for sniper and competitions. Why don’t we have similar barrels as the standard on US M16 and M4s? Why the hell are we only now looking at improved surface coatings and lubricants, when that stuff has been on the market since the 1970s?

                      Freezing the TDP the way we have is not a good idea, especially with weapons systems that last as long as the M16. Good Lord, that thing is poised to become the longest-serving infantry individual weapon in US military history, and a lot of the technologies used to make it are still frozen at the state of the art circa 1958… Does that make sense to anyone, because I find it really nonsensical. When did Ruger and Beretta start making stainless steel long arms? The flippin’ Beretta AR-70 has a lot of corrosion-resistant alloys in its construction; places where that would be an amazing improvement for the AR-15 weapons abound. So, why the hell are we still using non-stainless steel and parkerizing stuff? Does that puzzle anyone else?

                    • SSD says:

                      Stop right at the first paragraph. The LSAT ammo requires a weapon with an entirely different operating system.

                    • Kirk says:

                      @SSD–Seriously?

                      Follow me, here: Ballistics, both internal and external, are not affected by whatever mechanism you use to accelerate that projectile. You could do it with a muzzle-loader, you could do it with a Gauss-gun, or whatever suits your fancy: The Army is trying to answer the question of what speed, size, and weight of projectile is best, period. How it gets there? Immaterial.

                      Which is why I say that they should be working just as they are–Work to get a well-understood technology functional, and then once you’ve answered the question of ballistics, move into a different format. We’ve pretty much broken the code on brass-cased conventional cartridges–We know how they work, and how to get them to do what we need them to. LSAT, whether cased telescopic or caseless flavors are considered, is the combination of an entirely new system with new ballistics. I’m not a fan of making a move like that, at all–Too many things to go wrong.

                      Consider the low-risk way that Toyota moves forward with a lot of its designs. The original FJ-80 was an updated body/chassis, with the old FJ-60 series engine. When they got the body/chassis right, then they upgraded the engine, as well, going to the 1FZ-FE.

                      You want to reduce risks, you don’t make too many changes at once. My take is, get the new ballistics working, and then go to a new format to launch them from.

                    • SSD says:

                      Yeah seriously, if you want LSAT, you get a new gun and new ammo. We are saying the same thing. You don’t change it all at once.

                    • Steven S says:

                      Let’s hypotheticaly say the army decides, hey we want our rifles and MGs using a new intermidate 6.X round. Also, at the same time the Army finds out that the LSAT CT ammo is affordable in it’s current design.

                      Why would we waste funds in making weapons that use 6.X ammo with current tech. When we could change to a new technology that is mature, affordable, and also provides significant weight reduction benefits that current tech does not.

                      Even if you include the high costs of switching over and the additional time it would take to change the infastructure. It would still be better than wasting money on switching to 6.X current tech just to inevitably change to 6.X CT.

                      During the wait, we can afford to use M4A1s with M855A1, and BRs/DMRs with M80A1.

                      So in other words, why incrementally progress when leaping ahead is of little risk.

                      Also, if we want to “overmatch” our enemies, that means we need leap ahead technologies not small incremental changes, and the only way we are going to do that is to accept a certain level of risk.

                    • Kirk says:

                      @ Steve S–

                      Here’s the thing: We don’t know what complications are going to arise in the LSAT system, on fielding. That’s unpredictable; it’s an entirely new technology. We can predict there are going to be problems, but we don’t know what they are.

                      We also know that we’ve got a mismatch going with our current set of small arms ballistic solutions. The solution we’re looking at is changing those ballistics to a new caliber/case combination that will work better with our tactics. So… Things like the .264 American, etc..

                      Now, from a systems standpoint, your arguments make sense; from a pragmatic one, that takes into account that there’s going to be a bunch of unknowns as we move to this new paradigm of a cased telescopic cartridge…? Yeah; pragmatism says you isolate that particular shift so that it’s the only variable to worry about. Do the caliber/ballistics solution separately, and when you have that ironed out to a particular projectile size, weight, and velocity, then worry about making that work with LSAT.

                      May take a little longer, may cost more money, but that’s the pragmatic, low-risk path forward. We know how to make conventional brass-cased ammo work; solve the problems of ballistics and tactics with conventional solutions we can predict, and then move to the new technology from firm base.

                      Every single time we’ve gone for a solution that required two or more big changes, we’ve fallen on our face. One thing at a damn time, I say–Minimize risk, and keep a fallback position in place. It may turn out that LSAT doesn’t work as well as it promises to, and then where will we be…? Still stuck with this less-than-ideal set of weapons we have now. Fix one damn thing at a time, and make sure it works before going on to the next thing.

            • Joshua says:

              Don’t forget Joni Ernst is the same person who said the best use of the M9 is to throw it at your enemies.

              Shes literally the dumbest person I’ve ever heard speak.

          • Kinetix says:

            Edit:

            Clarification: Not necessarily saying that Senator Ernst’s question was a bad one, but rather referring to a broad point that recent testimony in front of this committee has certainly colored some Senators’ view of procurement possibilities, in ways that don’t necessarily mesh with reality.

            • SSD says:

              That’s entirely possible. The majority of the testimony was on WIN-T and the Senators either believe it’s good enough, just Field it, or it’s the biggest waste since SGT York. Fortunately, GEN Milley is aware of the issues and managing risk by withholding Milestone C.

      • Paralus says:

        Mis-spoke? Me thinks the General hasn’t been briefed properly. He seems to be conflating things

  2. Kirk says:

    I like Milley. I really do–After his remarks with regards to the M17 program, the guy is my hero.

    But… I read this, and I see a lot more evidence to my case that we lack a solid overall theoretical framework for what we are doing, with regards to small arms.

    That bit about the Army considering the M27, for example…? WTF? In replacement of the M4A1? Leaving aside the merits of the system itself, about which I am dubious, let’s think a little bit about the tactical incoherence that this idea represents: The M27 is a magazine-fed light support weapon, a modern “automatic rifle”. This is an entire class of weapon that would, in a sane world, be considered superfluous when compared to the existing individual weapon, which is already a full-auto capable assault rifle. Well, if it weren’t for that pesky 3-round burst thing that we’re getting rid of, finally…

    If the M4 ain’t optimal for the Infantry (and, by extension, everyone else…), then why the hell don’t we fix what isn’t optimal, and make it so? Like, a mid-length barrel and gas system? When you consider the nutso way we decided to determine the length of the M4 barrel, this might be a bit overdue, actually.

    But, again… Please tell me the “why” of this idea. And, it had better not wind up being some deal where the Army has decided it wants the same cool toys the Marines have, ‘cos HK Marketing.

    Ya wanna issue the AR18, buy the goddamn AR18. Grafting the gas system from that thing onto an AR15 upper ain’t doing either one any good, frankly–You put a piston on an AR15 design, and then you have to deal with the fact that you’ve now got more reciprocating mass that’s off-center from the bore, and that the carrier is now gonna tilt because you’re hitting it with energy that’s again, not in line with the bore. Why? You want the AR18, buy the damn AR18, or totally redesign the upper so we can get a friggin’ folding stock on the AR15. By which point, you’re talking an essentially new gun, anyway, so why not buy all new from the git-go?

    Like I said, I like Milley on general principles, but there’s a lot of incoherence in this that I’d like to see go the hell away. You want the M27? Articulate a good set of reasons why, and explain why they can’t just fix the damn issues with the M4 by rationalizing the design for it, and at a much lower price.

    You really start paying attention to these folks, and it suddenly snaps into focus how the hell we got the M73/219 and the M85 fiascoes in company with those of the M14, the M16, and the M60. Incoherence in the language, the discussion, the thinking, the designs, and the eventual product–Which wasn’t made apparent until the whole thing blew up in our faces in Vietnam, resulting in the Ichord Hearings and the shutdown of the Springfield Arsenal.

    • SSD says:

      He said it, so I shared it but don’t give it a whole lot of weight. They’ve asked for money for M4A1s.

      • Kirk says:

        I dunno. This stuff has a way of happening, once it’s voiced. All it takes is the right wrong Congresscritter to get themselves involved, and HK Marketing gets their desired result. They’ve been after a major US military contract for decades, and keep seeing it slip out of their hands on the merits of the programs they’ve bid for. I think they’re getting a little impatient, and want their investment recoupment. We’d just need Congress doing something foolish, and we’ll see multi-service issue of the M27 as a sop to the public outrage over the various “scandals” surrounding the small arms stuff.

        • Kinetix says:

          That’s my exact concern too, H&K has a sizable lobby and has been at this for so long – when you combine the lobby and with interest in new small arms you can get what a lot of the commenters here would consider bad results.

          The “success” of the M27 has given H&K new life and as you said, when terminology is unknowingly or intentionally misused, doctrine and utility lose and in this case, that can lead some in Congress to believe that an automatic rifle can be a light machine gun AND an infantry rifle and that the M27 is the weapon to fulfill that fantasy.

          This kind of a move, that you and I and some others are fearing (and the seeds of which we are seeing now) would be a larger disaster than the Individual Carbine competition and the largest setback in US small arms procurement in decades.

      • Joshua says:

        Which is the correct answer. Full fleet the M4A1 fixes the shortcomings of the M4, mainly the barrel and trigger.

        Then upgrade the M4A1 with a new rail, trigger and maybe mid length. The CRANE test results will be Paramount here, but from what I’m hearing Mid length gas systems aren’t showing any major improvements.

        • SSD says:

          So far, only USASOC is interested in that course of action.

          • Joshua says:

            Yes, most are happy with the current Block II.

            What I’m hearing is saying the Block III USASOC is looking at will likely just be a change to a G M-Lok rail as neither the mid length gas sytem or the WARCOMP are proving to be as amazing as the hype says.

            At this point all the Army has to do is upgrade to a DD RIS II and a G SSF and they the exact same rifle as SOCOM.

  3. El Terryble' says:

    I’m hearing of the possibility of the advent of an intermediate round, as MG Scales proposed in his Senate subcommittee. Maybe a 6.5×40 USA, or something based around the 6.5 Grendel. It would solve a lot of problems.

    • SSD says:

      There’s .264USA and .277USA as per projects at AMU and the 6.5ish work USASOC is doing. That’s it.

      The Army is awaiting the release of the Small Arms Ammunition Study before they do anything.

      • orly? says:

        What does it take to standardize the next NATO round for the entire alliance if we have progress?

      • SGT_Band says:

        They’ll wait until the release of the Small Arms Ammunition Study, then do the exact opposite of what the study suggests. You know, exactly like what they did with the Camouflage Improvement Effort.

        • Steven S says:

          The Army didn’t do the opposite of what the CIE suggested. What the Army really did was to ignore the study just like they did in the 03/04 camo trials and commit to a different coa that resulted in poor results (UCP or in regards to the lastest fuck up, inferior scorpion camo that costs about the same as multicam).

  4. El Terryble' says:

    GEN Milley may be the best Chief of Staff the Army has seen in a long time, but the damage done by the BCA of 2011 to the United States military borders on being criminally negligent. Men and women, like Martin Dempsey, kept their mouth shut while the Marxist-Progressives running the U.S. Government over the last 8 years virtually sabotaged America’s war fighting capabilities.

    This Memorial Day, we should remember men in our military who had the gumption to stand up to politicians for the best interest of the national security of the Nation, and the men under their responsibility. Men like MG John K. Singlaub.

  5. GEN Milley went on to explain that the “bullet can be chambered in various calibers, it can be modified to 5.56, 7.62.”

  6. GEN Milley said that the “bullet can be chambered in various calibers, it can be modified to 5.56, 7.62.”

  7. 32sbct says:

    “GEN Milley testified that it would take three years to put a Brigade Combat Team together from scratch.”

    So, we went from five active duty divisions pre WW II, to 91 divisions (Regular Army, National Guard, Organized Reserves, Army of the United States) by war’s end all while fighting in the Pacific, ETO, and the Med at the same time. I realize that it was a different situation, but how the hell could it take three years to stand up one formation of around 5,000 Soldiers.

    Those 17 BCTs that stood down left all of their equipment and infrastructure behind, it didn’t disappear. Think of the 4th BCT of the 82nd area at Bragg. I’m sure there are other near new barracks, motor pools, etc. at every other major installation that lost a BCT. If it truly takes three years to stand up a single BCT, God bless us they next time we tangle with a near peer competitor.

    • Kirk says:

      Standing up a new unit ain’t quite as simple as they like to think. I’d say that three years might be a little on the pessimistic side, but when you consider all the crap that it takes to make a solidly functioning unit with strong unit culture and proficiencies…? And, in peacetime, with peacetime budgets for training and what-not? Yeah, it takes a bit of time. When you’ve got the money taps turned on, and priority for training areas and manpower, it’s not that lengthy a process, but I think we could definitely improve on what we were doing circa 2005-ish. Some of the SBCTs that were stood up in that time frame… Yikes. There were some issues, watching that process. I don’t think we’ve got the process down, at all–This model where we simply throw a bunch of newly accessioned troops at a post, levy various and sundry others for NCO and officer cadre, and then somehow hope a unit is going to just magically gell up out of all that…? Yeah. No.

      My own theory on this idea of unit formation is you select an already successful unit with a strong unit culture and identity, plus that sumbitch up to around 200%, and then hive off half the strength to form the new unit. That way, you hopefully clone all the things like SOPs and unit culture, all the “little” undocumented crap that goes into a successful unit.

      I honestly don’t think we’re doing things right, with the way we’ve been doing it, and probably don’t have a good understanding of exactly what the hell goes into making “success” happen at a unit level.

      Some of the SBCTs worked, some didn’t–Look at the unit command climate and culture in 5/2 SBCT, with the Maywand District killings. Having watched that outfit stand up, I remain convinced that a lot of their problems went right back to the way that standing up happened–Having a huge number of junior enlisted reenacting Lord of the Flies in the barracks while awaiting the assignment of leadership cadre is not a good way to start things out, and the way they clearly dominated the Fort Lewis blotter report during that period argues that the crap that went on in Maywand might have had its roots in things further back than COL Tunnell getting assigned to command.

      Which is not to blame the troops there, because there were good troops assigned to the unit, including friends of mine–Just to condemn the really questionable way we stood that thing up. Institutionally, I think we’re going at it wrong-headed, and kinda-sorta still locked into that WWII mentality that treats individual soldiers as mere cogs in the machinery, interchangeable and replaceable like machinery. There’s more to a good unit than just the collection of personnel and machines on the MTOE paperwork, and you ignore that at your peril.

      TL;DR–The three-year to a new unit timeline might be a little pessimistic, but with peacetime budgets, that’s probably about what it would take to get it right.

    • It was over two years before most of those 91 divisions were ready to be committed to combat. Equipment wasn’t the driving factor, developing leaders and training units to operate at the BN and above levels were.

      Also the whole US was devoted to the war effort. 2-3 years isn’t too far off to stand up Brigades which don’t fight alone.

      And yes, God Bless us…

  8. Stefan S. says:

    Lost all confidence in Big Army when it comes to small-arms modernization.

    • Kirk says:

      I’d honestly like to know how on earth you ever developed any confidence in it, given the lengthy history of institutional failure at it going back to damn near the Revolutionary War.

      You really go look at things, and you start to see very clearly that the current dysfunction isn’t an aberration; it’s damn near SOP.

      • Stefan S. says:

        Notice I said Big Army. Never had an issue “behind the fence” using or getting a weapon that was needed.

        • Kirk says:

          My point is that screwing up small arms policy/procurement is pretty much the way Big Army has worked, going back to… Oh, say, the immediate post-Revolutionary War period?

          It’s what they do. Were it not for the occasional aberrant success story like the M1 Garand, that would pretty much be the historical verdict. They couldn’t even get stealing the damn Mauser right–Look at all the issues they had with the metallurgy for the 1903 and Krag; you see none of that BS with either the Mauser or the Norwegian Krags. Nor do you see it with the commercial-made M1917s…

          What we’re going through ain’t new. What is interesting is that the syndrome goes on in perpetuity, after they thought they killed the beast by shutting down Springfield Arsenal.

  9. Reference the M27 in the squad automatic rifle role is a mistake. We learned this lesson with the BAR, the M14 and the M16. Magazines and fixed barrels don’t provide the same level of suppressive fire as belt fed machine guns or self cooling/removable barrels.

    • Kirk says:

      Not to be pedantic, but the M27 is perfect for the “squad automatic rifle role”, because that’s what it is. An “automatic rifle”, which implies that it’s a one-man weapon, can’t be mounted on a tripod, is box-magazine fed, and relies on being part
      of a rapidly-moving combat team to provide limited full-auto fire support. As such, that’s what an “automatic rifle” is.

      What I think you’re trying to ask is whether or not the automatic rifle is what we need to have, providing the squad with organic fire support. The Marines have determined that they’d rather have the speed and maneuverability of the automatic rifle over the firepower provided by something a bit more light machinegun-ish, like the M249. That’s their prerogative, I say, and if they can make it work, more power to them.

      Personally, I want the belt-fed. Preferably in something a bit heavier than the individual weapon, and I’ll pay the price in maneuverability to have it. But, then I’m not a nimble kind of guy, and I’d prefer to maintain the ability to blast my way in and out of trouble. If I ran the Army, a bunch of our squads would look a lot more like the early WWII German model, with the MG as the centerpiece of it all. I like the GPMG concept, a lot. The M249…? Not so much; the thing doesn’t sing for me, very well, and I want more power behind my MG teams down at that level. If I’m gonna pay the price in speed and maneuver, then I want to be able to cut down trees with them to get at the enemy, if need be.

      • Dpvazquez says:

        I think the next step for the Army Infantry PLT is to ditch the M240 for the .338 Norma LWMMG (since its being adopted by SOCOM and has heavy interest within the USMC) in the weapon squads and then have the SAW be replaced by a MG that is chambered in the same caliber as the SDM rifle (whether 7.62 or a 6.5/.260/.264/.277/etc) and push those bigger rounds down to the squad level while retaining 5.56 M4A1s (maybe with FF rails and new triggers) for the rest of the platoon. At least until the Army can decide on a new weapons platform for the basic infantry squad.

        • Kirk says:

          I am really not convinced that the 7.62mm NATO round is inadequate to purposes. What I think is inadequate is how we’re employing it, and the weapons firing it.

          Look–From a bipod, you’re gonna be lucky to get 800m consistently out of your average MG team. Period. That’s an inherent limitation of the human shoulder and the MG interface. You want more accuracy at longer ranges, you’d better have a three-axis support under that weapon, which means you need a tripod that can be put into place and supporting the gun as it fires in a few moments. That emphatically ain’t the M122/192 family. Not to mention, the sights and all the rest of the package, like “Does my MG gun team have a fully trained NCO leader to direct fire, and does he have a binocular/range finder combo that works quickly enough to do any good…?”.

          Before we go putting this .338 ubermachinengewehr out in the squads, along with the accompanying logistics burden, how about we try doing something a little simpler, and get better tripods and other support gear under those M240s, along with training the gunners better? Not to mention, training the leadership to use them effectively.

          Even little simple shit like having the dudes in the TOC do the terrain analysis to figure out where the best firing positions are going up the valleys to command the terrain would help, and a lot of the time when I brought that up in post-deployment AARs, I got the classic “deer-in-the-headlight” look. You can do that shit with the basic terrain analysis software that the S2 ought to have on tap, as well as highlight where you’re likely to be taking fire from as you move through the terrain corridor–And, a lot of the junior leadership doesn’t even know to take advantage of this stuff. Train on it, and watch what happens.

          I am not convinced that we’re getting everything that we could out of our existing systems, and that boils down to a lot of the support accessories and the training being seriously deficient. Before going to Afghanistan, we ought to be running everyone through a mountain warfare train-up site somewhere at an equivalent altitude, and part of that training ought to be for the MG teams to have to move up a high-mountain valley and conduct supporting fires out to 1500m with their organic weapons. It’s doable–The Germans were managing that on a routine basis during their campaigns in the Caucasus and Pamirs during WWII, and within moments of the Soviets firing on them. This is what having an adaptable tripod and good training can do–Why the hell are we even having to have this discussion? Did we learn nothing from WWII?

          Sadly, the answer seems to be a resounding “no”, when it comes to MG usages and doctrine.

        • Joshua says:

          The .338 LWMMG is more of a replacement for the M2A1.

          Compared to the M240, it’s heavier, the ammunition is heavier. That means less ammunition across the board.

          Not something you want in a MG designed to be carried during the assault.

      • James says:

        I really think that is what SOCOM is looking for in the “Assault Machine Gun”.

        Part of the reason the Marines have been looking for a mag fed automatic rifle rather than a light machine gun is the way their squads are structured and their role as expeditionary forces. For them running one SAW per fireteam with one barrel , three per squad was really a big weight burden for not much return( 258 RPM sustained for a squad, vs 108rpm sustained at half the weight.) Their experience in Iraq and Afghanistan greatly reinforced the need for weight reduction. Unlike others I really don’t think they went into this looking for new rifles, just reduce the weight carried by AR. However, being exposed to the M27 , they got to looking at” What Ifs?”,and three per fireteam actually puts them back where they were with the SAW without loading an AR down- it gives them a whole lot of flexibility in how that fireteam can operate , which is probably more important to Marines than any one else.

    • El Terryble says:

      The M27 (basically just an HK 416) was adopted by the Marine Corps to fill the role of an automatic rifle in the four man fireteam of the twelve man(+1) squad. This was a return to Marine Corps maneuver warfare doctrine, as the “automatic rifle” role had been eradicated with the use of the “Squad Automatic Weapon”, aka the M247 SAW, which is a light machine gun. The SAW had been adopted because the Marine Corps has been piggybacking and following the lead of the Army in small arms procurement, since time immemorial. The Marine Corps’ experience in Iraq, in places such as Fallujah, Ramadi, and Najaf, illustrated the ergonomic and doctrinal deficiencies of the SAW, as opposed to a true Automatic Rifle – like the BAR was in WW II, on the fireteam level in MOUNT, in clearing rooms, and as a hinderance in the maneuver. There are still discussions as to the utility of the IAR, and the need for a LMG indigenous to the squad in Marine Corps professional circles and literature, with some saying perhaps one fireteam’s Automatic Rifleman being replaced with a light machine gunner is necessary, and perhaps some modifications, such as supplying Automatic Rifleman issued IARs with increased capacity magazines as well, but by and large it was a necessary return to doctrine, which increased the leathality of the Marine Corps Infantry Squad.

      However, It quickly became noticed, that on semi-automatic, the IAR could function as a DMR, as it was more accurate with free floating rails and better constructed barrel. And, with the engagement range in Afghanistan increasing to beyond 300m from an average of 200m in Iraq, that the short barreled M4 firing 5.56mm was no match for the standoff range of RPKs firing 7.62x54R. Hence the need for a weapon system and round that cannot only penetrate some of our adversaries newer body armor, but also return Marines to being the master of their enemy at longer distances which the 5.56mm just can’t do effectively past 300yds.

      • El Terryble says:

        Thus, the need for an intermediate round between 5.56mm and 7.62 NATO.

        • Kirk says:

          While I agree with you, I also have to be intellectually honest enough to acknowledge that there ought to be an “apparent” in between “the” and “need” in your first sentence.

          I’ve never liked the 5.56mm, and I’ve only come to a grudging affection for the AR15 platform in my later years. But, I have got to admit, I do not have anything hard-and-fast, or that is actually quantifiable in any way, to argue that we are in dire need of replacing these systems. Everything I would be basing that decision on would be entirely subjective, and I do not think that that is the way to proceed forward.

          I think and I feel that the 5.56mm and 7.62mm NATO rounds are not idea for their current usages–But, I cannot actually prove that to even my own satisfaction.

          What I think we need to be doing here is a lot more careful study and consideration, before we lock ourselves into another damn round of screwed-up small arms.

          One of the things I want is a set of good numbers as to what sort of characteristics are inherent to an individual weapon that can be utilized in accordance with our tactics for the mass of our troops. I haven’t ever seen anyone do the work to determine that, by measuring just what recoil energy can be reliably dealt with by the average soldier under field conditions. I’ve got the sneaking suspicion that the 5.56mm round might actually be the upper end of what you can handle with the level of training and so forth that we can currently afford for the mass of the troops, and, again… I’ve got no hard numbers to prove that. We need those numbers, in order to determine if this massive and expensive shift is really necessary.

          And, again, it goes into how we mean to fight. If we’re going to go with having most of our fight done at long stand-off, with precise semi-automatic fire…? Well, we might want to look at issuing an AR10-class weapon with really good sights to everyone. If, on the other hand, we want to dance within the melee zone, and plan on playing Soviet tank-rider…? Yeah; the AR15/5.56mm might be the superior solution.

          My abiding frustration with all this is the haphazard, half-ass process we use to arrive at these situations. We should have been able to say, in 2003, “Hey, we’re about to enter into combat in a high-altitude desert region; our small arms are optimized for a mostly urban-area fight in North Central Europe; the following doctrinal and equipment changes will be necessary for us to make…”.

          Unfortunately, we don’t think like this, and indeed, really lack the goddamn intellectual tools to even be able to do so.

  10. B0x3R0ck says:

    I personally think our military should be equipped with the tools to be able to fight against even our allies. Because today we might be cool with them but who knows what tomorrow might bring.

  11. Lcon says:

    Personal Opinion, The Reason the Marines jumped SAW to IAR was mostly because they were unhappy with the weight of the M249 and also changed doctrine adding a full auto rifle to the Squad at the Cost of a Full auto SAW.
    The Army has Full auto rifles as general issue the M4A1 with some tweeks M4A1 does just as well if not better then M27. The Reason the Marines were testing a pure fleet force of them was more to see just what changes would happen to there squads.

    Where the Army needs to take a look is reducing the weight of the SAW, That could mean LSAT or failing that moving to another SAW class weapon of lighter weight. The Featherlight Ares 15, KAC LAMG, Ultimax all 10 pound or less LMG options.