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“Our next individual and squad combat weapon will come in with a 10X improvement over any existing current system in the world” or How To Kick The Can Down The Road

During last week’s AUSA Annual Meeting I listened to Chief of Staff, GEN Mark Miley’s speech about the state of the Army. He said a lot of great stuff, but his comment on Small Arms was most interesting to me, based on the short-lived 7.62mm Interim Combat Service Rifle requirement.

“Our next individual and squad combat weapon will come in with a 10X improvement over any existing current system in the world,” GEN Mark Milley, CSA.

Notice that “10x improvement”. That’s beyond leap ahead. That’s phased plasma rifle in the 40 watt range territory.

Since ICSR’s demise, everyone is talking Lightweight Small Arms Technology, a program which has been under development (and government funding) for over a decade and relies on ammunition which finds its roots in the Advanced Combat Rifle program of the last 1980s. The Army’s Next Gen Squad Weapon requirment is heavily informed by LSAT, the latest in a long line of Joint Service Small Arms Program efforts. Going back to the 60s, not one JSSAP’s rifle programs (Special Purpose Individual Weapon, Future Rifle Program, Advanced Combat Rifle, or Objective Individual Combat Weapon) have amounted to anything fieldable.

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My takeaway based on GEN Milley’s comment? The Army doesn’t actually want to do anything. The ACR program of the 1980s was only looking to double the lethality of the M16A2, and it failed to achieve even that. Now they want 10x lethality. I suppose it comes down to the question of how to measure lethality, but still.

Just a few years ago, the Army blew a great opportunity to modernize its rifle, when it cancelled concluded the Individual Carbine program. While the focus this time was reliability, the Army claimed the program was stopped because of industry’s failure to offer a great enough advancement over the then current, M4. Everything the industrial base is better now, but it’s not 10x better.

Instead, the Army has kicked the can down the road, way down the road. The Next Gen Squad Weapon program won’t see the light of day until the mid to late 2020s, if ever. That’s because they expect such a drastic improvement that, barring energy weapons, is impossible. However, it also gives the LSAT team lots more years under contract with no expectation of performance.

During AUSA, LSAT contractor Textron was in full court press. They had an invite only firing simulator on the show floor to demonstrate how they had lowered recoil and increased hits. The only problem is that it was a game, with the weapons being operated by gas and the targets engaged by a laser on a screen. Anyone who walked away impressed didn’t realize they had just played an expensive version of Duck Hunter.

Some of you may remember when GEN Milley told Congress earlier this year, he had a body armor threat he needed to defeat. He also told industry he needed a 7.62 rifle to do that. Industry took up that challenge and offered their best. Before the evaluation even began, the effort was cancelled, for a promise of “10x improvement”, delivery date unknown. That threat? It’s still there. So tell us GEN Milley, how are you going to defeat it? With the maximum effective range of a promise from a contractor that’s been working on the same thing for years and years?

65 Responses to ““Our next individual and squad combat weapon will come in with a 10X improvement over any existing current system in the world” or How To Kick The Can Down The Road”

  1. Hubb says:

    Only our government can waste money and time like this. I wonder if a privately funded company such as Tesla/Apple/Space X/Google could develop a weapon with a 10X increase in performance?

  2. Jon C. says:

    55.6MM rifle, bitches!

  3. Strike-Hold says:

    What a load of B.S.

    I also remember the Director of Natick speaking at a conference a few years ago saying how adaptive camouflage was what the Army was looking for – but what we got was the whole UCP / OCP fiasco….

    • Kirk says:

      My cynical nature says that the reason that they keep going for crap like the “adaptive camouflage” and “10X” improvements in lethality is simply that they can thus keep spending money and not really have to take the risk of fielding something that might or might not work.

      The more I read of the crap going on in development, particularly with the Army, the more I am struck by the resemblance to that old fairy tale about “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. Like it or not, there are some significant parallels between the two things.

  4. Kirk says:

    This is why our small arms system is the mess it is.

    My thoughts are that we’re applying the wrong model, the wrong paradigm to the issue. This is not an arena like the one we have in aerospace or electronics; this is not a field that is undergoing dramatic technological flux and constant change. We know what to do with cartridges, propellants, and mechanism; why are we constantly trying to do the blue-sky, game-changing improvement that’s going to make everything different? The current arena ain’t changing until there are some fundamental breakthroughs in materials and propellant technology, so why the hell are we acting like those things are waiting just slightly ahead of the curve from where we are?

    We should be doing incremental improvements, slipstreaming things like better alloys and coatings into the TDP as they become available. For the life of me, I don’t understand why the hell we’re still building a lot of stuff on the M16 and M4 to a TDP that was nearly obsolete in the 1960s. Where are the damn cold hammer-forged barrels? The Canadians have had them since they bought the machinery for Diemaco; the US standard weapons still have button-broached, if I remember right, and the life we get from the barrels is a lot lower because of it. I think Crane has specified some SOCOM weapons with CHF barrels, but that’s about it. FN has the machinery; Colt has the machinery in Canada. Why aren’t these barrels part of the current TDP specification?

    We’ve had near-permanent lubricative coatings since at least the 1980s. Only recently did the procurement geniuses apparently notice and start making noises about incorporating them into the weapons.

    I think our whole model for how the hell we do small arms is fundamentally broken and flawed. We could do better with a program of deliberate incremental improvements that we slipstreamed into production and procurement. It’s kind of ridiculous that we’re having FN build what is basically a 1950s-era design with the industrial processes of that era still specified. Where the hell is the stainless steel, the modern ceramic and Teflon coatings? Why are we still using Parkerizing?

    For that matter, I want to know why they’re not out in the units doing forensic engineering on the weapons as they come back in from deployments. We should be baselining at least one unit every cycle, looking at the condition their weapons are in, and then carefully tracking what they do with the weapons deployed, what repairs are necessary during deployment, and then looking at them on return. What broke, what wore, and what can we improve? Do we do that? No; it’s just a half-ass look at what needs to be rebuilt, and the guys back at the rebuild sites don’t even get a picture of what happened to the weapon downrange–Was it abuse that made the parts fail, or was it heavy use? Range time, or combat…?

    To my mind, we don’t even know what the hell we don’t know. Idiots like Milley, and I use that term deliberately, keep going for this big-picture, blue-sky “We’re gonna win the war with uber-rifles…” mentality, and when that proves to be a figment of their over-active imaginations, we get stuck with the same old shit we had in 1960, ignoring the very real yet relatively minor improvements that have occurred in the state of the art since then.

    Seriously–Go look at the current TDP and spec for the M16 and the M4, and then have a guy who’s actually an engineer look at them with an eye towards how current they are with what’s possible in the industry. You might just get a hell of a surprise…

    • Joglee says:

      I think one issue is, as seen in the 2015 testing with M855A1 They tested this super fancy M27 against the basic M4A1 and found that it offered no improvements.

      It’s easy to say there’s all this stuff we can do to make a better rifle, yet when a better rifle is tested with the general issue bullet of the day the rifle with most of those “advancements” performs practically identical to the current M4A1.

      Makes it hard to argue we need these “advancements”.

      • Kirk says:

        So long as you’re looking for a “10X” improvement, yeah. But, little incremental ones, like the improved bolts and locking lugs that people like LMT have come up with…?

        Let’s say that you get another 10,000-20,000 rounds of life out of CHF barrels, and that the improved bolts get you some more service lifespan there, too. Why the hell not slipstream those in…? Or, wait and accumulate the proven design features like CHF barrels, better coatings, and better bolt designs until it makes sense to have an A5 variant of the M16? One that reflects the actual current state of the art, in manufacture, design, and everything else?

        I had an interesting conversation with a guy who does industrial design for a living, production-wise. He was telling me, as a gun guy on the side, he couldn’t figure out what the hell the military was doing, in that the M16 was essentially locked into this 1950s-era of industrial manufacture with the TDP. From a production-design standpoint, the damn things are being built as though we haven’t had 50-60 years of constant minor improvements to the design and construction of industrial production gear. He’d done a tour of the Colt and FN factories back east, and was appalled at how backwards Colt was, while FN was being held back by the specifications in the TDP from applying modern industrial technique. From what he was telling me, he was told that the only reason they even have button-broach machines at FN was because the TDP for the M16 and M4 require that form of barrel rifling…

      • Phil Ha says:

        The M855A1 turned out to have multiple issues of its own. As it was developed and tested for the M4, it should have been a shoo-in.

        Of the many issues, the M4A1 had one advantage (by luck rather than judgement).

        The M27 had multiple other advantages by design, rather than luck.

        If you make your judgements based on luck, rather than design, you could be well accepted and appreciated in procurement.

        • Joglee says:

          Care to expand? All the data I’ve seen shows the M27 and the M4A1 perform identical with M855A1 with good mags.

          The M27 performs about 10x as bad with any mag other than Pmags compared to the M4A1 when using M855A1.

    • Alex says:

      I can see where you are coming from in regards to small arms design being flawed and in a perfect world I think we would see leaps and bounds but imo it’s ultimately constrained by $$$.

      Yes, from a casual observance I also find that small arms engineering is a closed loop with dated technology being recycled over and over again and I agree small arms would advance if skilled and experienced engineers were let loose. However the money is not there in the small arms market to allocate that kind of manpower and skill – I’m sure companies would much rather utilize those brains for bigger and more lucrative contracts ($337 mil per F-35C vs $700 per M4A1).

      • Kirk says:

        It’s not design that’s flawed; it’s the way we’re running procurement and specifications that’s flawed.

        There have been hundreds, if not thousands, of minor little improvements to the state of the art in firearms (and, other…) manufacture since the TDP for the M16 was laid down. How have those been incorporated? Have they?

        By and large, they haven’t. Even if you left the basic design the same, there’s been a lot of different stuff that would improve performance, service life, and usability. The ACOG and red dot sights are couple of biggies, but the coatings and the materials…? Where the hell is my ceramic coating on the damn bolt?

        Circa 1998-ish, I was shown a prototype ceramic coated bolt from a company whose name I can’t remember. Guy who had it swore by the coating, claimed he’d put at least a hundred thousand rounds through his guns that had that stuff on it–And, even on the gun I handled, which he said had over 25,000 rounds through it at that point, it was immaculate. All you had to do was wipe the damn carbon off, and that was it for cleaning. Per his claims, you didn’t get caked-on carbon the way you did with a Parkerized bolt–It flaked off and got blown out. Supposedly, that stuff got shown to the folks at Natick, but they weren’t interested–Again, not enough of an improvement.

        Never heard of the guy, or the company again, but it does go to illustrate why we’re held back by this idiotic idea that the only kind of change and improvement we want is this blue-sky “game-changer” BS.

    • Tazman66gt says:

      It would be my guess that the person in charge wouldn’t get enough of a rank upgrade to institute a modernization of the current build specs. They are all wanting that thing that they can retire on.

  5. RFFrom NOVA says:

    Ten times what? Times zero? Times 1000? What are you using as your measuring stick? 10 x lighter? Maybe he means it shoots 10 x as far so like 8000m? Most useless description of what you are looking for in a battle rifle ever general.

    • Kirk says:

      It’s stuff like that which convinces me that they’re not really serious, or that they are fundamentally insane.

      I don’t think, at this stage of technology, that there is a 10X improvement to be found out there. Probably not even a 2X, whatever that would be defined as.

      What is out there is a myriad of minor incremental improvements that would add up to a huge savings in time, money, and probably increase durability and serviceability of the weapons we have. Lethality? LOL… What the hell does that mean, anyway?

      These guys are completely whacko, from what I can see. There were a lot of things we could have gone for, back during the ACR program, which would have really made a big difference. Like, for example, the ACOG. That little jewel was out there as a private development back during the mid-1980s. I bought one of the originals, put it on top of my -A2, and became a believer. As of about 1989… Now, as an exercise for the reader, when, oh when did the Big Army geniuses (and, Big Marines…) start looking at that thing and actually issuing it? Uhmmm… Wasn’t it only after Crane put it into the SOPMOD program, and issued it out during the early 2000s?

      Red dots were available to the guys doing Son Tay. Big Army only figured that shit out, again, after SOPMOD and during the 2000s.

      Someone really needs to explain to me why this sequence of events is reasonable, because homey ain’t seeing it. What I am seeing is an institution-wide lethargy and inattention to the real needs of the soldier, and complete apathy about actually improving kit. Without the SOPMOD program, and despite the ACR debacle, I wager that we’d still have just iron sights alone on top of the average issue weapon.

      So, why is it that real, effective improvement is only coming from the SOCOM community, and Crane?

  6. Joglee says:

    We know for a fact now that the 416 is not 10x better than the M4, with M855A1 the M27 performs exactly identical to the M4A1, yet costs 5x as much.

    That is why the ICC was cancelled.

    As to LSAT, I know you have said it time and time again SSD but to me it is nothing more than a toy. I just don’t see it ever becoming anything significant.

    I mean it sounds good on paper, but from what I’ve learned talking with a couple of people who had a hand in testing it when it has a stoppage, it’s done. The way the rifles are designed with their rotating chamber and push through extracting system means that a stoppage takes the weapon down until an armorer can take it apart and unjam it.

    • Kirk says:

      That stoppage issue is why I’m dubious, as well. The entire mechanism seems to be designed for a world where there are no stoppages, and, well… That’s just a tad, y’know, optimistic.

      There’s a reason we’ve settled on the basic design of the cartridge that we have, and that’s because it’s a near-ideal compromise that takes into account a bunch of different technical issues that need to be dealt with. Supplanting or changing that set of compromises is something that’s going to take a huge amount of work, and probably won’t actually be that better. Certainly, not 10X…

      There’s a principle in design called “desire lines”, where you find that trying to impose top-down improvements or solutions don’t work as well as letting the users do their own thing. You see this all the time in sidewalk layout for new structures–The architect or designer thinks that people are going to use his design in a certain way, lays things out accordingly, and then a few years later you can observe that the actual pathways worn into the landscaping are entirely different. We’re at that sort of point in our small arms design, where the technology has settled into a set of solutions that work for a lot of different reasons, and trying to create a “game-changer” that takes into account all these issues won’t be easy. Easily cleared stoppages…? That’s a thing that LSAT needs to answer, and it may not be possible to do so with current designs. It will certainly need to be accounted for, because otherwise, it won’t ever manage to be “better than” the current paradigm of cased cartridge.

      • Joglee says:

        Agree completely. The fact that LSAT uses a moving chamber just makes my head hurt. I know it has to in order to even function since LSAT cases cannot be extracted.

        But I mean it’s the chamber, the most important part of the weapon basically and they go and make it move out of line with the bore! I mean, I can think of a hundred different forms of stoppages that could not and will not ever happen on a current day rifle that will happen with LSAT, and everyone of those will be 100x worse to clear than even the dreaded Type 8 stoppage in the M4.

    • 29 says:

      My experience with the LSAT is incredibly favorable. When playing Call of Duty, I have never had my LSAT fail me and I’m like triple prestige. Just saying.

  7. Joglee says:

    Also SSD M80A1 will not defeat hard armor and Milley himself said the experimental XM1158 can be scaled down to work in 5.56.

    So that is the answer on that make the XM1158 in 5.56.

  8. Attack7 says:

    Even if the BCT IN/CAV units were fielded these new technologies, will the Joes and NCOs be trained in a better way to master them outside of the few Bn/Bde command teams that care about this threat enough to put resources and time in training to defeating it? A few seniors understand and take accountability of the Army’s inability to train to a level of mastery. Everyone else believe that their people somehow were trained to master these tasks, either at OSUT or through NCOES.

    • Kirk says:

      That’s another aspect of the issue.

      I think that there’s a certain amount of the issue here that stems from a lack of master-level skill-at-arms up in the chain of command.

      If you’re a battalion or brigade commander that hacks off on a set of ROE that requires your troops to only answer small arms fire in kind, and then doesn’t spend a commensurate amount of time to ensure that they’re trained and equipped to meet that sort of challenge…? We’ve got a problem.

      I harp on the tripod issue a lot, and there’s a reason for it–That whole thing is symptomatic of the problems we face. The brass simply doesn’t understand what the hell they’re doing, and think that MG “A” is just as good as MG “B”, when one is being fired off a damn tripod up in the hills, whilst the young men on our side are firing back at that position off a friggin’ bipod-mounted gun. If you stop and think about it, that doesn’t even begin to make sense–The max effective off a bipod is like 800m, right? Off the tripod, we’re looking at up to 1800m, dependent on skill of the gunner and quality of the tripod.

      And, yet… That seems to be forgotten, when we’re discussing the issue of being outranged and “overmatched”. I’m not sure that we are. I think it’s more a case of taking a weapons system into a situation it’s not suited for, and not thinking things through. The M122/192 tripod is a tripod that is really only suited for use off a firing table in a defensive position. It does not have the ability to adapt rapidly to uneven terrain, and does not allow for even changing the command height that the M2 .50 caliber model does. So, you make that thing the standard issue tripod, ensuring that the damn thing is basically dead weight outside the FOB, and then wonder why the guys are getting outranged when returning fire from the bipod…?

      Let’s just look at it from a capabilities standpoint: Does the current tripod/gun system allow you to return fire in a timely manner from random terrain like we encounter on patrol in Afghanistan out to the max effective range of the gun and cartridge? Yes? No? If no, why have we tolerated this state of affairs to exist?

      Basic reason, I would speculate, is that guys like Milley don’t know the basics of their ‘effing professions, or that they have forgotten them. Either way, the intermediate leaders and senior NCO cadres should… But, somehow, the M192 is our “new” tripod, isn’t it?

      Something is fundamentally wrong with this whole picture, isn’t it?

      • AZLT says:

        You know why. Cause those guys all only used the M240 off of the bipod at Ranger School and think that’s all there is to know about the weapon system.

        • Dirtbag says:

          Bipod was only ever used hastily when I went, if you were using it on the OBJ you could kiss your ‘GO’ goodbye.

  9. Will Rodriguez says:

    SSD – no stress. “10x” is a talking point. The only ones that believe it have never carried a weapon opr served over a decade. The next CoS will have a better one. Incremental improvements will still be made and when something is twice as good in lethality, weight or accuracy it will be adopted. That’s the story from the 1903 Springfield – Garand- M14-M16.

    Can’t pay too much attention to the CoS. Heck if they were right the Beret and ACUs would have really changed things.

    What also continues is the focus on material changes vs. training and that IS a real problem.

    • Kirk says:

      Are we actually making any incremental improvements to the basic weapons, though?

      All I see are improvements to the accessories, like rails and sight systems. Basic mechanical improvements to the weapons, like improved bolt locking lugs, better coatings, and the like? They ain’t happening. Why?

      • Joglee says:

        Well Picatinny is in the middle of testing DLC coatings and Roller Burnished bolt lugs.

        They also just issued the M4A1 to everyone, which is a big improvement over the basic M4 imo.

        The Army moves slow, but it has made major improvements to the M4 through the use of heavier buffers and enhanced extractor springs that greatly increased time between stoppages. The M4A1 with M855A1 is by all intents a 10,000 round gun before it needs to be repaired.

        • Joglee says:

          One thing to remember Kirk is that due to the AR being in service so long and in so many configurations, the Army has to verify and prove that any changes made to the M4 do not negatively impact the reliability or durability of the M16 and numerous other configurations in use.

          • Kirk says:

            I can buy that. Hell, I can even agree with that…

            But, you’re telling me that there have been no improvements come down the pike from the civilian side of things since the time they finalized the flippin’ TDP? Seriously? They haven’t even started to look at the coatings issue until lately, and that technology has been out there since… When did Glock implement Tenifer? Late 1970s?

            There have been a bunch of things that have been out there for a very long time that we just haven’t ever looked at doing seriously. Why?

            Other issue that just flat-out irritates the crap out of me is some of the other little stuff. The Marines have implemented bar-code readers for maintenance, accountability and issue procedures, and although I’m not intimately familiar with the ins and outs of the system they use, I’m kinda curious why the hell the Army has had nothing but paint pens and Dymo tapes to mark the weapons with, and manual, paper-based accountability systems? Sweet Baby Jesus, but the goddamn Germans had a better system for admin markings in 1914, with those cute little stamped brass plates on the buttstocks, than we do a hundred ‘effing years later…

            Don’t even get me started on shipping containers, racks, and the like. The M12 was the standard for years, and while it wasn’t a completely horrible solution for a bone-stock A1, it coulda been a lot better. I mean, if you’re going to ship weapons separately from the troops, why the hell aren’t the racks capable of serving as shipping and storage containers? The Hardigg cases are pretty good, for shipping, but shiite for storage and maintaining accountability. Why hasn’t someone sat down and integrated the two into a truly portable and efficient set of rack/cases that can support actually operation of a goddamn arms room effectively? The current set of cage-style racks is nice, but it sure as hell ain’t portable or useful for shipping.

            There’s a lot of crap that just goes into designing for integration into daily operations that we’re just not doing. Why?

            • Kirk says:

              Yeah, and here’s a heretical thought: Why are the fucking serial numbers on the side of the receiver, where you have to fucking take them out of the goddamn racks to do an inventory? Seriously?

              Why aren’t they on an extension that is under the fucking charging handle, so you can read the serial number without pulling the goddamn thing out of the rack?

              For the love of Christ, have any of these idiots ever actually run an Arms Room, or been around one for daily operations?

              I start thinking about all the hours I wasted doing stupid administrivia, over the years, like the interminable pulling of weapons out of the racks just to read and confirm the serial numbers, and… I’m reduced to profanity. Dear God, the amount of wasted man hours across the Army, over the ‘effing years.

              Did nobody pay attention to why the M1 and M14 had that nifty little design feature?

              • Joe says:

                That’s a great point.

                But if maintaining accountability wasn’t miserable, then… um, I’ve got nothing.

              • DAN III says:

                Kirk,

                Re: Serial number placement. They are on the receiver per BATFE requirements. The thugs of fedgov run the show….not common sense or practicality. It is all about control.

                • Kirk says:

                  Extend the tang of the lower receiver 3/4 inch, stamp serial number below the charging handle. Leave a milled cavity below it for bar code, RFID, or unit administration data.

                  Problem solved, BATH happy, and probably several man-centuries of saved admin time across the Army every year.

            • Non-operator says:

              On the racks issue – I have had similar, hair-pulling out experiences in the Corps. I don’t have near the experience you do; however after reading your responses for a while it’s making me look back at what was “status quo” much more critically.

              At Infantry Officer’s Course, somehow, MAGICALLY, the racks at the armory were able to accept M4s and M16s with PEQ-15s and PEQ-16s still attached. Lasers stayed on, zero was maintained, LBSing when they came out was basically a formality.

              When I got to the fleet, the armory required ALL lasers to come off of the weapon. NVGs and PEQs got stored in a separate cubby hole in the armory. So they had to get bore sighted every time coming out of the armory, but any actual live-fire zero was lost every effing time they went in and out.

              I tried to call BS on this and point out the madness and basically got told to STFU and stay in my lane.

  10. patrick sweeney says:

    Two things: One, you misunderstand the purpose of the program. The purpose of “the program” is not to provide solutions, but to provide employment. s long as the schedules are met, the budget not exceeded, and reports published, the program succeeds.

    Second, when was the last time anyone with actual authority to make changes actually held, fired and qualified on the weapons they are “improving.”When the senior officer in a program hasn’t done anything but fam fire on an m4 for the previous two decades, there will be no progress.

    If the physician looking at your problem had been taught by someone who had not seen a patient in 20+ years, how fast would you leave that room?

    • Kirk says:

      Paragraph two gets to the heart of the problem. The people making the decisions are like space aliens, and have either never had real familiarity with the problems, or have utterly forgotten them.

  11. Jon, OPT says:

    You got the quote wrong…

    “The next lamp I will love will come with a 10X improvement over any existing current lamp I love, I truly love lamp…. I love lamp”
    GEN Mark Milley, CSA.

    • Jester says:

      “General, are you just looking at things in the office and saying that you love them? Do you really love the lamp, or are you just saying it because you saw it?”

  12. Lasse says:

    Wouldn’t you get that magic 10x by fixing the Armys marksmanship program? Based on various forums there seems to be an agreement that the marksmanship program, or lack of a proper one, is the major failure point in terms of killing bad guys effectively.

    There is no point in replacing hardware when the hardware isn’t utilized anywhere close to it’s capability.

    • Kirk says:

      The problem really isn’t “the program”, to be quite honest. The program sucks, yes, but… That’s because of the people making the decisions. Who prioritized these things, who programs the money, who decides priorities?

      Look at the vast majority of our MG ranges. Fixed, static… Just like all we’ll ever do with an MG is defend some WWI trench system, or a fixed firing position like we’re in the latter phases of the Korean War. Is that how we’re using the guns? Do the qual standards, and training ranges reflect the realities of what we need to do with them?

      I don’t think anybody above about the grade of SFC has looked at that shit with an open eye and any kind of decision-making power.

      Training and qualification need to reflect reality of what we’re going to need the troops to do with the guns. You replicate reality poorly, in training and qualification, and… Well, that’s where we’re at, today: Reality don’t match what we’re doing in the field.

      To a degree, with the MG, I think we really need to have three quals for the damn things: One, about what we do today, reflecting the need for working the guns from a static defense, a second one focusing on working the guns from the various vehicular mounts, and the third, where you have to move your gun and team dynamically as you would on patrol, take simulated fire from enemy positions, determine the source, and then respond “on the move” to engage that enemy.

      If we better replicated reality, then a lot of the deficiencies we have in equipment and training would be highlighted, allowing us to make improvements. If we were interested, that is…

      Hell, I don’t even think we have an established standard for being able to “return fire out to 1800m on patrol”, to be honest. I think a gun crew ought to be able to get into a solid firing solution to do that within a minimum of at most 5 minutes, at most. With an M122/192, most of the time, you’re gonna have one hell of a time doing that, because the tripod is not very adaptable to random terrain.

      Another thing we ought to be doing, to be quite honest, is throwing out the standards that require leaders to qualify only on their individual weapons. They should do that, but in addition, they need to qualify on their unit fires, as well. A fire team leader ought to be able to identify targets and direct fires of his team, a squad leader ought to be able to do the same for the squad, and the platoon leader/platoon sergeant need to be able to coordinate and manage the fires for their platoons, to include the call for external fire support stuff. Right now, we have no formal “qualification” process for leaders, and I think that needs to change.

      • DAN III says:

        Kirk,

        Back in the day when we were still using M60 MGs and no NVGs I was assigned as cadre to division’s forthcoming M60 training event. During planning for the M60 training the division G3 explained his concept of the night qualification course:

        “We are going to put chemsticks on the downrange targets so the gunners can see them. Any questions ?” “Yes sir”, I replied. “Will the bad guys coming through the wire be wearing chemsticks ?”

        The next day the G3 called me into his office, locked my heels and asked me “Who the fuck do you think you are challenging me ?” Needless to say he relieved me of my division M60 training class duties.

        Of course that was then and this is now. Folks it ain’t any better today than it was then. The idiots abound in Army’s leadership ranks.

    • jacques says:

      Don’t you try any of that fuzzy egalitarian nordic logic ’round my Army GO’s, Lasse. Everyone Field Grade Officer and up is well-trained in the knowledge that new gear makes money while training just spends it….and there’s always a chance you might get caught in some (horrors!) rain or snow if you take that training stuff too seriously. These folks talk new kit and gear problems for every solution with unmatched joie de vivre. Training? Not so much. Now, you take away their plush HQ offices, corporate jets and 24-7 computer/email to peer-higher-ctr time, you might get some change…as a matter of fact the most useful thing you might do to fix DOD training is to eliminate 95% of the computers and issue an M4-esque wpn designed around the 260/6.5mm but if you did that my guess is that most of DOD would find themselves with very little to do but tally their days to EAS and gaze at the old navel.

  13. Carlos says:

    What a snake oil salesman. Hey “General”!! How about we first loo into making our MARKSMANSHIP TRAINING MORE RELEVANT AND EFFECTIVE? I wonder which gun manufacturers have him in their back pocket?

    • Todd Griffin says:

      Exactly, making better marksmen doesn’t create new contracts.

    • Kirk says:

      Carlos, think about if for a second: When was the last time you had a flag-rank officer come onto one of your ranges? When has there been one out checking on things, who knew a damn thing about small arms, or demonstrated any skill-at-arms to you when they occasionally deign to show up for their own weapons qualifications?

      I honestly can’t think of any, over the course of my career as an NCO. Hell, most of the CSMs I knew were useless tools with the weapons that they were supposed to be experts on. I had some really stunning conversations, over the years, when they came out to “inspect” the goings-on at the ranges I ran. Conversations, which frankly, I should have never had to have, because needing to explain what the hell “mils” were to a combat arms CSM is frankly, embarrassing.

      Another thing to think about: When, oh when, have you ever run into a senior officer out on the ranges come a weekend? Ever met one who was an enthusiast, for pistol, rifle, or shotgun? I sure as hell haven’t.

      Stories were told that the skeet range at Fort Lewis was a product of Schwartzkopf’s enthusiasm for the sport, but I never personally witnessed anything like that.

      The guys we have running the Army are politicians in uniform; they have no real enthusiasm for their profession, or interest in the skills underlying the whole thing. Time was, we had senior officers who’d compete at Camp Perry, or at least, pay lip service to all that sort of thing. These days? LOL… They might muss their freshly-starched uniforms.

      • Attack7 says:

        Well said!

        What starched uniforms? LOL I see frumpy, overweight, oversized softcap, dirty boot guys/gals for the most part! Who haven’t a care about their actual profession= winning against a peer threat. It’s no longer cool to be MILITARY in the Army! Hell, the Navy calls the Army shitbags these days!

      • DAN III says:

        Kirk,

        It is this simple….the US military is nothing more than a federal work program and social justice platform.

        Imagine for an instance you have to assault a Russian Spetsnaz trench line with your platoon of troops consisting of nothing but Susie Rottencrotch and Tommy Transvestite, social justice “warriors”.

        You: “Fix bayonets !”

        Susie and Tommy: “Bayonets ? What’s dat sarge ? We didn’t have no bayonets in basic training.”

  14. Todd Griffin says:

    Do you have links to the various older programs you reference?

  15. Linz says:

    SPIW.

  16. Steak TarTar says:

    SPARTAN-II program when?

  17. Another Ed says:

    Why would the military acquire any firearm that was not lethal?

    “Now they want 10x lethality. I suppose it comes down to the question of how to measure lethality, but still.”

    So, how do you measure lethality, and how would you know that you changed it at all, never mind “10x” change? There is an axiom in Quality Management taught in business schools that you get what you measure. If you cannot readily measure the lethality, then you cannot manage change in lethality.

    However, the following article states that for rifles, lethality can be measured based on the size and speed of the projectile. The speed, of course, decreases with the distance to the target. Several other factors also apply, such as magazine capacity:

    https://mikethegunguy.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/measuring-gun-lethality.pdf

    Not mentioned are measurements such as failure rates and maintenance required to prevent or correct failures. A non-functioning or poorly functioning weapon that requires repair or replacement has little value. Other commenters offered useful suggestions such as weapon coatings to reduce maintenance, features to facilitate inventory control, training and other weapons systems components such as tripod design. While some may not relate directly to lethality, they do relate to the total cost of deploying any weapons systems and do affect effectiveness. Another applicable business school concept is analysis of costs and benefits. Sometimes the benefit you get in return makes the cost worthwhile.

    However, it has been observed that increases in weapons lethality have been offset by other factors:

    http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/gabrmetz/gabr0022.htm

    • Kirk says:

      Sick as a dog, so I finally had a chance to come back and read your links.

      I’m of the mind that the term “lethality” is a magical buzz-word, indefinable, malleable, and able to mean whatever the speaker/writer wants it to. It is, to put it the way my NCO heart wants to, bullshit. I’m pretty sure that if you asked Milley to define it clearly for you, you’d get that whole “…I know it when I see it…” thing that Anthony Comstock supposedly said about constituted “obscenity”.

      And, here we observe the real roots of our problem: We do not study this arena in any sort of rigorous, scientific manner. You may disagree with me on that, but I want to ask you this, if you do: How, precisely, have all the numbers we bandy about when talking about this stuff been derived?

      You go digging into a lot of these things, and what you find is a whole bunch of half-ass conjecture, SWAG, and outright fantasy-land bullshit. Nobody has good numbers on any of this, and most of the decisions we make are based purely on subjective impressions and the “feels” of the people making them. Which is how we wound up fielding a POS cartridge and weapon combo like the M14/7.62 NATO, forcing it on our allies, and then abandoning the minute the “feels” shifted in Vietnam and we decided to avoid embarrassment over not going to an intermediate caliber for individual weapons by adopting the SCHV solution.

      Over the years, I’ve been all over the literature. I’ve yet to find a satisfactory set of numbers on any of this, once I got down into the weeds and looked at it. We got SS109 and M855 mostly because… The cartridges penetrated helmets at X meters. WTF? I’ll grant that that could possibly considered a capability we need, but… What percentage of our rifle fire delivered from individual weapons represents shots deliberately made into enemy helmets? You go back and look at the testing, and it seems as if someone just whiffed that whole deal, because of the sensitivities of the flarging “humanitarians”–“Oh, no… We can’t select criteria that would indicate how effective these cartridges really are at putting human beings down and out of the fight… That’s inhumane…”.

      Select criteria at the beginning that have no real connection with what we need these technologies to do, and… Well, the entire resulting set of products becomes ‘effing useless.

      “Lethality” is a nice buzz-word, and either needs to be rigorously defined, or it needs to be abandoned as a term used by the decision-makers. Weasel-words enable weasel-thinking, which leads to weasel-decisions, leading into weasel-actions. Which is honestly, a base canard upon weasels everywhere…

      I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I don’t think we really have a damn clue what is going on downrange, and we need to know, in a truly scientific and repeatable manner. The decision to field the M16/5.56mm cartridge was made in a blizzard of outright bullshit, mostly based on sales pitches made by Colt’s guy in Southeast Asia, and the initial reports of success, which included things like blowing limbs off the enemy, have never, ever been repeated. We’re only lucky the damn things worked as well as they have, because there’s not a damn thing you can show to prove that we made that decision in a truly mindful manner.

      I have an opinion on these things, which is that we need a dual-caliber solution down in the squads, and that the likelihood of being able to produce a “one caliber suits all purposes” solution is slim to none. The things you need in an individual weapon are simply not what you need in a support weapon at the squad/platoon level, and that necessitates a two-caliber solution. That said, I do not like the current set of cartridges and weapons we have–The 5.56mm range is simply too small and insufficiently powerful, and the 7.62mm suffers as an MG cartridge because it was initially shoehorned into a role as an individual weapon cartridge, and thus fatally compromised for what it needs to be able to do as an MG round.

      So, I’d go with something a bit more powerful for both–Any of the controllable 6.5/6.8 rounds, and then something like the old Swedish MG caliber of the interwar years.

      But… And, this is important: I’m pulling that entirely subjective opinion out of my ass, and can’t back it up with any real numbers, nor do I have a well-researched set of reasons behind it.

      What’s really tragic is, I’m pretty much in the same league as the guys making the decisions for us… They don’t even know what they don’t know, at this point.

  18. Ray Chilensky says:

    So either the General lied about the new body armor that our military had to defeat or, judging by the lack of urgency and delays at developing even an interim solution to that threat, he cares not at all about of service members.

  19. DAN III says:

    What is a GEN ? Is it the same as a SEN ?

    WTF is it with you folks writing articles ? Why is it you effing abbreviate titles ? Too damn lazy to spell out the entire SEVEN letter word ? Or did you fail 2nd grade English class ? This is the same mentality that calls homosexuality “gay” and people using firearms when committing crimes “gun violence” !

    • SSD says:

      What is a DAN? Is it an abbreviation for Daniel? Are you too lazy to spell out a SIX letter word? Or was it your parents? I can go on and copy your entire diatribe but why? Hypocrisy…it’s a thing.

      Relax Francis. GEN is how the Army abbreviates General. SGT is how they abbreviate Sergeant. SEN is a common abbreviation for Senator.

    • DE RP says:

      DAN(IEL) (middle name missing) (last name missing) III

      Get your T checked, you estrogen is posting on the internet again and we can’t hear grown folks talking over you being a gaping CUNT.

  20. Nate says:

    I don’t know that the big Army has EVER gotten small arms right. They have gotten close a few days, more by accident than anything else. What Army small arms program has ever been a significant leap over enemy capabilities?

    The Garand? It was the best of the self-loading rifles to come out of the 1930s, but it could have been much, much better before the Army’s stupidity messed it up. And it was clearly obsolete within a decade of its adoption, although we hung onto it for another decade.

    The 1911 was good for its era, but it was a sidearm and inconsequential.

    It took the Army 30 years to field a repeating rifle, when they had already fielded tens of thousands for emergency wartime service. And when they did, they adopted the Krag which was obsolete the day it entered service.

    The M16 was a happy accident, and the Army still managed to terribly mess up the initial mass fieldings.

    I have no faith that they will get anything significantly right about future programs. The last century and a half of performance indicates that we field small arms that are usually almost good enough and occasionally will be better than what the other guy has. No reason to believe that the future will be any different. Flip side is that we usually don’t have anything too terrible. So there is that.

  21. ALAN says:

    Sadly, Officers-Generals more so than any other “O” rank, are politicians in uniform.
    All just look towards their next political\Military appointment, instead of remember they are public servants and thus, the reason they are SUPPOSED to be serving for.