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Statement for the Record Senate Armed Services Committee: Airland Subcommittee May 18, 2017–MG Robert H. Scales, USA (Ret)

Friday, May 19th, 2017

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s Airland Subcommittee is concerned with overmatch of US small arms by threat systems. This Statement for the Record to the Senate Armed Services Committee was offered to on May 18, 2017, By Major General (Retired) Robert H. Scales.

Mr. Chairman: Thank you very much for the opportunity to appear before your subcommittee. I’ve waited many years for this moment.

Since the end of World War II the richest and most technologically advanced country in the world has sent its Soldiers and Marines into combat with inferior small arms. So inferior, fact, that thousands have died needlessly. They died because the Army’s weapon buying bureaucracy has consistently denied that a Soldier’s individual weapon is important enough to gain their serious attention.

The stories are a century old and as new as today. The venerable “Ma Deuce” 50 caliber machine gun, the one most Soldiers use in mounted combat, will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2019. Try to imagine any service (other than our ground services) still holding on to a centenarian for a weapon. The M249 Squad Automatic Weapon performed so badly in Iraq and Afghanistan that the last commandant of the Marine Corps wrote a check to get rid of it in infantry squads. He replaced it with the superb HK 416, the finest automatic rifle in the free world. By the way it was a German made HK, not an American weapon, that killed bin Laden.

After fifteen years of testing and a $175 million investment the Army achieved a breakthrough with acceptance of the XM 25 grenade launcher. This amazing weapon fires a “smart” grenade that uses a laser to determine the range to an enemy hiding behind defilade, then transmits that data to the grenade. The XM 25 reaches out with great precision to 500 meters or more and detonates the grenade directly over the head of an enemy hiding behind a wall or inside a building. No longer will the Taliban be able to huddle under cover until our infantry fires slacken before he runs away. Now he has nowhere to run. The XM 25 is the first truly revolutionary small arms technology the Army has developed in almost half a century. By the way, the Army leadership canceled the XM 25 program last week.

The Army’s Acquisition Community wasn’t able to select something as simple as a pistol. After eight years and millions of dollars the only product they produced was a 400-page written “Request for Proposal” for an off the shelf commercial pistol. It took an enraged Chairman of this Committee and weekly interventions by the Army Chief of Staff to force the acquisition bureaucrats to pick the German made Sig Sauer pistol and get on with buying it for our Soldiers.

The most horrific story has to be the one about the rifle. During my 35 years in the Army, it became clear to me that from Hamburger Hill to the streets of Baghdad that the American penchant for arming troops with lousy rifles has been responsible for a staggering number of unnecessary deaths. In wars fought since World War II, the vast majority of men and women in uniform have not engaged in the intimate act of killing. Their work is much the same as their civilian counterparts’. It is the infantryman’s job to intentionally seek out and kill the enemy, at the risk of violent death. The Army and Marine Corps infantry, joined by a very small band of Special Operations forces, comprises roughly 50,000 soldiers, some 4 percent of uniformed Defense Department employees. During World War II, 70 percent of all soldiers killed at the hands of the enemy were infantry. In the wars since, that proportion has grown to about 80 percent. These are the (mostly) men whose survival depends on their rifles and ammunition.

In combat, an infantryman lives an animal’s life. The primal laws of tooth and fang determine whether he will live or die. Killing is quick. Combat in Afghanistan and Iraq reinforces the lesson that there is no such thing in small?arms combat as a fair fight. Infantrymen advance into the killing zone grimy, tired, confused, hungry, and scared. Their equipment is dirty, dented, or worn. They die on patrol from ambushes, from sniper attacks, from booby traps and improvised explosive devices. They may have only a split second to lift, aim, and pull the trigger before the enemy fires. Survival depends on the ability to deliver more killing power at longer ranges and with greater precision than the enemy.

Any lost edge, however small, means death. A jammed weapon, an enemy too swift and elusive to be engaged with aimed fire, an enemy out of range yet capable of delivering a larger volume of return fire—any of these cancel out all the wonderfully superior and expensive American air- and sea-based weapons that may be fired in support of ground troops. There’s also a moral dimension as well. An infantryman who perceives that his weapon is inferior loses confidence in the close fight and might well hold back fearing that his opponent can kill him at greater range and with more precision. A soldier in basic training is told that his rifle is his best friend and his ticket home. If the lives of so many depend on a rifle why can’t the richest country in the world give it to them?

The answer is both complex and simple. The M4, the standard carbine in use by the infantry today, is a lighter version of the M16 rifle that killed so many of the soldiers who carried it in Vietnam. (The M16 is still also in wide use today.) In the early morning of July 13, 2008, nine infantrymen died fighting off a Taliban attack at a combat outpost near the village of Wanat in Afghanistan’s Nuristan province. Some of the soldiers present later reported that in the midst of battle their rifles overheated and jammed. The Wanat story is reminiscent of experiences in Vietnam: in fact, other than a few cosmetic changes, the rifles from both wars are virtually the same. And the M4’s shorter barrel makes it less effective at long ranges than the older M16, an especially serious disadvantage in modern combat, which is increasingly taking place over long ranges.

The M16 started out as a stroke of genius by one of the world’s most famous firearms designers. In the 1950s, an engineer named Eugene Stoner used space age materials to improve the Army’s then standard infantry rifle, the M14. The 5.56mm cartridge Stoner chose for his rifle was a modification not of the M14’s cartridge but of a commercial Remington rifle cartridge that had been designed to kill small varmints. His invention, the AR15, was light, handy, and capable of controlled automatic fire. It outclassed the heavier, harder recoiling M14. Yet the Army was again reluctant to change. As James Fallows observed in 1981, it took the “strong support” of President Kennedy and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara to make the Army consider breaking its love affair with the large caliber M14. In 1963, it slowly began adopting Stoner’s invention.

The “militarized” adaptation of the AR15 was the M16. Militarization—more than 100 proposed alterations to supposedly make the rifle combat ready—ruined the first batch to arrive at the front lines, and the cost in dead soldiers was horrific. A propellant ordered by the Army left a powder residue that clogged the rifle. Finely machined parts made the M16 a “maintenance queen” that required constant cleaning in the moisture, dust, and mud of Vietnam. In time, the Army improved the weapon—but not before many U.S. troops died.

Not all the problems with the M16 can be blamed on the Army. Buried in the M16’s, and now the M4’s, operating system is a flaw that no amount of militarizing and tinkering has ever erased. Stoner’s gun cycles cartridges from the magazine into the chamber using gas pressure vented off as the bullet passes through the barrel. Gases traveling down a very narrow aluminum tube produce an intense “puff” that throws the bolt assembly to the rear, making the bolt assembly a freely moving object in the body of the rifle. Any dust or dirt or residue from the cartridge might cause the bolt assembly, and thus the rifle, to jam.

In contrast, the Soviet AK-47 (and most other western designed assault rifles) cycle rounds using a solid operating rod attached to the bolt assembly. The gas action of the AK-47 throws the rod and the bolt assembly back as one unit, and the solid attachment means that mud or dust will not prevent the gun from functioning. Fearing the deadly consequences of a “failure to feed” in a fight, some top?tier Special Operations units like Delta Force and SEAL Team Six use a more modern and effective rifle with a more reliable operating rod mechanism. But front line Army and Marine riflemen still fire weapons much more likely to jam than the AK-47. Failure to feed affects every aspect of a fight. A Russian infantryman can fire about 140 rounds a minute without stopping. The M4 fires at roughly half that rate. Today it still jams after overheating and in dusty field conditions, just like in close combat. In the open terrain of Afghanistan, the M4 is badly out ranged by Taliban weapons manufactured before the First World War.

Sadly, until very recently the Army has done all it could to cover up the poor performance of the M 4. After my article “Gun Trouble” appeared in January’s Atlantic Magazine Army Public Affairs responded that the weapon was fine, as good as it could be. Then Rowan Scarborough of the Washington Times revealed a few months later that the M-4 was undergoing over 140 improvements. So, Rowan asked: “why, if the gun was so perfect in January, was it necessary to rebuild it a few months later?” Remember we aren’t talking about stealth, encryption or lines of code here. There are no interoperability and integration issues. Nothing is hidden deeply in Area 51. It’s a seven-pound piece of plastic and steel.

What should a next generation, all purpose infantry rifle look like? It should be modular. Multiple weapons can now be assembled from a single chassis. A squad member can customize his weapon by attaching different barrels, buttstocks, forearms, feed systems, and accessories to make, say, a light machine gun, a carbine, a rifle, or an infantry automatic rifle.

The military must change the caliber and cartridge of the guns it gives infantry soldiers. Stoner’s little 5.56mm cartridge was ideal for softening the recoil of World War II infantry calibers in order to allow fully automatic fire. But today’s cartridge is simply too small for modern combat. Its lack of mass limits its range to less than 400 meters. The civilian version of the 5.56?mm bullet was designed as a “varmint killer” and six states prohibit its use for deer hunting because it is not lethal enough to ensure a quick kill. The optimum caliber for tomorrow’s rifle is between 6.5 and 7 millimeters. The cartridge could be made almost as light as the older brass cased 5.56mm by using a plastic shell casing, which is now in final development by the Marine Corps.

The Army can achieve an infantry version of stealth by attaching newly developed sound suppressors to every rifle. Instead of merely muffling the sound of firing by trapping gases, this new technology redirects the firing gases forward, capturing most of the blast and flash well inside the muzzle. Of course, an enemy under fire would hear the muted sounds of an engagement. But much as with other stealth technology, the enemy soldier would be at a decisive disadvantage in trying to determine the exact location of the weapons firing at him.

Computer miniaturization now allows precision to be squeezed into a rifle sight. All an infantryman using a rifle equipped with a new model sight need do is place a red dot on his target and push a button at the front of his trigger guard; a computer on his rifle will take into account data like range and “lead angle” to compensate for the movement of his target, and then automatically fire when the hit is guaranteed. This rifle sight can “see” the enemy soldier day or night at ranges well beyond 600 meters. An enemy caught in that sight will die long before he could know he was seen, much less before he could effectively return fire.

But infantrymen today do not use rifles equipped with these new sights. Hunters do. In fact, new rifles and ammunition are readily available. They are made by many manufacturers—civilian gun makers and foreign military suppliers that equip the most?elite Special Operations units. Unlike conventional infantry units, top tier Special Operations units are virtually unrestricted by cumbersome acquisition protocols, and have had ample funding and a free hand to solicit new gun designs from private industry.

These units test new guns in combat, often with dramatic results: greater precision, greater reliability, greater killing power.

The Army has argued that, in an era of declining resources, a new rifle will cost more than $2 billion. But let’s say the Army and Marine Corps buy new rifles only for those who will use them most, namely the infantry. The cost, for about 100,000 infantrymen at $1,000 each, is then reduced to roughly $100 million, less than that of a single F?35 fighter jet. The Army and the Marine Corps can keep the current stocks of M4s and M16s in reserve for use by non?infantry personnel in the unlikely event that they find themselves in combat.

What to Do…

There is some good news in this doleful saga. Since 911 the M4 has been marginally effective against poorly equipped and armed insurgents like al Qaeda, ISIS and the Taliban. But reports about the fighting effectiveness of Putin’s well equipped little green men is disturbing. The Russians have spent their defense rubles wisely investing in a new family of assault rifles and the new Ratnick soldier systems that include a new soldier suite for protection, small arms and communications. Putin’s philosophy is to spend money only on units he needs to advance his national security aims: Spetnaz, GRU, naval infantry, airborne infantry and special armored units.

The Army now realizes that the varmint gun can’t defeat Russian body armor and is easily outranged by the latest Russian small arms. Senior leaders are now calling for the adoption of a “middle caliber” bullet and a new rifle to shoot it. It’s about time. The problem is that the Army’s turgid acquisition gurus want seven years to develop the new rifle.

Mr. Chairman, seven years is too long. With your help, we can develop and field the rifle our Soldiers and Marines deserve in about a year. Here is what we should do:

For the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, we request that you authorize 100 Million dollars to support an open competition to development a new family of dominant small arms. This single authorization should expire in a year. The effort should be run and overseen by ground combat arms officers and Non-Commissioned Officers. The Executive for managing this effort should be a consortium of the Ground Service Chiefs and the Commander, Special Operations Command. No acquisition agencies from any service should be involved in executive decision making or the management of the competition.

Competition will be open to anyone, small business, big business, foreign, domestic or even clever individuals. After one year the consortium leadership will conduct the shoot- off. The shoot off will be open to all services, the media and congress and anyone from the public who is interested. Results will be scored and posted daily on a web site.

The new rifle requirements document will be one page. It will speculate only six characteristics:

· First the rifle must be modular capable of being converted in the field to a carbine, rifle, machine gun or sniper rifle.

· Second, it will fire an intermediate caliber bullet probably a military version of the venerable Remington 270.

· Third, the rifle will be suppressed. A muzzle suppressor greatly reduces a rifle’s report and in the confusion of a close fight a quieter rifle gives a decided advantage.

· Fourth, the new rifle will use a solid recoiling action like most first-rate assault rifles.

· Fifth, the rifle should have a snap on digital sight capable of killing reliably to a range in excess of 1,000 meters.

· Sixth, the rifle should be able to fire ammunition in a polymer casing. Polymer rounds weigh 30% less than brass cartridge casings.

A desirable feature would be an attachment to allow the rifle to fire belted ammunition.

The winner would be awarded about 100 million dollars to manufacture the first 100,000 rifles, enough to equip all close combat small units in the Army and Marine Corps as well as those who fight close to the infantry to include Sappers, Fire Support Teams, and intelligence specialists. The rest of the Army and Marine Corps will do just fine with the M-4…for now.

I am not alone in calling for a significant reform of our small arms systems. Many very senior combat veterans share my passion. One in particular comes to mind. This from an often-quoted note to a friend written in 2009:

Yesterday I was at Walter Reed and among others spoke at some length with a fine young Marine infantry officer, Lt David Borden, who lost a leg in Ramadi to a suicide bomber. He lost a leg along with other serious wounds, blast killed one of his lads, wounded others. Most notably, he emptied a magazine into the man charging them, at close range, even as his fellow Marines riddled him as well at close range. Certainly, the guy was on drugs, but the bottom line was that our assault rifle did not have the stopping power to put the enemy down on first, second, third…fifteenth etc. rounds to the body…

Once the problem is well defined (we are using a rifle whose caliber is illegal for shooting small deer in nearly all states due to its lack of killing power), we will move swiftly to the solution. While I believe, the solution is 6.8mm, I’m open to whatever will work. Physics says that the best advances in bullet technology will not give us the increased stopping power/energy of the 5.56, since any improved 5.56 ammunition could only be more effective if adopted at 6.8mm or other heavier round.

The sender of the message was General James Mattis.

My grandson is ten and I’m very proud of him. He tells me he wants to be a Soldier someday. If we leave the Army’s Acquisition bureaucracy in charge of developing our next generation of small arms I’m fearful that he will be walking point some day with the same weapon that failed my Soldiers so tragically fifty years ago in Vietnam.
Please don’t allow that to happen.

www.armed-services.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Scales_05-17-17
[COURTESY: LTC Lewis Higinbotham, USA (Ret) and passed to me by James D]

Wolverine Worldwide Applauds Passage Of Defense Bill Directing Armed Services To Procure US Made Athletic Footwear

Friday, December 9th, 2016

Yesterday marked final passage by the Senate of the 2017 NDAA which includes the language that will have military issue athletic footwear made in the United States. This is a HUGE win for the Berry Amendment, the warfighter, and the domestic industrial base. My congratulations to everyone who made this happen.

Saucony Now Producing Footwear in Michigan
Defense Department to Provide American-made Athletic Footwear to Troops

Rockford, Michigan, December 8, 2016 — Wolverine Worldwide (NYSE: WWW) today hailed the passage of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the defense bill that sets the policy and spending levels for the fiscal year. Included in the final version of the NDAA is language directing the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps to comply with the Berry Amendment and provide 100% American-made athletic footwear to recruits upon their initial entry to basic training. The Department of Defense has been providing a cash allowance to new service members for foreign-made athletic footwear. U.S. Marine recruits have been required to spend their own funds on these items.

Wolverine Worldwide is the parent company of Saucony, a manufacturer of high performance running shoes as well as of Bates footwear, the largest and most capable provider of combat boots, dress uniform and other footwear to the military. This legislation will positively impact footwear manufacturing in Michigan as well as the industrial base throughout the United States.

Members of the Michigan, Massachusetts, South Dakota and New Hampshire Congressional delegations, notably Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD), Senator John Thune (R-SD), Representative Bill Huizenga (R-MI), Representative John Moolenaar (R-MI), Representative Kristi Noem (R-SD), Representative Niki Tsongas (D-MA) and Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA) have strongly supported this provision. Their hard work and leadership during NDAA consideration has ensured that recruits will have access to high-quality, American-made athletic footwear for military training and will help expand manufacturing for footwear and related components throughout the United States.

“I thank those members of Congress who have worked to sustain domestic manufacturing and ensure our warfighters train in American-made footwear,” said Blake Krueger, Wolverine Worldwide’s chairman, chief executive officer and president. “Congressional support for American-made products for the Department of Defense clearly demonstrates an understanding of the importance of maintaining a critical industrial capability within our country and ensures that soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines will be provided with a choice of technically advanced, durable, American-made athletic shoes for use in basic training.”

Since 1941, the Berry Amendment has required the Department of Defense to purchase American-made and sourced clothing, textiles, foods, and other essential military items for our men and women in uniform. The purpose of the Berry Amendment is to ensure that the United States is able to maintain viable domestic industries to support the needs of the Armed Services.

Wolverine Worldwide recently expanded its manufacturing plant located in Big Rapids, Michigan and employs more than 600 people who proudly build a broad spectrum of footwear for the Department of Defense. Products manufactured in Big Rapids include combat boots for the service branches, mountain combat boots for Special Operations Forces, and military dress shoes. Wolverine is adding an advanced manufacturing line for Berry-compliant Saucony running shoes in preparation for the pursuit of government awards. The company is looking forward to expanding upon this American-made athletic footwear capability to serve the Department of Defense as well as commercial markets.

Saucony is a leading global performance running brand founded in Pennsylvania in 1898. The brand is known for its best-in-class design, innovation and performance technology. Saucony has recently expanded its technical research laboratory in Waltham, Massachusetts where the company performs material testing as well as biomechanical, physiological, and sensory analysis of runners.

For additional information, please visit, www.wolverineworldwide.com.

SilencerCo CEO Josh Waldron on the Hearing Protection Act

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

My fellow Americans,

Tuesday’s Republican election victory was a tremendous win for our Second Amendment rights and it also marked a significant increase in the potential for the Hearing Protection Act to become law and remove silencers from the NFA registry. SilencerCo has been and will continue to be a vocal supporter of the HPA and advocate for it to become a priority in the legislative agenda for 2017.

As a member of The Suppressed™, you’ve likely thought to yourself, “Why are silencers still an NFA item?” SilencerCo has not only wondered this ourselves, but along with partners such as the American Suppressor Association, we’ve taken steps to support the introduction of legislation to remove silencers from the list of NFA items.

On October 22, 2015 the Hearing Protection Act was introduced. This piece of legislation is aimed at removing silencers from the NFA and instead having their transfer go through a traditional ATF Form 4473 – the same way you would purchase a standard rifle or pistol.

What does this mean for you?

No $200 tax stamp
No excessive wait times
No NFA trusts
No fingerprint cards, passport photos, or Chief Law Enforcement Officer notification
A simple process, just like when you purchase most firearms through your dealer

Even though the House, Senate, and Presidency will be controlled by like-minded advocates for the Second Amendment, bills take time to become laws and citizens should not be taxed for trying to protect their hearing while exercising their Second Amendment rights. Between now and the passage of this bill, we encourage our customers to continue to support the industry and to take advantage of the following provision: The Hearing Protection Act also includes a provision for all people who purchase a silencer between the time the bill is introduced (October 22, 2015) until the day it passes – should you purchase a silencer during that time, you will receive a $200 tax credit to cover the cost of any new silencer tax stamps you pay for.

This bill was initially championed by Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) as its primary sponsor and since then has had multiple co-sponsors. SilencerCo, Rep. Salmon, and all supporters of the bill realize that this is a long-term effort and will not be something that happens overnight. With the help of people like you – The Suppressed – we will gain momentum and educate both the general public and lawmakers as to the true nature of silencers.

If you haven’t already joined The Suppressed, click HERE to add your voice to the cause and write to your Congressmen and women and Senators to voice your support for the HPA as a legislative priority for 2017.

Sincerely,

Josh Waldron
CEO, SilencerCo

HASC 2017 NDAA Markup Includes Requirement For Berry Compliant Athletic Footwear

Friday, April 29th, 2016

As you may know, DoD does a great job of adhering to the Berry Amendment, except when it comes to athletic footwear. While many look at the WWII-era law as protectionary, it was created to ensure a viable industrial base for textiles and other clothing, footwear and equipment items. The failure of DoD to follow Berry guidelines for athletic footwear is most apparent during Initial Entry Training where recruits are issued vouchers, which are traded for commercial running shoes at military exchanges.  As you can imagine, these shoes are made overseas.

For the past several years, Congress has been working with industry to offer viable American made alternatives to the military. The language in the National Defense Authorization Act has become more specific each year, and now hopefully, we’ll see this latest version become a part of the 2017 NDAA that the President signs into law later this year after it makes it through the rest of the hoops. Now, we’ve got both Saucony and New Balance offering Made in USA running shoes. Once this becomes law, I believe other brands will follow, bringing jobs back to the US.

WOLVERINE WORLDWIDE COMMENDS HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE’S PASSAGE OF NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT

Annual Department of Defense Funding Bill Includes Landmark Provision Requiring Department of Defense to Provide Berry Amendment Compliant Athletic Footwear to Recruits

Rockford, Mich., April 28, 2016 — Wolverine Worldwide (NYSE: WWW) today commended the House Armed Services Committee’s approval of legislation directing the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps to provide Berry Amendment compliant athletic footwear to service members upon their initial entry to the armed forces. Currently, the Department of Defense provides a cash allowance to members for the purchase of foreign-made athletic footwear. This important provision was included in the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and led by Armed Services Committee member Representative Niki Tsongas (D-MA.)

“I commend the House Armed Services Committee for this significant provision that will have a direct and positive impact on our ability to provide high quality, American-made athletic footwear to men and women upon their entry to the armed services,” said Blake Krueger, Wolverine Worldwide’s Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President. “Congresswoman Niki Tsongas has exhibited remarkable persistence in her support for American manufacturing and for the needs of American service members. We are greatly appreciative of the commitment demonstrated by Congresswoman Tsongas and the members of the Armed Services committee to support American jobs and maintain a strong footwear industrial base in the United States.”

Since 1941, the Berry Amendment has required the Department of Defense to only purchase American-made and sourced clothing, textiles, foods, and other essential military items for our men and women in uniform. Until today, athletic footwear was not included in the Amendment. The purpose of the Berry Amendment is to ensure the United States is able to maintain viable industries for key military items should conflict break out and disrupt supply lines. This legislation helps support manufacturing jobs and sustains the domestic industrial base that currently builds the combat boots and military dress shoes for the United States Armed Services.

With a longstanding partnership with the United States Department of Defense, Wolverine Worldwide operates a manufacturing plant located in Big Rapids, Mich. that employs more than 600 people who currently and proudly build a broad spectrum of Bates Footwear for the men and women of the United States military. Products manufactured in Big Rapids include combat boots for the service branches, mountain combat boots for Special Operations Forces, and military dress shoes.

Wolverine Worldwide has athletic footwear manufacturing capabilities in its Big Rapids facility through its Saucony brand. Saucony is a leading global performance running brand that was founded in the United States in 1898. The brand is known for its best-in-class design, innovation and performance technology. Saucony maintains and is presently expanding its technical research laboratory in Lexington, MA where the Company performs material testing as well as biomechanical, physiological and sensory analysis of runners. The athletic footwear capabilities of the Company’s Big Rapids facility are due to the creation and engineering of an advanced manufacturing line that can produce 100% Berry-compliant Saucony running shoes. The Company is looking forward to building American-made athletic shoes for American troops as a result of this critical amendment included in the NDAA.

Support the Hearing Protection Act

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

As SIG SAUER’s John Hollister says, “Do it for the children.”  The Hearing Protection Act of 2015 (H.R. 3799) would remove suppressors from the National Firearms Act.

Let your voice be heard, but not your firearms.

americansuppressorassociation.com/hearing-protection-act

American Knife & Tool Institute Increases Lobbying Efforts to Ensure Protection of Lawful Knife Owners

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

Organization to Focus on Federal and State Efforts Including the Knife Owners’ Protection Act, Repeal of Restrictions on Auto-Open Knives, and Preemption

Las Vegas, NV – January 19, 2016 – The American Knife & Tool Institute (AKTI) today announced its plans to increase its lobbying efforts in order to prompt reform of knife laws in 2016.

To accomplish this reform, AKTI has brought on ADS Ventures, a Boston, MA and Washington, DC-based government and public affairs firm with a practice specializing in defense and national security issues. The team, headed by Liesl Grebenstein and supported by Savannah Kelleher, has been working with AKTI for several years, but the new contract will enhance efforts focused on federal efforts to pass the Knife Owners’ Protection Act (KOPA), and state efforts to ease restrictions on auto-open knives, as well as preemption. The legislative reform agenda will ensure the protection of knife owners’ Constitutional rights.

“AKTI has an aggressive legislative reform agenda in 2016,” said CJ Buck, AKTI’s Board President. “We are confident that through AKTI’s leadership, and the work of ADS Ventures, it will be a successful year for the organization as we further our mission to ensure your right to own, carry, and use knives and edged tools.”

For nearly 20 years, AKTI has served as the go-to resource for knife owners looking to ensure that they comply with all local, state, and federal laws related to knives. One of the biggest complaints and points of confusion AKTI hears about from lawful knife owners involves the patchwork laws related to the ownership and possession of knives. While citizens are making every effort to comply with patchwork state and local laws, it has become clear that there is the need for comprehensive reform.

“AKTI and its members have been successful in clarifying and correcting poorly conceived and ambiguous legislation and educating legislators on knife issues on behalf of all knife owners,” said David Fee, AKTI’s Legislative Chair. “We support reasonable, responsible legislation and measured non-partisan efforts to resolve issues. We’re excited to see how we can further this objective in this and coming years.”

More about AKTI

The American Knife & Tool Institute (AKTI) is a non-profit organization (501(c)6) representing all segments of the knife industry and all knife users. Formed in true grassroots fashion by concerned industry leaders after considerable discussion with individual knifemakers, knife magazine publishers, and a broad section of the knife community, AKTI has been the reasonable and responsible voice of the knife community since 1998. AKTI’s mission is to ensure that Americans will always be able to make, buy, sell, own, carry and use knives and edged tools. To learn more, please visit www.akti.org.

Democrats Are After Your Guns Again – The Assault Weapons Ban Of 2015

Saturday, December 26th, 2015

Never mind that they tried this once before and it not only didn’t work but cost them a majority in the Congress. Never mind that prohibitions don’t work. Never mind that the majority of Americans don’t want this. Democrats in the House of Representatives  have introduced a new bill to make the guns many SSD readers own, illegal to manufacture.  Naturally, the bill also covers ‘large capacity ammunition feeding devices’.

One of the things that always strikes me about these bills as they pop up is the obsession the anti-2Aers have with guns.  They love to make lists of types of firearms, the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’.  It’s really kind of creepy.  If only they put that kind of effort into cutting red tape so businesses could create jobs.  

I encourage you to read the full text of this bill that is currently in committee.

www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/4269/text

2016 NDAA Contains Provision To Offer 100,000 M1911A1 Pistols Via Civilian Marksmanship Program

Monday, November 30th, 2015

The day before Thanksgiving, President Obama signed the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act into law.  While one of its most sweeping changes is the creation of a new retirement plan for military personnel, an interesting provision in the legislation which will transfer up to 100,000 M-1911A1 pistols to qualified recipients via the Civilian Marksmanship Program.  Previously, CMP has been limited to transferring rifles such as the M-1 Garand.

  
The program will begin with a one-year pilot effort which will transfer up to 10,000 pistols.  Further details are below.  

SEC. 1087. TRANSFER OF SURPLUS FIREARMS TO CORPORATION FOR

(a) AUTHORIZATION OF TRANSFER OF SURPLUS FIREARMS TO CORPORATION FOR THE PROMOTION OF RIFLE PRACTICE AND FIRE- ARMS SAFETY.— (1) IN GENERAL.—Section 40728 of title 36, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

THE PROMOTION OF RIFLE PRACTICE AND FIREARMS SAFETY.

S. 1356—288

‘‘(h) AUTHORIZED TRANSFERS.—(1) Subject to paragraph (2), the Secretary may transfer to the corporation, in accordance with the procedure prescribed in this subchapter, surplus caliber .45 M1911/M1911A1 pistols and spare parts and related accessories for those pistols that, on the date of the enactment of this subsection, are under the control of the Secretary and are surplus to the require-ments of the Department of the Army, and such material as may be recovered by the Secretary pursuant to section 40728A(a) of this title. The Secretary shall determine a reasonable schedule for the transfer of such surplus pistols.

‘‘(2) The Secretary may not transfer more than 10,000 surplus caliber .45 M1911/M1911A1 pistols to the corporation during any year and may only transfer such pistols as long as pistols described in paragraph (1) remain available for transfer.’’.

(2) TECHNICAL AND CONFORMING AMENDMENTS.—Such title is further amended—

(A) in section 40728A—

(i) by striking ‘‘rifles’’ each place it appears and inserting ‘‘surplus firearms’’; and

(ii) in subsection (a), by striking ‘‘section 40731(a)’’ and inserting ‘‘section 40732(a)’’; (B) in section 40729(a)—

(i) in paragraph (1), by striking ‘‘section 40728(a)’’ and inserting ‘‘subsections (a) and (h) of section 40728’’; (ii) in paragraph (2), by striking ‘‘40728(a)’’ and inserting ‘‘subsections (a) and (h) of section 40728’’; and

(iii) in paragraph (4), by inserting ‘‘and caliber .45 M1911/M1911A1 surplus pistols’’ after ‘‘caliber .30 and caliber .22 rimfire rifles’’;

(C) in section 40732—

(i) by striking ‘‘caliber .22 rimfire and caliber .30 surplus rifles’’ both places it appears and inserting ‘‘surplus caliber .22 rimfire rifles, caliber .30 surplus rifles, and caliber .45 M1911/M1911A1 surplus pistols’’; and

(ii) in subsection (b), by striking ‘‘is over 18 years of age’’ and inserting ‘‘is legally of age’’; and (D) in section 40733—

(i) by striking ‘‘Section 922(a)(1)-(3) and (5)’’ and inserting ‘‘(a) IN GENERAL.—Except as provided in sub-section (b), section 922(a)(1)-(3) and (5)’’; and

(ii) by adding at the end the following new sub-

section: ‘‘(b) EXCEPTION.—With respect to firearms other than caliber .22 rimfire and caliber .30 rifles, the corporation shall obtain a license as a dealer in firearms and abide by all requirements imposed on persons licensed under chapter 44 of title 18, including maintaining acquisition and disposition records, and conducting background checks.’’.

(b) PILOT PROGRAM.—

(1) ONE-YEAR AUTHORITY.—The Secretary of the Army may carry out a one-year pilot program under which the Secretary may transfer to the Corporation for the Promotion of Rifle Practice and Firearms Safety not more than 10,000 firearms described in paragraph (2).

S. 1356—289

(2) FIREARMS DESCRIBED.—The firearms described in this paragraph are surplus caliber .45 M1911/M1911A1 pistols and spare parts and related accessories for those pistols that, on the date of the enactment of this section, are under the control of the Secretary and are surplus to the requirements of the Department of the Army.

(3) TRANSFER REQUIREMENTS.—Transfers of surplus caliber .45 M1911/M1911A1 pistols from the Army to the Corporation under the pilot program shall be made in accordance with subchapter II of chapter 407 of title 36, United States Code.

(4) REPORTS TO CONGRESS.—the Secretary initiates the pilot program under this sub-section, the Secretary shall submit to Congress an interim report on the pilot program. Secretary completes the pilot program under this sub-section, the Secretary shall submit to Congress a final report on the pilot program. this subsection shall include, for the period covered by the report—

(A) INTERIM REPORT.—Not later than 90 days after
(B) FINAL REPORT.—Not later than 15 days after the
(C) CONTENTS OF REPORT.—Each report required by
(i) the number of firearms described in subsection
(a)(2) transferred under the pilot program; and
(ii) information on any crimes committed using firearms transferred under the pilot program.
(c) LIMITATION ON TRANSFER OF SURPLUS CALIBER .45 M1911/M1911A1 PISTOLS.—The Secretary may not transfer firearms described in subsection (b)(2) under subchapter II of chapter 407 of title 36, United States Code, until the date that is 60 days after the date of the submittal of the final report required under subsection (b)(4)(B).

Additionally, the law requires the Department of Defense to develop procedures allowing military personnel to carry personally owned firearms on base, pursuant to local laws.

Congressional Staffers Visit Natick Soldier Systems Center

Friday, November 13th, 2015

A Congressional staff delegation consisting of Professional Staff Members from the House and Senate Armed Services`1qw Committees visited key DoD research & development facilities in the Boston area this week. Among other stops, the staff spent time at the Natick Soldier Systems Center where they were briefed on the base’s cutting-edge R&D work. Natick Soldier Systems Center is a crucial part of the development process for warfighter gear and equipment, with groundbreaking work on individual items ranging from combat helmets and soldier electronics to combat feeding and shelter systems.
The base itself consists of four key units including, the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, the U.S. Army Institute of Environmental Medicine, Program Manager Field Sustainment, and the Integrated Logistics Support Center….. it truly is “all about the solider.” And as one of the main industry liaisons, the base serves as an integral player in the DoD’s R&D efforts on improving gear and equipment for the end-user. Natick Soldier Systems Center maintains capabilities and technologies that are one of a kind, such as the Doriot Climatic Chambers, which was recently upgraded in partnership with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The base’s location also provides a unique ability to bring some of the nation’s greatest minds due to its proximity to some of the nation’s greatest research institutions such as Harvard University, MIT, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the University of Massachusetts system.

Terry Baldwin on Civilian Control of the Military

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

Recently, a post regarding a Senator’s position on a pending government procurement resulted in some rather interesting comments on civilian control of the military. I exchanged some messages with LTC Terry Baldwin (USSF, Ret) and we agreed that it needed to be addressed.  This is what he came up with. It’s a good historical reference, and well worth the reading, whether you are an informed citizen or a student of the profession of arms.

There is legitimate purpose, coherent logic and sound reasoning behind every element and mechanism associated with our Constitutional Republic. None is more fundamental to our form of government than iron clad civilian control of the military. In peace and war. In June of 1787, James Madison addressed the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on the dangers of a permanent army. “A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty.” Based on the European model of his day Madison declared. “The means of defense against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home.” The fact that Madison, one of the most vocal proponents of a strong centralized government—an author of the Federalist papers and the architect of the Constitution—could evince such strongly negative feelings against a standing army is significant and telling(1).

The final draft of the Declaration of Independence contained numerous references to King George’s militarism (particularly his attempts to render the army independent of civilian authority). By the end of the War of Independence, distrust and even hatred of a standing army had become a powerful and near-universal article of faith among the American people. Many felt that the professional British army was nothing less than a “conspiracy against liberty.” The Quartering Act, which required colonists to provide housing and provisions for troops in their own buildings, was an especially obnoxious symbol of the corrupting power represented by the army. An issue which was later directly addressed in the 3d Amendment of the US Constitution. Many colonists held the sentiment that the redcoats stationed in the colonies existed not to protect them but to enforce the king’s unpopular policies at bayonet-point(1).

Other members of the founding generation worried that an armed, professional force represented an untenable threat to the liberty of the people generally. As Samuel Adams wrote in 1768, “Even when there is a necessity of the military power, within a land, a wise and prudent people will always have a watchful and jealous eye over it”. In our Republic that watchful oversight on behave of the people is exercised by our elected officials. Moreover, in Federalist No. 51, Madison argued that no single branch of government ought to have control over any single aspect of governing. Thus, all three branches of government must have some control over the military, and the system of checks and balances maintained among the other branches would serve to help control the military(1).

The powers of the individual Branches of government concerning the United States Military are clearly outlined in the Constitution. The separation of those powers concerning their duties and responsibilities are precise and distinct to each Branch. Article I which covers the governmental responsibilities of the Legislative Branch distinctly places the responsibility of provision for and maintenance of the military specifically in the duties of the United States House of Representatives and Senate. Article I, Section 8 – The Legislative Branch – “To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years; To provide and maintain a Navy.” Article II, Section 2 – The Executive Branch – “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States.”

Most military professionals, myself included, are in fact strong advocates of civilian control. Highly respected writing on War from Clausewitz to Sun-Tzu universally recognized and advocated an unbreakable link between political goals and military means. Historically where unrealistic or poorly defined political objectives became unsynchronized or decoupled from operational and tactical military actions, National mission failure is the likely result. Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan would be some recent examples. Given the broad strategic implications that a decision to declare a war, invade a country, or end a conflict, have on the citizens of the country, those deliberations are best guided by the will of the people (as expressed by their elected representatives), rather than left solely to an elite group of military experts. The military serves as a special government agency, which is supposed to implement, rather than formulate, policies that require the use of certain types of physical force. Dr. Kohn succinctly summarizes this view when he writes that: “the point of civilian control is to make security subordinate to the larger purposes of a nation, rather than the other way around. The purpose of the military is to defend society, not to define it.”(2)

It can also be argued that militaries possess capabilities that are too powerful to be placed at the discretion of just a few people. Rather, they must be at the service of all citizens and used in accordance with the democratic will of the people. So concerns about maintaining an appropriate subordinate relationship between the military and civil authorities elected or appointed over them did not end in the 18th Century. In 1961, President Eisenhower warned in his farewell address of a military-industrial complex, where the military could wield indirect power or undue influence over Congress by enlisting arms manufacturers to lobby for increased military spending to benefit themselves and incidentally the military. This very real and troubling dynamic represents a potential end run around effective civilian control. And also presents an effective argument in favor of more civilian scrutiny and oversight of the military not less.

Of course, the most important institution supporting civilian control must be the military itself. The fundamental assumption behind civilian supremacy is the abstinence by the military from intervention in government and political life. The military should advise civilians, represent the needs of the military inside the government, but not advocate military interests or perspectives publicly in such a way as to undermine or circumscribe civilian authority. While a country may have civilian control of the military without democracy, it cannot have democracy without civilian control. Democracy is a disorderly form of government, often inefficient and always frustrating. Maintaining liberty and security, governing in such a manner as to achieve desirable political outcomes and at the same time military effectiveness, is among the most difficult dilemmas of human governance.(2)

Our Founding Fathers envisioned and built a most amazing governing construct. A mechanism designed with component gears that purposely grind against one another rather than mesh. An apparatus that is maintenance intensive and that we the people have a sacred duty to constantly repair and preserve. A machine that intentionally doesn’t save time, energy or manpower. An engine of liberty that deliberately works better when more of us participate and yet will still never function smoothly. A strange and marvelous instrument indeed. Ensuring that the military always remains firmly subordinate to civilian control was and remains a critical cog in that machine. Every aspect of when, where, why, against whom and how the Nation goes to war, prosecutes a war, or prepares for war is the peoples’ business. Attempting to argue that the military should have the autonomy or discretion to somehow dodge that oversight in time of war is simply wrong and directly contradicts our history and our Constitution.

For the purposes of this article I modified and paraphrased a great deal of the work of the two gentlemen below. But I happen to firmly believe in everything that is stated above. TLB

(1)Historian Christopher Hamner teaches at George Mason University, serves as Editor-in-Chief of Papers of the War Department, 1784-1800, and is the author of Enduring Battle: American Soldiers in Three Wars, 1776-1945.

(2)Richard H. Kohn is professor of history and chairman of the Curriculum in Peace, War, and Defense at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as executive secretary, Triangle Institute for Security Studies. Further, he is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of American Diplomacy.