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US Army’s PEO Soldier, BG Cummings, Speaks Out On 7.62mm Rifle Efforts 

7D1AC0D0-1C97-4ABD-A261-661A9D063FB5In an October 3rd Army News Service article, BG Brian Cummings, who serves as Program Executive Officer Soldier, discusses the Army’s on-again-off-again efforts to identify and field a 7.62 rifle capability.

Reading the extract below, it seems that wires have been crossed somewhere. BG Cummings makes it sound like the Interim Combat Service Rifle effort is still underway. However, we, and others, reported several weeks ago it had been cancelled. Additionally, Deputy Director of the Lethality Branch at the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence Matt Walker (CSM, Ret), verified just last week, that they have ceased work on what he now describes as an “evaluation” despite it being issued as a solicitation.

As we posted on September 22nd, the M110A1 Compact Semi Auto Sniper System is still underway, although unfunded, and the directed requirement to field a Squad Designated Marksman variant of the H&K G28, also remains underway.

Without the ~50,000 ICSRs which would have been fielded, the Army will have to rely on the limited number of CSASS/SDMR procured in order to deal with the body armor threat Chief of Staff of the Army, GEN Mark Milley testified about in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, earlier this year.

Below is the pertinent section of that Army News Service article.


Despite some reports to the contrary, the Army is still looking for a new rifle that uses a 7.62mm cartridge.

“The chief [U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley] wanted an interim combat rifle, or he was only going to fulfill a requirement to have a squad-designated marksman in each squad, called a squad-designated marksman rifle,” Cummings said. “So, there are two efforts going on to get a 7.62 inside the squad.”

What are those two efforts? Cummings said that course of action No. 1 is to have one Soldier in a squad carrying the Squad-Designated Marksman Rifle, or SDMR. Course of action No. 2, he said, is to have multiple Soldiers in a squad with the Interim Combat Service Rifle, or ICSR. Both are 7.62mm weapons.

The SDMR is already a program of record for the Army, Cummings said, and there is a weapon already identified to fill that role: the M110A1 Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System, or CSASS. That weapon is undergoing testing now, Cumming said.

But the ICSR and the SDMR do not represent the future for what weapons will be issued to most Soldiers.

“Right now, many are focused on the ICSR or SDMR,” Cummings said. “But that’s not the long-term way ahead. The long-term way ahead is a brand new rifle for all of the Department of Defense called the Next Generation Squad Weapon.”

The Next Generation Squad Weapon, or NGSW, is actually two weapons, he said. It will include one rifle to replace the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, and then a carbine that replaces the M4. Both the M249 and the M4 use the 5.56mm cartridge. The NGSW will likely use a different caliber cartridge than 5.56mm.

“For the next-generation, we wanted to make one end-all solution,” Cummings said. “With the M4, when you look at it, it’s got all these things hanging on top of it. We keep evolving by putting on things. The next-generation is going to be kind of like what we did with the pistol, with the modular handgun system. It’ll be one complete system, with weapon, magazine, ammo and fire control on it and we will cut down on the load and integration issues associated with it.”

The general said the U.S. Marine Corps is “on board” with development of the NGSW, and the British are interested as well.

Cummings said the Army can expect to start seeing the Next Generation Squad Weapon by 2022, in about five years. That will include the weapon, magazine and bullet. Later, by 2025, he said, Soldiers can expect to see a fully-developed fire-control system.

Until then, Cummings said, the Army is working on an interim solution to get a larger-caliber rifle into the hands of at least some Soldiers. It’ll either be the SDMR in the hands of one Soldier, or the ICSR in the hands of some Soldiers. But, he said, “the final decision has not been made.”

25 Responses to “US Army’s PEO Soldier, BG Cummings, Speaks Out On 7.62mm Rifle Efforts ”

  1. flanker7 says:

    The chief [U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley] wanted an interim combat rifle,

    That “wanted” part of this sentence is what’s the problem IMO. “Want” does not mean “Need” nor “Should Have” especially when before “want” is the name of a General and not “The Army” or “Soldiers”

  2. Kit Badger says:

    For selfish reasons, (like the glut of surplus 5.56mm) I hope they move to another caliber…

  3. mark says:

    When he discusses the 2025 “fire control system,” is he talking about a computerized smart sight? Like a day/night Steiner ICS with integral IR laser range finder?

    • cj says:

      More than likely seeing as he was talling about all the add ons people currently have on top of an old system. Think tracking point but more functional.

    • SSD says:

      He’s discussing “2025” which means it can be anything they want to be, right now. That’s the beauty about discussing programs that don’t even exist yet. The future is always bright.

  4. Kirk says:

    More incoherence from the brass.

    Where is the articulation about what the hell these weapons are supposed to do, and how we will be using them? They talk about body armor, but there’s no definition of what sort of body armor they’re talking about “overmatching”, nor is there an articulation of why we can’t cope with this new “issue” with current systems.

    As well, they seem to be focusing on crapola like magical sights that won’t require extensive training to use effectively, instead of say, focusing on better marksmanship training and more ammo for that training.

    This is, sadly, typical of Army weapons development, and will result in another Crusader-like systemic failure, only this time for small arms.

    The question which should be asked here is, why the hell our current systems aren’t answering the mail, and what has changed to make that so. The supposed proliferation of body armor isn’t likely the main reason–And, let’s note that the enemy isn’t going “Oh te noes!!! The Americans have body armor! Our weapons aren’t any good any more!!”, and then abandoning their shit for something else. I rather suspect that the real problem here isn’t that the weapons are suddenly becoming ineffective, but that our vaunted system isn’t adapting to changing conditions with better training and more effective support systems for those small arms.

    I’ll start taking these guys seriously about the need for new weapons about the time we get a friggin’ tripod for the M240 out in the field that matches the capabilities the Wehrmacht had with the Lafette in 1939, in terms of enabling rapid return of accurate fire out to long ranges. You can’t respond effectively to a damn tripod-mounted MG with one that’s only firing off a bipod–The effective range mis-match is too great. And, the fact that most of our gunners and leaders don’t know this is indicative of where the real problem lies–With training, doctrine, and operational planning.

  5. Aaron says:

    Cool, still doesn’t change the fact that regular Army units ammo accounts are puny compared to a Ranger Company.

    5 years in the Army and I qualified on my service Rifle and Pistol 9 Times each.

    • SSD says:

      That many? It’s sad to say, but that’s double the allotment from before the war.

    • Kirk says:

      This, right here, is why we have the problems we do with small arms.

      You want to understand why we can’t cope with the enemy attacking us with long-range MG fires in Afghanistan, start with the STRAC standards and look at the budgets for training ammo. As well, look at the training ranges we have. Nearly all of them are set up to replicate trench warfare circa 1917, or the final phases of the Korean war.

      We should be taking over chunks of BLM land up in the high mountains of the Rockies or Cascades, places that replicate altitudes and terrain in Afghanistan, and then putting in portable range facilities that accurately reproduce the conditions our troops will be fighting under up in the mountains of Central Asia. Qualification standards need to reflect the conditions we’re fighting under and the requirements we need to have in order to engage the enemy effectively.

      Were we doing this, I can about guarantee you that unit commanders and lower level leadership would not be so cavalier about skill-at-arms, and would be paying a hell of a lot more attention to things like getting their gunners and gun teams properly trained, equipped, and led. If you’re getting ranged by a batch of Afghani peasants up on a hilltop with a PKM, firing from a tripod, you should identify that responding to that fire with an M240 off a bipod ain’t going to cut the mustard. Few of our guys can, which is why we have lousy tripods which get left behind in the FOB instead of being carried and used to deliver precision fires on the enemy at long range.

      I am and will remain convinced that a large part of our “small arms problem” is simply that we do not have enough skilled people who know what the hell they are doing out in the units, and that’s a situation which derives from poor training practices. A gun team should be able to deliver effective responding fires out to 1500-1800m within moments of taking fire and identifying its source. I seriously doubt that we have more than a handful of those teams out in the units, if we have any at all.

      Over the last few decades, we’ve abandoned the idea of expertise with small arms as a key enabler of our Infantry, substituting external firepower. Today, instead of being expert marksmen and small arms experts, most of our Infantry are more security for the FO and his radios, ensuring that he can get close enough to the targets to get PID and then call for fire, after which our guys will go in and mop up. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, or anyone’s fault, but it is a fact; taking units and soldiers equipped, trained, and led with this mindset into small arms-centric fights in the Hindu Kush is a recipe for unsatisfactory results.

      Fix the fucking training and doctrine, first. If we still have problems, by all means, look at the weapons as being the problem. But, let’s eliminate as many other variables as we can, first. The whole “buy new toys to solve problems” mentality is what’s behind a huge component of our military spending issues, and we need to stop. I could recount dozens of examples where this is indicated, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll refrain.

      • Joe says:

        I don’t know about using BLM property, but there’s got to be somewhere in the Rockies the .mil can purchase and use for proper uber-mountain training.

      • Phil Ha says:

        Cogent and well thought through.

      • Non-operator says:

        More ammunition for training, better trained troops, and a tripod as opposed to a whole new weapon system? But how does that support the military industrial complex?

        • RT says:

          If y’all really want i can build a version of my tripod that supports the living shit right out of the MIC!!!

          I’m sure i could get them to like $380,000 a pop plus another $160,000 per system per year in sustainment and parts costs once i hired 1-4 tech reps and service doods in every congressional district to come out every 30 days & powercycle it’s modem and pump some grease in to top off the reservoirs!

          I could so make this happen for you guys if that’s what y’all Really need in order for something new and useful to get adopted.

  6. Dellis says:

    Not being in service I may be totally ignorant here. With that said here are my thoughts…

    Besides the Middle East, where would our potential next conflict be? I would guess it’s not going to be the battle field of past conflicts but I see it more as urban. House to house, block by block, city to city. If that is the possibility wouldn’t 7.62 trump .556 in that case?

    • SSD says:

      We are concerned about the Korean Peninsula and the regions of Eastern NATO which rub up against Russia.

    • d says:

      If the fight is house-to-house, then I’d much prefer a lightweight rifle in 5.56.

      If the fight is up and down mountains in Ko-rea, then I’d much prefer a lightweight rifle in 5.56.

      If the fight is in the jungle, then I’d much prefer a lightweight rifle in 5.56.

      • Dellis says:

        Thank you for the replies, I come here for the latest gear news but also the learning, knowledge gained aspect.

        Now in an urban setting I would think a heavier round would be best but again not havone the opportunity to shoot both rounds in that setting I am only speculating.

        I can see the point about humping up and down hills and mountanious terrain and weight.

    • RT says:

      Not even a little, at least not in the way i think you’re thinking it would…

      The problem is that there’s far more than just the one problem with 7.62 and the army people focus on. (People usually choose to either focus on it’s weight and logistics issues or the recoil and usability/trainability issues. Seriously look closely at the way 762 advocates argue ebery last one of them will at best acknowledge 1 of the 4 really more like 12 individual and distinct problems I’ve generously decided to call 2 instead. They will acknowledge the one tiny little “flaw” thet choose and handwave away/angrily shout down the other 11 I’m letting be

  7. Joglee says:

    So they want a 6.5 wundercaliber xm8?

    • SSD says:

      They are quite enamored of LSAT.

      • Joe says:

        Thanks for that chart, it really helps show how systems progress.

        It seems Kori Phillips is the person in the know considering LSAT, and it sounds like they’re now working with cased-telescoped LMG, MMG, and Carbine in 5.56 and 6.5.

        I can kinda see what Milley wants RTFN, but maybe he, the AMU, and Ms. Phillips could have a FaceTime chat.

        The could discuss how much time and money Milley is willing to throw at his pet project vs using that (and other) money to get cased-telescoped from Level 7 to Level 9.

        We saved $100,000,000 going with the SIG for the M17, 1/10th of a billion dollars has to be of use for LSAT progression.

        I’m sorry, I’m just tired of having caliber/platform wars with slightly tweaked small arms technology, which in the case of traditional brass cartridges and traditional small arms are at their peak.

        • Joe says:

          Or we could go COTS immediately, which again, is stupid IMO.

          Just choose which 6.5 variant cartridge is preferred instead of the x51 circle-jerk, test the new ammo and the POF Revolution to death, and make the needed revisions.

          Adopt and issue with appropriate optics and magazines, and redefine mag carriers, combat load, ammo procurement, firing ranges, and training.

          This ought to ready to go around the time LSAT hits Level 7, minimum.

          Catch 22, and a dumb one at that.

          Figure out the CSASS and just issue one or two per squad, while pushing every remaining penny into LSAT.

      • Joglee says:

        I’ve heard LSAT has some serious issues with Stoppages due to the push rod firing pin setup.

        Like if you get a stoppage that gun is good as locked up and it needs an armorer to fix.

        • Seamus says:

          LSAT is a waste of time. It is impossible to correct a malfunction in the gun and is nothing more than a science experiment. The best part to come out of LSAT is going to be the compressed powder charge (reducing volume of cartridge and the polymer casing. Those can be combined to standard rifle and to make either a standard 5.56/7.62 NATO polymer cartridge with a heavier bullet weight and more potentate but less volumes charge or some new 6.xx Wundercartridge that is splits the difference and eases logistical burden. Don’t care either way but lets just stop the LSAT fantasy.