M4 rifle faults in Afghanistan prompts debate

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Bob Owens, a Blogger for Pajamas Media, writes a very interesting article on the recently discredited M4 carbine now used by US troops in Afghanistan.  In an article entitled: Fox News Gets It Wrong: M4 Rifle Works Fine; the Problem Is the Cartridge, Mr. Owens argues persuasively that the problem is not with the M4 which he characterizes as being “long in the tooth,” but in the relatively weak 5.56mm caliber bullet used in this weapon. 

Mr. Owens goes on to suggest that “the 6.8 SPC (Special Purpose Cartridge) was designed explicitly to overcome the shortcomings of the 5.56 cartridge. Just as importantly, it was specifically designed to work with the Army’s existing M4 rifles. It outclasses the AK-47s cartridge in every measurable way.”  Now I am not a ballistics or weapon’s specialist – in fact, the most lethal weapons in my arsenal are a knife and fork – but clearly something is amiss with the weapon and/or cartridge currently being used by our troops deployed in Afghanistan.  This was confirmed in a detailed US Army study on the effectiveness of the M4 by Maj. Thomas Ehrhart.

Mr. Owens then goes on to say that “the story that Fox News missed is a simple one: why hasn’t the Army begun upgrading it’s 5.56 M4 rifles to the more powerful 6.8 SPC cartridge? It offers superior performance at every range, with less recoil and weight than the heavier and older M14. No doubt there will be logistical hurdles to overcome in making such a transition during a time of war, and such transitions aren’t inexpensive, but they require almost no retraining and provide our soldiers with a distinct edge over their enemies.

Our media should be asking generals to explain why our soldiers are still using weapons in a caliber that was known to be suboptimal in many situations nearly half a century agoOur soldiers should have the best tools to complete their mission.”

Indeed, this is the question that SFTT, our troops and many concerned families have been asking our military leaders and those entrusted with providing our troops with the “best tools to complete their mission” and come home alive and in one piece.   Is it because we don’t want to undermine the complex trade and military supply agreements with other NATO countries to produce a “NATO-standard” weapon with “NATO-standard” cartridges?  I hope someone has the answers, because our military leaders don’t seem to know and, perhaps, don’t even care.

Richard W. May

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