So far, the U.S. military has helped the Iraqi army purchase 43,000 rifles – a mix of full-stock M-16A2s and compact M-4 carbines. Another 50,000 rifles are currently on order, and the objective is to outfit the entire Iraqi army with 165,000 American rifles in a one-for-one replacement of the AK-47.
“Our goal is to give every Iraqi soldier an M-16A2 or an M-4,” Scott said. “And as the Iraqi army grows, we will adjust.” – Military.com
Reasons given are logistical and that the M16 is a superior and more reliable weapon. Many think it is superior but few would say more reliable. It is easier to see the logistical benefits. I imagine training will also be easier.
The big advantage is that the rifles can be easily traced. Mexico has gone down this route by using a weapon they themselves designed. If a FX-05 “Xiuhcoatl” ends up in the hands of a drug runner, the Mexican army will know where to find the culprit who supplied it.
Last year it was reported that then an Iraqi soldier gets issued an M16 he is finger printed, undergoes a digital retina scan, and is photographed with the rifle serial number. The information is then transfered into a central database.
The weapon exchange is just the first step in a five-day program of instruction for the Iraqis. However, new rifles are not handed out in a one-for-one swap. Coalition Forces assign each IA recruit a weapon using a high-tech, biometric issue system.
Verified against a master list and having tuned in his old rifle, the IA soldier and his new M-16 continue on to one of ten biometric stations, where he is finger printed, undergoes a digital retinal scan and is photographed with the M16′s serial number. Officials then transfer the information to a database in Baghdad, to ensure accountability and to prevent the weapon from ending up in the wrong hands. – Blackanthem Military News
The BAT (Biometrics Automated Toolset) in Iraq
The DOD Biometric Task Force
My thoughts on the move to the M16
The move of course also sends money to American factories. It makes sense as hundreds of millions have been spent on arms for the Iraqi army. At the end of last year Iraq’s defence Minister Abdul-Qadir al-Obaidi announced a US$230 million deal with Serbia for what is likely to be rifles, machine guns, explosives and ammo.
Serbia has signed a US$230m (Â£116m) deal with Iraq to sell weapons and military equipment, the defence ministry said yesterday.
It did not specify the weapons but Serbian military experts believe they include Serbian-made assault rifles, machine guns, anti-tank weapons, ammunition and explosives. – IRAQ UPDATES
Training with M16s in Iraq. May 2007. US Army photo.
Unfortunately for the rest of us who do not own shares in ammunition manufacturers the supply of 5.56mm to yet another army at war, and who will be at war for a long time, means the price is only going to go up and up.
What does not make sense is why they do not supply them with the gas piston AR variants. Politics would be my guess. I think they had enough media attention over the body armor, they don’t want to be accused of issuing the Iraqi superior rifles.
Iraqi Army soldier loading