What Would a Long Range Sharpshooter Infantry Paradigm Look Like? Part 3: Organization and Tactics

In the first two parts of this article on a new long range infantry rifle paradigm, we painted a picture of what sort of weapons would be needed to maximize the infantry’s long-range capability, in theory allowing them to achieve “overmatch” versus enemy infantry armed with existing .22 and .30 caliber weapons. We created estimates for both the cost and weight of the infantry rifle, and we also examined the problem of training soldiers to maximize their capabilities with the new longer-ranged weapons.

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A Norwegian soldier aims his HK416 rifle, equipped with telescopic sight and bipod, in Faryab, Afghanistan. March, 2010. Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

 

The end result of all this theory-making was a picture of a high-expenditure (perhaps we should instead call it “high-investment”) force that spends more dollars per man than before, but also theoretically achieves greater levels of firepower at ranges beyond 300 meters. Recognizing that cost is the biggest obstacle, let’s charge forward and assume that the rifles, equipment, and training all get paid for, the penalties in weight are accepted, and a new long-range sharpshooter infantry paradigm is created. Now the question becomes, how do you use it, and what sort of limitations does it have?

This question will be difficult to answer, and so I’m going to say that this post belongs firmly in the “speculation” bin, and doesn’t necessarily represent the reality of such a system even if it were actually adopted. Still, I hope to accurately represent some of the possibilities, advantages, and disadvantages of a system like this.

Since it was a point of confusion in the comments of the first article, I want to again mention that I am not an advocate of a system like this, but rather a critic of this and other similar ideas. Still, I think it is a valuable thought experiment to conduct, so here we are.

One final note before I get into the meat of it: I am primarily an ammunition guy, but in this article I will be diving into subjects like organization and tactics, which are not my area of expertise. If I make a mistake, please be patient with me! In particular, some of the sources regarding weapons and organization that I am using are over ten years old, and some things may have changed since they were written. I have tried to make adjustments where possible, but there may still be errors.

Flickr_-_The_U.S._Army_-_Battle_Rifle

Sourced quote: “A paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team armed with an M-14 Enhanced Battle Rifle pulls security June 4, 2012, Ghazni Province, Afghanistan. His unit, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, is conducting a three-day, clear-and-sweep operation in a remote mountain village suspected of being an insurgent stronghold. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)” From: commons.wikimedia.org

 

For the purposes of this article, we will focus on the US Army infantry rifle platoon, which is composed of the platoon headquarters, three rifle squads, and one weapons squad. In the platoon, the following weapons (excluding pistols, hand grenades, and mines) are carried:


23-31 M4 Carbines

6 M203 or M320 Grenade Launchers

6 M136 Lightweight Multipurpose Weapons (AT4s)

1 M3/M4 Multi-role Anti-armor Anti-tank Weapon System (Carl Gustav)

6 M141 Shoulder-launched Multipurpose Assault Weapons-Disposable (SMAW-D)

6 M249 Squad Automatic Weapons/Light Machine Guns

2 M240 General Purpose Machine Guns

0-8 M14 Enhanced Battle Rifles


Visually, this can be represented as:

PlatoonWeaponscurrent0

A few comments on this organization: First, from what I understand, eight M14 EBRs in the platoon would be unusually high, and the usual number is more like three or four (three in the rifle squad and sometimes one in the weapons squad). Also, different editions of the relevant Army Field Manual (ATTP 3-21.9) disagree as to how many men are in the weapons squad. The most common number I’ve seen is seven, but I’ve also seen five men listed. Therefore, the eight possible M14s seem to more represent slots where a soldier might be armed with an EBR rather than an actual theoretical maximum number of M14s for the platoon. Finally, the heavy weapons (AT4, SMAW-D, CG) in the squad are usually carried by a rifleman (listed as “R/AT” in the chart), and it seems to be the case that only one of the three weapons is generally ever carried, although which kind of weapon is carried by a rifleman seems to be dictated by availability. Moving forward, this heavy weapon reportedly will increasingly be the venerable but extremely capable M3/M4 Carl Gustav.

We can see how a new long-range intermediate caliber rifle and machine gun system might change this organization, beginning with just a simple plug-n-play. I have abbreviated the rifle as “LRSR” (Long Range Sharpshooter Rifle) and the machine gun as “LRMG” (Long Range Machine Gun):

PlatoonWeaponsmodified00

This new setup is suboptimal for a couple obvious reasons. The first is that there are many members in the platoon who are carrying weapons that are too large and heavy for their roles, those being the five members of the platoon HQ and the six grenadiers in the rifle squads. Taking the grenadiers first, the 13 pound loaded weight (established in Part 1) of the long range sharpshooter rifle becomes 15 pounds when mated to the 3 pound M203 grenade launcher (even with bipod and VFG left off – as they would have to be to mount the GL), which – again – adds weight to the front of the gun, resulting in an extremely poorly balanced and cumbersome weapon. Therefore, the grenadier would at the very least want a lighter variant of the LRSR, perhaps with a shorter, thinner barrel.

The members of the platoon HQ would also benefit from a less obtrusive weapon than the LRSR, as each has other, more important duties to perform than trigger pulling. Even a lightweight LRSR variant might be too large and heavy for the members of this section of the platoon, since the existing M4 Carbine is itself still fairly inconvenient to wear when performing important non-shooting tasks.

These 11 members of the platoon raise the question of whether an entirely separate secondary weapon is needed to complement the LRSR, or whether a cut down LRSR itself would be good enough to fill these roles. For the sake of moving forward, let’s call whatever this weapon might be a “Compact Rifle” (CR), regardless of whether it would be a variant of the LRSR or a new PDW. If we assume a swap for these positions, our table ends up looking like this:

PlatoonWeaponsmodified2

Another reason this basic arrangement seems a little odd is that, with the replacement of both the M249 LMG and the M240 GPMG both with the LRMG, the weapons squad is not as strongly differentiated from the rifle squads. This raises the question of whether it would be better to simply have four rifle squads instead of three rifle squads and a weapons squad. While there are certainly worthwhile counter-arguments to this idea, it’s worth looking at that arrangement, too:

PlatoonWeaponsmodified3

This new arrangement raises some questions itself: With almost a full third of the (now 41-man) platoon using the compact rifle, how does this affect the concept of a sharpshooter-centric infantry platoon? Indeed, the grenadiers and the headquarters are not the only elements of the platoon that might benefit from these smaller weapons – it’s difficult to imagine that the lighter load wouldn’t be welcome for the squad and team leaders, as well. If they too were given compact rifles, it would bring the part of the platoon using those weapons up to 25, or 61% of the platoon’s strength. More than half of the platoon using lighter, less capable weapons does help alleviate the previously expressed concerns about mobility, training, and cost (the lighter weapons would be presumably more spartan in configuration, and could use existing red dot optics), but it also somewhat dampens the initial concept of an all-sharpshooter long range infantry platoon.

A few more words should be said on the matter of these compact rifles. It’s possible to make a fairly lightweight, short barreled weapon based on the same system (whatever it may be) used for the LRSR, but a compact rifle of this type presents its own problems. For example, the favorable recoil characteristics of the LRSR were primarily achieved through the weapon’s substantial weight; reduce the bulk of that, and does the CR become unmanageable? If so, how does this affect the mission of those (besides the grenadiers, who add mass to their CRs with underbarrel GLs) who use these weapons? If other members of the squad besides the grenadiers and the headquarters are equipped with the lighter weapons, how does the added recoil, flash, and blast affect their mission? Would the CR need to be equipped with a moderator, muzzle brake, or other device that would help tame its worst characteristics?

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A model aims Kalashnikov’s new SVK through a window in a promotional photo. The SVK is a modern, compact sniper/marksman’s rifle based on the mechanism of the 1970s-era Dragunov MA compact assault rifle. Image source: kalashnikov.com

 

Another possibility is to create an entirely new weapon for the compact rifle category, or even an entirely new rifle and a new round to fire it. Firing the same round as the LRSR, perhaps the CR could be a bullpup, and thereby retain a longer barrel, or use the additional space to add a generous suppressor. This could pay serious dividends for the commanding elements of the platoon, as it would help preserve their hearing during the din of battle. Alternately, the compact rifle could fire a new round specialized for its job, in a similar manner to the M1 and M2 Carbines of World War II. While this might sound less desirable than a unified round, there are potential benefits: The chamber and barrel for the smaller, softer-shooting ammunition could be configured in a similar manner to the current-day .300 AAC Blackout – that is being compatible with both subsonic and supersonic ammunition. The idea of an alternative weapon that can fire suppressed subsonic ammunition for night operations while still being useful outside of that specialist role is certainly a very attractive one. Another point in favor of a second caliber, it seems a little curious to have almost two-thirds of the squad equipped with a round that they can’t fully utilize and that might compromise some of their other capabilities. However, this line of reasoning takes us back to square one, and outside the territory of these articles.

If commonality with these alternative weapons is too compromised by these proposals, then the CR could perhaps be just the LRSR with different attachments. Omitting the bipod and trading the powerful magnified optic for existing M68 CCOs could reduce the weight by two pounds, making the CR a pound heavier than the M4; still porky, but quite a bit better than the fully equipped LRSR. This has the benefit of retaining the same weapons for all troops in the platoon, but it’s less ideal than the other three options presented here, especially for the grenadier. It is also conceivable that an adopter of this system could follow the Marine Corps’ lead and – in the interests of even further commonality – forgo the belt-fed LRMG in favor of LRSR-based magazine-fed automatic rifles, which could even be nothing more than LRSR’s used in a slightly different way to their identical counterparts elsewhere in the platoon. Indeed, this may not be as far-fetched as it seems, as, in a presentation given at NDIA in 2015, Fort Benning released a concept for a 1,200m-capable magazine-fed squad automatic rifle with advanced optics and a reduced sound signature:

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Wrapping up the section on organization brings us, finally, to the matter of tactics. One of the fundamental obstacles to a proposal like this is the necessary changes that would need to be made to the infantry’s tactical doctrine. The infantry’s mission as laid out in Army doctrine is written in very plain language:

MISSION 1-14. The mission of the SBCT Infantry company is to close with the enemy by means of fire and maneuver to destroy or capture him or to repel his assault by fire, close combat, and counterattack.

Upon reading this, I can’t help but have the immediate reaction that the long range sharpshooter concept is a bit at odds with – or at least orthogonal to – this central mission of the infantry. Therefore, we must ask “how does a sharpshooter paradigm change this doctrine, or otherwise fit within it?” For example, when equipped with such powerful – but heavy – weapons, would the infantry still be as inclined to close with the enemy, or would they instead more often opt to destroy him at distance? Would the heavier weapons and ammunition of the new paradigm substantially reduce the infantry’s combat effectiveness at close range, such that greater and greater degrees of standoff would be desired? If that were the case, would this prove to be a better or worse strategy than what exists now? If standoff proves to be very useful, how might the training and doctrine of the infantry company and platoon need to be changed to maximize its potential? Or, if the disadvantages of the sharpshooter paradigm end up being more painful than expected, how would training and doctrine need to change to mitigate them to the greatest degree? And in either case, to what degree would organization need to change to fit with the new infantry model?

Not being a tactician – nor a prophet – I cannot answer these questions. However, I think these and other related questions are fair to ask of the advocates of these kinds of systems which place a renewed emphasis on long range infantry combat. And there, finally, I think we can stop.





Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • Matt

    Adopt the LWMG to replace the M249 and M240 and train all Infantrymen to use the ACOG (or Squad Common Optic) at range with the existing M4A1. This would add long range capability without sacrificing the 0-300M fight. In the Afghanistan mountain top engagement scenario, the answer will always be an MG or a well trained Marksmen, not the average Infantryman.

    • Klaus Von Schmitto

      Or the RTO.

      • Matt

        How could I forget the RTO?

        • Ron

          Although I am big fan of fire support, the problem you run into when you go outside your organization to kill a target. The higher the probability than you won’t get the fires.

      • Ευστάθιος Παλαιολόγος

        You mean the Radio-man?
        As a sniper instructor I would always say “the Radio is your strongest weapon”

        flanker7

  • Dave Lange

    One reason to retain the Weapons Squad, even if they have the same LRMG as the rifle squads, is that the Weapons Squad also has other equipment – most notably tripods and T&E mechanisms carried by the AG – for much improved heavy sustained fire capability. They also have the AB carrying still more extra ammo, and one or more spare barrels to further increase sustained fire capability. The weapons squad might also be equipped with a version of the LRMG further optimized for sustained fire, perhaps with a heavier barrel.

    Another potential basis for organization might be the Ranger platoon, which differs mainly in having a third MG team (3 men) in the weapons squad. The weapons mix in weapons squad can also vary, for example swapping out MGs used fighting insurgents for Javelin missiles for fight Russian armored vehicles. Keeping a dedicated weapons squad increases this flexibility, and allows the rifle squads to concentrate on more maneuver-centric tasks.

    • Yep, I certainly agree there are compelling reasons to keep the WS. Of course, eliminating it was bound to come up, so I figured I’d getvthat out of the way.

  • cwolf

    The Army is fielding the Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System (CSASS) as the new SDM weapon. Although the 400-800m target requires accurate ranging and effective system integration (gun, sight(s), ammo, training, etc.).

    There are really two approaches. One is to simply increase the number of SDM within the squad/platoon and even add one long range heavy sniper team. The other is to give everybody the HK417/SCAR H/xxx with Mk319 (or new caliber).

    Folks love to focus on caliber, but where is the bullet-on-target variance? Ammo (Army ammo has no accuracy standard)? Sights (human eye can’t focus in 3 planes)? Range estimation (generally poor and can vary with environment)? Ergonomics (short folks have to wrestle the M16A2 while wearing IBA)? Training (where is the dynamic moving target qualification range?)?

    Or new technologies? DARPA looked at a steerable bullet. Could the MK47 40×53 smart round be fired from a single shot ground mount tube?

    The Threat is RPG and MG with 1,000+m ranges.

    • GD Ajax

      Looks like the bot ate my post.

      If the HK417 is now not only replacing the old M110 and M14, but the SDM as well. The DI fanbois at M4carbine dot net and AR-15 dot net should be frothing at the mouths by now.
      While M14 fanbois are upgrading their guns to Juggernaut Rogues and SRSS BullDogs.

    • mikee

      You can add to that a) the background terrain noise once distances exceed 300 metres; b) Constant training requirements to stay proficient at longer ranges.

    • therealgreenplease

      I would add to that that there are some very exciting counter-defilade weapons that are on the verge of being fieldable. The XM25 is one example and there is a “smart” mortar in testing (I can’t find its name at the moment) that, if deployed to Afghanistan, would end many of the 600-1,000m engagements against GPMGs rather quickly.

      My own $0.02 is that we should consider a unified round for DMRs and LMGs/GPMGs and that round should be something like 6.5CT. We should then ditch sidearms altogether and adopt something like the Tavor as a general infantry rifle. Use the weight freed up from ditching sidearms, their holsters, and their ammo to carry weapons like the XM25 and its associated ammo. If our military is going to have “overmatch” capabilities in the field I’m not sure if guns are the best weapon to provide that capability.

      • Kivaari

        The smart mortar rounds have been played with for at least 30 years. One I believe was the Ratheon Merlin. Old technology that must not perform as desired since it has had decades of time to make them practical. It seems that by now we should have already been using similar rounds.

      • cwolf

        The XM25 was fielded in 2010 and pulled in 2013 due to malfunction.

        Infantry is still debating since it plus the ammo is heavy. The Infantry doesn’t want to give up any M4s. So a total weapon load of 51 pounds.

        Range as 600-700m.

        True, smart mortars are great. But heavy for leg Infantry to hump.

        I’m assuming the basic scenario here is straight leg Infantry dismounted in mountains.

    • Kivaari

      A single shot 40mm grenade launcher makes sense. Especially if it is laser guided and possibly air-burst capable. Something other than an heavy shoulder fired (and carried) missile. The missiles are heavy and deliver a good punch, but can’t be carried in enough numbers to really get spent as much as needed. Perhaps a higher number of very accurate 40mm or even 25mm would provide better effect on target.

      • cwolf

        The USMC and SOCOM have fielded the 6 round M32A1 and the Mk14 Mod 0 respectively, shooting the 40×46. Weighs 12 pounds. Range = 500m. They also developed the Small Arms Grenade Munitions (SAGM) airburst grenade for it.

        “the SuperSix MRGL (Multi-range Grenade Launcher)(modified M32) was developed in 2012 and featured a new recoil reduction system, redesigned stock, strengthened construction and new optics. Fires a wide range of standard (low velocity, LV) and medium velocity (MV) munitions, ……with a maximum range of 800 to 1200 meters.”

        The Mk 19 and Mk 47 shoot the 40×53 out to 1,500 meters with the Mk 47 including smart aiming/munitions. Both are tripod mounted and too heavy with too much recoil for light infantry shoulder-fired use.

        In theory (at the risk of being weird) the issue is the assumption that the weapon has to be shoulder fired, which is limited by recoil, which limits range and capabilities (so Army R&D solution is to squeeze all those capabilities into the 25mm round).

        If the shoulder-mounted sighting module (perhaps rifle mounted) were linked (wireless or cable) to a light 40×53 smart ground launcher, then you might be able to have the best of both worlds. Two- man team, etc. ……. sort of a direct aimed indirect fire smart weapon with good range and payload. Maybe. Weight will always be an issue.

        • Kivaari

          Your last paragraph eems to hit what I was wanting. A lightwieght 40mm, even if a single shot, with the ability to deliver an accurate round to 1000-1200m would be a good thing. As you pointed out the Mk19 is simply to large and heavy to carry around.
          A single shot with the guidance system (like you said wired or wireless) could be carried with significant ammunition. I can envision a weapon that weighs less than an M240. To get the accuracy the aiming device would need to be stable, more so than the launcher.
          Our troops need something better than what we have. Keeping it simple and lightweight is a priority.

          • cwolf

            It is a concept that may be impossible. No idea what the 40×53 smart rounds weigh nor what the launcher or sighting module might weigh. It is in a sense an easier to use small smart mortar. It would have to offer advantages over the new 60mm mortar.

            The proposed ATV makes more stuff more feasible, but some terrain in Afghan is legs only.

          • Kivaari

            I was thinking a direct fire 40x53mm gun would be easier to pack around than the lightweight 60mm. The rate of fire would likely be a little slower than a mortar. The idea being it could fit existing tripods and made simple. Where the technology goes into the sighting system and the round itself. Instead of going for the desirable rapid rate of fire (Mk19) that makes the weapon too heavy to pack around bring in a gun much lighter that shoots guided munitions. a very light version of the 37mm infantry gun of WW1. Again using technology that makes each round more accurate, thus more efficient. I think the Army keeps trying for a very complex repeating weapon that doesn’t work or gets so big its is unmanageable.

          • jono102

            I think a 60mm and a 40mm with increased range (MV rds) are complementary assets rather than comparative. The 60mm has the “Bang” that makes it effective out to 1.5-2km. Single shot 40mm doesn’t quite have the effect at range for it to be planned for or adjusted effectively out past 800-1000m.
            Issue with medium velocity rounds is that you will need either a smart sight or 2 separate sighting systems or graduations to allow it to use both types of ammo.
            I’ve used the M32 with LV rounds and its very effective 300-500m so long as you can see fall of shot. I see M203 equivalents as the fireteam level weapons to not reduce their mobility and have the over lapping fires of an M32 and 60mm at Pl level.

          • Kivaari

            I am thinking a smart RAP round as was showcased on TFB recently. Long range and laser guided. Something that can get that frag to the bad guys. The M32 is a great short range weapon, but it wont overcome the distances this article is addressing. My point is keep the existing rifles, instead of getting new rounds and guns, and add a weapon that solves the issue of facing the PKM. I am not convinced that the 12% of wounds from 7.62mm weapons is all PKM fired, but just lucky hits from AKMs. Just like our small arms hits on the enemy is lots of luck.

          • jono102

            I agree. Given the range of opposition weapons systems out there, I believe there is definitely a capability gap for a guided weapon at Platoon level. Something like the 40mm Pike that can be used against point targets like HMG’s, HVT’s or key weapon systems that would over match other Pl capabilities. Its reasonably small and doesn’t require a lot more kit to be carried. Things like the NLAW used by the UK is pretty effective against armor etc but only a 600m range and is pretty bulky.

            Key issue is can it be produced at a price/cost that it is viable to be issued as low as Pl level. A Pike would be cost effective when compared to a JAV being used to target the likes of a sniper etc.

          • cwolf

            Agree. Two key battles always come to mind. Wanat and Takur Ghar.

            Given the ultra lightweight 60mm mortar and the Pike 40mm missile, those weapons seem reasonably portable with more than enough range and accuracy to defeat Enemy targets at >1,000+m by dismounted Light Infantry..

            Although the SDM are still a great tool. We can spend many nights over many beers debating rifles, sights, and calibers. Maybe the Advanced Sniper Rifle in 300 Norma Magnum? Hah.

            And, yes, BRM for Infantry does still need to move to dynamic shooting against shoot back targets (they usually use paintball ammo). One test by one service looked at moving target accuracy. Highly qualified KD shooters couldn’t hit moving targets …. iron peep sights are not very good at that.

          • Kivaari

            The 40m PIKE weighs 1.7 pounds and has a range of 2000m. It can be fired from the M320 HK (side swing barrel).

          • cwolf

            Looked it up. Great solution. 🙂

          • Kivaari

            It seems like the weapon we need. It cancels out the need to replace the existing small arms with some new long range infantry rifle and cartridge.

        • Urker53

          The Milkor USA M32A1 and RWM or RDM medium velocity ammo is the way to go. The gun is already qualified here in the states and in Europe and the ammo is qualified in Europe. 840m hits on a car size target. Airburst tech coming soon!

        • Urker53

          No current production single shot (or shooter) can handle the recoil of long range(medium velocity) 40mm.

          • cwolf

            Agree. Idea was a ground mount single shot linked to a seperate aiming module. Agree its a blue sky concept that may still be too heavy or otherwise infeasible.

          • Kivaari

            The aiming device for the advanced Goose could be adapted to a smaller bore RCL rifle may work. 70 years ago we had a 57mm recoiless rifle, maybe we need another one.

          • cwolf

            Units have the M3/4 Gustav 84 mm recoiless now. Same old issues: size and weight.

            I’m assuming a mountain scenario so thin O2. Going uphill with big loads sucks hard.

          • Kivaari

            That’s why I said I’d like to see a small bore version. The Goose is great but it is too big and heavy. Get back to a “less effective” small bore gun, but with a realistic man pack weight for both the gun and ammo. Just use a guidance system like the latest CG uses. Delivering a smaller warhead may not do as much damage but if you can get direct fire or laser guided frag onto the target area, that’s doing more than just spraying with rifle bullets. I am not sure if the large 84mm CG uses wire-guidance or laser. Laser would be better. We just need something that is much smaller than the HEAT warheads our stuff is firing. Keep those in the armory. There isn’t much better than the stuff we have when you have armor as a threat. BUT, Afghanistan is nearly over. We have time to develop a new small bore 25-50mm missile or grenade system. We need more frag than AP. We’ve been trying since the Civil War, and we now have the technology to do something.

          • jono102

            CZ said the 40mm they have on their 805/806 is rated for MV and they’ve been using them in evaluations. The later models of the M32 are also rated for MV and believe the latest Singaporean 40mm launcher is as well, becoming more common.

            The recoil is apparently not unmanageable but more the fact there are very few outfits producing MV munitions and standardization as its reasonably new. It would be more of a round dedicated to a stand alone launcher to minimize possible increased wear and tear on a rifle and the fact you would need separate sighting systems to LV 40mm or a combined set up that caters for both.

          • urker53

            Having seen the MV fired out of a couple under slung models i would never put one up to my shoulder and fire it, with out some kind of major recoil mitigation anyways. that being said I’ve fire a couple hundred ( 10-20 at a time) MV round from various ammo manufactures out of the Milkor USA launchers both old and new. I hit a car at 840+ meters.

          • jono102

            Sounds like some of the rifle grenades the French use, not an enjoyable experience.

            As you say and I referred to, the MV is best kept for spec weapons such as the M32 that have the mass and functioning to manage the increase rather than risking the rifle and/or mounting points.

          • Kivaari

            That’s pretty good.

          • Kivaari

            That’s where the Pike comes into ply. 2000m range, no real recoil as it just ejects it from the gun, than the rocket motor kicks in and off it goes. It is a project worthy of further development. Even a 25mm single shot made on an H&R 10 ga. would throw a slug farther than the 40mm. Get there with less, but get there.

          • jono102

            That’s the key a lot of guys are missing. Trying to gain over match with similar systems i.e. rifle vs rifle or gun vs gun by changing a barrel length or bullet. You aren’t going to get it against a 14.5mm or other likely systems a Platoon would encounter in a contemporary environment.
            That’s where a Pike would give you that over match. The bomb is big enough to eliminate or disable a gun team or VBIED and offer the stand off they require.
            At the individual level, better more relevant marksmanship and combat shooting training will deliver a lot more than a magic theoretical rifle, bullet or magic scope.

          • Kivaari

            I think all the talk of a new rifle and cartridge is a waste of time. The small arms we have are fine, we just need a SIMPLE weapon that can do the reaching. Not that the Pike is simple, it is just headed in the right direction. I’d love to see a gun as simple as an M79 turned into a killing machine with new projectile. I do like that dirt simple M79.

  • Sid Collins

    I trained with 1 Para Regiment in 1988 not long after they had been equipped with the L85. The optics on that rifle caused an immediate issue. At distance, the Brits could kill or pin down their opponents. Close in, they were slaughtered. Myself and two other light infantrymen took out the bulk of a platoon.
    I have enjoyed this series. The author has produced a very good point paper on the subject. The real meat is in the last installment. Every soldier does not need to be a sniper. The object of war is to end it quickly, not necessarily kill everyone. The problem for the US military right now is that the desert is not the only battlefield. We are trying to find a jungle boot for the new uniform because suddenly we realized nothing we have can really get wet. Our rifles currently are not bad. Actually, I would argue that the M-16/M-4 has matured to a very competent assault rifle. With the appropriately tailored accessories, it can do most things well. M-16A2 with a scope can engage targets at a distance. M-4 with a suppressor would be great for MOUT engagements.
    We may need to give the units more flexibility in accessory purchases than in rifle design. The Rangers may need to trick out a rifle while the dismount soldier in a Bradley does not. Until there is a break thru in gun design (propellants, bullets, whatever), I just don’t see a justification for acquisition of a new rifle.

    • Don

      While I agree that not every soldier needs to be a sniper I believe every Infantry soldier should be sniper trained. Weaponary will always be based upon perceived threat + the mission to support. I want to see better trained soldiers. At the platoon every soldier arrives from initial entry training able to perform every job…meaning they can employ every piece of hardware the TO&E provides.

      In today’s Infantry weapons profile we need well rounded highly skilled highly adaptable soldiers.

      At the Plt level I feel we need a sniper/rifle that is good for 800m and it needs to be a semi auto configuration in a shareable caliber.

      • Who is gonna pay for it?

        • Don

          No shortage of $$$, don’t be fooled. GO’s love HW and tactics and then there is the GOBI’s ( General Officer Bright Ideas ). All of these contribute to a shortage of money. Complicate this with the funding battles. The Navy has steaming hours the Air Force has flying hours and the Army just have some guns. Takes X amount of people to float a boat fly a plane one short boat don’t float plane don’t fly. So you were short a few thousand PFCs in the infantry no big deal train harder train longer do more with less the army works that way. Then there is the VA issue! All this makes it a challenge and our CiC stated we are going to fight only on 2 fronts and one of those is defense of our shores!!!!

          All this makes the case for better trained in order to do more with less personnel.

          • No shortage of money? Tell that to the folks in program management.

          • Don

            LOL, I was a PM, increased my budget every year. When every budget was getting cuts mine was growing…or I should say, I grew mine. Granted not every PM can or knows how. If your a PM who can makes things happen you have folks coming to you with fists full of dollars.

          • Depends on the program, I suppose. And, as they say, “you’re not a real program until you’ve been cancelled at least once.”

          • Don

            LOL, for sure, been there and had that pony shot out from under me more than once.

          • aka_mythos

            I don’t think it’d even be remotely practical for every soldier to be trained to “sniper” level proficiency. There is a certain reality that not everyone can be trained to that level in a reasonable time. Between that and every soldier learning every weapon system you’d likely start to compromise other areas of trainings due to there being only so many days in a year… that’s before you consider the great increase in training facilities and instructors necessary to the task. Once again with the instructors not everyone has an aptitude for it.

          • Don

            Unless the Army has changed the course, it was only a 10 day, non-MOS producing course. This course should be integrated into initial training which should last about 6 mo and deliver to the unit a highly trained and proficient soldier with multiple additional MOS identifiers, ready to take his place and hone his skills.

          • aka_mythos

            The present Army sniper school program was established in the 80’s and is a 5 week course.

            Initial training runs 6mo, and requiring sniper training of everyone would come at the expense of other specialized training.

            It’s a challenge to get soldiers qualified as marksmen let alone the more nuanced and niche skill sets that don’t fit into the operation of every kind of unit.

          • Don

            Back in the 80’s is was 10 day non MOS or ASI producing course, today it a 7 week course and (my guess) modeling at the USMC course (the Army will NEVER admit that). It was also open to ALL MOS and grades to include Officer. None the less my basis was the original 10 day course and that POI should be included with initial training IMO. What I want is a highly skilled soldier that arrives in my unit ready to hone is skills and not OJT. This would take about 6 mo.

            The result is many: Shorter advanced schooling courses, better and far more satisfied soldier, better performance on the battlefield, more likely to make a career and advance faster.

          • jono102

            That’s evidence enough as to why the the 10 day “Anybody” course was dropped as the quality of sniper produced sounds highly questionable.
            Our Marksman training packages for riflemen, are anywhere from 7-10 days long. It includes a bit of range shooting but primarily concentrating on field firing/unknown distance shoots and employment of that weapon with a section in a tactical environment. I’d like to know what Sniping” could be adequately taught in 10 days.

          • Don

            I cannot address the quality or the outcome. I do know that the major focus was on camo and technique and the soldier was expected to hone his shooting skills at his duty station. You also must realize that only recently the Army got on the sniper band wagon.

            As our weapons gain in complexity and functionality, which in this thread is evident. IMO we need a far deeper Initial training package. Our Army is becoming more complex and to make a career you will need to well versed in your field. I feel our approach has to broad based and built upon the MOS and ASI found at the Bn level and below. We need to turn our views towards training and build for careers. When I went thru Basic (Jan ’67) they taught me well, they just did not teach me very much. Their singular goal was prepare me physically and to be able to shoot, move and communicate. They did a great job, I survived thru 13 mo of combat. When my 2 years was up I was out of the Army.

            Today we need a soldier that arrives at their first unit and can go to work in any position and know what he is doing, he can then hone skills and learn the everyday workings of Squad – Bn operations.

      • jono102

        I think your getting your terminology mixed up i.e. Sniper vs Marksman. What you are talking about is someone trained or has the ability to use a rifle at range, a Marksman. Our section Marksmen with LMT MWS with minimal training can put effective fire out to 600-800m+. Effective long range small arms fire is an important part of sniping but just a part of a snipers role and capability.

        • Don

          No I am not. Perhaps the Sniper course has changed?? I have not seen the most recent POI, but most failures did not come from the inability to shoot. By integrating the sniper course with Initial training we can identify the natural shooters…my dad shot Expert on the 1000 yard range with a ‘rack’ 1903 Springfield and Iron sights and in 1934 that paid $5 per month extra.

          I envision Initial training as producing a lot of skill identifiers. That said those sub courses are not pass or fail but SI award or non award. Non award only means you did not get the SI which is not failure…I could not qualify as a sniper shooter in spite of shooting Expert. My eyes are just not that good.

          • jono102

            So Sniper Sch’s and training establishments will have to carry the burden to train riflemen when all your talking about is range work, nothing about the other Key disciplines snipers have to master.

            There is a reason most western sniper cse’s syllabus have at most a fifth of range shooting. There is also reason A marksman trg unit or cell would produce results more in line with what your talking about. You are training someone who is a member of a fire team, in a section, in a Platoon. They will work within that construct and not need the time and training to develop the further enhanced skills snipers need, I also they or the service will have the time to do so either.

        • cwolf

          True, most folks flunk the sniper course on fieldcraft, not shooting.

          True, there is basic rifle marksmanship (low fidelity KD ranges), Squad Designated Marksman (SDM), and Sniper (long range). I wonder if the Army is still training Center Mass aiming at the 500m target?

          Increasing basic Infantry rifle performance can be done, but it’s not just training. Army ammo varies +-5mils lot to lot. Iron sights are difficult to use, especially on moving targets. MILES actually interferes with marksmanship. Combat shooting is not sniper shooting.

          If we focus on Infantry (they do most of the shooting), then give them better sights (MH1? Modified MEPRO MESLAS?) and moving target training on dynamic live fire ranges with simulated shoot back. Frequent zeroing can overcome the ammo (although I still think Mk262 is a better but more expensive choice). My best guess is an auto lead sight is technically feasible, but I may be wrong.

          • jono102

            That’s what I believe it boils down to. New rifles/ammo won’t change anything as a miss is a miss and won’t make guru shots our of poor shooters. Good functional weapons and optics, Time and practical resourced training will.

    • Goody

      +1 accessories. An ACOG/RDS kit does not take up much space or money, leave it in a vehicle until you leave the city. In fact I would bet an ACOG would pay for itself in reduced ammunition expenditure over the lifecycle of a rifle/optic pair. The 1-4x variables ought to be considered, too. Nightforce NXS would be tough enough, but I’m not really up to speed on premium optics.

      • Don

        Agreed…but think fixed works and less costly, lower maintenance. I use a 3.5x ACOG and IMO is a good choice for the Infantry.

      • Kivaari

        It’s too bad the ACOG can’t be focused to the individual.

  • Major Tom

    I mentioned this in Part Two but one of the things you might need to do for tactics which would go with the training is a reintroduction of volley fire for riflemen. A single squad using say 6 men firing salvos of Semi at a set pace and number of shots all on command could accurately engage or at least suppress an enemy at great ranges well enough for the DM/Sniper team to score the kill or to pin up the enemy long enough for heavy ordnance such as artillery to be brought to bear.

    And that assumes salvos on command DON’T defeat the target outright. Volley fire has historically been useful. With a select-fire long range rifle you can with proper training unleash salvos of aimed volley fire at very long ranges for the express purpose of defeating long range targets with a relative minimum of cost and ammunition expenditure. If 6+ guys are firing salvos every half second, they can outgun a typical machine gun, especially if said weapons being used in volley fire are much more accurate than the machine gun. And given the weapon is select-fire, if the enemy (or you) closes the distance and volley fire therefore becomes unnecessary you still possess the ability to properly engage on modern terms.

    • .45

      I believe in Part 2 people were asking how you would coordinate a bunch of guys randomly hugging various pieces of landscape, but I have another concern: How is this better than people randomly applying suppressive fire? (And it needs to be better or at least perceived so, to be worth the training and coordination.)

    • 40mmCattleDog

      So the squad leader’s time and ability is best used coordinating the whole team to fire supposed “effective fire” with single shots in half second intervals with 6 M4 carbines at entrenched machine gun positions with all the chaos of a modern battlefield, rather than to be actively scanning for threats to the squad, coordinating with the platoon commander, or pushing his men into a better tactical position?

      • Major Tom

        For purposes of this exercise if you paid attention, our rifle squads will not be using M4 carbines.

        And yes a squad leader’s time and ability is best used coordinating and commanding his men to perform tasks be they volley fire, flanking maneuvers or whatever. He’s not the point man. (And if he is, something’s gone real FUBAR.) He’s supposed to be more the brains behind the squad, not its primary set of eyes.

        • roguetechie

          You either don’t really understand what a modern volley fire hail Mary play would require or one of half a dozen other factors that instantly make this idea a non starter.

          It’s not realistic, and even if it were it’s still a fiendishly horrible idea.

    • mikee

      It’s called artillery.

      • cwolf

        Except current ROE is to not use artillery. I disagree, but that’s policy.

        • Ron

          It’s tactical directives and not ROE, and we do use a lot of artillery, what we don’t do is mass fires. OIF 1 was the last you saw the US used massed fires, afterwards it turned into 1-2 guns or in rare cases batteries firing on targets, that in reality would have been shot with battalions if not regiments if you wanted to have effects on them.

          The reason massed fires are somewhat important was until very recently (and excluding much of the GWOT) artillery needed to mass to make up for less than perfect application of the 5 requirements for accurate predicted fire and inherent errors.

          • cwolf

            Hard to address complex issues in brief notes. The Army force structure is basically linear and is trying to fight a non-linear war. The tired phrases in briefings were “football” vs “soccer.”

            Modern artillery is very accurate, or at least as accurate as the guy calling for fire.

            The real reasons for less artillery are likely infrastructure and range. Some/many/most combat is small units. Can’t have enough fire bases to cover the entire country. Larger scale operations within a defined AOR likely do have artillery support.

            In this case, we’re mostly discussing squad and platoon operations.

  • Ron

    A squad PGM/kinetic kill SUAS is bettter solution to the perceived capability gap

    • B-Sabre

      Either the Pike mini-missile (fires out of a 40mm GL) or the Switchblade kamikaze UAS.

  • JustAHologram

    I realise it’s probably because they already had them but why are the M14s still kicking around? There are plenty of semi-auto 7.62mm NATO battle rifles that share ergos with the M4/M16 that would be just as reliable and lighter.

    • CommonSense23

      It comes down to cost. Far cheaper and quicker to bring out and accurize the M14s than it was to go thru a procument of a better rifle.

      • TechnoTriticale

        It would seem to come down to expense, given that the procurement cycle for an alternative self-loading 7.62 has been done 2 or more times now (M110, and whatever the $12K_per_unit H&K G28 is going to be called).

    • cwolf

      The modified M14s were brought out from stockpiles as a quick fix for deployed units. Good gun but heavy recoil and still heavy even with the new stock.

      The new SDM gun is the CSASS. HKG28/HK417, OSS suppressor, and S&B scope.

      • Kivaari

        The M14EBR is a club.

        • cwolf

          Great for butt strokes. On fast semi-auto, great for duck hunting.

          • Kivaari

            They needed to be restocked. An issue with the original M14 was stock fit and warping. I had a friend but stroke an anti-war demonstrator at the Washington Monument 40+ years ago. His sergeant loudly yelled at him to not do that again, then leaned in and said, “Next time, kill the son-of-a-bitch”.

          • cwolf

            “Back in Desert Storm, armorers from the 10th Special Forces group took M-14s equipped with a match barrels and fitted a gas piston on them for optimal performance, re-designating it the M-25. They replaced the stock with a McMillan M1A fiberglass one, developed a scope mount and added a Bausch & Lomb 10x40mm fixed-power optic or a Leupold Mark 4.

            The revamped M-14 provides the Army squad designated marksman with on-command direct fire support for his squad, a fire team or his platoon. The heavier-caliber sharpshooters provide cover when machine guns displace, counter-sniper fire in urban areas, and they help in overtaking valuable real estate.

            Infrared targeting lasers such as the AN/PEQ-2 and PAQ-4C make the DM’s job more like 24-hour shift work. Now that suppressors for the M-14-series of rifles are available, the night-vision capabilities coupled with sound mitigation makes the Soldier’s ability to own the night even more secure.

            Taking the M-14 modifications a step further, Crane Division of the Naval Surface Warfare Center teamed up with Sage International to create an M-14/M1A package that is dubbed the “Enhanced Battle Rifle.”

            Using the M-14 barrel, receiver and trigger groups, the EBR chassis adds a retractable stock, a cheek piece that’s adjustable for height and a floated Picatinny quad-rail fore-end made of high-strength aluminum. The EBR also adds a pistol grip for additional control and ergonomic sling points.

            But the new rifle is heavier than the M-16 or M-4 which weighs nearly seven pounds, with each 30-round magazine adding another pound. The basic M-14, however, weighs nearly 10 pounds with an addition of almost two pounds for every 20 rounds of 7.62 the EBR fires.”

    • Uniform223
  • .45

    This article brings to mind some stuff I’ve read about the Lee Enfield No 5, AKA Jungle Carbine. As I recall, it was considering “dashing” in appearance, and troops found it easier to lug around than the full sized equivalent. They were not, however, big fans of the recoil and muzzle blast.

  • roguetechie

    And this is why I’ll remain a fan of the SCHV concept for the foreseeable future. My feeling has been, and remains that a better SCHV round is by far the best option at the current juncture.

    What I’d really like to see is a saboted SCHV round that can be swapped to a heavier full caliber thumper as needed.

    • User

      Yes, Optimized SCHV in correct energy level and Form Factor has the absolut highest Military Potential, it both close and 1200m Range. And its worked on a lot.

      But in therms of thumpers, for subsonic yes theyr good, but otherwise speed is more lethal. And with heavy projectiles due to KE=1/2m x v² while p=m x v recoil for the same energy will be sicnificantly higher.

  • Stratagem 60

    The Bolshevik revolution in Russia
    was the work of Jewish brains,
    of Jewish dissatisfaction,
    of Jewish planning,
    whose goal is to create
    a new order in the world.

    What was performed in
    so excellent a way in Russia,
    thanks to Jewish brains,
    and because of Jewish dissatisfaction
    and by Jewish planning,
    shall also, through the same
    Jewish mental and physical forces,
    become a reality all over the world.

    ~ THE AMERICAN HEBREW, September 10, 1920

    • wetcorps

      ok

  • lostintranslation

    You would be unwise to send a 1000M rifle and optics into the jungle and equally, you should not equip an army for the mountains, or savanna, solely with shotguns.

    Unfortunately, the article misses the point that, the Army will, eventually; need to become more like SF in their equipment flexibility, professionalism and thinking. The USMC is probably leading the way.

    Trying to make; ‘one-boot- fit- every- foot,’ is ultimately a fruitless exercise.
    If there is new approach and I believe there should be, it should also include sufficient funding such that the Army has to become more professional and flexible.

    If you want to defend the home territory, like Sweden, then you choose your small arms accordingly.
    If you want to go across oceans and fight in the jungle, desert, savanna, plains, littoral and urban, then pay-up and kit-up with flexibility and efficiency in mind.

    The alternative; is that you will probably get your ass kicked, at your destination, and your national credibility will be at stake.

    The Golf Bag Concept (select the tools for the job and the terrain) is the answer, not the problem.

    • Out of the Blue

      I think the author agrees with you. He’s doing this to analyze and critique the proposal, not support it.

  • Jim N Jenna SK

    What did I just read? (Mind melts from information)

  • Captain Obvious

    Here’s an idea, just go back to the M16 rifle. Then teach your infantry guys to shoot at distance and everyone can be a “long distance sharpshooter”. Or at lease have a couple full sized rifles in every rifle squad.

    • Ron

      Much easier said than done, we cannot even training scout sniper to the level they make the majority of their shots in combat well within the engagement zone they can in training.

    • GD Ajax

      The A4 come out in 1998. By now it’ll be less expensive to contract a newer rifle than upgrading the M16A4.

      • roguetechie

        The A4 is just a certain parts configuration of the AR15.

        So no, not even close to true.

        I have rifles that are in A4 configuration (really closer to C7a2 configuration but now we’re splitting hairs) and I have rifles in other configurations. If I wanted to I could convert my A4 configuration to an M4a1 configuration or vice versa with very minimal dollars spent to buy parts and about $200 worth of tools I already have. Probably wouldn’t take me more than an hour or so.

        These are RIFLES not cars…

    • cwolf

      The Mk 262 556 at 800m drops about 235″ with about 245 ft/lb energy. Army doesn’t use it. The lighter issue ammunition does significantly worse.

      7.62 168 gr drops about 208″ (data varies by manufacturer and bullet choice) and has 573 ft/lb energy.

      800m targets in high mountains are hard to see and difficult to estimate actual horizontal range. A relatively small range error would easily result in a miss even with no wind.

      A standard M16A2 firing Army issue ammunition (+- 5 mil error) with iron sights would have little effect.

      The Squad Designated Marksmen (SDM) do a great job. The new Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System (CSASS) will help. Given the difficulty in humping a heavy load in the mountains, the questions become what weapons give the best range against Enemy heavy MG/RPG, then how many of them (TOE/BOIP), while keeping the close firefight capability and not overloading the Soldiers.

      Some folks want to go to a unique SDM caliber with significantly better performance (e.g.. 300 Win Man, 300 Norma Mag, 6.5 Grendel, etc.)(or a low recoil .50 if feasible) or use other weapons like the Pike missile or the M6 ultra light mortar or a lighter recoiless rifle. So, it is a wide ranging discussion. The new trailer mounted 120mm has something like a 11km range so could be a mortar section in support. Although debatable, some folks argue having only 2 calibers that can be used by several weapons is lower risk, etc.

      Cheers.

  • Tristan Kooker

    So, it seems like one of the problems is that soldiers don’t have the training to accurately engage targets at long range.

    The W54 warhead, when mated to an appropriate launch system (such as a recoilless rifle), has a range of up to 4 kilometers (beyond the range that enemy RPGs or machine guns can accurately fire). Most importantly, it is capable of causing 3rd degree burns and significant (5+ psi) overpressure at a range of up to 120 meters, meaning that pinpoint accuracy is not necessary. Even the clumsiest of soldiers can hit within 120 meters of a target after minimal training.

    Even better, all the design work has been done, saving you the trouble of buying a new rifle and millions of new rounds.

    Mystery Solved

    • Kevin Harron

      Robert Anson Heinlein approves this post. On the bounce troopers!

    • Porty1119

      What is this, Fallout?

      • Kivaari

        It’s a battlefield nuke.

    • Ren

      I agree with the idea. 🙂

      That same 120m possible zone of effect is likely the systems biggest problem given that RoE at the moment is ‘no non-combatant casulties, period’. That and it’s more likely a soldier would miss due to accident or human error under stress than a small GPS guided bomb or missile – regardless of how well trained they are.

      When the gloves come off though, I fully expect to see these mounted on either shoulder of the exosuits along with a precision rifle for those rare occasions when you don’t want to leave a scorched crater – probably because you want to cross that ground easily later.

      Fallout is small time, I’m thinking Edge of Tomorrow stuff, heh.

    • RealitiCzech

      His yield isn’t biggest but his yield is best
      From grassy plains to the mountain crest
      You can’t stop him with a kevlar vest
      Every Talibanshee will be suppressed
      Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the Afghan frontier!https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c31ceba5069767f3ec903b2d6a9f1dc0f32dffdd67d90938e3645d54fc1f8fb9.jpg

  • Kivaari

    It strikes me that a better route would be to add a couple GPMGs to the mix in terrain like Afghanistan. If it takes a new caliber maybe that would be the answer. A mystical lightweight mid-bore MG that outperforms the M240. I think the M4 is doing the job it is intended for. But what do I know.

    • roguetechie

      I tend to agree,

      I also happen to believe that it’s far from impossible to design a lighter GPMG. It could totally be done, and without completely changing everything we buy and do to suit one war that’s one giant statistical outlier after another.

    • User

      Under development. Not mystical.

      • Kivaari

        I say mystical as the things been under discussion for 30 years at least. I don’t know how many times I’ve read an announcement about rifle X or MG XY being adopted with new caliber ZX over the last 30 years. Just like the XM8 or the 6.8 SPC or 6.5CT. There must have been half a dozen replacements for the M60 and M240. There are all kinds of prototype weapons that get reported on that never really go anywhere.

        • roguetechie

          Oddly, there really were some potentially better machine guns developed at various points. Quite a few of which would be cheaper than what we currently use, lighter, and adapt better to the wide variety of roles we expect out of our guns now.

          Even more interesting is that they’d have actually been much more easily adapted to things like CROWS mounts, lighter, better balanced, easier to armor effectively, and creating a whole wave of knock on effects that would result in better cheaper more durable systems.

          Probably why we chose not to go this route.

          • Kivaari

            You do understand why I called the mystical. Or is it mythical?

          • roguetechie

            Little bit of both probably LOL…

            However as a student of weapons and weapons design I can pretty safely say what I’m saying with the benefit of hindsight.

            And to be very fair the specific guns I’m thinking of made very reasonable if not outright conservative promises at the time they were developed. They didn’t promise any of these things, but nonetheless they’d have become self evident over time.

            On the manufacturability thing, they were quite plainly much more manufacturable.

        • User

          Yes because the techology wasnt available at that point to break the curse of the endless advantage-drawback cycle, so no large performance increases could be made in all areas at the same time, so it wasnt worth the money. This will luckly change a lot soon.
          Both in ammo and weapon design, and theyr concepts.

  • “First, assume a spherical long-range sharpshooter infantry paradigm of uniform density…”

    I like this series’ exploration of the potential benefits and pitfalls of a proposed major shift in equipment, logistics, and tactical doctrine, coming from the direction of an evenhanded-as-possible thought exercise rather than one of either advocacy or direct opposition.

  • cwolf

    The dialogues can go on forever. The powerful way to address this is to put small units on a live fire range with robotic MILES equipped OPFOR and run scenarios with various prototype weapons, calibers, and organizations (TOE/BOIP).

    Maybe the solution is every SDM gets a modified Tracking Point (rumor has it USAIS doesn’t like some Tracking Point features) or an integrated laser RF auto aiming point Meprolight scope or…… Mk319 ammo….. or a 300 Norma…… or a daylight IR scope……. or 2 SDM/squad….. or a low recoil suppressed .50 cal semi-auto with a Tracking Point plus……..

    Once you get the data based on real Soldiers doing real tasks, then that becomes your Requirements doc and what you buy.

    Cost? You go to war to win. The average Soldier costs $75K to recruit and train through AIT. A dead Soldier costs a minimum of $250k. A wounded Soldier might cost over a million dollars across his lifetime. We can spend Billions on one ship or trillions of a new jet, so what is a $30k rifle?

    • 140,000 $30K rifles is 4.2 billion dollars, or about 500 F-35s (a fifth of the planned fleet).

      It’s true that planning for war would be much easier if there were infinite money and resources, but sadly, our wealth is finite.

      • cwolf

        The Army IMO is too concerned with standardization. Give the Infantry the best weapon system they need to meet their missions. The other non-Infantry/non-CA are fine with an M16A2 with adj stock. If that means the Infantry gets a HK417/SCAR H/Colt xyz, that’s good. Or whatever woo-woo caliber they pick.

        The CSASS buy is 3,643 rifles at roughly $44.5M. As we all know, you can’t really divide $44M by 3.6K because most contracts like this include spares, parts, maintenance, and even training courses (NETT).

        I realize there is limited money. The US is after all roughly $20T in debt. Yet, Congress gives away $1.6T every year in friends/family/donors tax subsidies (called tax expenditures) which are not reported in the budget.

        Infantry rifles are one of the least expensive and relatively low life cycle cost weapon systems in the inventory that do much or most of the killing. Which is way different than WWII where artillery did most of the killing.

        The Tracking Point (as an example) seems expensive, but my best guess is they’re a relatively small startup with low volume. A large buy might change that significantly. In any case, look at the ammunition budget.

        IMO an 800+m targets’ Ph/Pk in the mountains could be significantly increased IMO with a smart scope and accurate ammunition (Mk319?). The MEPRO MESLAS isn’t that expensive.

        • I should clarify: It’s not really my place to say sonething is too expensive. That is for people working budgets and procurement.

          However, I don’t really have a problem saying something is relatively expensive, and therefore if you want to do it you have to find the money for it.

        • User

          Its just that the Rifles and Ammunition are not fully finished yet. Adopting HK417 will literally solve nothing and make amost everything much worse. Its by far not just about the money at all.

          Waiting a moment for new much more potent Rifles and Ammo that totally changes common limits is a by far better way than throw millions over millions of dollars in the trash for a Rifle that actually performes worse in most situations.

          • cwolf

            It would take years of R&D and testing plus major bucks to field a new caliber. Army HQ would only consider it if the new caliber offered a significant leap forward in performance.

            The CSASS offers better range than 556 with a proven caliber. Obviously my druthers would be to use Mk319 ammo and a better ranging scope, but my druthers aren’t worth a lot.

            A new low recoil suppressed .50 Barrett might be good. But those shooters would stand out in the crowd. Still a big heavy gun.

            The 25mm gun is still in flux. Folks object to the weight, limited 600-700m range, and basic load of 36 rounds on top of humping a rifle, too. So, 51 pounds of weapons and ammo on top of all the other stuff.

            If we adopt a pure DOTLMS approach, then there are other non-rifle options. Move a 120mm mortar unit in to support operations in a given AO. The 120mm is now trailer mounted so easy to move and setup. Or even an expendable drone with C4.

            The CSASS is a done deal. Only buying 3+K guns. A workable interim solution until somebody invents the magic solution.

  • Daniel Hernandez

    Great articles, loved reading all 3. One question though, since you (the author) are a critic of the long range sharpshooting infantry concept, what then do you propose as an alternative? Do you or will you have any articles (links please) on the subject? Thanks!

  • Kivaari

    Fortunately combat deaths in Afghanistan are very low the last two years. Of those deaths few are GSWs. Perhaps we should concentrate on more conventional battles where existing weapons and tactics are adequate. The long range business seems to be abnormal, and we have adequate weapons to deal with them already. We don’t need to change much since the “war in Afghanistan” is pretty much over.

  • Gary Kirk

    So, pretty much.. If we pull the string on the whole “we need a new cartridge” card.. We’d be back to exactly what we’re using now, even with said new uber-round.. Because infantry warfare will always be infantry warfare.. There will always be a need for different warriors to perform different roles, and said warriors will need equipment, training, and mindset to carry out their specific role.. There WILL NEVER be a one size fits all ground combat unit..

    The sooner these Tommy tactical armchair MFers get over their selves.. The sooner the boys who could soon as later give a $#!+ about what they have to deal with.. Can get back to work, dealing with the things that these guys dream about.. Then come home and have their own nightmares about what they’ve had to get through..

  • AK

    Looks like this kind of concept could work for the current wars, but is it valid for the future wars? The weapons squad could indeed be eliminated, but infrantry should always fight in “threes”. There is a very good reason for three squads, as they are the most effective configuration in the leapfrogging of duties on the field. (ie. in attack: support fire, assault element, reserve, defence: front positions, rear security/resupply, reserve). That’s why companies have three fighting platoons, batallions have three fighting companies, regiments have three fighting batallions, etc…

    • jono102

      It also provides the basis for the 3-1 ratios applied to an enemy, be it at individual level 3 assaulter’s to one bad guy or a Platoon required to clear an enemy section.

  • urker53

    Neither the pike or switch blade are near fieldable.

    • B-Sabre

      Neither is the plastic-cased, case telescoped ammo and wunderwaffe rifle and LMG to fire it that seem to be the technological underpinnings of this sharpshooter squad idea.

    • Kivaari

      Proof of concept has been reached. Now they need to be made durable and reliable.

  • iksnilol

    Just pack some Rad-X and Radaway.

  • valorius

    Give every rifleman a 1:8 M16/ACOG and call it a day.

  • roguetechie

    If we could figure out how to get flechettes to work reliably and not have unacceptable dispersion that would actually be kinda the way to go.

    But since we can’t…

    I’ll just stick to my love for 5.45-6 mm high L:D ratio EPR type bullet construction and 3100-3300 fps MV rounds, preferably in a cbj-ms style sabot.

    Done right, you can get some very nice zippy rounds that are more than capable at 500 meters without even getting all the way to the weight of a loaded mk318 m855 or etc.

  • Core

    The M14 is a great DMR, used one routinely in my service, but it doesn’t replace the M4. I believe the MK46/48 are great tools to deploy within an assault team and also have their place. I think a current gap solution is the Colt or HK IAR. I know the HK won the Marine Corps tests and is currently deployed. They have been proven to be extremely accurate and have 600 meter capability. Paired with a 1-4x magnifier they provide a versatile package and allow increased rate of fire and also standard magazine capacity with single fire accuracy. I would guess Geissele’s Super Select-Fire SOPMOD (SSF®) Trigger would greatly enhance a soldiers effectiveness without adding a great deal of weight and would not prohibit more close quarters engagements. Personally I would work with Colt Defense to get the Colt IAR up to snuff and contact with them. HK has a history of using proprietary technology that does not translate well with M16/4 magazines. Also HK is supplying the developed world’s combat rifles for the foreseeable future. I believe it would make sense to work with Colt Defense to continue product development for the IAR assuming Colt Defense can make decisions on effectiveness not bean counting which is the only potential issue I can see with Cold Defense. <– We shouldn't put all our eggs in one basket with HK. My thoughts are Colt IAR with SSF Trigger, and possibly and open bolt/closed bolt mode, with a hammer forged 1/7 machine gun steel barrel with adjustable gas block, chrome silicone buffer spring, MGI 6+oz mechanical buffer, modified butt-stock (Magpul), TRE M16 BCG with obsidian coating, 5 coil chrome silicone extractor spring with insert and crane o ring, CS ejector spring, Colt Defense fore-end heat-sink lower handguard under Colt Defense monolithic upper, all aluminum Cerakoted DD brown low IR, Knight's flip up 600m irons, and a 1-6x single focal plane variable optic like Vortex or Trijicon. As a finishing touch I would engineer 70+ grain a heavy 5.56N cartridge option that is effective out to 800 meters in DMR single fire mode. This platform would be compatible with all M16/4 magazines versus the HK issue. It would be a true Stoner DI, so no additional weight of a variable link piston system. All lower parts would be interchangeable with existing M16/4 platforms except the closed/open bolt over-ride system which would require a special lower and possibly upper mods, but the life cycle and maintenance would be no more difficult than the HK model without the magazine and barrel issues. And we can create American jobs at Colt Defense to-boot.