Are We Gearing Up to Lose the Next War? Overmatch, Part 2: Bullets & Backbreakers

Original caption: "KHAKREZ, Afghanistan – Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, step off a helicopter and walk through a dust cloud to reach Village Stability Platform Chenar." U.S. Army photo by Sgt. April York, 2nd BCT, 4th Inf. Div. Public Domain.

In the rush to augment the infantry’s firepower with new advanced small arms technologies, we may be on the precipice of crippling their ability to fight wars. The push to equip the infantryman with more powerful rifles and machine guns risks reducing his mobility to critical levels, and “locking out” his capacity to carry powerful supporting arms. Although more potent basic infantry weapons are undeniably desirable, current attitudes towards their purpose – exemplified by the concept of “overmatch” – may compound problems that already have reached crisis levels.

An image of “warfighters”, struggling alone and without support against enemies equipped with “overmatching” weapons that out-range and out-class our own, is being sold to the military planners who will write the book on next generation small arms. However emotionally compelling this picture is, however, it is fantasy. Conventional infantry do not operate alone, but as part of a combined arms effort that leverages supporting capabilities from the entire military. The idea of equipping the Infantry with individual weapons which are designed to counter enemy supporting arms through “overmatch” not only is incompatible with established doctrine and best practices, but also establishes a dangerous principle that could cripple US infantrymen in the future.

To understand why this idea is dangerous, a fundamental fact of the infantry must first be recognized: One man can only carry so much. In fighting vehicle or combat aircraft design, the mass of more potent armaments can be offset with augmentations to the craft’s engines, enhancements to the vehicle’s structure, or improvements to its suspension. However, when planning arms for the infantryman there is a hard limit to how much mass of equipment each person can carry. Therefore, any increases in this mass must be very carefully weighed in the balance along with their corresponding increases in effectiveness.

  • In clearer terms, the US Army Infantry Rifle Platoon is comprised of about 39 men. Each man can produce about a third of a horsepower during a march, and the average approach march load for an infantryman is 102.1 pounds, according to the 2003 report The Modern Warrior’s Combat Load. This means that the Infantry Rifle Platoon approximated as a single “vehicle” produces less than 12 horsepower total. The average power-to-weight ratio of the loaded infantryman is just 2.4 hp/ton (2.6 hp/tonne), compared to the 25 hp/ton of a 60 ton M1 Abrams main battle tank. Analyzing the platoon in the same way as we would a vehicle is a dramatic oversimplification, of course, but these figures nonetheless help illustrate just how power-limited the platoon as a whole is.

Not only is the platoon power-limited by the physiology of the infantryman, but this presents a medical problem, as well. When a vehicle breaks, it can be readily replaced with another and sent for repairs or surplused. When a soldier or Marine is injured and must be hospitalized, his unit is denied one of its integral parts. A replacement can be sent to fill his place, but the benefits of the relationships built over time between the injured soldier and his unit are lost, possibly forever. Likewise, while a replacement rifle or HMMWV may be better in every way than the objects they replace, a new recruit cannot replace the knowledge and experience of a hospitalized infantryman. Knowledge and experience in warfare cannot be manufactured; they must be cultured the hard way.

Today, our troops are already overburdened. Roughly a tenth of the Army today cannot fight due to medical reasons, a figure that has sadly become the norm since the beginning of the decade. Soldiers are often expected to carry over 100 pounds of gear on marches that destroy knees, ankles, hips, and backs and leave tens of thousands of good men with 100% disability ratings. Experienced troops are forced to retire early with crippling medical issues that will affect them for life. This situation already threatens to destabilize the entire force, creating what Chief of Staff Milley called “a hollow Army”.

Therefore, it must be accepted that an increase in the soldier’s load is much more than just a minor nuisance, but a serious problem with multiple second-order effects that has a directly deleterious effect on Army readiness as a whole. As this problem continues to grow past crisis levels, comprehensive weight management programs must be implemented for every element of the infantryman’s load. From this, three iron tenets for the infantry weapons planner emerge:

  1. Although augmented firepower and and ballistic performance are also desired, reducing the load of the infantryman must be an overriding priority.[1]
  2. Any improvement in performance of infantry small arms must be considered against not only the mass it will add to the infantryman’s load, but also against what other weapons and ordnance could be carried instead.
  3. Any infantry small arms configuration which results in a substantial increase in the mass of weapons and ammunition carried by the platoon must be modified or rejected.

The concept of “overmatch” violates these tenets. From this perspective, concerns about increases in weapon and ammunition weight are easily dismissed as unimportant relative to pursuit of the concept. Improved weapon ballistics is considered, not with respect to the additional burden it would place on the infantryman, but with respect to raw performance alone. The result will be a substantial increase in burden to the Infantry, and reduction in combat capability as a consequence.

Consider that increasing the Infantry’s load means reducing their capability to perform their most fundamental mission. This mission is laid out in the respective infantry manuals of the Army and Marine Corps:

The mission of the Infantry is to close with the enemy by means of fire and maneuver in order to destroy or capture him, or to repel his assault with fire, close combat, and counterattack. The Infantry will engage the enemy with combined arms in all operational environments to bring about his defeat.

FM 3-21.8 (FM 7-8), The Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad

The mission of the rifle squad is to locate, close with, and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver, or repel the enemy’s assault by fire and close combat.

MCWP 3-11.2, Marine Rifle Squad

These manuals illustrate that the Infantry’s offensive power is not just a product of their weapons, but a product of their mobility as well. The Infantry must have the teeth to strike the enemy, true, but they must also have the legs to bring the fight to him. When seeking to augment the infantryman’s firepower for the next generation of small arms, it is crucial to not – in doing so – cripple him.

At this latter task, we are already behind the curve. Any load increase over 25 kg (55 lb) will decrease the speed of the infantryman by approximately 0.1-0.2 km/h per each of 5 kg (11 lb) added (page 167). By this, the average 2003 infantryman’s burden of 102.1 pounds (46.3 kg) reduces his speed by between 0.4-0.9 km/h – over 10%. In the long term, extreme burdens such as those typical today will compound the problem, with mobility further aggravated by fatigue and injury.

Any unnecessary mass carried by the infantryman therefore directly impacts his mobility and leaves him vulnerable to enemy fires. Not only is this a reason to avoid further burdening the Infantry with greater loads, but it may also be reason for reflection. We might ask: If “overmatch” supposes that our infantrymen have become vulnerable to fire from enemy weapons which have existed for 50-100 years, then how did they get that way? Is it possible that their vulnerability stems from a lack of mobility, as well as (or possibly instead of) a lack of firepower?

It is useful to understand quantitatively how “overmatch” can negatively affect the Infantry in this way. To do this, we shall consider three rounds of similar size and mass which have become centerpieces of the conversation: the 7.62x51mm NATO, .260 Remington, and 6.5mm Creedmoor. Not accounting for the mass of the weapons themselves, were any of the three adopted in brass-cased form as a universal standard round for the Infantry Rifle Platoon, it would add approximately 216 kilograms (476 lb) to the burden of the platoon as a whole, resulting in an increased average individual load of 114 pounds per soldier. This increase in load is equivalent to giving each soldier an additional 2 ESAPI plates, or 6 guided 40mm-launched missiles, or 24 40mm HEDP grenades. Polymer-cased ammunition can moderate these increases, however it is not a panacea. With a composite polymer/metallic case, the average soldier’s load would still increase to 110 pounds per soldier, on average. Put in terms of reducing the soldier’s load by 30 pounds, these two ammunition configurations would increase the magnitude of that task by 40% and 25%, respectively.

The situation may only get more unforgiving, too. Future infantry technologies are already being proven that could become essential force multipliers for small units in the next decades, yet each comes with a price in pounds. Guided 40mm-launched missiles, kamikaze surveillance drones sporting explosive warheads, ultralight platoon-level 60mm mortars with guided projectiles, and other emerging technologies already show promise. Computer and networked systems continue to grow smaller and more rugged, as well. If and when any of these become must-have equipment for the Infantry, their inclusion will add that much more to the platoon’s shared burden. The additional weight must either be offset by leaving something else behind, or simply be borne on top of what was already carried, with all the consequences of reduced mobility and increased injury that implies.

If “overmatch” becomes the rule by which future small arms decisions are made, it will become a significant risk to the infantry’s ability to fight. Decreased mobility, increased risk of injury, and reduced ability of the infantry to carry along their own sophisticated supporting arms could all become cords that tie the the Infantry’s arms behind their back. If overburdened, under-strength, and under-equipped infantry are sent into combat against a mobile and healthy enemy equipped with advanced infantry support weapons, then all of the ballistic advantages of their “overmatching” small arms will be rendered moot. Put simply, no amount of ballistic brilliance can compensate for a lack of mobility and supporting arms.


This is the second of three articles on the subject of overmatch. In the previous installment, we discussed what “overmatch” is, where it came from, and why it persists. In the next, we will examine the deleterious effect that the overmatch principle has on requirements and optimization, as well as alternative paths for future infantry small arms.

Footnotes:

 [1] In addendum to this, it must be pointed out that reducing the load of the infantryman is only one necessary dimension to addressing the problem of soldier/Marine injury and combat readiness. Redesign of load-bearing equipment to help prevent injuries, improved oversight by medical professionals, and overhaul of physical fitness programs are all steps that should be taken to help curb injuries and keep troops in the fight longer. However, even in US Army Special Operations Forces, which are dramatically better developed in each of these respects, injury rates remain a critical problem. Therefore, one or more of these approaches cannot be substituted for another; all methods of addressing the problem must be fully utilized.

 



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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  • Andy

    “…were any of the three adopted in brass-cased form as a universal standard round for the Infantry Rifle Platoon, it would add approximately 216 kilograms (476 lb) to the burden of the platoon as a whole, resulting in an increased average individual load of 114 pounds per soldier.”

    476 lbs / 39 men = 12.2 lbs increase.

    caught it because of the reference to 40mm grenades. 24 =/= 114 lbs

    really well written otherwise though. enjoying the series.

    • “resulting in an increased average individual load of 114 pounds per soldier.”

      I went through several iterations of this sentence, trying out different ways of saying the same thing. I settled on the construction “an increased load of 114 pounds” because it fully conveys how this is adding weight on top of an already backbreaking load. Saying “this would increase the load by 12.2 pounds” conveys this much less well, as it brings to mind going from a load of 0 pounds to a load of 12.2 pounds. That’s not what we’re talking about, we’re talking about 12.2 pounds on top of 102.1 pounds.

      Does that make sense?

      I appreciate you reading, thank you!

      • Andy

        yep. i reread it and it made more sense. edited my comment.

        • No problem! If it’s not clear on the first read, that’s probably my fault. I will think about editing it to improve clarity.

          • Andy

            any chance of a medium cal series? lots happening there-you mentioned the Pike and guided mortars though.

          • It’s probably worth covering, but I’m going to cop to far less proficiency in that region.

            I think it may be worth writing an article about a particular concept that’s come up a couple of times in my discussions with industry folks about this subject, though. So maybe at some point I’ll go there.

          • Yenokh Yagoda

            I gotta tell YA, I thought that Phil was sitting there and deleting comments as soon as I posted them 🙂

            Then, I noticed that it happens too fast. And then I checked the profile and found out that the comments were marked as spam.

            For a second, I even started to suspect that Phil was SMART!

            But he disappointed me again. It is jujst some nice features of Disqus. He banned me by email addresses, also included me in the curse words list and banned me by IP.

            So now I have to get a new IP, a new email and a new name each time I want to post a picture. This is outrageous!

            🙂

      • GaryOlson

        Yes, makes sense. I think more impact could be achieved detailing with biomedical data how the weight increase impacts specific joints such as knees, lumbar, ankles.

  • Isa Akhbar

    Current combat load-out is insanely overweight. Back in the day, when the pack went over 40 pounds, stuff got taken out and left behind. 100+ pound loads are unsustainable. Ask experienced troops what they really need to carry, and see how much weight could be saved over the command-dictated pile of junk.

    • Rocky Mountain 9

      I think Nathaniel errs toward the classic mistake of “preparing to fight the previous war” in his analysis. With relatively few exceptions, the wars of the past decade have been a close-quarters counterinsurgency, fighting poorly trained fighters with limited marksmanship abilities. Thus, the most popular doctrine has become focused on M4-type rifles with unmagnified optics.

      My personal theory is that the next conflict that pits two first-rate militaries against one another will see drastically expanded ranges and better hit probability in (non-urban) firefights. What’s the difference? Optics and target awareness. In a world of micro drones, night vision devices, and readily available, excellent magnified rifle optics, I suspect that two military forces will notice and engage each other at much greater distances in the field. Of course, air power and artillery will be critical here, but we’re all here to discuss firearms. I suspect that an infantry platoon equipped with a healthy allotment of precision battle rifles and quality magnified optics will outfight a platoon using the current doctrine of “lots of M4s, a little bit of everything else”.

      Personally I’d advocate switching 30% -40% of riflemen to this hypothetical precision battle rifle, while shifting the M4 from its “do-all” role toward the role held by submachine guns several decades ago: fast maneuvering, room clearing, etc. I could go on to refine this viewpoint, but I’ll wait and see what kind of counterpoints pop up.

      • 40mmCattleDog

        1: Your personal theory really doesn’t mean jack against what every objective study has shown and that’s that average infantryman cannot hit let alone identify targets past 300 yards under stress.

        2. Armies fought for years with full power battle rifle cartridges effective to 600m plus as standard and still closed to within 200-300 yards for the vast majority of combat. Fighting a near peer adversary armed with a 5mm weapon would only reinforce this fact.

        3. If your platoon is regularly spotting enemy at the ranges your talking about (600 meters and over) in the future, I guarantee the first option will not be to take pot shots with your M4, some 7mm uber rifle or even your GPMG. You would call in an arty strike or use your own integrated fire assets like mortars and heavier weapons. Infantry do not solely rely on small arms.

        • Rocky Mountain 9

          Thanks for your thoughts. In regards to points 1 and 2, none of the historical precedents had high-quality magnified optics in the mix. The often-cited “300 meters” number comes from a study performed after World War II, when every rifleman was limited to iron sights. You can only do so much with irons, while a magnified optic can enormously extend your range. As for point 3, I understand that the military is a combined arms force. However, I’m trying to stay focused on the individual infantry platoon and the arms the can personally carry.

          • 40mmCattleDog

            Yeah and we already have the M4A1 ACOG combo which allows hits out to 550m, ELCANS for our 240Bs etc. Our current optics already take the effective range of our weapons way beyond what the average infantryman can even do, hell I’ve met troops who have no idea even how to use the BDC on their ACOGs, whats the point in spending billions to re chamber our small arms to longer ranger calibers we cant even take advantage of?

          • Rocky Mountain 9

            I guess, to your point, it would be a better starting point to improve the training of the individual rifleman before thinking about a longer range rifle for general issue. Maybe training more designated marksmen per unit could be a happy medium.

          • Hyok Kim

            When was the last time someone won the war with better small arms marksmanship?

          • Kivaari

            In a book on Mauser rifles I read years ago there was a section on sniper rifles used by both German and Soviet troops. Interviews with both sides showed that even with scopes that 400m shots were a rarity. Most said the action took place closer to 200m. I tend to think that still applies today.

          • Rocky Mountain 9

            That’s very interesting information that’s more applicable than the “300 meter rule”.

          • iksnilol

            I look at it similar to hunting. Sure, an 800 meter shot is easy on a range with a known distance.

            But unknown distance out in the boonies? It suddenly gets harder.

          • Amplified Heat

            We’re probably but a handful of years away from full-sensing integrated optics that actively compensate point of aim for a range of ballistic conditions. Think miniaturized FLIR that does rangefinding & image stabilization, and will automatically walk the reticle to compensate for drop & velocity (maybe even windage). Add in some more advanced TrackingPoint-type aiming guidance to ensure the rifle only fires when that reticle is aligned with the target, and I think you’ll see “average effective” infantry engagement distances double or more in short order. Past 500yds it’s just plain hard to notice stuff that needs getting shot at in the first place, I’d think (once you know it’s there you’d easily be able to land rounds on it, though)

          • Yenokh Yagoda

            That is not going to be a common soldier’s optics. Thermal imaging cameras require use of germanium. It’s rare and expensive.

            But there is a Russian scope that operates kind of like that. You turn the ring and it sets the correct angle of the crosshairs and compensates the bullet drop at the same time as the range is being determined. For example a shooter needs to make the target to appear as 2 mil in size and that is all he needs to do. Here is the reticle:

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4b65ba6a543a8121a70bd6b7547e0b9cd6273c0cd5a3431d0d4e5f3304220969.jpg

          • cwolf

            wwwDOTthefirearmblogDOTcom/blog/2015/04/29/beyond-trackingpoint-darpas-computational-weapon-optic/

          • Hyok Kim

            The noted Finish sniper had most of his kills under 100m.

          • Bart Jabroni

            You do realize how low powered their scopes were, right? Ww2 small arms abilities don’t really apply today.

          • Kivaari

            It still requires a Mk 1 eyeball.

          • Joe Schmoe

            In the Second Lebanon War, nearly all infantry combat was done under 300m, with most under 100m or closer.

          • Amplified Heat

            A very good point; whether or not the current modern optics truly do extend that range (they do) it stands to reason that *eventually* and probably in the near future we’ll have tech that drastically extends the range of typical aimed fire. Since it will obviously extend it for the opposition in short order as well, it stands to reason our small arms capabilities need to rise to the challenge. That means either higher powered rounds (Grendel/etc), or more efficient ballistics that can do more with the same initial power (the heavy VLD 5.56 bullets). What’s funny, is 308 does a poor job of both, its extra range come at the cost of a rather massive increase in power that makes everything else big & heavy.

          • Hyok Kim

            You don’t win the wars with platoons. You win the war at the army group levels. Winning a small unit skirmish has little to do with winning the war at the operational level. Just look at the Germans on the eastern front during WW2.

          • Michael I.

            Hyok Kim I must disagree. Warfare is currently small unit skirmish based. Terrorists are not going to fight any other way.

        • James Young

          My marine friend said he wasn’t allowed to use their mortars in Afgan. Using weapons like that and other heavier weapons in the next war could be just as useless so as to avoid civilian causalities. I’m not saying they should or shouldn’t, but somebody in power is going to make that decision and I’m betting it’ll be the same as Afgan

          • Hyok Kim

            Afghan is not total war. In total war, you don’t worry about collaterals.

      • I think the platoon that leaves the “battle rifles” and 4 pound scopes at home, and takes UBGLs and Pike missiles instead would whallop your platoon at any range.

        But that’s just a guess.

        • Rocky Mountain 9

          Who mentioned “four pound scopes”? Lol. I’m sorry but that’s a classic straw man fallacy. It’s completely practical to currently make a semiautomatic .308 that weighs under 10 lbs with optic.

          As for the Pike, I’ve personally held one (inert, obviously) at Raytheon Missile Systems’ facility in Tucson. It’s a neat concept with enormous potential, but I’d restrain myself from betting on it changing the world quite yet. It may not be the wonder weapon one would hope for, similar to how the OICS/XM25 played out.

          • Nicks87

            “It’s completely practical to currently make a semiautomatic .308 that weighs under 10 lbs with optic.”

            Who exactly is making this magical rifle now or are you talking about the future? How much does it cost?

          • Rocky Mountain 9

            DPMS GII MOE: 7 lbs, 4 ozs. MSRP: $1599.

            SIG Sauer Tango 6 1-6x: 25.4 ozs.

            American Defense QD mount: 8.4 ozs.

            This equals 9 lbs, 6 ozs. This isn’t exactly big news that numbers like this can be achieved. This is literally the first combination I Googled.

            Another viable rifle is the POF P308 Edge, coming in at 8.1 lbs.

          • iksnilol

            What about the AN/PEQ? Don’t forget some sort of rail for both the AN/PEQ and a light.

            Then the magazines and ammo?

            And what have you accomplished? Slightly better cover penetration at the cost of carrying half the ammo, a heavier rifle, 33% less mag capacity, slower follow up shots and all this whilst having the same range as 5.56.

          • Rocky Mountain 9

            That DPMS rifle weighs as much as an M16A4…

          • Kivaari

            People forget that the trajectory of the 5.56 and 7.62 are very similar. If you can’t hit it with a 5.56mm chances are you wont hit it with a 7.62. True the 7.62 arrives with more umph, but it really limits your ammo quantity.

          • James Young

            I would think that if they were going to make that change they would change to a 6.5 CM or 6.5 Rem, not the 308. Lighter weight, less recoil, better performance at range.

          • Kivaari

            I don’t think any change is needed. Other than ammunition in the M240. Going to any new caliber in rifles or machine guns is a waste of time.

          • James Young

            I don’t really think it’s needed either. My comment was just about the idea of how changing would make more sense to change to something that has a bigger benefit while mitigating the downsides.

          • Yenokh Yagoda

            Much shorter barrel’s life. Like 50-60% less.

          • James Kachman

            That’s the plan. The switch to 7.62 is an interim before a new 6.XX wonderound can be developed.

          • Nicks87

            I have a DPMS G2 .308 Recon and it weighs over 12lbs with a vortex 1-6 a warne mount and a fully loaded 20 rnd magazine.

          • I was talking about computerized disturbed reticle optics, and it was a tad bit of hyperbole.

            Based on the weight of ammo alone, though, given the same mass budget as a switch to full “battle rifle” configuration, I can turn every man in the platoon into a precision grenadier who can lob a 40mm missile over 2 kilometers. I don’t necessarily think that – or something similar – is the right configuration, but it sounds to me like it would be a whole lot better than flinging somewhat bigger bullets.

          • Rocky Mountain 9

            I think I can agree with you there — something that extends the effective range of infantry is desirable. Funny that you mention an under-barrel grenade launcher after all the emphasis on rifle weight, though — I’d lean toward a slung standalone unit, like an HK M320 with the stock. Not much reason to hang an unwieldy extra two to three pounds on the rifle itself. We’ll see if the Pike pans out as far as real world weight, precision, range, lethality, and especially cost are concerned, but for now it’s vaporware.

            Regarding weight of the rounds, necessity may dictate that a third fewer rounds are carried (let’s assume a transition from a number of 30-round mags to the same number of 20-round mags). The precision rifle equipped riflemen would just need to be more judicious with their fire. As their hypothetical role and training dictates, they apply aimed, semiautomatic fire… “Suppressing fire” would need to be the burden of their teammates carrying M4s and squad automatics.

            As an aside, I would love it if you did an in-depth article on the alternative infantry-borne solutions for “overmatch”, like the Raytheon Pike. Perhaps in Part 3?

          • Rocky Mountain,

            First, I am glad we’re speaking the same language now.

            I don’t seriously believe every rifleman should have a UBGL at this time – it’s just that the weight tradeoffs work out that way if you’re talking about moving to 7.62mm. Basically, switching to a 7.62mm “sharpshooter squad” is about the same weight increase as giving everybody UBGLs and a mix of 40mm grenades and Pikes.

            However, I do think we’re close to the point where UBGLs will become so lightweight that having one on every infantry rifle would make a lot more sense than it does now. That could be interesting.

            You are correct that Pike is just a prototype. But it’s not alone among potential technologies that could transform how the infantry does business. In fact, there are so many of these potential technologies, that betting odds are very good at least one will come to fruition, I think. We’ve already seen it with armor.

          • cwolf

            The 40×53 smart grenade is existing technology with good range and accuracy, but obviously can’t be shoulder fired. Maybe…maybe… it could be fired from a ground mount “mortar” configuration. Or I may be crazy.

            Or it may not offer significant advantages over the M224A1 60mm.

          • Blake

            Thus the French requirement that their standard infantry rifle (FAMAS) be able to use rifle grenades. I can’t recall if their new H&K rifles will also have this ability…

        • cwolf

          Context is essential.

          1. First issue is terrain inter-visibility distance in the AOR. 800m shots in the jungle? The other reality is even with optics, what can you see at 1,000m? All I see are fuzzy dots and blurs.

          2. Next issue is the combined arms team and weapon mix (we are sort of generally talking squad/platoon/company level in these discussions). See the DARPA Squad-X work. TFB is right IMO in that you want to look at all weapons capabilities in the unit. All the experts need to go to CO & hump the mountains (even a zero load hump sucks hard). Accuracy degrades when you’re sucking hard. A 50m range error uphill is a miss.

          3. Agree with those who suggest we look at Infantry separately from the CS/CSS etc. folks. The bean counters will go nuts, but give the Infantry the best caliber/rifle/training they need. Ideally somewhat modular. This is dated: wwwDOTslideshareDOTnet/James8981/future-weapon-v8b2-feb

          4. The reality right now today is that those ‘ragtag’ Bad Guys (not near peer) are using OTC drones to deliver grenades/explosives, conduct recons, and adjust mortar fire. We have tiny drones and big drones, but where is our direct fire support medium drone in theatre? BTW, never underestimate the unsophisticated Bad Guys (they somehow keep defeating the ‘modern’ guys).

          5. These are far ranging discussions. The USAIS folks try to design for all terrains, enemies, and scenarios, not just one.

          • Hyok Kim

            You don’t win wars with CQB at the platoon level. You win wars at the operational level, at least army group level for the superpowers in total war.

          • cwolf

            True. The issue with this discussion (or any discussion) is what are your left and right aiming stakes?

            Ideally your first paragrapgh should define what the subject is and what it’s not.

            So TFB is addressing small arms and is not discussing (I think) the total company level combined arms effects.

            Further the dialogue seems sort of focused on the light foot patrol in Afgan mountains. Just guessing.

            And like all conversations, input wanders.

            Cheers.

      • Lange

        1910 wants their infantry doctrine back.

        • Rocky Mountain 9

          Haha. Touche. But to be clear, I’m essentially talking about equipping more members of a unit with quasi-DMRs. I’m thinking 30-40% of riflemen, as mentioned in my original post. Completely doing away with M4-type assault rifles would be foolish.

          • crackedlenses

            So in other words add more DMs/DMRs to the rifle platoon.

          • Rocky Mountain 9

            Yes.

          • nadnerbus

            The thing is, if the next conflict points to this as a needed tactical adjustment, the military will no doubt do so. They were remarkably adept at getting 7.62 DMRs to the guys at the pointy tip to supplement their mix of weapons when the need arose, first with M14 EBRs, then with the Knights rifles, and so on. I mean, when you look at how long it took to pick a pistol side arm, it was done at positively light speed in comparison.

            Right now, the powers that be are talking about straight up adopting an up caliber rifle to replace the existing M4 system. Without an actual articulated need, I think that is ludicrous.

            I would be quite happy to see testing of 6.5 of various types to determine how useful they may be in the future if the need does arise, but switching wholesale, or even partially, would be foolish right now.

      • Amplified Heat

        Also, potentially drastic tactics changes. If there’s one thing we’re trending away from with all the new special ops stuff, it’s the mooks walking single-file on patrol through an area that can be ambushed. Imagine two enemies that traverse the battle field using low-profile tactics (essentially dueling guerrilla warfare with elite forces). Hard to say if longer-range is truly helpful in such a situation, since you’ll have better trained marksmen but opponents that know how to avoid making themselves easily spotted at range.

      • Rocky Mountain 9

        I think I should clarify that I’m not advocating for 7.62 NATO. Something between 5.56 and 7.62, using an intermediate bullet diameter, intermediate case capacity, and able to use long, high ballistic coefficient bullets would be ideal. Currently 6.5 Creedmoor is pretty close to the mark – it’s lighter than 7.62 NATO, recoils less, shoots much flatter, and bucks wind better. I’ve shot 6.5 Creedmoor after hours behind a 7.62 at a precision scoped rifle course, and it kinda felt like cheating. It cuts back on all of 7.62 NATO’s flaws while soundly beating 5.56 in terminal ballistics, trajectory, and long range performance. For an “overmatch” round it could still be improved; I’d love to see more of what the LSAT program is accomplishing with 6.5 CT.

        Anyway, I think I’ve made my point and I’m satisfied with it. I hope you all have a pleasant rest of your weekend!

        • Exactly.
          The 6.5, 6,8, 7mm rounds have been woefully neglected.
          One of them should have been adopted long ago, when the decision makers went from .30-06 way down to 5.56.

          • Why?

          • The .30-06 and 7.62x54R class rounds were arguably on the heavy side. Human beings are relatively fragile organisms, even compared to whitetail deer.
            The 5.56 however, is definitely on the on the low side of range and lethality, especially when body armor or battlefield obstacles come into play.
            The various 6.5, 6.8, 7mm rounds, at one time under serious consideration, were arguably “optimum”, right at the sweet spot.
            On top of which there is the bonus of ballistic coefficients actually superior to the larger diameter .30 caliber rounds such as the 7.62×51.
            You see my point don’t you?

          • “The 5.56 however, is definitely on the on the low side of range and lethality, especially when body armor or battlefield obstacles come into play.”

            When considering hard body armor, .300 Win Mag is on the low side.

            5.56mm seems right in the middle for lethality against humans. On the low side you have things like .32 ACP and 9mm, which are not very powerful but have been used in combat to poke holes in people at short distances, and on the high side you have everything from 7.62x51mm and up.

            “The various 6.5, 6.8, 7mm rounds, at one time under serious consideration, were arguably “optimum”, right at the sweet spot.”

            I’m a student of the history; the problem with this narrative is that virtually every caliber has been considered “optimum” at one point or another. I have studies going back to 1895 that say .22 is optimum. We have the 50 year period of absolute .30 cal dominance to look at. So saying a handful of studies suggest .25-28 cal really doesn’t convince, when context is applied.

            “On top of which there is the bonus of ballistic coefficients actually superior to the larger diameter .30 caliber rounds such as the 7.62×51.”

            I can design you a 5.56mm round that has a ballistic coefficient superior to 7.62x51mm. Low form factors are not exclusive to the midrange calibers. In fact, the lowest military form factors I know of are at .22 cal and .32 cal, respectively.

            “You see my point don’t you?”

            I’ve heard many arguments like it before. 🙂

          • We’ve all heard arguments like the other person’s before. I realize we’re not covering any new ground here. I doubt either of us is going to budge even a millimeter.

            When I run into arguments like these with other “gun nuts”, I like to part on a pleasant note, on something we can all agree on.

            To wit: The right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental human right. Anyone who presumes to be a champion of human rights, must be a defender of the sovereign individual’s right to keep and bear arms.

          • Hyok Kim

            Cut and run?

          • generalisimo

            I thought that it was a strategic decision that wounding an enemy, making them ineffective in combat and then requiring resources to treat and care for, were deemed superior than a mortal wound that simply removed the combatant but leave resources to continue fighting.

          • Some bureaucrat probably said that at one point, and folks have been repeating it ever since.

            It really had nothing to do with the adoption of 5.56mm.

          • 40mmCattleDog

            I want to tear my F@KIN hair out every time I hear that the 5.56 was “Designed to wound.”

        • 6.5mm Creedmoor is almost identical to 7.62mm M80A1 in weight. It is in fact so close in weight that I listed 7.62mm, .260 Remington, and 6.5mm Creedmoor all together as one round in my analysis above. We are talking a 5% difference in round weight at best.

          Of course, the 6.5mm Creedmoor is substantially flatter shooting than 7.62mm NATO. It’s a great round, don’t get me wrong. But it’s probably not what the Army’s rifles should be chambered in.

      • CavScout

        Well, you’re wrong. Conflict of the future is most likely to be done by vehicles and drones in the country, while people will still have to put boots down for cities.

        But the thing I’m not guessing at, gov and mil are more worried about ‘megacities’ in the future, because that’s the only place the enemy can survive long enough to fight. Stop trying to fight even older style wars.

        • Hyok Kim

          “Well, you’re wrong. Conflict of the future is most likely to be done by vehicles and drones in the country,……….”

          I agree.

          “….while people will still have to put boots down for cities.”

          We’re going to have battle droids for CQB.

          “But the thing I’m not guessing at, gov and mil are more worried about ‘megacities’ in the future, because that’s the only place the enemy can survive long enough to fight. Stop trying to fight even older style wars.”

          One doesn’t even need nukes for that. One could simply lay siege, cut off the power and water, and let them come to their senses.

    • matthew newton

      Never having been a member of the military, but an avid backpacker and gun owner (and pretty physically buff), frankly I start complaining once my pack hits 45lbs with water and the only way I pack heavier than that is when I am going for a week+

      I know armor, weapon, ammo, etc. adds to the load significantly, plus a lot of other gear that you generally don’t need backpacking, unless of course you are backpacking through Eastern Ukraine…

      Anyway, it costs a lot more, but where is the emphasis on disposability and lightweight materials? I know things are a lot better than they used to be, but the cut down toothbrush and the titanium spork are thing for backpackers for a reason. Grams make ounces and ounces make pounds. It seems like a little more work could go in to the M4 and M16 to shed a few ounces if you looked in to using carbon fiber and titanium selectively. A focus more on reducing the durability of some other gears towards an eye that it has a limited life time and will need to be replaced sooner. Hell, even looking at MRE packaging with an eye towards shedding a few grams.

      Heck as pointed out in this series of articles, we have a lot of vets on 100% disability due to bum backs, knees, hips and ankles from the load. It might actually be cheaper for the tax payer to invest the money to find a way to shed 5 or 10 pounds from the load at significantly increased costs. 10,000 less vets on 100% disability is I am sure up there. Between VA medical costs, possible max disability payments, etc. it puts it up there I am sure well over $50,000 per person per year. Saving just 10,000 vets from that is half a billion a year. Ignoring the human cost or the increases in efficiency of infantry.

      On the “give everyone a battle rifle capable of engaging the enemy at 16,000 yards”, as many have pointed out, I don’t see why. Maybe marksmanship potential is as uncommon as it seems, but maybe more work selecting for and focusing on marksmanship training on those who show even a scrap of potential is the way to go. Each infantryman doesn’t need to be designated marksman capable, but increasing the overall number of actual DMs I am sure would be useful. Whether equipped with an M16 or a 7.62mm lightened battle rifle.

    • Yenokh Yagoda
      • Nicks87

        Next News Network is like a low budget Alex Jones rip off.

        • Yenokh Yagoda

          You are not afraid of the evil Putin’s scientists?

          • Nicks87

            No. The real threat is Islamic fundamentalists, social justice warriors/left wing extremists. I think the US and Russia need to mend fences and unite against the common threat.

          • Yenokh Yagoda

            I’m afraid it’s not going to happen.

          • Nicks87

            That’s too bad because I feel that many Russians have a lot in common with conservative Americans in rural areas. We are hard working, believe in family values, self-defense, self-governance, we help each other within our local communities and honor traditions passed down by our ancestors. I have some Russian friends and we all enjoy doing the same things together like riding motorcycles, shooting guns, working on cars and drinking beer/vodka. People descended from farmers and laborers tend to have a lot in common regardless of what our govts tell us to think and feel about each other.

          • Yenokh Yagoda

            I feel the same. Lots of smart and good people among the Americans. I read American books and listen to American music, for the most part. But the mainstream folks just follow trends, and the trends are set up by some wicked people. You know, Frank Zappa said it best. Look it up,

            Frank Zappa: Democracy In Action (2016 reality check)

    • Rocky Mountain 9

      I think I should clarify that I’m not advocating for 7.62 NATO. Something between 5.56 and 7.62, using an intermediate bullet diameter, intermediate case capacity, and able to use long, high ballistic coefficient bullets would be ideal. Currently 6.5 Creedmoor is pretty close to the mark – it’s lighter than 7.62 NATO, recoils less, shoots much flatter, and bucks wind better. I’ve shot 6.5 Creedmoor after hours behind a 7.62 at a precision scoped rifle course, and it kinda felt like cheating. It cuts back on all of 7.62 NATO’s flaws while soundly beating 5.56 in terminal ballistics, trajectory, and long range performance. For an “overmatch” round it could still be improved; I’d love to see more of what the LSAT program is accomplishing with 6.5 CT.

      Anyway, I think I’ve made my point and I’m satisfied with it. I hope you all have a pleasant rest of your weekend!

    • Peter Nissen

      Current loads are totally unsustainable BUT from private chatter – is used to sort the wheat from the chaff so to speak and decide those solider who go onto the pointy end of the spear (and the big bucks spent upon) and those who stay in the rear with the gear (and fill out paperwork for the rest of their career). Which I see as a shame as dedicated mentally prepared troops are being ignored since they can’t pack 100+ for days on end!

  • I wunder

    I think you’re just too married to 5.56 and ars. How about carrying less rounds of one of the better calibers and training riflemen to actually be riflemen? Then you can rely on a saw shooting something light like 5.56 as support weapon for surpressive fire. It don’t have to be all or nothing. There can be compromises between the too. All I know is that I would rather be 600m down range of a rack grade m4, than 600m down range of a battle rifle, assuming equal shooter skill and all. Compare amounts of ammo carried in past wars by all militaries. I don’t think running out of ammo was generally all that common for those poor 30-06, .303, 8mm Mauser, and 54r toting men. The concepts of cqb and intermediate small arms combat haven’t really changed that much either. You still are trying to close under surpressive fire until riflemen or support can be brought to eliminate resistance. While we are talking weight importance vs non need of extended range, why not adopt a improved .22 hornet in some American180 type saw? I think you overlook American dependence on support. It isn’t hard to believe that with current equipment and training that the US would likely be routed against a serious opponent when denied the customary massive artillery and air support. Bring back riflemen!

    • I wunder

      Disclaimer for the above. Just an opinion. No expert here.

      • CommonSense23

        Do you really think the average rifle man can make hits past 200 yards?

        • DorfMeister

          Yes. It’s part of the expectation for Army Infantryman and Marines shoot out to 600 yds. I’d have no problems grabbing a rack m4 or m16, sighting it and engaging a target at 300 meters

          • Ευστάθιος Παλαιολόγος

            I think the question was referring to “combat conditions”
            In those cases the average soldier will not be as effective as on the firing range. Fatigue, fear of death or injuries, bad visibility, a… non cooperating target (moving, hiding, covering, firing back), and much more will limit the average soldier’s ability to detect, identify and accurately engage targets.
            Plus, if the enemy is more than 300m away then probably his supporting assets will engage the friendly positions more freely with more devastating weapons such as artillery, mortars, HMGs, Light Cannons etc

            flanker7

          • 40mmCattleDog

            I could literally take a random person off the street and within 2 days teach them how to hit at 500 yards on a nice clear static range with range markers, spotting scopes and nothing else going on. Hitting someone at 200 yards in combat while being shot at, explosions going off around you and your buddy bleeding out and adrenaline pumping through your body is completely different. Every objective study has shown the same conclusion, your average infantryman cannot hit past maximum 300 yards under stress.

          • Nicks87

            Agreed. Most people are only about 50% as accurate under stress as they are when not under stress. Everyone handles stress differently and the ones that can handle stress the best are few and far between. I say this as someone who has literally seen hundreds of people fail the Air Force’s basic rifle qualification. Which consists of 40 rnds at 25m (simulated 300m) range.

          • CommonSense23

            There is a huge difference between making hits at 600 yards on a range, versus 100 yards in combat.

          • James Kachman

            Since links are fussy, look up the youtube documentaries on the ACR program. A trained rifleman with an M16A2 struggled to get effective hits out to 200 yards when placed on the clock in a competitive team environment and with physical exertion. I know rifleman *can* get hits out to 600 yds, I know the Marines still qualify out to 500m. But the limiting factor always has and always will be the operator.

          • cwolf

            I’ve never seen a qualification range at 600 yds. But things change.

            wwwDOTslideshareDOTnet/James8981/marksmanship-71496418

            wwwDOTslideshareDOTnet/James8981/combat-field-fire-cff

            wwwDOTslideshareDOTnet/James8981/marksmanship-diagnosis-and-training

            wwwDOTslideshareDOTnet/James8981/rifle-score-card

        • Porty1119

          In combat? Not necessarily. On a range, even using field positions? Easily, though I tend to see better results from guys with irons compared to optics- many shooters use optics as a crutch and never develop the fundamentals.

          • tazman66gt

            Technology over training.

    • yodamiles

      The whole notion of everyone is a rifle is nothing more than idealistic and romanticization of war. Our experience in Vietnam (and the Soviet experience fighting with the German) shows the superiority of large automatic firing that sacrifice accuracy for pure firepower. The truth is that you cannot make everyone a rifleman (resource intensive) especially in large army and more over….what’s the point of everyone being a rifleman when you can’t even spot the enemy? The Taliban tactic is pretty basic: rpk mag dump (or belt) at US troop at extremely long range and move. By the time we get general sense of direction…they are gone

    • I don’t recall swearing my allegiance to 5.56mm, or AR-15s. I think that’s something people have ascribed to me that’s never been supported by my writing.

      You bring up past wars – wars where submachine guns had to be integral to the squad, where bolt action rifles could only fire a few rounds per minute. I imagine running out of ammo was not common for them, no, because they simply couldn’t fire fast enough. A full power cartridge was fine at the time, and it allowed the unification of the rifleman and machine gunner’s ammo, which was handy from time to time.

      It seems as though every single time the weight issue is brought up, someone says “well why don’t you just have us adopt .22 LR/.22 Hornet/2mm Kolibri while you’re at it?” Gee, I wonder why. What requirements do those rounds meet? What battlefield purpose would they serve? I leave you to think about that, since you brought it up.

      Finally, why would we deprive our infantry of the support of combined arms? That is just stupid.

      • Lose_Game

        Nathaniel, I appreciate your contributions to TFB greatly. They are well-written, lengthy, and informative–a sharp contrast to some of this blog’s other content.

        It’s interesting to note that this stuff is hardly new, and we’re currently watching history repeat itself. We saw it with the M16A4, the M16A2, and the M14. The concept of “overmatch” is just a modern-day continuation of what we have always seen the American military: an overemphasis on long-range individual marksmanship, one that quickly falls apart when the nation is at war.

        • Well, I’m tremendously flattered by that comment. Thank you for reading, I really appreciate it.

        • Nicks87

          Agreed. The logistics of putting every draftee through advanced marksmanship training is damn near impossible. When less than 25% of the country’s population is fit for military duty an even smaller percentage would be able to gain the proficiency to fully take advantage of a long range system.

          • iksnilol

            Wasn’t there a stat about how only 10% of riflemen could take advantage of a rifle with more than 500 meter range?

          • Porty1119

            And they don’t need to. A couple of men with DMRs in each platoon should be trained to do so- and 77gr 5.56 IS capable of reaching out, with little to no weight penality- but your average infantryman is well-served with a 300yd rifle-optic combination.

          • cwolf

            There is no draft. Almost all of the combat shooting is done by Infantry MOS (sort of, generally).

            The original briefing’s concept was giving Infantry the latest technology faster (but not the other 80%). Therefore costs and fielding times, etc. go down dramatically…. in theory.

            I’m not sure how realistic it is. Logistics, training, etc.

            More importantly, all of the proposed guns and calibers require extensive reliability testing, new training courses/ranges, new contracts, funding, and new manufacturing capabilities.

            And, awkward truth, just because the new bullet-gun-sight promises accurate 1,200m engagements doesn’t mean that actually happens.

            Not sure what the other 80% will feel like. And then you get into the non-Infantry folks assigned to an Infantry unit. What do they shoot?

            So, neat ideas meet reality.

      • I wunder

        Bolt actions? Excluding the Paciffic, the US was fielding M1s. It wouldn’t be a problem to spray and pray away a combat load quickly with a M1. .22 hornet can easily push a 55gr bullet close to 2700 fps. Comparing that to 5.56 855a1 from a m4 at 2900ish fps, it isn’t that much of a difference. Also, I didn’t say off the shelf hornet, I said improved/modified. I never said anything about depriving anyone of combined arms. I said that I think that the current training would leave US forces unprepared to fight a serious enemy without the massive air/artillery that they are used to. You can only carry so much ammo regardless of caliber. Without accurate rifle fire or air/artillery support, you can’t miss fast enough to win in a battle where the enemy actually contests a battle (a real military advisory ) instead of hit an run tactics(advisories in current Us engagements).

        • I’m confused, I thought your argument was that it’s hard to blow an entire combat load of 7.62mm that quickly? It sounds like you’re not saying that. Maybe I misunderstood you?

          • I wunder

            That wasn’t my argument. You said amounts of ammo in the past wasn’t a problem due to bolt actions being prolific. I said the US issued M1s would burn ammo as fast as you wanted. Argue what you want, but when you face someone like the PLA in cqb-intermediate combat without customary air/artillery support, you won’t be able to miss fast enough with the piss poor riflemen skills that are so common. We need a early agr Spartan model for rifle marksmanship. Also, if being able to out range your opponents (engage them before they are able to engage you) explain the m1 Arbams showing against Iraq in the Gulf War. Their whole concept was long range accurate fire outside the engagement abilities of Iraqi T72s.

          • That sounds like the same argument I was making; combat loads needs to be higher for weapons with higher fire rates.

    • Grant

      There is a good reason that every major military power moved away from full power rounds like the .30-06. For general issue to a majority of riflemen, they are a total waste.

      After WW2, our military realized that almost no infantry would engage beyond about 300 yards. This is not surprising. Few soldiers are dumb enough to just stand around waiting to be shot. Trying to hit a moving target wearing a decent camouflage uniform with iron sights is pretty difficult at extended range. If they are using cover it is even harder.

      It is also pretty rare to have terrain where you have a clear shot at 600+ yards. Knowing all of this I don’t think that 5.56×45 was a poor choice. The Russians also adopted 5.45×39 a round with similar performance to 5.56. The Chinese have the 5.8×42. The British were pushing for NATO to adopt 4.85×49 in the late 70’s.

      Given the weight limitations the infantryman deals with adopting a round like the 6.5 Creedmoor or even 7mm-08 for a GPMG round might make sense. Both are capable of shooting high B.C. bullets that will shoot flatter and stay supersonic for hundreds of yards more than M80 ball. Both would also weigh slightly less than belted .308.

      I could also see several soldiers issued a DMR type rifle in either the standard .308 or one of the newer 6.5 calibers if you need more reach in certain theaters like Afghanistan.

      Overall, given the lack of training and support available to most of our adversaries, I can’t see dumping 5.56 so we can go back to 1950. Maybe someone should come up with a comic book featuring Gomer Pyle as the new superhero ‘OverMatch’.

    • Samuel Millwright

      Wow, way to miss the point entirely, spout nothing but false information, and prove to everyone here you’re a moron by literally having not ONE opinion that is actually based on facts.

      • I wunder

        Ad homonym much? Miss what point? How dare me disagree in this echo chamber!

        • Samuel Millwright

          It’s not TFB you’re disagreeing with, it’s around a century of accrued data, highly controlled studies done in accordance with the scientific method, and the body of established knowledge on how the human organism responds under stress of both psychological and physical exertion in nature that you’re disagreeing with…

          Sure, you can have a different opinion on a damn blog comments section… That’s perfectly fine!

          But if the opinion contradicts all of the above simultaneously, you’re going to RIGHTFULLY be called a moron by someone like me every time!

    • iksnilol

      But a rack grade M4 is just fine at 600 meters. 308 has horrible range for its weight and recoil.

      • Samuel Millwright

        Yup,

        I shoot far more than a lot of guys actually in the military do any time before they deploy and i actually do better at beyond 300 meters with 5.56 than i can EVER hope to with7.62 NATO or etc!

        This isn’t by a small margin, nor is it a familiarity thing/me gimping one caliber by choosing better optics etc for the other (I’m looking at you ACR program!!), and I’ve even blown really shocking amounts of money practicing with nothing but 7.62 at least once a week @ 200 rounds per session for 4 months before attempting a head to head evaluation!

        Frankly, i was shocked, horrified, disgusted, and angry as hell at the DOD afterwards!

        7.62 NATO sucks… BAD!

        • Porty1119

          Hear, hear. SCHV is the way to go for the infantry rifle.

          • I wunder

            You are not getting the HV part out of short barreled 5.56 rifles though.

          • iksnilol

            860 m/s is plenty fast.

          • Porty1119

            That is true. 14.5″ is a poor barrel length for a general-purpose rifle in my opinion, but this can be mitigated by different propellants.

          • Samuel Millwright

            Don’t get me wrong, I’m perfectly cool with the idea of replacing our current SCHV with a new & improved even better version of itself…

            I’ve seen several things recently that absolutely make me believe that there’s still a bunch more performance capable of being wrung out of an upgraded 5.56×45 NATO compatible round, and i absolutely believe wholeheartedly said ammunition should be made tested perfected and adopted as an interim solution to give us more time.

          • You’re welcome. 🙂

    • Blackhorse

      This isn’t a solution to anything.
      A larger caliber rifle (ie 308/7.62 NATO) as standard issue will cause more problems than fix.
      More weight with a heavier rifle, magazines, and ammunition.
      They can issue M16A2/M16A4 for out to 600 m or even 308/7.62 NATO for a anything longer.
      Larger caliber rifles will ruin the CQB that is going to be the majority of engagements with larger urban areas than ever before.
      You also don’t want a SAW in 556 if your standard issue is larger caliber.
      Its a waste of resources and money when the military has more important things to deal with.

  • 40mmCattleDog

    Overmatch is one of the dumbest concepts devised by the military. An M4 is not supposed to “overmatch” a GPMG or DMR in range or power. Did we forget we have our own GPMGs and DMRs in service filling the role fine? 5.56 is perfectly adequate for what your average nfantryman can actually do and thats hit a man size target at 300 yards and realistically thats it. Expecting every soldier to be his own self contained unit capable of taking in any threat out to 1000m is a fallacy when the squad already has the tools to deal with the job and has access to the most powerful weapon in the inventory already: the radio.

    I mean didnt we learn this lesson from vietnam when we went up against AKs with M14s? Firepower > accuracy 95% of the time. 5.56 is perfectly adapted to maximum squad firepower and fits right into U.S. doctrine: Fix em in place with overwhelming firepower and let the arty and air boys blow them to hell.

    We already have the M4A1 and M855A1, were good in that area. We should be investing in things like that 10lb 60mm mortar or raytheon 40mm missle to augment the platooms firepower not uselessly trying to develop an antiquated .308 MBR.

    • JSmath

      I haven’t committed any of it to memory, but I’m 90% sure the overmatch concept/presentations compare our GPMGs and DMRs to foreign equivalents to make the argument that our equipment is “overmatched”, in whatever categories you match up each equivalent to. The M4 is considered on par with the 5.45 equivalent. The x51 is considered overmatched by x54R.

      I didn’t get the whole campaign argument was to replace everything. I don’t see anything wrong with (completely) replacing 7.62×51 with something like 6.5CM and swapping an M4 additional 6.5CM DMR or bolt gun per platoon.

      • Two things:

        1.) “The x51 is considered overmatched by x54R.”
        The problem with this is that it’s plainly not true. Their ballistics are nearly identical.

        2.) “I didn’t get the whole campaign argument was to replace everything.”

        The campaign argument is absolutely to replace everything, including replacing infantry rifles with weapons in calibers that are supposed to “overmatch” PKMs.

        http://i.imgur.com/oIWpbvD.png

        • ReanerF

          Why does that slide list an SVD’s effective range as both 1000m (extremely generous) and then 1500m (!!!)? You’d think these powerpoint warriors would at least bother proofreading their own rather dubious claims.

          • I am not sure why Jim Schatz believed that the SVD and PKM have such a long effective range. One of life’s great mysteries.

          • Nicks87

            PKM for sure but not SVD. With belt fed machine guns you have a “beaten zone” as opposed to a single round impacting the target. At greater distances the beaten zone opens up but is still effective on an area target.

          • Brett baker

            DUH, how are you going to sell a new uberrifle and cartridge if you can’t show we’re outgunned?

          • That is one obvious conclusion…

          • Kivaari

            I think there is some benefit to the 7.62x54mm when using the long range ammo compared to 7.62x51mm M80. From memory the 54r used a 174 boat tailed bullet that simply flies farther. Like the Finns discovered in 1939 when they captured millions of rounds of Soviet mg ammo. It was found to be “long range” giving several hundred more meters compared to the 147 gr. standard ball. Finns re-chambered their rifles to handle the mg ammo. They marked the barrels with a “D” (long range).

          • 7.62x54R has D Ball, sure, but 7.62×51 has M118LR/Mk.316, which has identical ballistics.

            Also, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a PKM with a belt of yellow tip, so I think D Ball is pretty rare. I’d have to check the ammo surveys to be sure, though.

          • Kivaari

            That was sort of what I was getting at. It is the ammunition that can make the difference. I had 500 rds of “D” and it did not have the yellow tip. Probably because it was packaged as “match” ammunition. The M240 can perform as well as the PKM so that there is no overmatch.

          • iksnilol

            I’ve read of SVDs being used effectively at 1000 meterrs or so. But 1500 meters for a .30 caliber GPMG is a smidge optimistic (even for an area target).

          • Major Tom

            I’ve read of SVD’s being able to be used effectively til about 1200 meters. After that, even 7N1 ammunition is area target at best.

          • iksnilol

            Yeah, me too. Though you got to be a hella good shot. That’s about the same as using a 308 at 1200 meters.

            A cartridge which I would’t recommend past 800 meters for general purpose use.

          • Yenokh Yagoda

            Russian snipers must pass an exam and that includes shooting 1300m. If I’m not mistaken, have to hit it 3 out of 5 times.

          • iksnilol

            With 7.62x54mmR ?

            Respect, son.

          • Yenokh Yagoda

            You understand Russian? There is a manual that describes that examination process. There is a ballistic table too, hit probabilities from various ranges, trajectories, dispersions. I can post a link.

          • iksnilol

            I can understand it, yeah. Would be nice to see it.

          • Yenokh Yagoda

            Tried to find it and couldn’t find it. But it is also in the article from the “Soldier of Fortune” journal. You can download it here:

            yadi_sk/i/WHeGJ70lhz5RE

            Look on page 40

          • iksnilol

            Can you just screenshot it? The link doesn’t work when I search it up.

          • Yenokh Yagoda

            You need to put a dot instead of the underscore.

          • PK
          • iksnilol

            Thank you.. blessed are thee, of improvised screenshots.

          • PK

            Decent resolution if you click them, but not a screenshot, I tried that and it wasn’t legible… went with PDF to XPS to PNG. It works well, although thankfully I don’t need to do that very often!

          • iksnilol

            very good resolution at that.

          • PK
          • PK

            Thanks for this!

          • Mordekhai Porkschnitzel

            SVD comes in two versions: 240mm twist and 320mm twist, and has the range 1000m or 1300m. The first is for AP rounds.

        • mkqwudov

          The list makes no sense because the likeliest state adversaries use lighter calibers. Russia uses 5.45 for its individual infantry rifles and LMGs. And I don’t understand how 7.62x54R is anywhere close to .338. It is all complete BS.

        • JSmath

          How much more clearly did I need to word that first sentence for you to comprehend that I don’t agree with it?

          • I didn’t think you were supporting overmatch, I was addressing your questions about their proposals.

          • JSmath

            I appreciate the followup on the intent of the overmatch theory, but I didn’t ask anything about x51 vs x54r, I was just quoting the nonsense claim for the person who asked, hence “is supposed to be” overmatched.

          • Yes, I understand that. What’s the problem?

      • 40mmCattleDog

        Still don’t understand how the hell 7.62 NATO is considered over-matched by 7.62x54r? The rounds are so close in performance the difference is completely negligible even if x54R holds a small advantage. Our small arms situation is not the military’s biggest issue right now yet were spending billions on more useless concepts like this overmatch crap.

        • Cal S.

          The problem is you’ve got a bunch of grey-heard generals with heads full of idioms and gun-store logic that they got dogmatic about. Now, they refuse to change their opinions based on information available to anyone in this age of information.

        • FulMetlJakit

          I think you hit the point, twice.
          How does an (arguably) less accurate rifle, with a usually lower powered, lower quality optic, with older ammunition, “overmatch” a higher precision, (although arguable “less” resilant, although certainly more expensive)

          And, as a MAJOR point, more varied?
          How many different DMRs have we fielded in the past decade.5?

          , more recently designed weapon system?
          240 vs PKM is almost a wash, besides the (again) cost and weight. But cost is subjective.
          And there is the point,
          $$$$
          Rich people get richer slower, when you pay them less.
          And they will charge as much as they can.

          • FulMetlJakit

            Addendum;
            And that issue is why we see the slow adoption of new rounds.
            Why field an entirely new cartridge, which requires more expensive investment
            (Component life due to vastly increased production schedule)
            and significant weapon redesign or mod,
            versus selling a “new & (slightly!) improved” version of an existing platform.
            The only thing really pushing new cartridges is the commercial market (and even then, limited adoption, and most of it is not a measurably significant enough improvement)
            and the odd (and wise) future jump, like CT.
            Call me a cynic…
            I prefer “pragmatist”

            Also, a “first” comment on TFB… I sincerely hope that stays, to your everlasting shame.

        • Yenokh Yagoda

          It’s not 7.62 NATO over-matched by 7.62×54. It’s the rifles that are used by NATO that are over-matched by the SVD.

          For example, M110 has requirements of 1.3moa and its effective range is 1000m. It has 20″ barrel.

          The SVD has 24″ barrel and its requirements are, for the sniper version, 1moa. That results in 1300m effective range.

          But the more common DMR version has requirements of 1.5moa and it results in 1000m range.

    • Kivaari

      Good comment.

    • The Bellman

      Yea this is somewhat silly in the face of the US military’s long history of and reputation for combined arms and superior organization.

      I feel like this comes from someone having a fetish for infantry and the infantry rifle straight out of the movies as opposed to a world where the infantry rifle hasn’t been the primary killer for a hundred years.

    • noob

      Hmm pity the FN P90 can’t reach out far enough. The soviets took berlin with PPSh-41armed regiments who would ride up hanging onto the back of a tank and then hose down the enemy with drums full of 7.62 Tokarev.

      If subgun infantry for close urban operations worked before it can work again. Anyway whats the deal with defining an infantry formation by their weapon? A weapon is a tool in a toolbox. A club in the golf bag.

      The thing that defines infantry is that they can go into a building or into a tunnel where a vehicle cannot go. (They can also make locals feel better with a smile and a wave, while for instance the A10 warthog tends to make civillians feel worse when they see its grin)

      • Jason Culligan

        The Soviets also had appalling losses compared to their rifle-armed German opponents right up until the end of the war.

        Arming infantry today with SMG’s would be utterly pointless. They offer no significant weight gain over the M4 (the P90 for example is just 300 grams lighter) and lose the ability to reach out to 500m or penetrate advanced body armour.

        • Hyok Kim

          “The Soviets also had appalling losses compared to their rifle-armed German opponents right up until the end of the war.”

          True, but they still won the war, so this does prove there is a lot more to mere kill ratios at the tactical level in winning the war.

      • int19h

        What would be the benefit of using SMGs when we have assault rifles?

        • noob

          I was thinking about the p90 having a smaller cartridge which would help with weight, and you’d get 50 rounds per magazine.

          • Biggest problem with the P90 is carrying the spare mags. They are massively long (10″-10.5″) and due to the extended feeding carrossel that sticks out the side, you cannot stack two P90 mags in a pouch.

        • Out of the Blue

          Besides, the best way to think of an assault rifle is as an evolution of the submachine gun.

      • jono102

        The problem with the “Tool Bag” approach is it doesn’t work at the individual soldier level. It is also part of the problem itself as a “soldiers tool bag” can only be so big and carry so much before it is a hindrance, an idea a lot of planners or idea fairy’s don’t seem to grasp. The “Tool Bag” tend to only apply to section commanders and up, with them selecting the weapon system from their team to employ be it LMG, DMR or 40mm etc.

        • noob

          I guess the man and the weapon as an indivisible system are considered section leader’s tools. Seems a shame that there couldn’t be a choice of weapons to draw from before a mission which shared a manual of arms depending on the expected conditions – eg closer ranges and lots of mounting and dismounting vehicles calls for more 14.5 inch uppers today. Open terrain means you swap out uppers for full length 22 inch barreled uppers.

          • iksnilol

            Meh, a 22 inch barrel in 5.56 won’t help you past 500-800 meters where the 14.5 inch upper works just fine with an ACOG.

          • Yenokh Yagoda

            There is a video on Youtube of someone shooting M4 from 800m. He hit it like 2 or 3 times out of 10, but the bullets couldn’t pinch through a cardbox that he used as a target.

          • iksnilol

            And I saw a thread by a guy that did the same and he managed to punch through. Even get a decent hit percentage (at 800 and 1000 meters IIRC).

            http://looserounds.com/2013/08/05/what-will-the-m4-do-at-1000-yards/

            EDIT: Linky link.

          • Yenokh Yagoda

            He used 77 gr rounds in the end that performed good.

          • iksnilol

            He also had no issues hitting with 55 grain ammo at 900 meters (1000 yards) and a 14.5 inch barrel.

          • Yenokh Yagoda

            No he had no issues with 62 grain. But I am impressed. M4 is a good rifle.

          • iksnilol

            He fired 55 grain at 800 meters and landed plenty of hits on the man size target.

          • CommonSense23

            Yeah that’s bull.

          • Total bull.

          • Yenokh Yagoda

            I think it was the same fellow from the article below. Location looks the same. He was also shooting from the rooftop of his car.

            “I fired 30 rounds at the target and was able to make two hits on paper. Both holes where out of round. I feel shooting the 55 grain this far is a waste of time.

            That is how I remembered that it couldn’t punch through the cardboard. I thought then, and I think he said that on Youtube that the bullets almost stuck in it.

          • noob

            Indeed the 14.5 is acceptable with a muzzle velocity of 2700 ft/s to 2900 ft/s when using M855 62gr.

            but the same ammo in your pack could be leaving a 20″ barrel at between 2900ft/s to 3100ft/s.

            By choosing the shorter barrel when you will be walking in open terrain, it is as if you are shooting from an extra 100 yards away.

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/106400b612af35e17dfbca048435186abf561b9b54788636cbe90c3d7bee7ea9.png

          • iksnilol

            Yes, but it doesn’t really affect holdovers or range. That’s what the 20 inch fetishists seem unable to understand. The difference isn’t there in actual use.

          • Yeah, but why in TYOOL 2017 are you shooting M855?

          • Grant

            I have always wondered about this. Especially after Somalia when there were multiple reports about the skinnies over there absorbing multiple hits with M855 to no effect. At the time I thought the obvious solution was to go back to M193 which has much more consistant fragmentation than M855.

            Changing over time to a 16″ barrel and gradually replacing the 14.5″ M4 uppers as they wear out would have been another option.

            Now with the availability of 77 grain OTM or the newer M855a1 there are better ammo options to increase the killing power of 5.56. Still, having the option of picking either the current 14.5″ upper or an optional 18″-20″ would not be a bad idea. Since we already have piles of M16a2 rifles in warehouses somewhere why not pull them apart and make up some 20″ uppers that can be issued to troops patrolling the rural areas of Afghanistan. Fitted with a 2.5-10x optic they could be issued to some of the better shots in the platoon at a much lower cost than the insane dollars HK is getting for their DMR. The weight penalty is much lower as well.

    • gunsandrockets

      “I mean didnt we learn this lesson from vietnam when we went up against AKs with M14s?”

      Isn’t that a myth? Where was this encounter of M14 vs AK?

      Even the U.S.M.C. in Vietnam was being issued M16 rifles during 1967. And before then the primary enemy encountered were Viet Cong, the better units of which had the SKS for rifles, and even then not many cartridges per person.

      • Major Tom

        Ia Drang Valley, 1965. 7th Cav (Hal Moore’s outfit) engaged by NVA. Some of the troops engaged had M14’s (notably SGM Plumbley) and reported no real problems.

        NVA troops were well-equipped at that time compared to the Viet Cong carrying AK’s, RPD’s and other weapons.

        And that’s one of the earliest engagements. Numerous others in Vietnam had M14’s vs AK’s with limited or no deficiency of the M14 relative to the AK. (Indeed in some engagements the M14 performed significantly better than first generation M16’s. Particularly in terms of reliability and ballistics, M193 ammo being notoriously deflected by jungle foliage that 7.62 NATO had no problem with.) First-generation AK’s weren’t significantly lighter than Western arms like the M14 or FAL and they were all accessorized identically on both sides of the Iron Curtain at the time.

        • iksnilol

          Foliage deflection is a myth.

          • Major Tom

            I’ve seen bullets deflect off trees. Trees are foliage.

          • iksnilol

            Well, I think 5.56 can go through a tree trunk just as well/bad as a 308 can.

          • Major Tom

            It’s the fronds. Pine and spruce fronds are very bendy and spongy and can deflect many things that strike them. Sometimes, even .308/.30-06/7.62x54R is deflected off those.

            I’ve never known a bullet that shoot completely through a trunk though. Even .50 cal can’t make it.

          • CommonSense23

            Please show me one actual real world study showing foliage deflection is a a issue with M193 and not M80.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Really? 5.45x39mm can do it. That doesn’t make it more terminally effective, but it can penetrate a modest tree trunk.
            https://youtu.Be/547BKysByqM

          • n0truscotsman

            SHHHHH!!!!! 😉

          • BeGe1

            I don’t know many rounds that don’t go through a trunk…unless you live in redwood forests or you’re talking about the occasional gigantic oak or something.

            Most rifle rounds penetrate most trunks…not where where you’re getting your info.

          • Kivaari

            Any caliber rifle bullet gets deflected by brush.

      • cwolf

        Depends on ‘when’ in RVN.

        The Army deployed with M14s early in the war. The M16 was developed later.

        Some non-Infantry units still had M14 at the end of the war.

        • gunsandrockets

          Specifically, which Army unit deployed with M14 rifles to Vietnam? I don’t think any infantry unit did. And even if they did, when did that M14 armed infantry ever encounter enemy forces armed with Kalashnikov rifles?

          • cwolf

            The Viet Nam war has fuzzy start dates (pick one). The US had military advisors in RVN well before 1965 (first official combat units arrive).

            The M14 was the primary infantry weapon in Vietnam until it was replaced by the M16 in 1966–1969. Issuing the weapon (like all weapons) had to be phased in.

            We issued M14s to the ARVN (SVN) soldiers as well.

            Even in last years of RVN, I still had to qualify with the M14 and my unit was still armed with M14s (not in direct combat). My memory is some infantry units still used the M14 in the sniper role even after the M16 was fielded (although snipers used lots of weapons).

            I have no way to tell you what units engaged what enemy with what weapons when. I’m sure there are history experts who can.

          • gunsandrockets

            I don’t think ARVN got any M14, ever. Before the mass production of M16 kicked in ARVN was equipped with a mix of U.S. Korean war era equipment, primarily M1 rifles, M2 carbines and BAR.

            I base this on the Jac Weller book, “Fire and Movement: bargain basement warfare in the Far East”

            https://www.amazon.com/Fire-Movement-Bargain-Basement-Warfare-East/dp/1581605285

          • gunsandrockets

            Here is an interesting list of U.S. Army formation deployed to the Vietnam conflict.

            http://the45thsurg.freeservers.com/photo3.html

            Can you name which one was armed with M14 rifles when first deployed to Vietnam? Certainly not the Airborne units.

            The only plausible candidates are the 1st and 25th Infantry Divisions. But I bet even those infantry units came into Vietnam with XM16E1 rifles, not M14 rifles.

    • n0truscotsman

      I dont know why people think a 7.62 NATO or 6.5 Grendel or whatever besides the 5.56 is going to somehow magically circumvent the trend of 300 meter and below typical individual infantrymen engagement ranges and enhance squad lethality.

      Its gone beyond sanity at this point and ventured into magical thinking.

      And with emerging technologies (i.e. micro uavs, miniaturized precision guided missiles, laser guided lightened mortars, etc), the discussion about 7.62 again has lost even more credibility.

  • hal

    Politically incorrect perhaps but something that must in the equation for load capacity and endurance are women in infantry jobs.

    • iksnilol

      Not really. Do you think it’s only a problem for women to carry 50 kg on their back for days at a time?

  • Jeremy

    Boy, these leaders who endorses a larger caliber will feel really dumb when their infantrymen equipped with 600 yards-reaching, 7mm+ caliber individual uber-weapons gets blasted from a kilometer with underbarrel-launched guided missiles.

    We have something good with 5.56 CTA Carbine, let’s stick to it.

    • cwolf

      They get blasted today with RPG (the universal weapon). Enemy uses it as direct fire, indirect fire, and anti-aircraft. Ranges vary by model.

      See also Battle of Wanat.

  • Walter E. Kurtz

    Nathaniel, I agree that America’s Soldiers and Marines are way overburdened with gear. This is a not a new problem but one that has been growing for many years. Technological advances in the form of body armor, communications, NVGs, laser designators, etc. have been a double edged sword. I can assure you (and your readers) that the senior leadership of the Army is very aware of the problem…but it is a tough habit to break. As for the overwatch/calibers issue rest assured that your Army is well-informed of this issue as well. After 16 years of almost constant combat, we have a great many SMEs who know how to kill people in infantry combat, both in urban environments and in wide open spaces. Rifles are one way to do that…but there are many others. It is being looked at but there is no panic that we are under-gunned or outmatched. Don’t believe all the hype. I’d tell you how I know all this….but then I’d have to kill you. The horror….the horror….

  • Ευστάθιος Παλαιολόγος

    Another excellent read!
    Thank you sir

    flanker7

  • ReanerF

    Note that despite the apparent recognition of the problem of overloading, weight has only increased since 2003, with a GAO report from this year (GAO-17-431, page number 9) citing average weight loads of 119/117 pounds for Army/Marine infantry.

    (posted again without link since apparently that catches comment for approval requirement, simply google GAO-17-431 for your own link).

    • Yep, I’m using the 2003 report because the data is so comprehensive, but the problem has only gotten worse.

      • mkqwudov

        Some of the data in the report is also incorrect. I recently went over it to put together how much weight a soldier is currently wearing and noticed that some weights are clearly wrong. For example, the weight of an M4 rifle is stated as 4.24 lb, whereas the army manual states that the weight is actually over 6 lb. And there are plenty more such discrepancies. The weight of armor is probably most contentious because it is stated as 17.5 lb, but at some point it actually weighed around 30 lb and even the current “light-weight” armor is about 21 lb.

        Honestly, I recommend going over the numbers yourself. It is quite scary how simple items can add up.

        • iksnilol

          Maybe the backpacking guys who shorten and drill holes in toothbrushes were onto something?

          • GaryOlson

            I can’t wait to see your design for perforated armor. In theory, a small enough aperture on the perforations would reduce the incoming projectile to confetti. This would require theoretically impervious material spun in infinitesimal small fibers.

          • iksnilol

            Wouldn’t work against 40mm grenades, that’s where the future is headin’, son.

            40mm grenade carbines for general issue, 40mm howdah pistols as sidearms, 25mm beltfed grenade LMGs. 40mm PIKE missiles instead of sniper rifles.

            It’s gonna be an amazing future… no ear pro will be necessarry due to everyone being deaf from all the explosions.

    • cwolf

      wwwDOTslideshareDOTnet/James8981/2007-rpt-lighteningtheload

  • Risto Kantonen

    This is an interesting series.

    Any changes to a part in a large system must be evaluated from a complete systems analysis perspective. A military is no exception and as such, a standard service rifle, the caliber it is chambered in, weight and all other factors must be considered as part of the whole system. Failure to do that will invariably cause all kinds of problems.

    For instance, according to FDF Colonel Pasi Virtanen stated in an FDF podcast where field artillery was discussed that:

    “Artillery traditionally has a very significant role in causing
    casualties and affecting the enemy outside of the effective range of
    direct fire weapons. This hasn’t really changed over the years, for example in the conflict in Ukraine, we can state that according to
    studies, 85% of all losses are still produced with artillery.”

    Which is probably true for Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and many other engagements as well. In any case, the decisions regarding changes in equipment etc. should be based on sound science and evidence based facts. But given the trackrecord of politicians and other decision makers, that’s wishful thinking, sadly.

  • Cal S.

    Wow. Unless they hurry up with that mechanized exoskeleton concept, our soldiers risk being outclassed in one of the most important elements of warfare that has transcended the ages: maneuver.

    • Hell, the powered exoskeleton, even if it is equipped with magical, unobtanium-powered, Law of Thermodynamuics defying stuff, will cripple light infantry mobility.

      At least anywhere that isn’t hard ball surface, that is.

  • Ark

    Hit the nail on the head. I cannot imagine trucking 110+ pounds through the mountains at altitude and being expected to close to an enemy under fire. It’s lunacy. I’m surprised soldiers aren’t dumping their kits on the ground as soon as they come under fire. This is a breaking point, and policy changes that add even one more ounce are unacceptable.

    It might not cost wars, but it’ll cost lives. It’ll cost lives when our guys are unable to exploit opportunities or get out of sudden danger due to being too loaded down with crap. They won’t be killed due to “overmatch”, they’ll be killed due to immobility.

    Unfortunately it seems some lives will need to be lost to dissuade the Army from this policy.

  • MIKE

    M1 GARAND

    • Palmier

      Yes…that is the name of one of the Armies past mistakes in this field.

  • feetpiece _

    Since women are now part of the design criteria expect to see an MP5/10K sized solution to 300m lethality. Necessity is the mother of all invention after all.

    10mm explosive tipped, caseless ammo…

    • No one

      Prohibited by the Hague.

      • Paul Epstein

        The Hague convention of 1899 specified only bullets “which expand or flatten easily in the human body”- explosives are not mentioned directly. The US never ratified that agreement, and unlike the 1907 Hague convention, which includes no such amendment, it has never been used as the basis for war crime convictions. US forces are arguably violating that prohibition right now with current 5.56 ammunition, which if it does what it is supposed to most definitely easily expands in the human body. More realistically, in WW2 both the Germans and the Soviets issued explosive bullets in their standard rifle cartridges, and this was never brought up as a violation of the Hague convention on their part.

        More importantly, for anyone to be brought up on trial for this, it would have to be by an adversary who has agreed to also be bound by the 1899 convention. The 1899 agreement specifically applies only to wars between signatories, unlike the 1907 convention.

        • cwolf

          Raufoss Mk 211?

      • Kirk Newsted

        We didn’t sign that bit of the Hague Convention. We’ve only followed it out of good-natured idiocy.

      • cwolf

        Raufoss Mk 211?

    • iksnilol

      because muh womenz are so fragile and weak. wah, waah.

    • SuperFunkmachine

      The st peters-burg convention bans them.

  • noob

    That’s a soldier’s goal in war – to win.

    von clausewitz said “war is policy conducted by alternative means.”

    That’s the politician’s goal in war – to gain power.

    From this mismatch and the moral hazard it contains rivers of blood, tears and bile have poured out.

  • USMC03Vet

    It’s true. Sometimes the packs were too heavy to get on your back yourself so you’d need help from someone. If you were in a helo company having to one shoulder your pack to secure the LZ or to get on the bird was killer. When MOLLE gear came out the Marine Corps infantry quickly broke it resulting in a hasty replacement to a new pack design with an internal frame so if it broke you could still hump it unlike the external MOLLE frame.

  • Fruitbat44

    I wonder if how much a soldier carries has become a sort of test of how “macho” the military is. Okay sometimes manpacking a shedload of gear is the only way to get it there. But it does seem that the weight carried on a routine basis has been increasing over the years.

    And the next war . . . what is the next war going to be like? There’s a lot of speculation; but being a 100% certain what form any future conflicts will take is, probably, a losing game.

    • Porty1119

      I personally suspect that it will either be domestic, some stupid mid-intensity conflict started by failed foreign policy, or another COIN/nation-building exercise in military adventurism.

  • USMC03Vet

    Forward march…..🤣👌

  • int19h

    While we’re talking about carry weight, it seems like body armor should at least get a mention. A lot of that weight is in armor. Does it need to be?

    I understand the concern for the safety of the soldiers. But at the same time, as you rightly point out, more weight means less mobility, and less mobility can also get you killed.

    The current arrangement with near-universal adoption of level 4 armor seems to be borne from the experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the #1 threat is IED. Mobility doesn’t really help you with those, while armor does, so it is logical. Furthermore, the overall nature of the conflict after the initial takeover mostly boils down to defending and patrolling around well-fortified areas – again, the kind of fight that favors armor (at least on the defensive side; the hit-and-run attack tactics of the other side favor mobility).

    However, this arrangement seems to be very specific to “asymmetric warfare”, aka being on the receiving side of guerrilla war. Would it translate well to a full-on war with a military that, if not equal in capabilities, is at least in the same general ballpark? If we get into a war with North Korea, say, will that level 4 armor help or hinder the troops on the front lines?

    • Reducing the weight of body armor is absolutely a priority, and deserves its own article.

      • 22winmag

        I’d counter that the legions of recreational and competitive shooters and hunters that come here to read about firearms deserve to be spared from articles about trends in body armor. How many readers here give a damn about body armor… maybe .1%?

        • Ευστάθιος Παλαιολόγος

          I’d give a damn…
          flanker7

        • Firearms tech developments are more interesting then the latest revolutions in bird bunting.

        • SlowJoeCrow

          Far more readers than are in your self proclaimed majority. I read TFB for everything that interests me and not just my own areas of practice. So the sharpshooter infantry series and this series are interesting to me as serious study of future military practice.

        • Reed Cz

          Then don’t read them. Plenty of us wear body armor in the course of our jobs and still want the article. You can just scroll past.

        • Porty1119

          I care, and I’m not the only one. A sub-10lb set of Level IV that comes in at or around $300 would be a game changer for me.

          Advances in armor drive advances in weaponry. The two are interrelated, and looking at one in a vacuum gives an incomplete picture.

        • No one

          I’d counter that literally everything you’ve ever written here is non contributing complete non sense or just you being annoying and the fact you’re literally a running joke here among other members should show just how well anyone cares about your opinions at all.

          Go sh ill for “LIBERTY AMMUNITION!” on the street or something you clown and leave the actually good articles to the rest of us.

        • Body armor is super relevant when you consider one of the factors military shooters have to consider is… shooting through it.

      • cwolf

        The real issue in armor design re weight and heat load is degree of risk you’ll willing to accept.

        Remember the panic when Mom & Dad found out their son wasn’t bulletproof?

        My crazy idea is require the Congressional committees to wear body armor in their hearings.

        🙂

  • SGTSCHMEGMA

    Nail meet head. Personal anecdote incoming but there were times in OIF where my platoon simply did not engage as to do so would’ve committed us to a slog across a muddy field with no cover. There was simply no way of getting at the insurgents and they knew it.

  • gunsandrockets

    I really don’t see the U.S. Army under the current budget constraints replacing perfectly adequate small arms with some pie in the sky weapons.

    The Army seems much more concerned with replacing the aging fleet of M113 family vehicles with a new general purpose variant of the M2 Bradley.

    http://breakingdefense.com/2016/12/tank-goodness-at-last-army-bae-roll-out-ampv-to-replace-56-year-old-m113/

  • 22winmag

    This is quite possibly the most ridiculous title or premise for a “story” on TFB ever.

    As if the soldiers on the battlefield and their gear and tactics has anything to do with winning or losing a war. I didn’t matter a hundred years ago, and it doesn’t now.

    • No war in the history of man has ever been won without infantry.

      • I don’t know, the Great Meme War 2015-2106 comes to mind.

      • Randomer

        The Royal Navy would beg to disagree with you having won the 1896 Anglo Zanzibar war via naval gunfire.

        The Askaris and naval contingent ashore didn’t engage at all.

        (Also the shortest recorded war in history as well, 38 minutes).

        • The 1896 A-Z war did use infantry, you’ll find. Just not British infantry.

      • I wunder

        The Gulf War was if we talk about infantry being used in the classical sense. Armor and air power did all the heavy lifting as noted by very few coalition infantry casualties sustained.

        • No doubt the big guns and bombs do the heavy lifting these days. But if you want to take and hold ground, you need to put dudes on it.

    • cwolf

      I respectfully disagree with you.

      Realizing that there are many factors beyond guns and ammo.

  • Denny

    Why not to use light unarmored ATV vehicles? One can carry up to 4 equipped men. They are commercially available from several makers (Polaris is one of them). Something like this already existed in WWII; US infantry had “mules”, Germans had kub-wagens and motorcycles.

    • cwolf

      Both USMC and Army are buying. But even they can’t get up in the Afghan mountains.

    • Also, vehicles (no matter how good) defeat one of the huge advantages of light infantry. ATVs don’t really do “stealthy night patrols” really well, nor are they terribly awesome at moving through swamps.

  • Fast Forward

    Perhaps, we should consider the difference between aimed rifle fire and; ‘spray-and-pray.’ Aimed rifle fire might enable better conservation of ammunition and permit the infantry to be lighter and more mobile.

    A few thoughts:

    (i) “Shooting at random over the ground occupied by the enemy accomplishes nothing. Victory comes to the one who fires the largest number of; ‘well-aimed shots,’ against his opponent in the shortest time.”
    German WWII Squad Infantry Manual.”

    (ii) “The primary job of the rifleman is not to gain fire superiority over the enemy, but to kill with accurate, aimed fire.”
    Former United States Army Chief of Staff General Joseph “Lightning Joe” Collins

    I expect (i) to draw the usual riposte; “well, it didn’t do them any good anyway, did it.”

    • iksnilol

      I thought the Germans lost WW2? Why follow their doctrine then?

      And if you don’t establish fire superiority, then your enemy will. And I doubt anybody would stick their head out under MG fire to “kill with accurate, aimed fire” lest they themselves catch a bullet or twenty.

      • Fast Forward

        Did I actually say that we should; “follow their doctrine?”
        I thought I said; “a few thoughts!”

        I also added; “I expect (i) to draw the usual riposte; “well, it didn’t do them any good anyway, did it.”

        Congratulations; regarding predictability and originality.

        • iksnilol

          Doesn’t mean I don’t have a point.

          • Fast Forward

            Agree; and accept your point.

            A few thoughts:
            From a training standpoint, should an infantryman (infantry person) fire in the general direction of the enemy, even if the whereabouts of the enemy is completely unknown?

            Is that suppressive fire, with the objective of establishing fire superiority?

            What is the psychological impact on the enemy when we just fire randomly and does the enemy ultimately become emboldened?

            Apparently; “General John Sedgwick was killed by a
            Confederate marksman at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House from a thousand yards while reassuring his troops.”

            Some reports mention his last words as, “They couldn’t
            hit an elephant at this dist………..”

          • iksnilol

            Well, you gotta hit somewhere close to them. Otherwise they really couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist….

            If the rounds zing past and around them, then I do believe it has a psychological impact.

          • cwolf

            Suppressive fire has to be very close to be effective. Otherwise it’s just noise.

            Full auto is generally inaccurate, especially at distance.

            Recon by fire is a technique to get the enemy to reveal themselves by returning fire.

            Accurate fire requires frequent zeroing, a seeable target, accurate ranging, and lots of high fidelity practice. In one test, highly qualified KD shooters hit zero moving targets.

            I don’t think anybody thought the German Army was incompetent.

            The only instrumented tactics test I’m aware of had Brits fighting their tactics vs an opposing force using Soviet tactics. The Soviet OPFOR won….and with lower casualties.

            It is one reason why we have invested billions in the CTCs.

          • Fast Forward

            I’m interested in the; “tactics vs opposing force,” comment. Are you able to elaborate regarding the scenario and theatre of operations: Fulda Gap, Afg, FOB, Littoral, City CQB…….?

            Did those; ‘tactic tests,’ reveal overmatch?
            Was infantry load and mobility a factor?
            Was the deciding factor outside of the infantry small arms brief….e.g artillery?

          • cwolf

            Test was done decades ago.

            No, it would not have tested weapons range, loads, etc. No MILES existed at that time.

            Relatively small scale. Was a European scenario. Different scenario than Afghan today (high mountain foot patrols).

            The deciding factor was speed. The British force used traditional defensive tactics while the ‘Soviet’ OPFOR drove forward hard and fast. The high speed attack disrupted the defenders ability to respond and adjust.

            I doubt they “played” artillery. Obviously, the Soviets believe in massive artillery prep.

            The current Combat Training Centers do force-on-force training with MILES (lasers) and use Soviet equipment (VIZMOD) and tactics (up to a point).

            It is difficult to develop conclusions because the CTC controller folks adapt the scenarios to the unit’s performance.

            Plus the OPFOR get way more runs than the visiting US force and become expert on the terrain and scenarios.

            Realizing the Cold War Soviets had so many tanks that it was literally almost impossible for defenders to kill them all. Which is why the US invested in the Assault Breaker system concepts, etc. Defensive tactics were generally shoot 2x then fall back since shooting revealed your position.

            Cheers.

    • FT_Ward

      That’s the theory but not what happens. It didn’t even happen when the military used bolt actions or even single shots.

      At Rorke’s Drift- a battle fought between long term professionals and people largely armed with spears the British managed about 1 hit in 40 rounds fired. The “target” was a crowd of people and that was considered excellent marksmanship.

      The famous philosopher Mike Tyson opined that everyone has a plan until they get hit in the face. Combat marksmanship is similar. All the plans to follow the principles of marksmanship get forgotten when there are bullets (or even spears) coming back.

      • Fast Forward

        Mike Tyson also said;
        “We live in a society where we basically live and strive on what people think about us. We’re more visual people so what we see is basically what we believe which is not necessarily true.”

        Think you may have selected one of his more erudite quotes.

      • cwolf

        Although the Zulu were armed (mostly) with the short spear which was mainly used as a stabbing weapon.

        I assume the Brits were armed with the Martini–Henry rifle, a tilting-block single-shot breech-loading action, used in that battle with close quarters massed volley fire.

        You’re right re stress. ARI tested shooters after telling them the target was going to shoot a BB at them. Rate of fire went up and accuracy went down.

        However, I am unaware of any effort to run repeated massed assault scenarios with something like Simunition to train shooters. Obviously we have the CTCs using MILES.

        Wanat sort of showed Infantry doing fairly well against overwhelming odds ….realizing some mistakes were made.

        I think both better optics and better training will make a big difference. The human eyeball isn’t good at ranging or using iron sights. Constant zeroing is a must, of course.

    • Brett baker

      “The worse the infantry, the more need for artillery. American infantry needs a Hell of a lot of artillery”- George S. Patton

    • You do realize, don’t you, that the German infantry squad that field manual was talking about was basically a single machinegun, firing long bursts at 1100 rpms or so, with everyone else in the squad being there as ammo bearers and local security for the MG?

      German rifle marksmanship training was laughable.

      • Fast Forward

        The comment from the; “German WWII Squad Infantry Manual”, made reference to ‘well-aimed shots.’ Well-aimed shots are just that…well-aimed shots (“shots”….grammar, plural; more than one).
        Plural….”shots” could come from an MG, possibly an MG42.
        Your comment, although enormously interesting, is merely a digression from the point being made.
        As an aside, have you ever heard the thoughts of someone who has been genuinely ‘subjected’ to the…….’pointy end,’ of an MG42?

  • Kirk Newsted

    Or we could do what haji does. Street clothes, flip flops, an AK and two mags. We’d be mobile as hell.

    • Porty1119

      Plate carrier, helmet, radio, NODS, IFAK, navigation, hydration, 7 magazines, and a sustainment pouch (baby wipes, energy bars or MREs, pad and pencil). You can fight effectively with that, and move well enough to maneuver. It’s not flip-flops and two magazines, but it’s a lot more effective.

      That’s exactly what I use, minus helmet and NODS- I don’t have the DOD funding my gear.

  • Tex Pat

    Everyone should have their own BAR!!!

    The stories written on this topic are the best this site has.

  • I would say the best compromise is to use the weight savings of polymer cased ammunition to create a more effective round that weighs as much as existing brass cased 5.56.

    The infantry gets a notable bump in effective range, without any net weight gain.

    For example, 6mm-6.8 SPC wildcats can launch an 85gr w/ .445 G1 BC @ 2950-3,000fps. In brass case, they weigh 15.42grams. If Polymer can reduce the cartridge weight by 20% – you are at 12.36 grams. If you can reduce the weight by 25%, you are at 11.56 grams, slightly less then 5.56 now.

    Now you have a 6mm round that weighs as much as 5.56, but with a 700 yard fragmentation range, instead of 475yd for 5.56.

    • FT_Ward

      If weight was saved on weapons it would replaced with more armor coverage. If ammo was lighter why would they carry the same number of rounds instead of more?

      • Exactly. Which is why I think expecting to reduce the soldiers load by reducing ammo weight is a naive goal – those 2-4lbs of weight savings will just be replaced with something else.

        Better to keep ammo weight the same, but through the use of polymer cases, issue something with a bit more punch and range. Hence 6mm CAKE.

    • iksnilol

      Or, why not make a lighter round that matches 5.56? Like, why not make a caseless/polymer cased (or whatever the LSAT is) round with a 500 meter range that weighs like 4-6 grams a round?

      If you could carry 2-3 times more of the equivalent of 5.56 you’d increase firepower vastly (and of course, to increase range just give one guy or two per squad some form of caseless 6-6.5mm dmr).

      • Sticky-eye Rivers

        Because that would be eaten up by some other new item added to the squad. Even if ammo was weightless you’d still push past 40lbs per soldier.

      • The problem is magazines.

        If all carbines were belt fed, you could absolutely carry more ammo. However from a previous article, it seems the Army was not fond of the idea of everyone using a belt fed.

        With magazines, you are limited by the amount of pouches that can be ergonomically stashed on the body. With 5.56 now, that typically is 6 mags across the chest, possibly 1-2 more on the belt. That’s why despite 5.56 being substantially lighter then 7.62×39, both sides end up with standard combat load of 210 rds – 7 magazines worth.

        Now CTA is a bit shorter OAL, so that would allow a narrower magazine that might allow a soldier to carry 4×2 mags across the chest. But then you’ve spent billions to add 60 rounds to the soldiers loadout? Or to save 2-4lbs of weight out of 110lbs?

        I’d personally rather have 210rds of a 700 yard cartridge then 270rds of a 475yd cartridge for the same weight.

        • Porty1119

          I know guys (non-DoD) who keep rigs with 12+ magazines; it is extremely unwieldy and, in my opinion, a poor use of weight given the associated penalties. I took that weight and used it for armor instead.

          • 40mmCattleDog

            I cant even stand having more than 3 mags on the front of my plate carrier. 2 more on support side and 2 more on the belt. I dont understand the dudes running 8+ stacked 2 deep in front of an esapi plate. You kill your own mobility going that route.

        • Giving everyone a *traditional* belt fed would be a disaster.

          Now, if you can design something where the belts are integral to quick attach/detach “magazines”, then you’d be talking.

          • Is that a more or less off the shelf thing that could be adopted, or has it yet to be created?

          • Yet to be created, although there are obscure prototypes from the ’60s and ’70s.

          • That’s a bummer.

            So at this point – you got a magic wand and LSAT is a go. Are you leaning more towards LSAT 5.56 for max weight savings, a super SCHV that’s still lighter then 5.56, or a weight neutral round similar to the CAKE/BUGZAPPER?

            This would be purely as a replacement for 5.56, not as a GPC replacing both 5.56 and 7.62.

          • Depends on your exact configuration. I think it’s pretty clear that the “sharpshooter” idea is a non-starter. I don’t care how well trained your platoon of sharpshooters is, if the other guy is fielding 3x as many men for the same cost, that means not only are you outnumbered 3/1, but they can carry a whole lot more supporting arms. Pretty hard to be a leet uber sniper when the mortar bombs are falling all around you. In short, I think Kipling’s “Cheaper Man” principle applies here.

            So, put a gun to my head and make me make a decision on this (I’m reluctant to – these are very hard decisions to make, and they require a lot of effort to properly justify), and I’ll say the rifleman needs between 300-500 meters range. 300 is pretty far in practice, and so I feel 500 accounts for advances in optics and things. Let’s call it 500m.

            But just knowing that doesn’t tell you what round to pick. What do you want to DO at 500m? There are hard choices there as well. Everyone’s worried about Level IV armor – the assumption from some seems to be that if Level IV becomes common, the standard round will simply have to penetrate it. But sandbags are common, and standard infantry rounds don’t penetrate them. That’s what we have explosive ordnance for, because it’s simply too much to ask of the infantry round to penetrate a double layer of sandbags. It’ll probably be that way with Level IV as well, but who knows?

            At 500m, your barrier penetration requirements will essentially dictate the round you choose. That round could be as small as 5mm in caliber, or as large as 7mm. Depends what you want it to do. Obviously, given a set of requirements, the lightest round is better. That street also has to go both ways, though. It’s bad to have too many requirements and end up with a round that fails at the basic things you need it to do because you were set on having a bullet that punched through sandbags.

          • I’d say given what we saw with both the .300 win mag tests, as well as the tungsten fragmentation in the M993 test, that any type of long range level IV defeat would be questionable even with tungsten, and impossible with any steel core from a reasonably sized weapon.

            Personally, I’d be happy with a Tungsten core round for specialty use that could defeat level IV at 100m 100% of the time.

            When you say 500m round, are you talking fragmentation, or a specific energy number, or CMU penetration, or?

          • Again, that’s what your requirements will tell you. What do you want to do at 500m? That’s the question. There are a lot of potential answers, which all imply different rounds.

          • I will add a few things I’d like to see in the next small arms configuration:

            1. Get rid of the squad belt-fed. I am compelled to believe the SAW is a poor idea for a number of reasons. A single infantryman has a difficult time running a belt fed by himself (that’s why there are MG *teams* – but not for the SAW), and the weight and awkwardness of the platform reduces his mobility which reduces the mobility of the entire fireteam and squad by the “slowest buffalo” principle. Instead of the SAW, just give everyone IARs of some variety. All members of the squad get a select-fire automatic rifle. Some get better optics and maybe a bipod. These guys can be combined DMRs/ARs. Basically, this is what the USMC is doing.

            For a visceral illustration of what I mean, check out this video:

            It’s tough to run a belt fed all by your lonesome, and it’s bad if you’re pulling your squadmates away from what they’re supposed to be doing (attacking) to help you load.

            The really nice thing about the IAR concept is that you can drop your overall ammo loadout for the fireteam from 2,030 rounds to 990 rounds and maintain the same or better effectiveness. That’s huge when we’re talking about trying to cut 30-50 pounds off the infantryman. Anything that allows you to use your ammo mass more efficiently is awesome, and this is a big help in that way.

            2. Forget about a “universal” caliber. 1 round for mag fed and 1 round for belt fed. That’s all you need for the squad. Company snipers are going to use special ammo anyway, so they can either use the same caliber as the belt feds or their own unique one. Probably doesn’t matter much. Having discrete types of ammunition for different roles allows you to save mass on each one.

            3. Flexible support weapons packages, and field trials with crazy configurations. What if we gave everyone a disposable 60mm mortar with two bombs each? I have no idea! It could be awesome. Let’s try it. Moreover, we need to give company commanders more authority to choose different support weapons to bring along, and we need to have a wider variety of support weapons in inventory. There are going to be massive changes in support weapons in the coming years, and that means we need to figure out which ones work and which ones don’t, and we need to figure out how to use the ones that do work. The only way to do this is if we have a way to procure new systems and give the company commanders the authority to actually use them.

            4. +10% squad round mass threshold, -20% squad round mass objective. I would be OK with the next round weighing 10% more than 5.56mm, especially if the IAR concept is implemented. However, my guess is it would be better to reduce weight, so -20% would be my objective goal. Within this band, as much lethality and effectiveness as possible is good.

            5. Steel cased option. If the next ammunition configuration is roughly conventional (meaning brass or composite, not CTA), then it should be designed for high compatibility with steel cases. This will probably necessitate a larger case size than for brass alone, but the economic benefits in the event of a major war would be significant. Copper is a critical resource, and shortages are likely in the event of a major economic conflict. Steel is far, far more abundant. Interestingly, the chamber dimensions need for a given performance level for steel and composite appear to be similar, relative to brass.

            6. Performance specifications in all conditions and for the life of the barrel. I don’t think I’ve seen this before, but it would be awfully nice if performance specifications were set based on the life of the barrel and different environmental conditions. If I need to penetrate a 3.5mm steel plate at 500m and create a lethal wound behind, then surely I need to do that in the cold and when my barrel is almost worn out, as well. To that end, I would propose any performance requirements be met at -250 ft/s muzzle velocity. E.g., if you need 2,750 ft/s to meet the 500m plate penetration requirement, then the muzzle velocity in the specification needs to be 3,000 ft/s.

    • Risto Kantonen

      G1 is a very inaccurate model. If you want anywhere near realistic calculations, you have to use G7 model, because modern bullets are boat tail types.

      Here’s a picture of the standard G1 and G7 models side by side to demonstrate why G1 is terrible and shouldn’t be used as a reference for any serious analysis. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/30fc938cbb4c8138bf9c530647b2ea4760840bbb1d53c8c0a8b28c4372cf84f7.png

  • Soldiers and Marines are way overloaded now.

  • Joe

    This is dumb, but it’s the Army that gave everyone black berets and a “universal” neutered urban camouflage, so it’s not surprising. Weight needs to be a higher consideration for all equipment burdening the Infantry (especially). Find out what COTS items are lighter and fill the same role as current TA-50/MTOE, and issue them to Infantry. Let Pouges struggle with the heavier current-issue items; by comparison most average Joes tote substantially less weight anyway.

    • cwolf

      We tried that in ADEA. Commercial camping equipment falls apart quickly in military environment.

    • It’s not the weight of individual TA-50 items, in most cases. It’s the AMOUNT. Especially ignoring the section of FM 7-8 (or whatever the current numbering is) that points out you don’t need to have EVERYONE carry a copy of EVERYTHING — if you’re only going to sleep at 50% security, even if it is in the mountains, why have every man carry a fart sack? After all, only half of them will be needing one at any given moment…

      Likewise, (and this was called out in 2003 after action reports), why carry 13 liters of water (as I did, under orders, for one two week exercise), when you could carry less AND a lightweight water purification system (hey, those cool little pockets on the old canteen covers? Designed to hold a vial of water purification tablets…)

  • Vincent

    I just don’t understand it.
    I’ve never served and I don’t like to bother my dad about his time in the Marines, so bear with me.
    If a fair portion of higher ups were veterans of past conflicts, like from Vietnam to South America to now, they themselves would have had major complaints about equipment weight.
    You would think they would be extremely mindful of the burden current and future soldiers would bear and much, much more would ask “okay, what the hell” while remembering their own aches and pains when looking at a pile of a single soldier’s gear on a scale and seeing it almost hit 200.

    I just don’t get it and hope that good exoskeletons that won’t decrease mobility come soon.

    • FT_Ward

      It’s fairly simple. No senior officer will order troops to lose protective gear and risk a “Colonel told dead Marines to leave body armor at base” headline. Not being held responsible for casualties is more important than defeating the enemy.

      • Precisely. When I was an infantryman, we NEVER wore body armor, because, having humped through hills and slogged through swamps at high temperatures and humidity, we realized we COULD NOT SUSTAIN movement with the added weight of the body armor. We also trimmed weight wherever we could (“field stripping” MREs isn’t *just* about bulk).

        No commander today would dare let troops deploy without all the protective kit, because while you can rarely point to a casualty and say, *definitively*, that “PVT Jones died because we was so smoked from all the crap he was carrying, he moved slow and stupid,”, whereas any soldier shot who wasn’t wearing a vest (regardless of whether the vest would have stopped the round hitting in that location anyway) will be immediately and loudly labeled as, “Soldier killed because negligent commander allowed him to skimp on armor.”

    • Brett baker

      Because the higher-ups are old enough to remember things the way they what to, not the way they were.

  • iksnilol

    Are we gearing up for a flame war at TFB?

    Yes, yes we are.

  • FT_Ward

    The “next war” is already lost. The various ragamuffin guerillas groups DOD & friends chase around the third world are a minimal threat that are a police problem. The long term loss is in the national security budget. What does it matter if the Taliban can cause a US casualty every two weeks when DOD burns through over $2 billion of borrowed money per day.

    Empires fall because they spend more than they take in. This process takes a long time but it will happen to the US if it does not get debt (at all levels) under control.

    With defence spending so out of control there can be no “win” of any value. Rifle calibers are just another distraction from the real strategic problem.

    • Sticky-eye Rivers

      At least the government is borrowing from itself via the fed? The fed isn’t giving away existing money as much as it just runs the printing press, and pipes it directly into the government for a bit. You have less of a strategic problem than you think.

      As long as everyone thinks of $ as currency at all, it will work.
      In other words, as long as the rest of the world can buy american stuff with american dollars, your ability to just inflate yourself out of a problem is unthreatened.

      • FT_Ward

        That was what the British and Romans thought. The states and cities are also a problem.

      • cwolf

        No, the $20 trillion in debt requires the bonds and interest be paid back.

        • Sticky-eye Rivers

          Yet there are no stipulations it can’t be paid back with new loans now is there, sunshine?

          • cwolf

            Of course you can borrow more money. Which is what everybody has been doing.

            You still have to pay the interest. The more you borrow (or re-borrow), the more total interest you pay.

            At some point, you’re paying more in interest than the cost of many programs.

            Once you exceed certain thresholds, then your credit rating decreases, and then you have to pay even higher interest rates.

            wwwDOTpgpfDOTorg/infographic/infographic-why-long-term-debt-matters

            This is a straightforward rational fact-based issue.

            BTW I see your vehicle’s tire is low. Might want to stop for some air.

            Cheers.

    • Risto Kantonen

      No one can get debt under control as money is created from loans, which in turn have interest on them. And seeing as banks are the ones that create money, you have a situation where more debt continues to rack up unless you do away with the monetary system entirely.

      • cwolf

        If you borrow more than you take in, then debt piles up.

        The Fed gives away $1.5-$1.7T/year in “tax expenditures” (aka subsidies) through the tax structure. All of which is not reported in the budget.

        Therefore, debt can be reduced by both reducing spending and reducing tax subsidies.

        Paying down $20T will take a few years though.

        • Risto Kantonen

          And where does that $20T come from? It ultimately comes from banks, because only banks are allowed to create money. Which is ultimately loans, which once again carry an interest. And to pay it off you need money that ultimately came from a bank, which was created through that very same process. You see, the system is rigged.

          97% of all “money” in global circulation is in fact credit. Numbers going from one banking computer system to another as transactions. This credit is created from loans.

          There are many videos on youtube that explain this process, one such video is provided by positivemoney with the title: ‘

          How is money really made by banks? – Banking 101 (Part 3 of 6)’

          I recommend watching it.

    • Rock or Something

      The large percentage of the U.S. budget is spent on mandatory spending (almost 2/3), which are programs such as Social Security, medicaid, medicare, etc. Since many of these are based on eligibility rules, they are only reviewed periodically. Discretionary spending which the military does make up a large percentage of, only makes up a little less than a third of the total budget. So although I am not above calling to account the amount the Pentagon burns through, the long term sustainability of the U.S. finances will not be predicated on that. At least military (and discretionary) spending has to be approved yearly by Congress, while mandatory spending largely gets a pass. Social Security (which is just a government sponsored ponzi scheme) will only grow larger and more unsustainable.

  • Sticky-eye Rivers

    We can talk about about body armor as the great weight thief for the infantryman, we can talk about unnecessary mandated equipment for people who walk on foot into combat, we can talk about (the lack of) artillery as being (the lack of) the only overmatch that is effective. This article isn’t about that.
    It’s about the author liking 5.56 and don’t want to see it replaced by a 6.5mm. None of us know what the elephant-in-the-room DARPA plolymer cased 6.5 creedmoor will weigh, hell we don’t even know if it will actually be formulated to be terminally effective at 1000 yards, or a more (still useful) 600-700m. Weight is an excuse for not wanting 6.5mm.

    Honestly, who thinks “overmatch” is the actual intention of the Darpa project? Why wouldn’t it be like everything else in US procurement, A LIE necessary to get congress+senate on board for a new pattern rifle? They need bullshit to justify spending taxpayer money, half the army wants a new kind of rifle because the old one is old and therefore invents said bullshit? When the Navy wanted new aircraft, they had to sell the F-18E as “just an update” with the easy-to-understand two more weapon stations. While in reality, the superbug has as much in common with the legacy Hornets as they have with F-16s.

    tl/dr overmatch isn’t dangerous. It’s a (white?) lie to get funding for a new pattern rifle.

    • cwolf

      I think TFB is making a coherent argument. Although, to be fair, TFB is making a point within right & left boundary delimiters. Which is necessary, because otherwise we’d be trying to solve the world.

      We do know what Caseless Telescoping guns & ammo weigh (which are not DARPA initiatives). What we don’t know is how those systems perform at scale (only prototypes exist now).

      The smaller point within the TFB Combined Arms position is (I think) that moving immediately to 7.62 for all the Army isn’t worth the expense (cost-benefit ratio). It may be an emotional issue…. the solution is field some units with 7.62 and see how it works.

      I don’t think Schatz was 100% wrong, just because he (maybe) used some bad data (he should have quoted source. DIA?). His briefing would have been clearer if he had defined his left & right subject “aiming stakes” on his first slide.

      Obviously he assumed away training, some logistics, etc.

      The reality is only 20% of the Army are shooters and if we treated them as a procurement subset with its own unique solutions, we could field new solutions faster and cheaper.

      However, just because a few CT prototypes exist, does NOT mean we can field them immediately. There are years of work to be done. Just converting Lake City production would be a HUGE bill.

    • I do know what polymer cased 6.5mm weighs, as I’ve weighed it.

      I think it can be good to approach topics from the perspective of motivations and justifications/excuses from time to time. However, you are off the mark. I never was a fan of 5.56mm. I started out as a 6.5mm advocate (wayyyy back in the day, in the Dark Ages of 2007-2010), and worked with the concept enough that I began to understand its limitations.

      I’ve watched “overmatch” develop over the years. I watched proposed rounds grow from ~6.5 Grendel to ~7mm Magnum in performance. The problems with the concept I am describing are real. It began just as you say, as a justification for certain concepts. But now it has become far more dangerous.

      • Sticky-eye Rivers

        Alright, I stand corrected.

        I made the assumption that the prototyped loadings that you have shown were not really intended to be the final item, ergo they could have been evolved into a smaller volume and lighter loading, since a 1000m effective range, I agree, is ridiculous.

        • It might be illustrative for us to do a quick comparison. Let’s take the proposal of one of the earlier advocates of an “overmatching” round (though it wasn’t called that then), Anthony Williams’ GPC. That concept called for a 108-123gr bullet at 2,620-2,800 ft/s, with a muzzle energy no higher than 2,500 J from a 20″ barrel. This built on the concept of the 6.5 Grendel, which was sometimes proposed for the same role. The Grendel produces about 2,300 J from a 20″ barrel. The Grendel weighed 17-18g, and Williams’ GPC would have weighed 18-19g.

          The .264 and .277 USAs were developed later, and have muzzle energies in the 2,600-2,700 J, but this time from a 16.7″ barrel. These rounds weighed 20-21g – only a little less than 7.62mm (23-24g).

          Now, the USA rounds seem dead and gone. The minimum round that appears to be considered for a next generation round is the .260 Remington, which produces muzzle energies in the 2,900 J range from a 16″ barrel, or 3,100 J from a 22″ barrel. Round weights for the .260 range from 21-22g. 6.5 Creedmoor is also being considered. It is similar in weight and performance.

          However, even larger and more powerful rounds appear to be on the horizon. The Army Research Laboratory is reportedly working on a .277 caliber round that produces muzzle velocity above 3,000 ft/s. If so, this round would have a muzzle energy above 3,200 J, possibly considerably higher. Round weight would have to be similar to .270 Winchester, and probably no less than 7.62mm NATO in brass cased form.

          Polymer cases can temper this rise somewhat (the 6.5mm CT .260 Remington equivalent is just 15.4 grams, closer to 5.56mm than 7.62mm), but it illustrates that there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight for overmatch. Now, with people calling for a round that can penetrate scary Russian body armor, it’s only going to get worse. Without a tungsten penetrator (and it’s very difficult to argue for a general issue tungsten round), a round in .338 Lapua class would be needed to get any appreciable range versus that armor. So we can expect this trend to continue if the concept isn’t tackled now.

          • Sticky-eye Rivers

            Personally I have always liked Williams concept, but his cartridge wasn’t only dependent on energy, he stipulates very high energy retention (ie. BC) as well as maximum recoil impulse (‹8,5Ns). The Grendel can’t fit bullets good enough for Williams (no caliber built for the ar-15 magwell can launch a high enough BC bullet with enough energy, coincidentally).

            Put another way, Williams cartridge was akin to a light, downloaded 6.5 Creedmoor going ~400ft/s slower.

            If it is as you say, Nathaniel, and the proposal for a new standard ammo will be a 3200J+ formulation supposed to brute force a (yet non-existant, unpaid, and not-proven-to-be-even-close-to-INTENDED-as-normal-field-equipment) russian plate carrier, then that proposal is out of its god damn mind.

            Cut the TC 6.5 round down to ~2500J @ muzzle and it will compare much better weight/recoil. Might even look like something that should have been adopted a century ago.

            3000ft/s, then we might as well have not bothered and kept 30.06.

          • Williams round can, in lightweight cased form, almost meet my threshold of not more than 10% heavier than 5.56mm. However, I think it is likely excessively powerful for the role. Could it work? Yes. The question is, why does he feel the need to replace 5.56mm and 7.62mm with a single round? He could get a more effective weapons squad round if he weren’t trying to do that, and a lighter squad round as well.

            I’m not very happy with the way some people have thrown around “should haves” and other things like that. This is tribalism bizarrely applied to cartridges. The US Army in no way “should” have adopted the 6.5mm GPC a century ago… That has nothing to do with their requirements in 1900 or 1950 or 1970, etc. Rounds are dictated by requirements, not by feelings. 5.56mm is a great round for certain things – even Tony admits this, and thinks 5.56mm makes a good PDW round out to 200m. The question is what do you expect from your troops?

            I’ve watched this conversation unfold for years, and it’s taken me a while to be willing to say this, but now I am: I think much of the desire for a larger caliber is due to feelings of inadequacy. There is something visceral about rounds – stick a 9mm and .45 ACP in the palm of a stranger and ask them which they think is more lethal. They will probably say .45 ACP, and this feeling is likely so universal that hardly anyone doubts this, right?

            Is .45 ACP more lethal? It doesn’t matter, because I’ve just de-facto proven that people have *feelings* based on the size, shape, and weight of rounds regarding their lethality. It doesn’t matter what the reality is, we know those feelings do not correlate because they are just feelings.

            5.56mm is not perfect. SCHV is not a panacea. But I think the reality is, much of its criticism stems from *feelings*, and little else. And – when I confronted him with a round that met his requirements but was substantially lighter – he essentially admitted that to me. According to him, his round is as small as he thinks he could get away with and still be *perceived* as a viable replacement for 7.62mm. So feelings and perception are directly related to the size of his round.

          • Sticky-eye Rivers

            First, why one (or more like, why as few as possible): Same reason that NATO have standardized cartridges, instead of every member having their own like before (likely motivated by the same feelings you thought of). Logistic simplicity. Having to keep track of less sorts means easier bureaucracy and more possible sources for supply. Having long range/short range bullets and weapons in every squad was norm in ww2 and is the norm now, so it works.

            It’s just that for most of the cold war, there were no accurate 600-800m organic weapon to this squad. No 600m+ marksmen. A Williams round held promise of adding that to every soldier (if he could hit, but optics history is another discussion) while still being viable for short range sub machine gun work. Ergo, a useful cartridge for assault rifles, good enough for the 20lb MG. Logistics.

            The second: If it was adopted then there wouldn’t have to be arguments about adopting it now. It’s not the most honest argument but that’s were it comes from.

            It is fact that calibre talk is directly connected with peoples feelings of inadequacy. Hell, I’d call it fear of impotence or unmanliness, and worse, that it’s only men who are emotional like this. It’s ridiculous.

            There is a big point to what you say about size. If a factory could build a long, accurate, high BC, high penetrative bullet, doing enough tissue damage at all ranges consistently, and put it in a case giving it enough range to be better than 5.56×45, and do it inexpensively… then whatever bullet diameter/case size is just whatever the result would be.

            The kicker is that, far as I know, drawing long, thin, high BC bullets has not been possible to manufacture beneath a certain size. Possibly there’s just never been a demand for that in a 5mm or smaller size, but on the other hand it’s been well proven to work with 6.5mm. That would be the origin I’d look to for why at least some of the discussion focus on 6.5’s. It’s does good work in hunting. I don’t think it’s much more complicated than that.

            Bonus: shot placement is what matters, not ammunition size. The bullet is just a tool to get there, and when it gets there it must work.

          • “First, why one (or more like, why as few as possible): Same reason that NATO have standardized cartridges, instead of every member having their own like before (likely motivated by the same feelings you thought of). Logistic simplicity. Having to keep track of less sorts means easier bureaucracy and more possible sources for supply. Having long range/short range bullets and weapons in every squad was norm in ww2 and is the norm now, so it works.”

            Yes, but what is the compelling reason? How are the requirements for the GPMG and the rifle similar? They do not seem to be.

            Differentiation is necessary in war, logistics be damned. You do not issue socks instead of 40mm grenades to make the logisticians happy, nor vice versa. So you need to ask whether combining these things makes sense. Does combining the 30mm autocannon round and the .50 caliber round make sense? Does combining the pistol round and the rifle round? No? Then how does combining the rifle and the machine gun round make sense? What is the doctrine that calls for this? If it is overmatch, how is it justified beyond the platitudes we’ve already seen?

            “It’s just that for most of the cold war, there were no accurate 600-800m organic weapon to this squad. No 600m+ marksmen.”

            Where are these mystical sharpshooter DMs coming from? Why is everyone pretending the designated marksman and his rifle are 800m assets? They are not.

            “A Williams round held promise of adding that to every soldier (if he could hit, but optics history is another discussion) while still being viable for short range sub machine gun work.”

            Adding what? Capability they can’t use, at the expense of weight they can’t afford?

            “Ergo, a useful cartridge for assault rifles, good enough for the 20lb MG. Logistics.”

            Why combine these dissimilar roles, though? I agree you can if you really want to, but why? Is “logistics” a good enough argument to fall back on? Then we’re back to socks and 40mm grenades.

            “The second: If it was adopted then there wouldn’t have to be arguments about adopting it now. It’s not the most honest argument but that’s were it comes from.”

            .30 caliber rounds have been adopted for 114 years, and there are still arguments about adopting them.

            “It is fact that calibre talk is directly connected with peoples feelings of inadequacy. Hell, I’d call it fear of impotence or unmanliness, and worse, that it’s only men who are emotional like this. It’s ridiculous.”

            I agree.

            “There is a big point to what you say about size. If a factory could build a long, accurate, high BC, high penetrative bullet, doing enough tissue damage at all ranges consistently, and put it in a case giving it enough range to be better than 5.56×45, and do it inexpensively… then whatever bullet diameter/case size is just whatever the result would be.”

            I recommend you read Section 5 of this article.

            “The kicker is that, far as I know, drawing long, thin, high BC bullets has not been possible to manufacture beneath a certain size.”

            You sure about that?

            “Possibly there’s just never been a demand for that in a 5mm or smaller size, but on the other hand it’s been well proven to work with 6.5mm.”

            Pure chance. The old ammunition designers of the 1880s and 1890s went with short necks on their 6.5mm ideal wunder bullets. So there was space for longer ogives. In fact, the whole 6.5mm family can be traced back pretty much to the 6.5mm Swede.

            It’s telling, for example, that this didn’t happen with the .25 and .27 calibers, even those these are nigh identical. But it did happen with 5.45×39…

            “It’s does good work in hunting. I don’t think it’s much more complicated than that.”

            It’s quite a bit more complicated than that.

  • Reed Cz

    I enjoy these articles the most out of any on this site. They are well thought and well written.

    I’m glad you mentioned redesigning load-bearing equipment and overhauling the (absurdly far from mission-direct) physical fitness programs. I would venture that the majority of Americans have trouble fathoming a sufficient physical exercise regimen, let alone one that is designed to prepare you to carry these loads with good speed over ground and minimized injury potential.

    Accuracy deteriorates as pulse quickens. Many people I go to the civilian range with have trouble making hits on 10″ steel at 100yds after some jumping jacks. Picture hauling 100lbs or more 25yds and then trying to engage someone 600m away, optics or not.

  • Anomanom

    There’s another problem that I don’t think was mentioned. At some point, maybe one that has already been reached, the combat load begins to cause a diminishing input of capable soldiers. Before they even make it to a combat platoon, much less into combat, the candidate has to be able to carry the load. There comes a point at which loadbearing capacity starts to disqualify too many otherwise capable recruits, and the military in general is already struggling with finding qualified candidates.

    • Porty1119

      We reached that point years ago.

  • BeGe1

    I could not agree more. Thanks for saying it.

    These people need to run some live fire drills with heavy stuff and see what they think about it afterward.

    When the effectiveness of your tactics relies on your 1) mobility and 2) efficacy of fire…then you’ll start to doubt the wisdom of adding pounds to gear that is already heavy enough to be a noticeable detriment to your 1) mobility and 2) efficacy of fire.

    • Porty1119

      A fifty-pound load is unpleasant while trying to fight or move, particularly at altitude. I keep my combat load in the 40-50lb range or below, but adding an assault/sustainment pack will easily get that to 80 if I’m not careful.

      Doubling that to 100+…it’s no wonder orthopedic injuries are such a problem.

      • BeGe1

        I once had an infantry sergeant that was a full 1/2″ shorter than when he first joined.

        Too. Much. Weight.

  • Brett baker

    1. Apparently, our peer competitors will use mass human wave attacks over a km of ground, just like WW2 and Korea.
    2. It appears that if they do use vehicles, we should take them out with rifle fire.(Hunnicut had a general tell him with a straight face that 17 rounds from an M14 would take out a T72.)
    3. If you’re not carrying the weight, why are you going to care?

  • Bart Jabroni

    Don’t worry, Patrick has the enemy overmatched with his glokland special

  • cwolf

    Actually, it is a far more complex puzzle, and TFB has sort of understated the case. In other words, it’s worse than you say.

    All that equipment also affects the heat load, further decreasing performance.

    wwwDOTslideshareDOTnet/James8981/body-armor-effect-on-heat

    You see a lot of info about reducing the helmet’s weight, for example, but rarely/if ever see its impact on heat (arteries to the heat & neck run full bore all the time). Or consider if the boot provides proper ankle support for those loads (the Israeli designed a rough terrain boot with stronger ankle support that decreased injuries). Ankle injuries are a combat loss (can’t limp with 120 lbs in the mountains).

    The effect of heat on functioning, thinking, sweat rates, mineral losses, etc. is significant. Kleges et al found basketball player lost a gram of calcium in sweat/day, and that combined with poor calcium intake resulted in weaker bones. The Navy gave recruits 2 grams of calcium/day plus vitamin D (D decreases in military training (McClung)) and reduced stress fractures by 20%.

    Add altitude to that equation (think Takur Ghar) and likely lack of altitude acclimatization, and you’re in deep trouble.

    Think about how we prepare Soldiers for deployment. Do they have a ramp up program with adequate nutrition to prepare for those loads and miles? As one example, bones won’t properly remodel with inadequate protein (Heaney).

    Folks will say “I’m an expert and everything is fine.” Great. Show me your data. But read the USARIEM data first.

    I agree with TFB that simply issuing a 7.62 rifle will not make a dramatic positive difference (other than a temporary psychological one). Combat hit/kill rates are the result of many variables. We can all suggest better weapons for the defiladed 800-1,200+m target, but every solution means more weight. The M6 commando smart mortar seems appealing, but that’s xx more pounds to hump (or the Pike missile or the 6.5 Creedmore or the DARPA smart sight or……).

    Some military leaders tend to be impatient…. sort of. It is easy to test any proposed solutions in simulated combat at the CTCs, by TRAC, ARL, etc.

    Or simply take a proven/tested 7.62 rifle in the inventory and let a unit in Afghan try it.

    wwwDOTslideshareDOTnet/James8981/history-soldiers-load

    wwwDOTslideshareDOTnet/James8981/call-modern-warriors-combat-load-rpt-62115238

    http://www.DOTslideshareDOTnet/James8981/call-combat-load-presentation1

    wwwDOTslideshareDOTnet/James8981/load-carriagepdf

    wwwDOTslideshareDOTnet/James8981/soldier-load-rifle-platoon-soldier-load-with-enablers

    wwwDOTslideshareDOTnet/James8981/historic-loadouts-soldiers-kit-from-1066-to-2014-soliders-load

    • Seamus Bradley

      I believe that the Army is currently looking at 7.62NATO as a near term solution with a possible switch to 6.5 something in future. Perhaps smaller and lighter. But with all the ammo we got for 7.62NATO it does make sense that IF there is a change to a new caliber then there will have to be a real train-up to properly take advantage of it. Plus if I had to guess, it would not surprise me if Army selected one Battalion then to try this out on (similar to Marines and Silencers and M27 trials) and see what issues actually come out in testing. Nearly a full 1/4 of all the soldiers burden is body armor and Uncle Sam needs to focus on reducing that chunk of weight without compromising protection- that would be a big advantage and can help “pay for” any added weight of 6.5xx new cartridge.

      • cwolf

        1. Since some Soldiers are complaining about enemy not instantly dying when shot at and some Congressional folks are pushing for a bigger caliber…. plus ongoing increases in enemy body armor protection…..the Army may go to 7.62. Since the CSA appears somewhat impatient, that may happen.

        2. The Army’s traditional model would be to put out a bid for a new 7.62 rifle and convert the entire force based on production capacity over several years. A cost-effective strategy would be to equip Infantry units with the 7.62 and leave most CS/CSS in 556. Basically a high-low mix. Ideally the new 7.62 rifle would incorporate most of the next gen features the USMC is talking about.

        3. The Pentagon planners will weigh the cost and time to execute that plan vs procuring the next generation CT gun and ammo (plus the politics). Converting Lake City to a new caliber/cartridge is stunningly expensive. The staff will push for waiting for CT; Congress and leaders may be impatient.

        4. Both the Army and the USMC are constantly working on lightening armor, but progress is incremental. Hard to violate the laws of physics. The critical phrase is “without compromising protection.” You can significantly lighten armor and helmets if you adopt a probability risk model (realizing heat load is almost as important as weight load, but isn’t mentioned much). The ideal would be to require all critics to wear the IBA for a day before they can complain.

        5. The Army could buy a relatively small volume production 6.5 Creedmore SDR rifle (pick your favorite caliber) with an advanced smart sight and include the ammo in the buy. That seems iffy, but possible. wwwDOTaccuracy-techDOTcom/6-5-creedmoor-vs-308-winchester/

        6. Keep in mind that 16 years of war has worn out the existing fleet of equipment and the military needs something > than $1T to replace. The push will be to procure next generation tanks, artillery, IFV, etc. to meet the peer Threat over the next 20-30 years. So, if the priority shifts to the next gen peer-to-peer threat, rifles are low on the shopping list.

        7. The prototype 338NM medium MG certainly seems impressive. wwwDOTthefirearmblogDOTcom/blog/2012/05/16/338-nm-lightweight-medium-machine-gun-lwmmg/

  • CommonSense23

    When is the last time we had a World War?

  • How much weight are individual infantryman in the Russian and Chinese militaries carrying? How about other NATO militaries?

    • Tom – UK

      British Soldiers carry 50-60kg

    • James Young

      An excellent question

  • Porty1119

    That is completely unacceptable. Target should be 60lbs or less for a combat load; 40lbs is doable WITH ARMOR before incorporating NVGs, mortars rounds, and MG belts. I know because I do it.

  • Qoquaq En Transic

    Great article. Truth is being spoken. Thank you.

    One of the best this site has generated.

  • Edeco

    I wonder how far, how often they’re expected to boogie with 100 lbs on. It’s important because fatigue can build.

    It is burning the candle at both ends. It would be harder to handle for a lighter built person, but being heavier, yanno, BMI 22 or 5’11” is high for a marathon runner. The bigger/heavier someone is built, it usually limits that kind of endurance. So you’ve got a narrow range if person who can do much with 100 lbs strapped on.

    • CommonSense23

      Your marathon remark is way off. There is a huge difference between someone who is training for marathons. And just someone who can marathons. Bigger is almost always better when it comes to real world physical ability.

      • cwolf

        Sort of true. The AUS Army seriously proposed limiting Infantry to > 5’9″

        Bigger folks can generally carry bigger loads.

        The weak link is the venous return system (low pressure). We have 2 hearts: the one in your chest pumps blood out (high pressure side) and muscles basically massage blood back (helped by one-way valves).

        Heavy backpack loads tend to overload the venous return (regardless of size).

        Cheers.

  • Gary Kirk

    Yyyep.. Gravity is indeed, a Mother_____r..

    Instead of all this and that development.. Just make an anti-gravity generator.. Weight problem solved!! Now everyone can carry a Barrett with high cap mags, whilst wearing impenetrable armor made from old battleships currently sitting in the ghost fleet..

  • gunsandrockets

    Regardless of exactly what caliber or what types of firearms the U.S. Army issues to it’s infantry, it is irrelevant to the problem of overburdening the infantry. The real issue is the mix of weapons and quantity of ammunition issued to the rifle platoon.

    Even with “lightweight” M4 and 5.56mm ammunition, today the infantry are already overburdened. The fact virtually every U.S. Army infantryman now has an armored ride, via something like a Stryker or Bradley, has made it too easy to overlook this problem.

    By the height of the Korean War the infantry were already unburdening themselves by throwing away gear they thought was too heavy or too unnecessary. Despite using .30 caliber M1 rifles. Because those PBI were slogging across those mountains on foot.

  • Amplified Heat

    I thought that this is what the multi-million dollar exosuits are supposed to address? Or we could save a bunch of money & make steroid injections mandatory 😉

    Anyone who thinks they’ll make any decision out of consideration for troop load weight is deluding themselves (load-out has steadily climbed in weight for like two straight centuries now)

  • gunsandrockets

    hahahahah

    Do you folks know that apparently you can’t use the dreaded “c” word when posting comments here at The Firearm Blog? No, not that “c” word, another one…

    the one relating to the a certain Karl whose followers slaughtered more than a 100 million people during the 20th Century.

    Why is that? What an odd form of censorship.

    Kind of makes it clumsy to discuss issues related to war during the 20th Century now, doesn’t it.

    • That IS strange…

      • gunsandrockets

        I see now that my blocked C-word comments were apparently posted after about an hours delay.

        It’s still weird though.

    • 40mmCattleDog

      HAHAHA are you for real man? If so that’s actually pretty damn funny. Better dead than red I guess!! Seriously though whats up with that TFB?

      • gunsandrockets

        Try it yourself. Test it. See what happens.

        It looks like my C word comments were eventually unblocked about an hour after I had posted them.

  • Amplified Heat

    One facet to this discussion, is the rather disturbing but unavoidable truth that human soldiers will likely be required to engage metallic, mechanical opponents within our lifetimes. They speak of level IV+ body armor at the moment, but it’s clear the real concern is simply the next generation of mobile armored targets, which will be drones in some capacity before we know it. Whether it’s those stupid “MULE” robot-horse monstrosities carrying gear, powered exoskeletons, or actual killbot terminators, the fact that these all have metal skins and are just plain denser than organic beings means that the lightweight/high velocity bullet concept isn’t as effective, even when it does punch through. It’s akin to when aircraft went from being cloth & wood to metallic, and suddenly even the mighty 50BMG was too weak for the job. In that case, the solution was explosive rounds from much more powerful large-diameter autocannons; for the time being, it appears small arms will simply make due with bullets that have a higher sectional density (while 308 isn’t very efficient in this way, it still outclasses 5.56 in SD for the common NATO rounds, which is why it’s back under consideration. Obviously 6.5Grendel or Creedmoor or 338Norma would be even better, seeing as they were built around the concept from the start)

    • gunsandrockets

      I doubt U.S. infantry will ever find themselves outmatched by enemy robots. In reality, U.S. infantry are more like to have use of small ground combat robots before any other foe, for economic and cultural reason. The U.S. can afford it, and the U.S. is particularly sensitive to casualties.

      But even aside from all that. An M4 equipped infantryman has several practical immediate options available to counter a small ground robot. Armor piercing 5.56mm ammunition for one. And if that isn’t sufficient an M4 can fire AT rifle grenades.

      The French even issued bullet trap AT rifle grenades.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AC58

  • MIke H

    Met an old friend’s husband for the first time yesterday, and he did two tours in Iraq as a combat engineer. Talking about life over there, he told me he was commonly packing 100+ lbs.

    In 120f degree heat.

    One thing Nathaniel F. didn’t mention in this article is how temperate most of the US is. Packing 100lbs in most of the US is rough. Try doing that while in a 120f desert. Heck, two years ago I was with my friend’s medical NGO in Vietnam, going around to a lot of the villages near the old border that saw a lot of the heaviest fighting during the Vietnam War, and I went down one afternoon from heat exhaustion after packing just 25lbs of video gear in 90f temps. And I was with a team of nursing students.

    The folks who “overmatch” us with RPKs do so because they generally aren’t packing around 100lbs of gear. Weight is most definitely a thing. It doesn’t matter if I have a better gun than you, if I’m nearly passed out from heat exhaustion.

    • Rnasser Rnasser

      I live in a tropical country, and I would like to see people humping 100+ lbs in up and down hills, swamps and uneven terrain, in tropical heat with lots of humidity.
      I think most people would gladly dump their body armor because of the weight and extreme uncomfort.

  • I know a few did but it’s been so long I don’t recall which ones

    • gunsandrockets

      The U.S.M.C. most assuredly did. Finding photos of Marines with M14 and M14 rifles with bipods serving in Vietnam are not hard to find.

      But where are the Army units with M14 rifles?

      • Hyok Kim

        ….and they were the last to keep those 20″ barrels.

  • The whole premise is wrong, anyway. The Army adopted the M16 in 1963, because its plan for arming the soldier over the next decade had collapsed in a heap.

    With the cancellation of M14 by McNamara, there were basically two options at the time for infantry weapons for the Army: The M16 (already type classified by the Air Force), and the M1 Garand (no really).

    The choice was pretty obvious. It didn’t really have a whole lot to do with the AK, to be honest, beyond a perception at the time that the Soviets had more advanced weapons (they did). The M14’s cancellation was related to the M14, however.

    • Yenokh Yagoda

      To the M16, however?

    • gunsandrockets

      I am afraid the Firearms Community will never escape the mythology built up around the Vietnam War generally, and the M14 and M16 rifles specifically.

      The fact that two warring political/military factions have been spinning the truth on the great rifle controversy since the early 1960’s doesn’t help any.

  • Risto Kantonen

    And seeing how we’re discussing weight and physiological features of the human body, i think it is important to enter the question of women in combat roles into the equation.

    National review released a good article in July 15, 2015 that explored the question why putting women in combat roles is ineffective and a bad idea. Another good article i recommend reading is by a Marine Captain Lauren F. Serrano in Marine Gazette magazine in September 2014

    To quote Carl von Clausewitz from his book ‘On War’:

    “What is war?”

    “2. Definition

    I shall not begin by expounding a pedantic, literary definition of war, but go straight to the heart of the matter, to the duel. War is nothing but a duel on a larger scale. Countless duels go to make up war, but a picture of it as a whole can be formed by imagining a pair of wrestlers. Each tries through physical force to compel the other to do his will; his immediate aim is to throw his opponent in order to make him incapable of further resistance. War is thus an act of force to compel our enemy to do our will. Force, to counter opposing force, equips itself with the inventions of art and science. Attached to force are certain self-imposed, imperceptible limitations hardly worth mentioning, known as international law and custom, but they scarcely weaken it. Force––that is, physical force, for moral force has no existence save as expressed in the state and the law––is thus the means of war; to impose our will on the enemy is its object. To secure that object we must render the enemy powerless; and that, in theory, is the true aim of warfare. That aim takes the place of the object, discarding it as something not actually part of war itself.”

    Emphasis on the word: science.

  • gunsandrockets

    Well that’s interesting. My “C” word post a pure test of the TFB comment filter, which blocked it. Apparently it took about an hour for the comment to clear some kind of moderation.

  • gunsandrockets

    Interesting. This was my first attempt to bypass the “C” word filter. And at first it did post, but within a couple minutes it had vanished! And now here it has reappeared again about an hour after I first posted it.

    Curious indeed.

  • truthsayer

    So, editor, having censored my post, who do you think the US military serves?

  • Tassiebush

    It’s certainly a conundrum! I’m very much an outsider looking in on this and the weight of the gear required is monstrous but the gear being carried seems pretty indispensable too. I’d be interested in how useful people who’ve served in the Armed Forces found the equipment they have to carry?

  • Jokuvaan

    Well for a example a PKM weights about as much as a M249.
    Also we have to think about BC.
    6.5×47 and 22-250 can surpass .308 at longer rangers.

  • gunsandrockets

    No doubt that January 1967 report only had Marines to survey about Vietnam use of the M14, because U.S. Army units didn’t ship over to Vietnam with M14 rifles, as far as I can find.

  • Some Rabbit

    Some folks still haven’t gotten over the fact that war has evolved away from 30 caliber battle rifles and 45 caliber pistols. Close air support and artillery have rendered big bore personal weapons obsolete.

  • Ryfyle

    So are we going to finally switch to lighter steel cased ammo and less stupid accessories?

  • Kurt Ingalls

    look, the mission of an infantryman is compromised by, for lack of a better way to put it, the ruling class. As long as infantrymen are used to guard Indian steamrollers, ferry workers to and from give away rebuilding projects, administer blue dye on election day on people’s thumbs (in countries we just smashed to pieces), there will always be this incessant confusion over their role….war is about killing the enemy and blowing things up…our ruling class uses the finest military in the world as a “meals on wheels”……no good can come of this……no good at all……CORRECT THE ROE!!!!! So our sons and daughters have half a chance…….

  • Suppressed

    We keep talking about this 100# load but I know me and several other members have no idea what all makes up this load and we would love to see a list of the gear. It would be killer if the corresponding weight of each item was listed (but not essential).

    • It’s given in the link in the fourth paragraph.

      • Suppressed

        Awesome, thanks man!

        As an outsider, it seems strange to make each guy carry a M4 cleaning kit…

        • Rob

          It is an absolutely vital piece of gear. As an infantryman you may go weeks without bathing but your weapon will always be maintained.

  • Jake Ketchum

    Yes, bigger bullets weigh more. Surely something can and should be cut from a soldier’s load to offset extra weight. Sticking with the same round because it’s light doesn’t solve the main issue with the round. Namely, it’s not very good at killing bad guys.

    • Seamus Bradley

      Also it does not penetrate Level IV body armor that is currently being mass issued to Russian troops.

      • Steel-cored 5.56mm doesn’t. But then, neither does steel-cored 7.62mm. Neither would steel-cored 6.5mm.

      • No one

        Neither does steel cored 7.62x51mm or any of the proposed gerpersherrs with a steel core dip—-

        You made an absolute fool of yourself in the last series of these articles, just shut up already.

    • No one

      5.56mm kills just fine, anyone who thinks otherwise at this point doesn’t know a thing about terminal ballistics.

  • darrell_b8

    Artillery and mortar fire should be the ‘weapon of choice’ for the infantry to employ against an enemy. ‘Grunt against Grunt’ is a war of attrition; and that is not the way the US Army should fight. The ‘available man pool’ is getting smaller and smaller; wasting your soldiers is not the answer. The Chinese ‘one child’ policy has created a VAST surplus of males; that is ‘disposable infantry’; massive fire power with enhanced artillery munitions will accommodate them; not a bigger M16 mag or ‘improved’ .223 ammo.

    • Sticky-eye Rivers

      Their mothers and fathers losing their child and only heir might not be as “disposable” as you think…

  • Fabian

    Infantry, the hardest job on earth.

  • Phil MacCracin

    Motto of the Recon…
    Travel light, freeze at night.
    LoL

  • DangerRanger

    It should be noted that over 300-400 meters away small arms aren’t that good at suppressing the enemy in order to maneuver safely and the maneuver element would have to travel close to 1km in order to get into good flanking position unseen. Over at Defence and Freedom someone wrote in the comments that in OEF infantry platoons small arms aren’t good at suppressing and what works for that are mortars and rockets. True or not, up to you.

    Also when facing mechanized enemy the firefight ought to be planned with range of AT weapons in mind.

  • Goetz Liedtke

    All of this neglects the fact that only a fraction of the infantrymen are actually attempting to kill the enemy. That fraction is larger with modern training techniques and volunteer soldiers, but a majority of the soldiers are not actively trying to kill the enemy. That’s why a single soldier in a squad (SDM) has more kills than any other – that person is one of those who are willing to kill.

  • truthsayer — no firearms, only politics, huh?

    • truthsayer

      The original article is more political than about firearms.

      You may console yourself that my comment was edited/eviscerated into only a pale hint of my original indictment.

  • gunsandrockets

    I forgot to thank you for that link. Excellent reading.

  • Michael I.

    This author seems to think that the 100 lbs+ our men carry is all weaponry. Nope. It is not the weapons that are over-burdening our men, rather it is all the rest of their kits. Too much bullshit that ‘required’ and that MUST be carried by some mechanical means so our men can concintrate on the fighting, not being mules!