Setting the Record Straight on Milley's Congressional Testimony

In the wake of Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley’s testimony to Congress on the present and future state of the US Army, there has been a significant amount of speculation and in some cases misleading reporting regarding his statements on small arms and ammunition. Authors such as Todd South with Army Times and Eric Graves of Soldier Systems have presented their take on General Milley’s comments, but in doing so have presented an interpretation of his testimony that I do not think reflects what he said or meant. Therefore, briefly, I’d like to go over some of these interpretations and explain why I think they are not accurate and what General Milley meant, instead. After each bullet I will list the interpretation that I think is incorrect, followed by General Milley’s statement regarding it, and then my own explanation.

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BREAKING: USMC Releases RFI for New Infantry Rifles, Uppers, Optics, Suppressors, Targets

In a surprising turn of events given the recent public motions towards an all-M27 fleet, the United States Marine Corps has just released a new request for information (RFI), soliciting proposals from the industry for a whole new suite of infantry equipment, including rifles, upper receivers for existing weapons, optics, suppressors, and targets. The new RFI is very explicit as to what the industry can and/or should bring to the table as far as proposals. Below is replicated the “Infantry Rifle” segment of the RFI document, which is just one part out of five:

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Results of US Marine Corps Infantry Automatic Trials Released Through FOIA Request

Today, a variant of the Heckler & Koch HK416 rifle is the standard squad infantry automatic rifle (IAR) of the United States Marine Corps, as the M27. At one time in the mid-2000s, though, companies from Colt to LWRC competed against each other in a competition to see which weapon would be the the Corps’ choice to fill the role, supplanting the belt-fed M249 as the squad’s automatic fire support capability. These weapons took a variety of approaches to meeting the USMC’s needs, from the constant recoil Ultimax MG, to the heat-sink equipped Colt IAR, to the open bolt full auto, closed bolt semiauto LWRC IAR. Ultimately, simplicity won out, and Heckler & Koch’s quite unambitious HK416-derived entry was selected to be the M27.

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USMC Releases RFI for 11,000 More IARs, Rumors Abound of Pure-Fleeted M27 Standard Rifle

Earlier today, the United States Marine Corps Systems Command released a request for information (RFI) to manufacturers regarding the industry’s capability to fill an order for 11,000 new IAR-type rifles. You can read the RFI over at this link at FedBizOpps.

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

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

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Has "The Silencing" Begun? The Marine Corps Experimenting by Suppressing an Entire Battalion

On the defense side, sound suppressors have been relegated to special roles ever since their invention. Used to give stealth to special operatives, assassins, and direct action teams, silencers have been valuable tools, but not central fixtures in normal military operations.

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What Would a Long Range Sharpshooter Infantry Paradigm Look Like? Part 2: Accounting and Training

Recent experience in Afghanistan, coupled with concerns about the effectiveness of the M4 Carbine – and perhaps also just a general long-term swing of the pendulum – has spurred many to advocate for a new configuration of infantry weapon centered around long range fire enabled by compact, efficient ammunition firing low-drag projectiles. I am not one of these advocates, and indeed it’s no secret that I find serious flaws with this approach to infantry small arms weapons systems. Still, this idea of having a long-range sharpshooter-centric force does seem to be gaining ground, and therefore I think it would be worthwhile to take some time to go down that rabbit hole and see where it leads. Our eventual goal in this endeavor is to paint a picture of a future infantry force that lives and works with these weapons, and what compromises they have to make to reap the benefits of such powerful long-range weapons.

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What Would a Long Range Sharpshooter Infantry Paradigm Look Like? Part 1: The Weapons

More and more, it seems like we are on the cusp of a break in the small arms “plateau”, and that major changes may be coming both in the technology and use of infantry small arms and ammunition. The biggest harbinger of this coming paradigm shift has been Picatinny’s Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) program, now superseded by the Cased Telescoped Small Arms Systems (CTSAS) program. As CTSAS and similar programs make headway, it seems increasingly likely that some sort of next generation lightweight ammunition paradigm will force a shift in infantry small arms, and that the current fleet of metallic-cased ammunition and the weapons designed to fire it will have to be replaced by new designs.

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Will the Marine Corps Replace the M4 with the HK416? USMC Evaluates M27 IAR as Standard Issue Rifle

Will Heckler & Koch’s HK416 rifle become the most successful assault rifle model of the early 21st Century? It’s starting to look that way. After the French adoption of the HK416F as their standard issue weapon to replace the FAMAS, and a likely Bundeswehr contract for the rifle on the horizon, now the United States Marine Corps is exploring the possibility of fielding its own HK416 variant – the M27 IAR – to all infantry battalions in place of the M4 Carbine. Military.com reports:

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Is the age of the Bayonet over? An example through the Marines of 1/1

The Marine Corps Times (not affiliated with the USMC) released an article detailing the activities of Marine Infantrymen from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines while undergoing training in the Cultana Training Area of South Australia. Post OIF/OEF, infantry battalions traveling to Australia as part of Marine Rotational Force Darwin, UDPs (Universal Deployment Program) to Okinawa, or the usual MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit) has become the new routine for the Victor units of the Fleet (active duty infantry battalions). However, with this particular exercise in Australia, I noticed something interesting about the units live fire attack.

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Say Goodbye to the Minimi? British Army to review usage

A report from Jane’s highlights a move within the British Army to review the requirements and usage of their LMG, the famously nicknamed “Minimi” (FN Para Minimi), and their M6-640 Commando 60 mm mortar system. Both of these weapon systems are currently fireteam (Minimi) and platoon assets (mortar). Essentially, what is going on here, is that the British Army has unofficially concluded that their L85A2 Under Barrel Grenade Launchers (UBGLs) and their L129A1 Sharpshooter rifles (7.62 LMT ARs), have essentially beaten the Minimi and the M6-640 out of a job. In that, the UBGL and the Sharpshooter are more than sufficient for taking on area targets, being an indirect fire asset, and suppressing the enemy than the mortar system and the Minimi are. So why have both sets which would further burden a platoon, when one set is just as efficient, is the question that the British Infantry will be reviewing in the upcoming months.

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M27 DM role, front sights ditched, and other Marine Corps News

Two articles recently came out in the Marine Corps Times (which has absolutely no affiliation or endorsement by the USMC) concerning a variety of small arms related topics. The first one is a sort of M27 qualification that some Twenty Nine Palms battalions participated in (3/4, 3/7), called the Designated Marksmanship Course for the M27. This qualification is completely separate from the Marine Corps standard Table 1 that consists of the annual rifle qualification all Marines have to complete once a year. In this case, M27 gunners from these two battalions worked on unknown distance target engagement from 200 meters out to 600 meters. Gunners worked with spotters and followed a very similar method used by Sniper Platoons in that they have a time limit in estimating the target range, then have another time limit in which they must engage the targets, and if they miss, they have to reengage within three to five seconds or so. Unfortunately, per how a fire team operates, this isn’t how an M27 is employed in a live fire attack or on a typical patrol. Doesn’t it make sense and could an M27 gunner be used in this capacity? Of course, the chances that it could happen in are less than often, in combat.

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Marine Corps Brass Approve Replacing M16 With M4 Carbine

In the Marine Corps, every man is a rifleman, but it seems the days of the full-length rifle with the USMC may be coming to a close. The M4 Carbine, pending approval by the commandant, will likely become the general issue weapon of the Corps, replacing the M16A4 for the infantry, Marine Corps Times reports:

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First M27 IAR Afganistan Photos

The Marine Corps times have published the first photos of the M27 IAR in Afganistan.

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Some Marine battalions allegedly ban the PMAG

It has been reported on the ARFCOM and Lightfighter forums that some USMC battalions are banning or restricting the use of Magpul PMAG magazines because they are incompatible with the M27 IAR. The PMAG does not work with the HK416 (it does not drop free and needs to be pulled out), and its derivative the M27 IAR, because of slightly different lower magwell geometry.

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