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soldiers losing lives due to M4

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/11/2009 at 18:53
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From MSNBC :
 
this shouldn't be happening !!!!
 
WASHINGTON - It was chaos during the early morning assault last year on a remote U.S. outpost in Afghanistan and staff Sgt. Erich Phillips' M4 carbine had quit firing as militant forces surrounded the base. The machine gun he grabbed after tossing the rifle aside didn't work either.

When the battle in the small village of Wanat ended, nine U.S. soldiers lay dead and 27 more were wounded. A detailed study of the attack by a military historian found that weapons failed repeatedly at a "critical moment" during the firefight on July 13, 2008, putting the outnumbered American troops at risk of being overrun by nearly 200 insurgents.

Which raises the question: Eight years into the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, do U.S. armed forces have the best guns money can buy?

Despite the military's insistence that they do, a small but vocal number of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq has complained that the standard-issue M4 rifles need too much maintenance and jam at the worst possible times.

A week ago, eight U.S. troops were killed at a base near Kamdesh, a town near Wanat. There's no immediate evidence of weapons failures at Kamdesh, but the circumstances were eerily similar to the Wanat battle: insurgents stormed an isolated stronghold manned by American forces stretched thin by the demands of war.

Army Col. Wayne Shanks, a military spokesman in Afghanistan, said a review of the battle at Kamdesh is under way. "It is too early to make any assumptions regarding what did or didn't work correctly," he said.

Troops use M4 on front lines
Complaints about the weapons the troops carry, especially the M4, aren't new. Army officials say that when properly cleaned and maintained, the M4 is a quality weapon that can pump out more than 3,000 rounds before any failures occur.

The M4 is a shorter, lighter version of the M16, which made its debut during the Vietnam war. Roughly 500,000 M4s are in service, making it the rifle troops on the front lines trust with their lives.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., a leading critic of the M4, said Thursday the Army needs to move quickly to acquire a combat rifle suited for the extreme conditions U.S. troops are fighting in.

U.S. special operations forces, with their own acquisition budget and the latitude to buy gear the other military branches can't, already are replacing their M4s with a new rifle.

"The M4 has served us well but it's not as good as it needs to be," Coburn said.

Battlefield surveys show that nearly 90 percent of soldiers are satisfied with their M4s, according to Brig. Gen. Peter Fuller, head of the Army office that buys soldier gear. Still, the rifle is continually being improved to make it even more reliable and lethal.

Fuller said he's received no official reports of flawed weapons performance at Wanat. "Until it showed up in the news, I was surprised to hear about all this," he said.

Study based on survivors' interviews
The study by Douglas Cubbison of the Army Combat Studies Institute at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., hasn't been publicly released. Copies of the study have been leaked to news
organizations and are circulating on the Internet.

Cubbison's study is based on an earlier Army investigation and interviews with soldiers who survived the attack at Wanat. He describes a well-coordinated attack by a highly skilled enemy that unleashed a withering barrage with AK-47 automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.

The soldiers said their weapons were meticulously cared for and routinely inspected by commanders. But still the weapons had breakdowns, especially when the rifles were on full automatic, which allows hundreds of bullets to be fired a minute.

The platoon-sized unit of U.S. soldiers and about two dozen Afghan troops was shooting back with such intensity the barrels on their weapons turned white hot. The high rate of fire appears to have put a number of weapons out of commission, even though the guns are tested and built to operate in extreme conditions.

‘My weapon was overheating’
Cpl. Jonathan
Ayers and Spc. Chris McKaig were firing their M4s from a position the soldiers called the "Crow's Nest." The pair would pop up together from cover, fire half a dozen rounds and then drop back down.

On one of these trips up, Ayers was killed instantly by an enemy round. McKaig soon had problems with his M4, which carries a 30-round magazine.

"My weapon was overheating," McKaig said, according to Cubbison's report. "I had shot about 12 magazines by this point already and it had only been about a half hour or so into the fight. I couldn't charge my weapon and put another round in because it was too hot, so I got mad and threw my weapon down."

 

The soldiers also had trouble with their M249 machine guns, a larger weapon than the M4 that can shoot up to 750 rounds per minute.

Cpl. Jason Bogar fired approximately 600 rounds from his M-249 before the weapon overheated and jammed the weapon.

Bogar was killed during the firefight, but no one saw how he died, according to the report.

 

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/11/2009 at 19:13
Mike McDonald View Drop Down
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Maintnenance shows.  Lack of maintenance also shows.
The M4 isn't failing.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/11/2009 at 19:40
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Things I see reading this article: It is critically important to train soliers to control their rate of fire under stress. When the attack occurred they switched to full auto - this ultimately hurt their survival chances. Most of our young soldiers started with semi auto and can rip through lots of ammo without sufficient accuracy based on the idea that he who shoots the most the first runs the other guy off.  Shooters that start with a bolt action tend to make their shots count even when they change over to a semi auto. A lot of our rifle training is at 25 meters and the Army used to have some bolt action 22's when I was in Army ROTC in 1974, I think that helps teach accuracy. I also miss the M-14 which is a far more valuable combat weapon with a bullet that retains sufficient energy where the 5.56 does not have adequate energy.  I am convinced that a 5.56 is not the correct cartridge due to its low level of energy at distance. The value of the M4 is its light weight and its serviceability is significantly enhanced with the use of 77 grain bullets.

Energy in Foot Pounds 5.56mm   223 from Federal Ammo website 

Energy

      Load No Caliber              Muzzle  100 Y  200 Y  300 Y  400 Y  500 Y

62gr  AE223N 223 Rem. (5.56x45mm)   1255   1013   810    640    499    386

77gr  GM223M3 223 Rem. (5.56x45mm)  1265   1053   869    712    578    466

 

175gr GM308M2 308 Win. (7.62x51mm)  2627   2290   1987   1717   1476   1264



Edited by Urimaginaryfrnd - October/11/2009 at 19:42
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/11/2009 at 19:46
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I dont think it is a maintenance issue on all of it.  The training is failing by switching to full auto they overheated the weapons causing them to fail.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/11/2009 at 20:04
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 I agree with Wes.

No matter how clean these weapons were when the fight started, 3,000 (un-aimed and largely ineffective) rounds later, something's going to give,especially in desert heat and sand. I would love to know how an equal number of combat- hardened WWII vets with M1 Garands would have fared under identical circumstances.
I don't presume to know for certain, but I honestly think a lot fewer rounds would have been fired, a lot more enemy would have croaked off, and  at least a few more American heroes would have returned home.
 
 God Bless those who gave their lives.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/11/2009 at 20:24
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I believe this article shows the problem of under-manning the situation, not a problem of their fire-arms. The amount of news that comes from Afghanistan where only a fire-team of Marines or soldiers are present and responsible for very large tracts of territory are simply unacceptable to me. Then, on top this information, you get the reports of in-direct fire support and air cover requests being denied. Simply amazing, what a way to run a war!!  
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/11/2009 at 20:33
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Valid point Billy the under-manning is nothing short of negligence on the part of the administration. 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/11/2009 at 20:33
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Good point, Bill.

 There's no doubt that there's a lot we aren't being told...

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/11/2009 at 20:38
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That is a mild understatement Ron.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/11/2009 at 20:47
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 I'm sure you know that more than just about anybody!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/11/2009 at 21:12
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THE WEAPONS ARE sh*t! WE SHOULD BE USING .308 NOT .223 AND THE GAS SYSTEMS SUCK. THE WEAPONS JAM AND OVER HEAT THEY ARE JUNK.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/11/2009 at 21:24
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Maintenance is a training issue.  When you flip that little switch to the FA mode you've failed to maintain your weapon.
ON leathality of the 5.56 cartridge, I asked one of the sniper pals about his experience with the M4.  He plainly stated that when he placed the front sight on the CVS triangle and pressed the trigger his targets would cease their hostilities.  But unlike these guys he had received correct training in the deployment of the weapons system.
ALso said that it is not at all uncommon to pencil whip an entire company regarding qualification due to lack of available ammunition for training.
So it becomes acceptable to blame the platform.  The story is repeated in history and will continue to be repated in the future, which is sad indeed.  We keep relearning these lessons with the blood of our future.  Nothing beats training and nothing in the budget is so unsexy as training.  No sex, no funds.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/11/2009 at 21:26
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While never seeing the type of action depicted in this article and not being armed with an m4, I must say that during my 4 year enlistment in the Marines my M-16a2 miss fired so few times it is hard to remember. And most times it was either because of weak magazines, or if the rounds in the mag were wet or muddy (that got ugly in a hurry!). Other than that if I did my part (maintenance, lube, ect.) it did it's part pretty well too. Would I have liked a more powerful round ? As a matter of fact I still believe that a .243/6mm would be prefect. But I also think that the weapon system as a whole is damned good!   
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/11/2009 at 21:27
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 Preston-
 the question your Dad poses, though, is whether they would overheat and fail as often if fired as a semi-auto with an emphasis on aimed fire.
 I think they would not.
 Nontheless, I agree that the .308 would be preferred for many situations and for several reasons.
 
Stay as safe as possible over there!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/11/2009 at 21:44
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In my opinion using full auto is stupid, I'd never waste ammo switching over to full auto I would want every shot to count. I'd rather have an AR-10 .308 and carry less bullets due to weight and make each shot count rather then carry an M4 with alot of bullets and piss away .223 rounds. Semi auto is less wear and tear on the weapon no doubt and keeps the barrell from overheating making the weapon stay accurate longer. Full auto does nothing but burn the barrell up. What can I say "one shot, one kill" and i dont think .223 is capable of it at a long distance maybe up to 300 yards you are good but then you are getting the sh*t kicked outta you by AK's using 7.62X39. I think we need to slow down the rate of fire and use something more lethal.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/11/2009 at 21:49
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We also need to get rid of the junk Beretta M9 and go back to our Colt M1911 or switch to glock .40 or .45 because 9mm is a joke!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/11/2009 at 21:53
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At long range, against AK's the M-16a2 really shined! The AK has never been an accurate rifle, and the 7.62x39mm round isn't a very accurate round either! I never had problem holding the 10 ring on the 500m line with open sights. And I was only a career 225 out of 250 average on the range. Where I believe the AK shines is the fact that you don't have to do any maintenance on it!   
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/11/2009 at 21:58
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I agree with you, I think the Ak is only good out to about 300 yards and isn't accurate out at distance but it stomps the sh*t out of the M4/M16 up to 300 yards cuz its much more lethal.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/11/2009 at 22:13
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If hit with either round, it would ruin someone's day. But for the most part I agree with you, and would like the adoption of a heavier round/caliber weapon. But  one of the really cool things about the M-16/M4 is the ease of teaching people to use it accurately do to the lack of recoil. With the .308 recoil goes up significantly, thus inducing flinch and other problems on new shooters. I never had those issues, but I was raised around firearms. But most people that go into the military (from my experience) don't have that back ground.  
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/11/2009 at 22:32
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I agree the recoil goes up when you use a bigger caliber and the rounds are more expensive but if we spend the time on the range we can get use to them. maybe at first some people would be afraid of the recoil but they would be able to work through it especially in a dangerous situation.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/11/2009 at 22:46
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Hi Preston,
Im a friend of your Dad, Wes. Its nice to see you on OT, Im glad you are here with us this evening. Your Dad is very proud of you!
 
Julio....
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/11/2009 at 22:50
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Btw Preston, thank you for your service! And God's speed!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/11/2009 at 22:51
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/11/2009 at 22:58
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I wonder though how many Taliban are also firing on full auto. Seem like our guys were just overwhelmed numerically in both cases and left in ill-conceived, under-supported remote locations...and both incidents happened under different administrations. Seems like no matter who's "in charge" the boots on the ground get screwed. It really angered me to hear yet again that various senators want to take money out of training and maintenance to buy something the military doesn't need (C-17s in this case).

As far as the weapons and round go, I'm not qualified to comment on anything but bolt-action .308s and M1 Garands. From what I've read, although Beretta made a number of improvements to the M14 in .308, it wasn't a controllable weapon in full-auto mode. On the other hand, the .223 seems kinda wimpy and the M16/M4 design prone to gas fouling. But again, I'm not qualified to judge between them. I would, however, say maybe it's worth looking into to get the same kind of equipment Special Forces get. Or maybe it is time to move to a round like the 6.8 SPC.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/12/2009 at 09:02
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jonoMT,
 
Interesting point about the administrations (plural).
 
The first incident cited in the story happened on July 13, 2008, the second one last week.
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