Jammed

Was flipping through a recent issue of Defense News when I noticed this letter:

Dangerous Weapon Jams

My unit — B Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment — was deployed to Afghanistan from April 2005 to March 2006. While there, we were attached to Special Forces at Camp Tillman on the Afghan border.

I can’t believe what I’m seeing in your paper, –Out of Reach: Why the U.S. Army’s Best Carbine Won’t Be in Soldiers’ Hands Soon,” March 5 issue. There is a better weapon that could be put in the hands of soldiers, and they’re [complaining] about money now?

I saw first-hand what happens when your weapon jams up because of the harsh environments we have to call home there. An 18B weapons sergeant was shot in the face due directly to his weapon jamming. I just can’t believe that after things like this happen, the Army is still buying more M4s.

Why not rotate them like we used to before the war? All rapid-deploying units used to get the new M4, the support units would get the excess M16s and so on. I’m not saying they need to outfit the whole Army with a new weapon, but why not start phasing it in?

If they’re so confident about the reliability of the M4, why not go to Afghanistan, pick up an M4 and go out on a few patrols themselves? They should see how they feel after their weapons jam in combat. Some of the scariest moments in my life were when my weapon went down.

Soldiers’ lives are on the line. Why is it a hassle to make an improvement that could save lives?

The M4 isn’t a bad weapon; it just needs improvements.

It’s about time people stop fighting to keep things the same and start moving toward a better weapon system.

Sgt. Charles Perales
Fort Bragg, N.C.

The two major issues with the M16/M4 system seem to be the jamming problem and the question about the effectiveness of the 5.56 NATO round.

The Army seems dead set on staying with the 5.56, even with the shorter barrels on the M4, but the jamming issue, primarily due to the direct gas system heating things up and dumping fouling into the action, seems to be a no-brainer and reluctance to address it seems negligent.

The story Sgt. Perales refers to was Defense News’ coverage of the HK416 article by Matthew Cox, noted on MO in February.

It’s not that the M4s aren’t getting the job done. They are. But I don’t think “good enough” is good enough for our troops.

Now that Special Forces are going to start getting the SCAR and some HK416s, I suspect that pressure to adopt a piston-driven M4-type carbine will be picking up steam very soon. Whether that means the regular Army will do anything about it or not remains to be seen.