James at Hell in a Handbasket received an email from a sergeant in Iraq discussing the 5.56 NATO round and M16 reliability in the sand:
The round that they chose is good in maiming people but not knocking them out for the count. They need to find or design a rifle and a round that can be put through hell and fire .Maybe go back to the 7.62 NATO(.308),the 6.8mm,7.62 Russian, some round that would fly stright though light armour and brush to kill the bad guys. I’m here in Iraq and it’s dusty as hell , m16’s jam unless cleaned two or three time daily, the Iraqies( hodges)have AK-47’s they can be put in dirt, mud, and still fire at a good rate .The m-16 has one advantage over the Ak-47 it is hiting pin point targets.
And as I’ve mentioned too many times to even bother linking to, many M16-equipped units have sharpshooters using M14s.
The 5.56 isn’t a waste, like many think. For instance, it’s probably the best round for the squad-level automatic rifleman. Those guys establish bases of fire, pin enemy forces in place, and generally make the bad guys keep their heads down while the rest of the squad maneuvers in for the kill. In that role, the additional ammunition and lighter weapon (meaning even more ammunition) is probably worth the smaller round. But it really seems clear that the 5.56 doesn’t cut it for the regular troops.
Go read the whole post.