From the horse’s mouth

Corps’ top leaders address concerns in Iraq

On USMC.mil:

From future troop rotations to new weaponry, Marines got their chance to ask any and every question to the Commandant and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps during their recent visit to Iraq.

In a series of town hall meetings at Marine bases throughout Iraq, General Michael W. Hagee and Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps John L. Estrada, candidly addressed many issues affecting Marines.

hagee.jpgOf particular note were answers to questions on rules of engagement

In an environment where the enemy uses white surrender flags to lure coalition forces into an ambush, Marines asked if the current rules of engagement would shift with the changing battlefield.

The rules of engagement depend on the environment and operational commander, said Gen. Hagee.

As a platoon commander during the Vietnam War, Gen. Hagee said that U.S. forces didn’t always abide by rules of engagement. He praised today’s Marines and their adherence to the rules of engagement, especially in an uncertain, dangerous atmosphere.

“I’m extremely proud of the discipline you all have shown,” said Gen. Hagee. “When you need to kill someone, you kill him, but there’s not any indiscriminate killing going on. That is not always easy, especially here in this environment.”

and the XM8

With recent testing of new infantry weapons by the U.S. Army and Marine Corps, Marines wondered if they will upgrade from their current M-16A2 or A4 service rifles.

As reported in several military publications, warfighting experts are currently testing the XM8 lightweight assault rifle, a 5.56 mm, 6-pound weapon designed to decrease the combat load and increase mobility on the battlefield.

Although he didn’t rule out future use of the XM8, the M-16A4 with the mounted advanced combat optical gunsite, commonly called “ACOG,” will be the issued weapon for most forward-deployed Marines. Marines engaged in close-quarter combat will operate with the M4 rifle, said Gen. Hagee.

Neither response should surprise MO readers. We know that the US military is doing a great (though not totally perfect 100% of the time) job avoiding unnecessary deaths and that the Marines are not planning on adopting the XM8 rifle any time soon.

Plus, another gem that will be familiar to MO readers — the response to a question about embedded reporters:

“Is it perfect? No,” said Hagee when asked his opinion about the reporters being allowed on the battlefield.

The commandant acknowledged that although the recent embedding of civilian reporters within combat units is not foolproof, it has allowed the public and the media to develop a greater appreciation and understanding of the armed forces.

“The knowledge base within the American (public) about military was not very deep. They have a much better understanding of what you do than they did before because of the embedded reporters,” said Gen. Hagee.

“They (media) get to know you, and you get to know them. You get to understand one another better.”

The commandant also wanted the Marines to distinguish between the reports from embedded reporters and those who are far from the frontlines.

“Most of the articles that appear in the paper that are inaccurate are often from reporters that are not here (with the Marines), or those who have certain political viewpoints,” he said.

Gee. Ya think?

Other topics include troop rotations, Afghanistan and Iraq campaign medals, and retention and career progress. Worth a look.

Comments

  1. No Code, I think you need to take a look at your statement, and maybe back off a little bit. The M-16 series weapons are a fine piece of hardware. It only takes a little more maintenance than any of the ‘equivalent’ weapons out there. With a little attention, an M-16 will take care of you. One of the great things about the M-16 is that it’s recoil is far less, and it’s muzzle jump less, than many of the ‘piston actuated’ actions. I’m not saying that they don’t work, and that they’re not accurate, I’m just saying that if you’re teaching new shooters/shooters without volumes of practice, it’s nice to not have to worry about the huge flinch that comes with a hard-recoiling weapon.

  2. No matter how much they upgrade the M16, It will continue to suck withou changing the horrible gas system If the gas system is so bad, why did H&K abandoned the roller bearing system they had since the G1 and design the G36 with a gas system? T

  3. 1. I was a Marine in the first Gulf War. The M-16 sucks, and it sucks especially bad in the sand. I don’t care how well or how often you clean it – it will jam. I was a range-safety NCO at Fort Dix last month and had to clear an incredible number of jams even there. What a piece of shit! 2. The Marines will let the Army adopt the XM-8 and work out all the kinks with Army money. Then they will buy the 2nd generation of the rifle with all the fixes. They did the same thing with their tanks. They held onto the M-60A3 until the M-1A1 was available. 3. The H&K switched from roller-block to gas because it’s cheaper to manufacture and lighter. Their gas system has a sealed piston unlike the M-16, which dumps dirty gas right into the bolt. That is one reason it is far more reliable. 4. No full-size 5.56 rifle has much recoil with or without a piston. The Corps is not worried about it anyhow. They have far fewer women percentage wise than the Army and they hung on the M-14 much longer than anyone except the Navy.

  4. I’ve shot M16 A1s and they jammed all the time. Might have something to do with the fact that they were just worn out. I have a buddy that works directly with the XM8 in Aberdeen. He says that the XM8 has been breaking during testing and they all love the thing but the 20MM OICW part takes faces off. That’s his job, to fire it till it breaks/blows up and figure out why. (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,128512,00.html)The guy in the video in the Humvee. The M16 never went through this testing. Back when I was in combat rescue our PJs carried M4s and ALLWAYS a M14 sniper. The Army is doing it right this time you test the hell out of it in combat like conditions work as much of the bugs out of it as you can. The M16 was pushed out by the ‘Wizkids’, and as all of you know politicians don’t die for our country. As for the 5.56mm …The Germans thought the world a lesson in the use of blitzkrieg tactics. They determined that a round in between the 8mm Mauser and 9mm(pistol)was what you needed for CQB and urban conflicts. A lot of our modern weapons come from the German weapons i.e. the M60(MG42). The U.S. army did testing too, and determined that something like most firefights were with in something like 100 to 150 yards, Thus reducing the need for long range rounds like the 30-06. Today the Army MUST take into consideration that level IV-A body armor is not just inside the CONUS. The 5.56 works great out to so many yards but the NATO approved projectile sucks. Look at the hollow tipped FMJ AK74 round’s wound channel. I know we follow the rules when it comes to NATO but do terrorists? No! We need something that’s going send them to Allah more efficiently that the 5.56mm. We are at war.. Things are never going to be the same again. Fear is the only thing that will make them understand that the US carries the biggest stick on the block and Lime is cheap. I think that we have grown soft. Look at all the other sissy countries pulling out cause a few idiots without cable say were are going to blow you up. Now when you send in our solders to do their job the government puts them on trial.(WTF)You got some bullet magnet playing dead then ‘WACK’ there goes Joe the man who saved your ass last time and who is one of your best friends is dead because you trusted a terrorist. Now when you go home you have to look his wife and kids in the face and tell them why you let him die. That solder is a hero. He saved how many lives that day? Who though up the old adage? ‘ Kill Em All And Let God Sort Em Out’? A Veteran… A hero… A man who knows that the guy lying next to you chewing the same dirt would protect you with his life as you would for his. In the end its your buddies and equipment that that get you home.

  5. While the entire M16/M4 family undeniably has reliability issues….It has more than stood the test of time as an effective combat weapon, and with proper maintenance and care does hold itself together well enough to earn the trust of its user. As a Naval Law Enforcement Specialist i have had the priviledge of firing both the A3 and the A4 models extensivley both on the range and in the field and have at least a moderate respect for the weapon! Believe me, i am not denouncing the fact that it is a weapon that can be improved on. I believe that the M8 will provide a decent sized host of improvements. Not all of them, granted. But a decent number. First of all the entire gas-operated pusher-rod operated bolt will prove to solve almost all of the jamming/malfunction errors of our current weapon. Second of all the versatility as well as the ease of this versatility in the M8 will make it that much more effective a weapon. In a matter of minutes, a properly supplied unit can completely alter the role that each and every M8 in its possession has thereby expanding what roles the unit itself can take up! As for the 5.56 round……its definetely a piece of ammunition that needs to be given some scrutiny by our benevolent leaders. The only plus it has is one that matters quite a bit to a soldier in the middle of the dessert. When you carry as much gear as a US Soldier has to in combat and then subject them to the blistering heat of the Middle Eastern Sun, any amount of relief they can means worlds! The 5.56 ammunition may lack stopping power, but it also lacks a very significant amount of weight. This is something the 7.62 family of ammunition does not do! I for one welcome the M8, and most certainly cannot wait to get my hands on one!

  6. While the entire M16/M4 family undeniably has reliability issues….It has more than stood the test of time as an effective combat weapon, and with proper maintenance and care does hold itself together well enough to earn the trust of its user. As a Naval Law Enforcement Specialist i have had the priviledge of firing both the A3 and the A4 models extensivley both on the range and in the field and have at least a moderate respect for the weapon! Believe me, i am not denouncing the fact that it is a weapon that can be improved on. I believe that the M8 will provide a decent sized host of improvements. Not all of them, granted. But a decent number. First of all the entire gas-operated pusher-rod operated bolt will prove to solve almost all of the jamming/malfunction errors of our current weapon. Second of all the versatility as well as the ease of this versatility in the M8 will make it that much more effective a weapon. In a matter of minutes, a properly supplied unit can completely alter the role that each and every M8 in its possession has thereby expanding what roles the unit itself can take up! As for the 5.56 round……its definetely a piece of ammunition that needs to be given some scrutiny by our benevolent leaders. The only plus it has is one that matters quite a bit to a soldier in the middle of the dessert. When you carry as much gear as a US Soldier has to in combat and then subject them to the blistering heat of the Middle Eastern Sun, any amount of relief they can get means worlds! The 5.56 ammunition may lack stopping power, but it also lacks a very significant amount of weight. This is something the 7.62 family of ammunition does not do! I for one welcome the M8, and most certainly cannot wait to get my hands on one!

  7. Wow, never would’ve thought that people could hate their weapon so much. I’ve taken an M-16 to a few spots that had sand, dust, dirt, and crud too, so don’t tell me that your weapon can’t handle it. The only time I’ve ever seen an M-16 series weapon jam is when it’s mishandled, mistreated, or somebody had the bottom of the magazine jammed into the dirt while lying prone. I’m very familiar with the weapon, it’s operating system, and the ballistics/energy of it’s round. I’ve acted as armorer/repairer, and firing coach. I’ve seen so many rounds fired through these weapons that it’s not even funny. This is a good weapon, and yes, the conditions can make the weapon malfunction. However, it takes one hell of a lot of sand to cause this weapon to ‘jam’, and if you’re cleaning it regularly, that’s not going to happen, unless you get some bad ammo. As far as the poster that said that recoil on a 5.56 mm is not bad enough to be an issue, have you fired a mini 14? You’ll notice quite a bit of difference between that and an M-16 series rifle. It’s not a big deal for a shooter that’s got a little proficiency, but you have to remember that we are teaching a lot of soldiers that have never fired a weapon before basic. The less recoil, the less ‘flinch’, the easier they are to teach. I’m sure that the xm-8 will be a fine weapon, I just wish we could get them to go to the 6.8 spc, or something like it. The 6.8 will get something like 27 or 28 rounds in a 30rd 5.56 magazine, for a very similar weight. Not a big difference in combat load, or ammo capacity, with much greater hitting power. Here’s my rant, do your worst.

  8. No doubt evryone’s personal experiences (me too!) affect their perception of any given thing (especially a rifle that may save your life!). For my own experience……..the M16/M4 series is a mature firearm that has seen many immprovments over the years. The multi lug bolt leaves me thinking if I never had to clean one again…….it would be too soon! LOL! There has got to be a way to improve on it (I’m sure it has been too). The gas system allowing too much combustion residue into the working parts of the weapon needs to go also. Cleaning the weapon more rigorously and/or more often is just a band aid for less than optimal design (and one that should certainly be used if you are using the M16/M4 series). Having said all that…….I’m sure the M8 isn’t perfect either, but does appear to be a step forward. The big question is whether we saddle it, and our troops, with a marginally effective round (the 5.56×45) or not. I’m amazed at the number of people who can’t wait to place yet ANOTHER caliber in our logistics pipeline, as a fix for 5.56 marginal effectiveness. Bullet design and construction are likely a more effective means of redress for 5.56 problems than changing to SOME OTHER CALIBER. RBCD blended metal, or CorBon DPX bullets will dramtically improve 5.56 performance without having a different size box of ammo to worry about, or reducing mag capacity (in the only independent test of 6.8×43 I’ve seen, 30rd M16 mags were reduced to 17rds [a much fatter cartrdge forcing single stacking in a double stack mag]). Here’s the tip! The M8 will improve on the M16/M4 series, though it too, will have problems to be worked through with additional development. Improve 5.56 with more effective bullets (making the older M16/M4s more effective too), NOT another caliber. When we DO get get ready to replace the 5.56, let’s do it in conjunction with an M8 replacement (in 10-20 years), and for gosh sakes let’s go telescoped caseless on the ammo. Something like 70-80% of the weight of current ammunition is the brass casing. For the life of me……I can’t figure out why we didn’t transtion to TC ammo with the development of our M16/M4 replacement (keeping us a tech step up on foes and allies in small arms development and effectiveness). OUCH!……..just fell of my soap box! LOL! Happy New Year to all our troops! 🙂

  9. Well I met up with my friend from Aberdeen over Christmas. He says that the XM8 is on its 3rd generation. The handguards on the frist ones kept melting and the retractable stock just kept breaking. The carbine one still has a bad jamming problem. He said that the 3rd gen are much better. The granade launcher is nothing but a bad ass. The Army is testing the 6.5spc round with them. Thats about all he said. Hes an E5 so its not like the knows the time scale. He said it will be a few years for the XM8. He was thinking about posting on some Blogs. What he says and what H&K claims are way different. I was like ‘NO SHIT!’ He needs to get on here and tell it like it is.

  10. flanker, in regards to the test you have seen that a 30 round m-16 mag held 17 rds of 6.8mm SPC, that was a 20 rd. mag, and they do double stack. The casing on the 6.8 mm round is almost identical in diameter to a 5.56 round, it just doesn’t neck down as much. The conversions that usually come in a single stack are in the .458 to .50 caliber range. There are a couple of problems with the caseless rounds discussed above. 1.) cost-each round is 3 to 4 x the cost of a ‘standard’ round. 2.) feeding problems-every weapon thus far designed to be a self-loading rifle with this type of ammunition has had feed problems in developement. Not to say they can’t be worked out, but….. 3.) Extraction of jammed bullets/misfired rounds- Eventually, it will happen, and one of the big selling points to these weapons is that they do not need ejection ports. So how do you get a misfired round out of the chamber? Remember, you are dealing with an unstabilized explosive-driven projectile at this point. Do you want to drop the mag, and then force it out with a cleaning rod? What happens if the round goes off with the cleaning rod in the barrel? (I’ve seen this happen, by the way, not pretty) For a battlefield weapon, caseless rounds just aren’t practical at this stage of their developement. I get to ‘coach’ several soldiers through weapons qualification every year, and trust me, we need to stick with the tried and true. Now mind you, I look forward to the issuing of a new, well-tested, battle rifle, but I don’t think a better bullet will give the 5.56mm round the power our guys in the thick of it need. Even with the best bullet you can legally use (Hague conventions), you just cannot get a big enough wound channel. Sorry, I’m ranting. Yes, I’d like a weapon that’s easier to clean, and yes, I’d like to be able to have caseless rounds. Right now, we might be able to do something about the clean-functioning part, but trust me, you don’t want the average joe trying to mess with the complications involved with caseless ammo. It used to be that 85% of inductees(when I came in) had fired some kind of weapon before, we are now down to less than 60%. Most of them have a helluvatime with a double feed, let alone the complications involved with getting one ‘unstuck’ without an ejection port. I try not to get on ‘my soapbox’ cause it hurts to fall that far.

  11. Stewdog, I thought the army wanted to field this thing to a batallion or two by FY05? BTW, can you offer some insight into the army’s trials of the XM-8 chambered in 6.8 mm SPC? PLEASE GET SOME MORE INFO FROM YOUR FRIEND!!!! Maybe my friend Jack can help, you can find him in a clear glass bottle with a black label:-D

  12. the time for the m-16 to go is more than delayed i have seen two of my comrads dying near bagdad because their m-16s jammed at the same time

  13. even ignoring the reliability issues of the m16, its a freeking peashooter(,223) by comparison to the ak47’s 7.62 round. i have a 7.62×54 rifle and it can shoot through decent sized trees. i would rather use the ak than than m16 when my time to serve comes around