Trip Report-Iraq


May 13, 2003, 12:09 PM
The Marine Corps Systems Command sent a team of experts over to Iraq recently to observe how their products had worked. The trip covered everything from command. control and communications to water prep and weaponry. Here's an interesting look at individual weapons performance.

TFL Survivor

M16A4 with associated combat optic (ACOG 4x), the West Coast’s SAM Rifle ~ All interviewed were extremely pleased with the performance and felt it “answered the mail” for the role of the Squad Advanced Marksman (SAM). All said the fixed 4-power ACOG sight that was included was the perfect solution. It gave them the ability to identify targets at distance, under poor conditions, and maintained ability to quickly acquire the target in the close in (MOUT/room clearing) environment. As above, many “stacked” it with the AN/PVS-14 to get a true night capability. No Marines present in interviews knew of any situation where the shooter could shoot the gun to its full capability or outshoot it. Interviewees included STA platoon leadership and members who are school trained MOS 8541 Snipers. They saw no need for the accuracy and expense involved in the version being built for the “East Coast” SAM Rifle by Precision Weapons Section (PWS), WTBN, Quantico. The standard M16A4 with issued optic more than satisfied their requirements.
Distribution among battalions varied. One battalion received (6), one went to each of the three line companies and three to STA Platoon for the spotters. Other battalions received one per rifle squad.
Regular M16A4’s, no optic, were sent over to theatre to replace M16A2’s. However, they arrived too late to be distributed and BZO’d prior to start of the war. These weapons remained in storage in Kuwait.

M4 Carbine ~ Many Marines commented on desire for the shorter weapon vice the longer M16’s. They say that it would have definitely been better in the urban environment because of the confined spaces. Since most of the operators were operating from a vehicle platform, the smaller weapon would have helped tremendously for mounting and dismounting.
There were numerous comments that the M16 is too long and cumbersome in the urban fight. Several Marines even opted to use the AK-47s that had been captured from Iraqi weapons caches. Others were trading the rifle for pistols to go into buildings to allow mobility in confined spaces.
There has been a push to get M-4’s to crewmen of the mechanized vehicles, LAR in particular. The distribution needs to include LAR, AAV’s, Tanks, Motor Transportation, and any other units that may have a requirement. IWS has fielded some assets to LAR, but not all others. LAR still has mostly M16’s. The M-16’s are too cumbersome/long for crewmen to employ (get out of the cupola or out of a door/window) in a timely manner while under stress such as when receiving fire.

M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) ~ The SAW’s are worn out and apparently beyond repair. They have far exceeded their service life. Many Marines are duct taping and zip tying the weapons together. Reconnaissance units were requesting parasaw, infantry units requesting collapsible buttstock.

5.56mm vs. 7.62 Lethality ~ 5.56mm “definitely answered the mail” and “as long as the shots were in the head or chest they went down” were typical quotes from several Marines; many who were previously very skeptical of 5.56mm ammunition. Most of the interviewed Marines who reported targets not going down and/or could still fight were referencing non-lethal shots to the extremities. There were reports of targets receiving shots in the vitals and not going down. These stories need not be described, but are of the rare superhuman occurrences that defy logic and caliber of round. Some Marines did ask about getting the heaver-grained 5.56mm rounds, up to 77 grain if possible.

M9 Pistol Magazines ~ The magazines are not working properly. The springs are extremely weak and the follower does not move forward when rounds are removed. If the magazine is in the weapon, malfunctions result. If out of the weapon, remaining rounds fall out of the magazine. Dirt and sand does cause some of the problem with follower movement, but multiple cleanings of the magazine each day does not alleviate the problem. The main problem is the weak/worn springs. (note: I personally encountered this problem as well. Say what you will, but I had to break down all magazines daily to clean them. Despite this effort, rounds routinely “fell” out of the magazine. Forces in contact did not have the time or the luxury to break down each 9mm magazine daily. M16 magazines worked well. Like many officers, I also traded up to a rifle).

Weapon Backup ~ Many infantrymen are requesting that all operators have an issued backup weapon, (i.e. M9 pistol) to augment their T/O weapon. If they can’t get pistols for secondary weapon purposes, they need more pistols available for MOUT operations to operate in very confined spaces, stairwells, etc. They request at least one per squad; minimum, one per fire team; better.

Rifle Propelled Grenade ~ Many Marines are requesting Rifle Propelled grenades to augment or replace the M203. The M203 doesn’t have an adequate range capability. (note: this desire stems from the fact that the most effective weapon employed against coalition forces was the RPG).

M240G Medium Machine Gun ~ Marines who did not really know what to expect were extremely impressed with effects on target.

M203 Load Bearing ~ Grenade bearing vests don’t hold enough ammunition. Rounds don’t fit into many of the pockets, so grenadiers aren’t able to carry as many rounds as the vest is designed to carry. They aren’t able to fit rounds into all of the pouches. Grenadiers are coming up with several different “band-aid” solutions to carry enough ammunition, most of which are not working. The Marines interviewed would like a vest that will hold at least 20 HE rounds plus 4 illumination rounds; 24 total rounds.

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May 13, 2003, 12:23 PM
Very interesting, thanks for the report.
This report of experience under actual combat conditions explodes many internet myths advanced by the armchair commando crowd.

May 13, 2003, 12:24 PM
Leatherneck, I've been reading reports from Afghanistan suggesting that the shorter barrel of the M4 had made the 5.56mm. round (particularly the newer, heavy-bullet stuff) less effective in combat compared to the longer barrel of the M16. Have you heard any feedback from Iraq about this?

Ol' Badger
May 13, 2003, 12:29 PM
Grease Gun. Thats what I would want! Or if HK makes any good MP Models in .45 Buddy said they did.

D.W. Drang
May 13, 2003, 12:29 PM
So when this report says "operator" does that mean it mostly applies to Special Operations Forces, or is this a new euphemism for "jarhead being shot at"?:confused:

And what is an "STA Platoon"--"Surveillance (or Scout) & Target Acquisition" would be my guess, but I dunno... (I was gong to say "Sniper" but why would they issue the SAM rifle to snipers, who have sniper rifles...?)

May 13, 2003, 12:41 PM
Preacherman Have you heard any feedback from Iraq about this?

Not directly, but I get the impression that most shooting there has been at pretty short ranges (or very short ranges), so MV wouldn't matter as much.

TFL Survivor

Bartholomew Roberts
May 13, 2003, 04:29 PM
Yes, the full version of the same report noted that the average engagement range was 20-30m with ranges under 100m making up the vast majority. Longest range engagement noted in the report was around 300m IIRC.

May 13, 2003, 08:22 PM
STA Platoon is indeed the Marine scout/sniper platoon.

I count about 22 pockets on the M203 vest. Are they issuing a different version now?

HK makes the UMP in 45acp. Supply problems would make such a thing unappealing in the modern US military.

May 13, 2003, 08:48 PM
Ol badger:

Hk makes a gun called the UMP-45. Shoots 45s, obviously. Heres a link to a great website: Great pictures. Makes you :what:

Looks pretty sweet. Unfortunately clips only have a 25 rd capacity. :mad:


May 13, 2003, 08:50 PM
destructo snuck in while I was chasing down that link.

grr... :cuss:


Oh well... Have fun with the link.

May 13, 2003, 08:58 PM

Jim March
May 14, 2003, 12:58 AM
Disturbing about the M9 magazine situation.

Each grunt oughta get an SP101 in 9mm/moonclips and a 3" tube. They'd prove to be stone-axe-reliable backups for when the rifle goes booboo; 5 rounds would be plenty to get to cover and sort out what the hell is wrong with the big gun :).

Yes, I'm serious. They'd cost about $250 in quantity, wouldn't take up too much space, dead simple operations drill with minimal training needed...tell me I'm crazy here. They'd only need about 10 rounds each plus what's in the gun, plus slip extra moons behind the canteen or something just in case.

Yes, the officers will need more firepower, which means sorting out the magazine situation or switching to...I dunno, USP in 45? Better Beretta? Somedamnthing, that's for sure.

Jim March
May 14, 2003, 01:01 AM
Here's the link without breaking it:

Don't put a period at the end of a URL, or it won't work.

May 14, 2003, 01:11 AM
Maybe something along the lines of a SP101, though I think that moon clips would really bump up the training/learning curve. But 9mm makes sense from a TOE standpoint.

I'm more concerned at the report of the M249 SAWs. 'Beyond repair'? Wow. Either the marines shot the hell out of them or they were under spec to begin with.

May 14, 2003, 01:12 AM
I spent a few hours firing a UMP in .40 S&W.
It didn't do a thing for me. I am not sure why, it just didn't pull my chain.

I certainly wouldn't trade an M4 for a submachine gun for house to house fighting or any other CQB senario. But, maybe that is just me. I think there are good reasons for my decision, but :confused:

May 14, 2003, 03:19 AM
A bent-leg over ther was on another site saying that the problem with the Barreta(sp) mags was that the new issued ones have rough interiors (from the manufac) that cause the spring to drag. This might also be causing problems with the folower.

D.W. Drang
May 14, 2003, 12:02 PM
Hey, SAWs are almost 20 years old, so are M16A2s, and M9s. (I first saw--pardon the expressin!--a SAW in '87, ditto A2s and M9s, but I was in an MI unit, so even though the 7th ID (L) had priority, we did not.)
Anyway, the ones in the hands of combat arms units are surely all ready to at least go to depot and be refurbished, if not re-built. Still, alarming to hear that Marine units went to Iraq with SAWs being held together with 100 MPH tape like they were M60s or something! :what: You'd think the unit armorers would have turned them in, first...:cuss:

203 vests--is the ammo issued now the same as that issued when the vests were designed? Is it possible that the material the vests are made of has shrunk? (I wouldn't think so, ISTR they're nylon, but...)

SP101 w/moonclips... Yeah, I can just see the establishment agreeing to issue the troops snub nosed revolvers... And no, ossifers DON'T need "more firepower" in a pistol, if they "need more firepower" they should have a rifle!

May 14, 2003, 01:11 PM
Rifle Propelled Grenade? I thought that went out with the M1 Garand.

Is or was a rifle propelled grenade comparable to an RPG? I would not think so especially when it comes to range and accuracy.

I am all wet on this?

Mark D
May 14, 2003, 01:39 PM
Rifle propelled grenades are making a bit of a comeback throughout the western militaries...

Range isn't THAT much of an issue. The RPG fire that our military has faced in the last decade has been almost exclusively SHORT range (under 100 meters).

Rifle Grenades (RG) allow for less weapon weight to be carried and more munition weight to be carried. (You don't need an M-16 AND an M-203) Bullet trap bases allow the RG's to be fired with conventional ball ammo, so there is no need to switch mags in the middle of a fight in order to lob HE downrange. Just slip a round on and blast away. RG's allow soldiers to have a hot round ready to go; this makes reaction time for getting ordy on target VERY short.

RG's can be used in a direct fire mode as well as indirect. If you need to suppress a house down the block you just point and shoot. If you need to suppress a threat on the other side of a hill, dig in that buttstock and lob away... Imagine a squad firing Forward Observer corrected missions, it's a poor mans mortar team.

The DoD would be wise to listen to the Marines on this issue.

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