Combat Zone Firearms Policy - Its time for a change


April 29, 2011, 11:03 AM

Note the second picture on the left. This is how a majority of staff and support personnel in country carry their M9s; in shoulder holsters. Typically with either no round in the chamber, or in this case no magazine in the firearm at all.

Its high time DoD and CENTCOM addressed this issue. I understand that local commanders want to avoid negligent discharges, but they need to remember that they are in a war zone; making it harder to fire a negligent round also makes it harder to fire that same round in self defense.

The thoughts and prayers of the AF Weather community go out to the family of our fellow SWO, as well as those of our other fallen Airmen.

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April 29, 2011, 11:19 AM
Broken link fixed:

April 29, 2011, 11:36 AM
I agree 100% with a change to the policy. I've been in combat zones for much of my career and shake my head at the stupidity of the rules that directly lead to the vulnerability of service members. There have been several shooting incidents similar to this (both here in the US [Fort Hood] and in combat zones) where unarmed Soldiers are mowed down. I think that heads should roll for these disgraceful policies. Men at the top need to be court martialed for this!!!

April 29, 2011, 01:36 PM
I agree - what yutz thought a man trained and trusted to fight for his country is too stupid and irresponable to be trusted with a loaded firearm in a place where danger lurks at every turn? Didin't we learn this lesson in a jungle country war so many years ago, be armed everywhere you go?

April 29, 2011, 03:57 PM
I honestly felt that being required to wear a reflective belt was more dangerous than not being issued a weapon/ammo. So not only are you not armed, but you're visible from a mile away :scrutiny:

Shadow 7D
April 29, 2011, 04:13 PM
Gees, come on folks, it changes by the damn week, yeah, in base they have rules like that, but it's because of stupid privates playing 'cowboys and indians' with blanks, except for the guy who just came off security duty with a live belt in his SAW...

Or stupid luetenants who think they are better than 'damn safety regs' who pull their M9 and say 'it's not loaded' and put two rounds into the chowhall and some poor SGT just trying to eat his cheese burger.

Yes I Have seen those two, not the shooting, just the mostly cleaned pools of blood.
it comes down to the INDIVIDUAL unit, like mine, who went out of the wire every day, but was under an Aviation unit, lets just say we went to the gym cause we didn't feel like running the 4 mi loop with our M-4, which per 1SG orders had a loaded mag in a goggles pouch on the butstock.

Civilians sending letters, will not be greeted kindly. It's a sad legacy of Vietnam, and all the stupid political meddling.

Tim the student
April 29, 2011, 04:28 PM
his is how a majority of staff and support personnel in country carry their M9s; in shoulder holsters. Typically with either no round in the chamber, or in this case no magazine in the firearm at all.

Hate to break it to you, but this is generally also how 11b's and 11v's carry their rifles too. No round in the chamber, and no mag in the weapon. But, every time I have been deployed, everybody with a weapon had to have a loaded mag with them. Even in Kosovo.

April 29, 2011, 05:55 PM
I just got back from a contracting job in Kuwait. I was doing base security. And we had to follow the army's rules. When we did our daily upload on the weapons we had to let the bolt/slide go home, place the weapon on safety, and finally insert a loaded mag.

Seems stupid to me as in order to get the security job you had to have either a minimum of 4 years military or L.E. experience. It just didn't seem right as I personally had 8 1/2 years in the military and have 11 as an LEO.

April 29, 2011, 06:41 PM
Depends on the threat level. When we patrolled the Korean DMZ we did not chamber a round until we moved into an ambush site. My first patrol I was shadowing a patrol from the unit leaving and we were taking over from to get certified to lead patrols and before leaving I thought it was a stupid rule. About 30 minutes into a night patrol I stepped on a pheasant. When in daylight a pheasant can be startling, keyed up about being in the DMZ, dark of night the thing sounded like a B52 taking off. Not saying I would have fired a round but people were always kicking those things up and sooner rather than later someone would have. I have no doubt about this.

During Desert Shield everyone had to have a magazine on them and their weapon no magazine inserted. Again I was not happy about this. No one was shot. There were no accidental shootings in months in country. The Marines who were lock and loading had several accidental shootings. I concede I was wrong.

The military never allowed 1911s to be chambered.

If there is very low chance of an attack the rule makes sense. The more troops there are the more likely there is to be an accident.

April 29, 2011, 08:19 PM
Thats the problem though, it IS an iminnent and everyday threat. This kind of garbage happens every other week to some poor guy who happens to be working with the wrong little group of Haadjis; this is just the most extreme example to be publicized by the media.

If its not a soldier getting popped by a new ANP officer in the back of a Hummvee, its an airman getting paralyzed by an ANA commander, or a seabee getting attacked by a local national behind the chow hall. Just because it isn't making fox news or cnn doesnt mean its not an every day threat. And every time, division and group commanders say "well, it was just that one guy. we can't impede the nation building process for one idiot with a gun". No one takes responsibility, no one seems to want to do anything about it.

There where 6 DUIs throughout my Wing in the last two months, and the wing commander is going absolutely Ape sxxx over it threatening to article 15 and discharge the next moron who drives intoxicated. But everyone who works for ISAF just writes KIAs off as Taliban or Al Qaeda and never bother with the root causes of haadjis getting the upper hand on Americans. When is it going to end?

April 29, 2011, 08:26 PM
If we don't send soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan they'd be a lot less likely to need to fire their guns in self defense. IMO we should just take our soldiers out of pointless wars instead of spending more money on holsters. That'd be a novel idea.

April 29, 2011, 08:41 PM
No argument. At the end of the day, I'm just an NCO; my job is to find lots of little solutions to minimize the damage from leaderships bigger badder muck ups.

April 29, 2011, 08:52 PM
I told my commander, there have been times I had to walk inside the wire at oh-dark-thirty by myself, and I put a magazine in the weapon. He said he would too. I had the cal to prayer in stereo and jackals yipping very closeby.

I deployed with people I don't trust to carry loaded at all. And yes, some of them didn't last the whole trip. (We took his guns away in Kuwait after he said one of those 'key phrases' to the chaplain.) This is the weakest link problem. Even with ridiculous, childish rules, we STILL had NDs on post. It's a tough sell to tell commanders that it's a good idea to carry weapons hot when soldiers are already dropping the ball with the rules as-is.

April 29, 2011, 09:59 PM
The US military has self-emasculated itself to a startling extent, at least on the conventional side of the house. I once had a very junior lieutenant full of terrified indignation lose his mind because he noted that my M9 was decocked and not on safe . . . as I was about to start shooting a stage of the pistol qual course. Lt McMoron had so little competence in weapons handling that he assumed you would carry an M9 at the low ready on safe, a la the M4. After not choking him out, I took the liberty of just ignoring him and reflecting that time spent in USASOC basically ruins you for the Big Army . . .

bomb dropper
April 29, 2011, 10:21 PM
im in afghanistan right now, so here is my take-

1) shoulder holster where ISSUED by units. now everytime i stand in a line or walk down the road i have a barrel pointed at me. heaven forbid some pfc or lcpl "flag" someone while eating chow with a 20" ar but its ok for half the base to have a 1970's holster?

2) its ok for pmo to have weapons in condition 1 but the rest of us are condition 4 (sometimes 3, depends on the base) because a pfc in pmo is so much more mature then the rest of us.

2.5) ND/AD's happen I have a LCpl from NYC who has never driven a car, do i trust him with a rifle? a few months ago someone came back from patrol where they were condition 1. once the enter the wire they go to condition 4. well 3 days latter they had a ND in a building through the wall and into a base-x no one was hurt but here is the kicker, everywhere you go there is a clearing barrel so 3 days x 3 chows thats means he should have cleared his rifle 9 times. you just cant fix stupid

i'm going to stop there before i go way overboard on how the cost of gas is $400 a gallon and TCN's use them to drive to work and back (about a mile) or how we pay $16 meal to feed them i could go on but thats a different story /rant

April 29, 2011, 10:27 PM
Note the second picture on the left. This is how a majority of staff and support personnel in country carry their M9s; in shoulder holsters. Typically with either no round in the chamber, or in this case no magazine in the firearm at all.

If you are on duty, this is not the way anyone I know carries their firearms. I carried my M4 at all times, and my M9 in a leg drop holster or chest rig. Both loaded and ready to bark at a moments notice.

Now some guys that only carry at certain times when the threat level is very high, like some sort of support/non infantry personall... they might have to carry with no mag in or something. Especially when they are not on duty.

April 30, 2011, 01:12 AM
bomb dropper-

It's ok to carry horizontally in a shoulder holster. No one is flagging you. The four rules are safe HANDLING rules. They apply when you are HOLDING the gun. Not when it is holstered.

April 30, 2011, 10:50 AM
1000 years ago, when I wore a uniform, I remember seeing Marines at the gates with no mags in their .45s.

April 30, 2011, 02:08 PM
The key was--and is--training and NOT treating your Soldiers like a bunch of babies.

These are personnel in an active war zone. They should be carrying cocked and locked; in the rear areas, "cruiser ready" (loaded mag, empty chamber) should be OK. But ALL weapons need to be LOADED--all the time!

I was a career Soldier, and I too remember being sent to guard duty on a tac site in Germany. Baader-Meinhof and other terrorist groups were out and about--we had an attack on one of our sites with a fire extinguisher loaded with explosives.

Still, we walked the perimeter fence with our M16's--AND NO AMMUNITION!!!!

I remember guard detail at the ASP while stateside. I carried a 12 gauge shotgun. When I was issued the shotgun, I got six rounds of 12 gauge 00 buck--taped together with duct tape. I was told that if the tape was broken I would get an Article 15. Needless to say, the tape was left intact.

I'm a cop now. When I load out for my shift, I holster a cocked and locked 1911 pistol. I load and chamber a round in my back-up--a G27. Both of those are on my person at all times. The other guns in the vehicle--an LE6920 and a .308 rifle--are carried "cruiser ready". I--and every other cop I come in contact with--treat our firearms with respect. We don't draw them, twiddle them, twirl them or play with them. They stay in the holster until needed.

Some of the ladies and fellas come in early for the shift and head to the cleaning area. They'll unholster at the clearing stand, clear the sidearm and secure the ammunition. A quick check for serviceability and a patch down the bore; then reload and call in service. I do the same on a weekly basis.

We treat our guns with respect because we KNOW that they're ALL loaded, ALL THE TIME. Maybe we should start treating our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines like combat troops--and not like babies.

April 30, 2011, 02:20 PM
On Oct 23, 1983 there were two young Marines standing gaurd outside of a barracks in Lebanon. Because of the rules of engagement they had condition 4 weapons, no magazine inserted, no round in the chamber. I had hoped that lesson had been learned.

April 30, 2011, 04:11 PM
I'm overseas now - on our smaller patrol bases we carry our weapons 'amber' (mag in, not chambered) unless on guard. On the larger FOBs with higher ranking officers (MAJ and up) the rules get retarded and you carry on 'green' (no mag inserted). I'm perfectly ok with that. There are plenty of people in the Army who aren't trained enough to safely handle their weapons (support personnel) which is why they stay on the FOBs and carry empty weapons. If they have to chamber a round and fight they're already in some deep crap cause all the soldiers who do the real work are dead. Once you leave the ECP every weapon system is 'red' (chambered/rounds on feed tray and on safe) and stays that way until you return to base. I've never seen a M9 in a shoulder holster outside the wire, either a chest rig or a drop leg depending on personal preference.

The military is all about mitigating risk. The fact is that more soldiers lives would be endangered from negligent discharges and careless handling of loaded firearms than from the rare attacks that occur on a secure base.

bomb dropper
April 30, 2011, 04:44 PM
MLJ i understand that those are safe "handling" rules, but sit down to eat lunch and look up to see a muzzle pointed at your face then tell me about it. also the shoulder holsters are all cross draw so you do flag 180 degrees when you draw.

April 30, 2011, 10:43 PM
Doesn't say much for our military of 'trained professionals' if the most basic of skills (weapon safety) can't be relied upon.

A weapon with an empty chamber and a mage in the well is both completely safe AND easy to immediately bring into service. However, digging for a mag in your pocket takes valuable time - and as we repeatedly see US servicemembers die as a result. The enemies already know our tactics...

April 30, 2011, 11:36 PM
I do it every single day. If you carry with a shoulder holster, you need to train to draw from one correctly.

Shadow 7D
May 1, 2011, 12:12 AM
if you have a mag in, some idiot officer... some non-commissioned included
won't feel warm and fuzzy, it would be scary to live in a world where you need a gun...
sad that our military has come to that.

The Lone Haranguer
May 1, 2011, 07:55 AM
Or stupid luetenants who think they are better than 'damn safety regs' who pull their M9 and say 'it's not loaded' and put two rounds into the chowhall and some poor SGT just trying to eat his cheese burger.

How often does this happen? It would have to be on a pretty regular basis to come close to the death toll inflicted by the Afghan pilot in the recent incident, to say nothing of the Fort Hood shooter.

Shadow 7D
May 1, 2011, 02:08 PM
Um guy didn't die, I went by that chow hall 2-3 times a week (good burgers, and my PL and PS scheduled the mail route by their stomach) That was relayed to my be the PFC put on 'weapons clearing duty' and no, it wasn't unusual to find new holes in things next to the weapons clearing stations, especially in the places that 'Fobbits' tend to gather. I think, or would like to think that the guys who actually do the fighting are better than that. Needless to say, it happens, just never to any of my COMBAT unit, as far as I know.

stuff like that just gets put on the books under

May 1, 2011, 05:03 PM
Well, it's still sad and embarrasing that we Soldiers have to disarm ourselves because our leaders don't think we have enough training, at the risk of being mowed down by the enemy (who is hiding everywhere). I've been deployed many times and just get red with fury at being routinely disarmed by leaders (who by the way often have their own PSD). I'll take my chances with an accidental shooting on occassion over the terrorists assassins..

May 1, 2011, 05:48 PM
People ask me why we have to carry unloaded. I reply; "Because they don't trust us. Or rather, they trust MOST of us, but they are holding us to the level of the one guy out of a thousand they DON'T trust."

May 1, 2011, 07:57 PM
if you have a mag in, some idiot officer... some non-commissioned included
won't feel warm and fuzzy, it would be scary to live in a world where you need a gun...
sad that our military has come to that.


May 1, 2011, 09:01 PM
jonmerritt - read it as though it is this -
if you have a mag in, some idiot officer..., (some non-commissioned included),
won't feel warm and fuzzy, (because they think) it would be scary to live in a world where you need a gun...
sad that our military has come to that.

May 1, 2011, 09:42 PM
The military never allowed 1911s to be chambered.
Incorrect. 1911s were routinely carried with a round chambered during WWII, at least in the PTO by some Army Air Corps units such as my father's. So maybe this is a more recent thing.

I saw an interview - once! - with a Marine who survived the truck bombing of the barracks in Beirut . . . he was talking about how he remembered seeing a fellow Marine trying to load his rifle with a magazine, since regulations didn't allow it to be loaded in a combat zone. Bit of a stink, and I didn't hear it again; it was as if someone had stomped on that part of the story.

I know of some former Guardsmen who told me they were called out in the days of "urban unrest" several decades ago . . . they were issued weapons but no ammo . . . within a day or two, they provided their own. ;) (Were I in any of the situations described above . . . guard duty in a dangerous area, no ammo issued . . . I'd be inclined to do the same.)

May 1, 2011, 10:26 PM
Early eighties--I visited my brother at Fort Polk. While we were driving around in a remote area of the base, I noticed two soldiers in full "kit" standing by a gate. I asked my brother if they were being punished. He gave me a strange look and said "No, why?" Because they are carrying axe handles,not a rifle or pistol. "Oh, the military does not trust them with firearms out here by themselves." ***! Then why are they in the Army to begin with? He said that the military was required to take a certain number of class 4 applicants--bottom of the barrel I guess. He had some in his aviation outfit which were supposed to be trained as aircraft mechanics. But--as he said--none of them are working on a helicopter I or any of my fellow pilots will be flying. So--what they did with these guys was to put them to work doing menial labor for an hour or so and then have them "disappear" for the rest of the day.

We got stopped by the Military Police briefly--they were looking for info on some guys who had vandalized some equipment near the tank wash area. The MP's had us get out of the car--first thing I noticed was neither of them had any spare ammo for their .45's. flap holsters, one seven round mag, and empty chamber! Ludicrous!!

I was stationed at Mather Air Force Base from 67-71. The Air Police carried S&W Model 15 revolvers. While picking up my personal shotgun from the AP headquarters I had a chance to observe a strange ritual. A sargent accompanied by an airman came out of the building, walked up to a fifty five gallon drum hanging by a chain at an angle. The drum had a thick rubber cover with a small hole in it. The sargent was carrying a S&W revolver with the cylinder swung out. He had the airman step up to the drum, he then PUT the revolver into the airman's right hand, put the muzzle into the hole in the drum,gave him six rounds of ammo which the airman put into the cylinder one round at a time. The sargent then closed the cylinder for the man and helped him holster the gun by guiding it into the holster for him!!!! Later I asked my supervisor about this--he said that they were having so many ADs while loading and unloading that this procedure was being used temporarily to stop the ADs.

Shadow 7D
May 1, 2011, 11:36 PM
Hey, Leadcounsel,
I understand, nothing like being told "burn your mail" because some of the families back home have gotten mail from insurgents, stuff I latter learned was along the lines of 'next package you get from Iraq will have your *soldiers* head in it.'

Guess what, that happened right after they started using locals for the garbage men. Hell the base HQ was paced out by one haji, right infront of the escort, and I personally saw another one doing it for the chow hall. They never compensated for the 50m plateau the base was on, so they were always short, unfortunately that was the field I had to walk through to get to chow. I didn't really understand until I was out and watched the movie Platoon a few times why the PS and 1SG were on the phone yelling at the TOC about the guy.

It's a BS war, sad but, the politicians don't have the plans or will to win it.

May 3, 2011, 05:28 PM
How often does this happen? It would have to be on a pretty regular basis to come close to the death toll inflicted by the Afghan pilot in the recent incident, to say nothing of the Fort Hood shooter.

Just to clear things up, the only people who carry firearms and ammunition stateside are MPs. Unit arms rooms don't even have ammunition, you have to request it for ranges and have it delivered to the range site when you sign for it. When we had word about that shooting we just had to sit tight and wait while they scrambled to get ammunition to reinforce the MPs and security guards around the post and at the gates.

May 3, 2011, 05:51 PM
Is it not ironic that I can carry locked and cocked and military combatants cannot. Same stupid political conduct of these wars like the war of my era, viet nam. Our military leadership has turned to mush, inefficient, too few people actually fighting, too restricted. Our terrorist enemies should be destroyed with vengence.

May 3, 2011, 05:56 PM
as onfloat said, id have hoped Beirut had taught us better, just shows how brass, LE or Military, are just politicians w/ the same mentality as such

May 4, 2011, 02:53 AM
Personally I think policy should be what is described for the Rhodesian military in Chris Cock's Fireforce -- weapons are carried hot, period. Any AD earns you 30 days in disciplinary barracks getting smoked daily on PT punishment details. (And it should be rank blind -- some sergeant major or colonel go all Will Farrell and do a desk pop in the depths of the FOB, then those morons can go remediate with the Joes doing front-back-go's for 30 days. Don't care what MOS or officer branch is involved -- support troops die just the same as combat arms troops when they don't know how to use their weapons.)

May 4, 2011, 06:30 PM
In Iraq 2003 -2004 my team carried rounds chambered in M-9s as Unit SOP. We had M-16s, M-4s, M-203s, M-249 SAWs, MK-19s, 50 Cal Machine Guns, M-240Bs, M-60s, AT-4s, and 12 Gague pump shotguns. We were pretty much "outside the wire" in 6 to 9 man teams nearly the whole 14 months so little hassles from REMF RANGER type Officers. Even in Kuwait we carried our M-9s chambered with safety on (although out of site under DCU tops) this practice was unofficially "encouraged" by our Command but we would individually be "held responsible" if caught violating REMF LAND SOPs (still had rifles cleared & unloaded in Kuwait like everybody else). Lucky us...we were not there much as we were in small teams outside FOBs on our own normally.

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