Hi all, recieved this from a military shooting e-mail list, good read. Cut and paste follows. Note: There is a lot more to talk about than how wimpy 9mm and 5.56 are. We know already I'm still puzzling on the M-4 slamfire issue, I know there is firing pin bounce, but I've seen a whole lot of M-16s and ARs chamber a round without this. Anyone had this happen? I'm thinking it would take an extremely dirty firing pin channel to make it happen. More troubling to me than the anemic performance of the 9mm ball was the reports on the magazines. No way you should be expecting Joe trooper to tune his mags in the field and get good results. Have fun. CLASSIFICATION:UNCLASSIFIED Small Arms and Individual Equipment Lessons from Operation Iraqi Freedom. Source is USAJFKSWCS, Army Special Operations Battle Lab. Note the lessons on M9 ineffectiveness (again), M4 round's lack of range (again), and XM107/M82A (Barrett .50 cal semi-auto) effectiveness (again). Lessons noted have certainly not been turned into lessons acted upon in the cases of the M9 and the 62 gr 5.56 NATO round. Thanks to Ron Batdorf for passing this on. Introduction The following is a gathering of lessons learned on items of equipment either within the PEO Soldier domain or closely related to current or planned PEO programs. I gathered these lessons while serving as the PEO Soldier Liaison to the ASA(ALT)-SWA Operations Cell. I accompanied a team from the Science and Technology community conducting a similar mission for GEN Kern, Commander, AMC, and MG Doesburg, Commander, RDECOM, consisting of Mr. Bill Andrews, MAJ Rob Johnston and SFC Sam Newland. The lessons were gathered from 5 through 10 May 2003 from soldiers serving in the Baghdad sector during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Comments came from Brigade Commanders down to riflemen. The following units were interviewed: Â· HHC/1-187 IN, 101st ABN (5 MAY) Â· 2d BCT, 82d ABN (6-7 and 10 MAY) o 3-325 PIR (7 MAY) o 2-325 PIR (7 MAY) o 3-7 CAV (8 MAY) o FSB (8 MAY) Â· 1st BCT, 3 ID (9 MAY) o 3-69 AR (9 MAY) We informed brigade headquarters and requested permission to conduct interviews at the company level. The brigade issued a FRAGO to subordinate units and arranged link up times. Once we arrived in company areas of operations we would gather available soldiers, typically 7 to 10, and conduct interviews for approximately 90 minutes. An effort was made to capture observations from soldiers with a wide variety of MOS's and experiences. We questioned airborne, air assault and mechanized infantrymen, armored soldiers from both armored battalions and cavalry squadrons, and clerks, mechanics, and medical personnel in the support battalion. Soldiers from the 2d BCT, 82d ABN FSB, Baghdad, Iraq The timing was very fortuitous. In almost all cases, we were the first external visitors to the unit. Soldiers were fresh off combat operations and were just beginning the stability and support phase of the operation. They were very interested in relating their experiences and thoughts on how equipment could be improved. They recognized that the equipment provided significant combat overmatch against the combatants they encountered enroute to and in Baghdad. However, all soldiers know there is always room for improvement. In this spirit, this document will capture their feelings on what worked well and what can be improved as well as their ideas on how the deficiencies can be corrected. Covering every item of equipment in the PEO Soldier inventory is a daunting task. I do not claim to be a subject matter expert on each item. I have recorded the soldier's comments as accurately as possible. It may be that a subject matter expert could have addressed their concerns on the spot or thought of additional questions that would get closer to the heart of the issue. I was unable to do so and the respective PM's are encouraged to conduct the follow-up work required to address these observations if necessary. Lethality 9mm: There was general dissatisfaction with this weapon. First and foremost, soldiers do not feel it possesses sufficient stopping power. They desire a modification to allow for more accurate firing during limited visibility - tritium on the sight posts was a specific recommendation. The 9mm magazine performed very poorly. Soldiers were stretching the spring in order to provide sufficient force to feed rounds into the chamber. Soldiers were not satisfied with the guidance from higher to not stretch the spring and only load 10 rounds in the 15 round magazine. 9mm magazine with insufficient spring force The issued 9mm holster is not used. Most soldiers/units purchased thigh holsters because of comfort, access and availability. If the 9mm is your personal weapon, you don't want to have to always wear your LBV in order to have your weapon with you. The leather shoulder holsters did not hold up well in this environment. The thigh holsters came from a number of different commercial sources such as Blackhawk. Issue 9mm holster mounted on OTV and commercial thigh holster M4: Soldiers were very satisfied with this weapon. It performed well in a demanding environment especially given the rail system and accompanying sensors and optics. As one Brigade Commander said "The M4 with PEQ and PAC provided overmatch over our threat equipped with AK47s and RPGs." The general consensus is that every rifleman wants the M4 vice the M16A2. The most significant negative comment was reference the M4's range. In the desert, there were times were soldiers needed to assault a building that may be 500 + meters distant across open terrain. They did not feel the M4 provided effective fire at that range. The 82d Airborne soldiers wished they had deployed with M14's at the squad level as the 101st did. There is also a significant safety issue that bears further investigation. Apparently when the M4 selector is in the "Safe" position and the bolt is allowed to ride forward, the firing pin still makes contact with the bullet primer. A CSM in the 101st related a story of a soldier who had an accidental discharge while his weapon was in the safe position - the CSM personally witnessed this incident. Numerous soldiers showed us bullets in their magazines that had small dents in the primer. There may be a "Safety of Use" message out on this issue but it is not well known at the battalion-and-below level. The flip-up sight on the M4 allowed the soldier to engage targets out to 600 meters. However, the plastic grommet that formed the small aperture was prone to falling out. Soldiers "super-glued" the aperture to the sight. M203: Again, very positive comments on this weapon. Many soldiers felt this was the weapon of choice for combat. Unfortunately, we are not able to realize the benefits of this capability in training. Soldiers did feel, however, that the safety is too unreliable to carry a round in the chamber. Some mentioned the need for a buckshot-type round. M249 SAW: Overall positive comments on this weapon. It provided the requisite firepower at the squad level as intended. The short barrel and forward pistol grip allowed for very effective use of the SAW in urban terrain. Soldiers requested a better stowage position for the bipod legs. The legs interfered with the attachment of the forward pistol grip. If a pistol grip was attached and the legs were down, the legs made movement in the restrictive urban terrain difficult. Additionally, the soft ammo pouches are great improvements over the plastic ammo canister. However, the 100-round pouch performed much better than the 200-round pouch. There is a design flaw that allows the ammo to get tangled in the 200-round pouch. M240B: Soldiers have great confidence in this weapon. Again, the vast majority of comments were positive. Most negative comments were relative to the AG's load. Soldiers recommended fabricating the tripod out of a lighter material. The AG bag is not integrated into the remainder of the MOLLE and, therefore, is not easily carried. Additionally, the nylon bag melts when it comes in contact with a hot barrel. Other suggestions included adding collapsible bipod legs like the SAW, wiring down the heat shields and an ammunition carrying system to carry 300-400 linked rounds. Shotgun: This was a very useful addition to the MTOE. The shotguns were used mainly as ballistic breachers. Therefore, soldiers felt the length could be greatly shortened. They removed the stock and local purchased pistol grips and would have preferred a "sawed-off" configuration. XM107: The Barrett 50 cal Sniper Rifle may have been the most useful piece of equipment for the urban fight - especially for our light fighters. The XM107 was used to engage both vehicular and personnel targets out to 1400 meters. Soldiers not only appreciated the range and accuracy but also the target effect. Leaders and scouts viewed the effect of the 50 cal round as a combat multiplier due to the psychological impact on other combatants that viewed the destruction of the target. "My spotter positively identified a target at 1400 meters carrying an RPG on a water tower. I engaged the target. The top half of the torso fell forward out of the tower and the lower portion remained in the tower." 325th PIR Sniper There were other personal anecdotes of one round destroying two targets and another of the target "disintegrating." The most pervasive negative comment was that snipers felt the Leopold Sight was inadequate for the weapon - that it was not ballistically matched. It the sight was zeroed for 500, 1000 and 1500 meters, soldiers did not feel confident in their ability to engage targets at the "between" distances (e.g. 1300 m). Snipers felt there were better sights available for this weapon such as the Swarovski. Sniper team spotters felt the tripod for the Leopold Spotter Scope could be better designed. COL Bray, Commander, 2d BCT, 82d Airborne Division supported an Operational Needs Statement for a Sniper Sight that would allow the sniper to identify targets as combatants or non-combatants out to 2000m. M2: The M2 50 cal still receives great praise. It performed exceptionally well in this harsh environment. Soldiers did mention that the vehicular mount had too much play for accurate fire and that the large ammo box made it difficult to effectively manipulate the weapon. Close Combat Optic: Soldiers appreciate this equipment also. Many commented that the new design/battery was a vast improvement over the previous CCO. Negative comments were on the honeycomb attachment which was difficult to clean and its ability to hold a zero. A suggested design change was to fix the CCO about its axis within the half-moon spacer. Currently the CCO can rotate within the mount. This does not effect the accuracy of the sight but, if the CCO is not oriented properly when the soldier zeroes, his left-right and up-down adjustments will be on a cant. A simple tongue and groove design modification would fix the CCO from rotating. Bore sighting the weapon's sensors and optics has been fully accepted. We heard anecdotal evidence of soldiers hitting 40/40 day and 32/40 at night with optics in training. Soldiers are purchasing Bullet Boresights from AccuSite. The borelight fits in the chamber of the weapon. This eliminates the steps required to boresight the borelight to the weapon. ACOG: Many soldiers expressed a preference for the ACOG over the CCO because of its magnification and no need for batteries. MGO: Soldiers were satisfied with the performance of the MGO on SAWs and M240Bs.