Iraq individual equipment lessons learned

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  1. Navy joe

    Navy joe Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    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.


    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


    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:

    · HHC/1-187 IN, 101st ABN (5 MAY)
    · 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)
    · 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


    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
  2. Navy joe

    Navy joe Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Part II:

    PAC4/PEQ2/PEQ6: Again, this equipment provided a significant advantage at
    night. A brigade commander commented that the enemy never seemed to grasp
    that we could see and hit them at night. The covers on the PAC4 are prone
    to fall off. Pressure switches were a common point of failure. The zero
    rails on the PEQ2 come unglued too easily. Some soldiers used the PEQ6 on
    their M4 because of the white-light capability. However, they felt the PEQ6
    consumed batteries too quickly and was too easy to accidentally turn on. On
    the plus side, the visible red dot was effective at getting the attention of
    a person that was acting too aggressively.

    Many soldiers purchased the SureFire Tactical Light and were very
    complimentary of its design and durability. The only problem with this
    light is that the IR cover falls off too easily. I received comments such
    as "our equipment should be as rugged."

    82d M4 with SureFire Tactical Light

    Vehicle crewman purchased hand-held laser pointers to orient the fire of
    more than one platform weapon.

    Lubricant: Soldiers provided consistent comments that CLP was not a good
    choice for weapon's maintenance in this environment. The sand is a fine as
    talcum powder here. The CLP attracted the sand to the weapon. Soldiers
    considered a product called MiliTec to be a much better solution for
    lubricating individual and crew-served weapons.
    Interceptor Body Armor: Soldiers have great confidence in their body armor.
    As one battalion commander stated "soldiers felt comfortable 'trolling for
    contact' because they felt their body armor provided sufficient protection."
    There were numerous comments about comfort and weight but, in general,
    comments were positive.

    The comfort comments dealt mainly with maneuverability. Soldiers indicated
    that it was difficult to maintain a good prone firing position while wearing
    the IBA with plates. Their Kevlar interfered with the back of the vest and
    it was difficult to keep your head up while prone. Also, the plates made it
    difficult to seat the stock of the weapon into the shoulder as soldiers are
    trained. The foam impact pad in the airborne soldier's Kevlar further
    exacerbated the problem of contact between Kevlar and vest.

    Most importantly however, is the performance demonstrated by the IBA during
    the operation. There were numerous examples of impacts that could have been
    fatal that resulted in minor or no injury to the soldier.
    The A/3-69 AR XO's tank responded to a threat to the field trains of about
    60 dismounted enemy. While engaging the enemy with the 7.62 MG, the loader
    felt an impact to his chest that knocked him back into the turret. He told
    the XO he had been hit. The XO checked him for a wound, found none and
    directed him to continue to engage the enemy. After the fight they found
    the entry hole to the IBA, significant damage to the edge of the SAPI plate
    and a 7.62 round embedded in the protective liner of the OTV.

    7.62 round glanced edge of SAPI and embedded in OTV

    Other soldiers in A/3-69 AR made fun of the loader above because he wore an
    IBA inside the turret of an M1 until he was hit in the chest and survived.
    Vehicle crewman expressed a desire for similar protection. Some of the
    soldiers we interviewed said IBA was suitable for the turret. Others said
    it was not. Due to the nature of the threat, M1 and M2 crews spent a
    significant amount of time exposed in the hatches, engaging dismounted enemy
    around their vehicles, as they pushed through. Vehicle crewmen took it upon
    themselves to modify their issued Spall Vest to increase the protection.
    One crewman in 3-7 CAV took the protective pads from three different spall
    vests and put them into one. The soldiers in 3-69 AR found they could put
    IBA SAPI plates into the spall vest.

    Soldier-modified Spall Vest with 3X protection (6 layers)

    JSLIST: The vast majority of comments reference this piece of equipment
    were positive. As one brigade commander stated "Unbelievable. I don't like
    wearing MOPP, but this one is OK." Soldier felt JSLIST was a vast
    improvement over its predecessor. The negative comments were that most
    received the woodland green suit and, for the crewmen, the material is not
    flame retardant which forces them to wear JSLIST and NOMEX - which is not
    ideal in this heat. They felt the suspenders were poor quality and made
    defecating in the field very difficult.

    Combat Identification: Commanders expressed a need for thermal and IR
    recognition features for the uniform. The "bat wing" configuration for the
    helmet worked well because it was less prone to fall off. All soldiers had
    a small patch of Velcro on their left sleeve for glint tape - we should
    consider adding this feature to future combat uniforms. Another suggestion
    was to embed the recognition tape into the fabric of the helmet cover and
    uniform sleeve.

    Aid Bag/Combat Lifesaver Bag: Soldiers were dissatisfied with how the aid
    bag mounts to the ruck. They felt it made for too wide of a profile in the
    back to front dimension especially when exiting an aircraft during airborne
    operations. The CLS bag is not currently attached to the ruck externally.
    Soldiers expressed a desire that the CLS bag be larger and attach
    externally. The Dixie splint in the aid bag was deemed too fragile.

    Eye Protection: In general, soldiers were very appreciative of the WileyX
    sun glasses. Comments were almost all positive. However, many soldiers
    said they fog easily when you are sweating and the lenses scratch. ESS
    goggles were a vast improvement over WSD goggles but it is still
    uncomfortable to wear prescription glasses beneath the goggles.

    Helmet: Comments on the current Kevlar were few because most soldiers were
    aware of the ACH although none had been issued yet. In general, the
    expectation was that the ACH would be more comfortable.
    Situational Awareness
    AN/PVS-14: We received mainly positive comments about these NVGs for units
    that had them. In general, soldiers agree that they are a vast improvement
    both in terms of comfort and performance over the PVS-7 variants. The
    negative comments revolved around the helmet mount and the battery
    compartment. The swing arm and the detent button on the mount were frequent
    points of failure. Soldiers recommended constructing these components of a
    sturdier material. The battery compartment cover fails frequently and
    requires the entire sight to be turned in. Soldiers recommended a separate
    battery case possibly to reduce the cost of repair.

    Damaged Battery Case on PVS-14

    AN/PAS-13: Feedback on the medium thermal weapon sight varied greatly
    depending on whether the feedback came from the mechanized or light
    communities. The mechanized elements had all positive comments. They felt
    the clarity of the TWS outperformed the M2A2 sight in most cases. However,
    the light soldiers felt the TWS was too fragile and heavy for offensive
    operations. They would use for defensive operations. Other concerns were
    the availability of the TWS battery and how quickly it consumed batteries.
    Also, the sight blurs when you move it. Soldiers recommended a tripod for

    The Rapid Equipping Force provided a hand-held thermal viewer, the Raytheon
    X1, to the 101st. The 82d was aware and expressed a desire for a hand-held
    thermal viewer also.

    Commercial GPS: As is widely known, many soldiers purchase their own GPS
    systems rather than use the PLGR. The Rhino was provided to the 82d as part
    of the rapid fielding initiative. Overall, soldiers were very appreciative
    of this addition to their MTOE. The Rhino was a vast improvement over the
    PLGR because of the weight, volume, power consumption and performance - the
    Rhino consistently acquired satellites faster than the PLGR. However, the
    soldiers stated they did not use the communications capabilities of the
    Rhino, at least not extensively, because it was not secure and consumed
    batteries too quickly in this mode.

    Squad Communications: Based on the feedback, I believe this is the area
    that requires the greatest attention by the Acquisition community. Soldiers
    have no confidence in the ICOM radios. The range was unsatisfactory.
    Everyone had a Motorola-type hand-held radio that had vastly better range
    and power performance. Soldiers purchased handsets and longer antennas for
    their ICOM radios.

    Whether mechanized or light, communications at the squad level is
    problematic. Mechanized leaders told us they needed a way for squads to
    communicate back to the platforms and with each other once they dismounted.
    Light leaders had the same concern with communicating with geographically
    separated squads operating independently in urban terrain. Soldiers had
    MBITR radios at company and platoon level. They feel the MBITR is a good
    solution for the squad but could be lighter/smaller.

    Commander's Digital Assistant: Leaders agree there is a need for this type
    of device in the light infantry formation. The laptop variant of the CDA
    was very well received. However, the PDA variant was less so. The problems
    with this variant were mainly a function of timing. Soldiers at the company
    and below level were very busy with activities associated with combat
    operations and had less time to learn the interface than their peers on
    battalion and higher staff. They also felt the PDA variant was too slow and
    consumed batteries too quickly.

    In comparison, the mounted platforms received Blue Force Tracking for the
    operation. BFT was extremely successful and receives a good deal of credit
    for the success of the operation. Commanders indicated they needed
    something as easy to use and as reliable as BFT for the dismounted soldier.

    COL Bray, Commander, 2d BCT, 82d Airborne division initiated staffing of two
    Operational Needs Statements for devices that would improve situational
    awareness. The first was for an acoustic through-wall sensor that would
    allow soldiers to detect noises within a building from up to 300 meters
    away. The second was for an I2 device integrated with the helmet. The
    intent was to have the device distributed across the helmet such that the
    center of gravity of the combination is coincident with the center of
    gravity of the helmet thereby improving the comfort of the wearer. His
    exact words were optics in front, circuitry on top and batteries in back.
    Boots: Soldiers were generally dissatisfied with the performance of the
    Desert Combat Boot. The soles were too soft and were easily damaged by the
    terrain. This seemed to be more of a problem for the boots manufactured by
    Altima. Many spent their own money to have the boots resoled with Vibran
    soles with mixed success.

    Damaged sole of Desert Combat Boot

    Soldiers felt the boots held moisture too readily and would have benefited
    from ventilation holes such as the jungle boot possesses. There were
    several complaints that the boot cut into the top of the foot and many
    soldiers did not use the bottom set of lace holes to reduce the pressure on
    the top of their feet. Soldiers felt the sizing of the boots was

    Soldiers found the Belleville boots to be very comfortable but too hot for
    this environment. The Marine Corps Desert Boot has a very good reputation.

    Knee/Elbow Pads: For the most part, soldiers thought the "turtle shell"
    pads provided were great. However, many felt they were too stiff and cut
    off circulation. They claimed there were better designs available on the
    market such as the HellStorm variant that were flexible such that they were
    more comfortable but still provided the requisite protection. We received
    several suggestions to build the joint protection into the uniform.

    Assault Ladder/Battering Ram/Quicky Saw: These items did not get much use
    because they were too heavy and bulky for the hasty attack/movement to
    contact type operations the units conducted. Soldiers stated they would
    have used the quicky saw if they had received the mission to conduct a
    deliberate attack such as an airfield seizure. They gained confidence in
    the saw during training but did not have a need for it during the operation.

    On the other hand, they damaged two assault ladders during training and did
    not feel this equipment was very useful or well-designed.

    Again, the battering ram was deemed too heavy for the missions conducted.
    As one soldier stated "a battering ram may be suitable for a SWAT team that
    has to clear one or two rooms but we clear multiple rooms in multiple

    Battle Ax/Bolt Cutters/C4/Explosive Tape: These were the preferred
    breaching tools. Soldiers had many positive comments about the battle ax.
    Bolt cutters were also very useful because many gates and doors were

    M-Gator: Soldiers are very appreciative of this asset. They believe the
    vehicle could benefit from greater power and the ability to tow a trailer.
    They would like to be able to mount a crew-served weapon for personal
    protection. The 82d has 5 per battalion and they are maintained at the
    company level by the mortar section. The 101st maintains the vehicles at
    battalion level.
  3. Navy joe

    Navy joe Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Slings: Soldiers are purchasing their own slings because the issued variant
    does not provide the flexibility or comfort they require. Soldier purchased
    or fabricated tactical slings for the M4/M203 that allowed the weapon to be
    slung on their back or hung on their chest so they could respond to contact

    Tactical sling preferred by soldiers

    Desert Camouflage Uniform: The most prevalent comment on the DCU was the
    need for pockets on the sleeves. Soldiers realize they will wear IBA in
    almost all environments from now on. The pockets on the front of the DCU
    are all but useless. Many soldiers have already had a tailor sew pockets on
    their sleeves. A similar suggestion was made for the pant pockets. The
    current pockets are frequently blocked by the protective mask carrier and
    the thigh holster. Soldiers suggested moving the pants pockets to the front
    of the leg.

    The durability of the uniform was questioned due to the propensity of the
    thread to give away especially in the crotch area. Soldiers felt that dirt
    was to blame for the high failure rate. Soldiers did not receive an
    opportunity to have their uniforms laundered for over 30 days of combat.
    When they did get the opportunity, many refused it because of the perceived
    likelihood that their uniforms would be lost. Interestingly, we heard a
    request for a hand-powered platoon or company level washing machine (e.g. a
    wash board) from several different soldiers and units.

    Soldiers also thought the collar was too wide. When we asked why this was a
    problem, the soldiers responded that they felt the collar did not present a
    neat/aesthetic appearance.

    T-shirts: Soldiers are purchasing coolmax-type t-shirts because of the
    wicking properties. The shirts keep the skin dry thereby keeping the
    soldier warmer when it's cold and cooler when it's warm. Under Armour is a
    popular brand. The soldiers are also knowledgeable about silk weight

    Socks: A very important item of equipment that generated a good deal of
    discussion especially among the lightfighters. Many received the black
    wool/poly pro blend which were too hot for this environment. Some received
    the Wright sock (tan outside/white inside), which shrunk too much after
    washing. Soldiers within 3ID had received the dark green sock that was
    selected and continued to judge it as superior. Again, soldiers felt if
    they could just keep their socks clean they could better protect their feet.

    Belt: As soldiers begin to hang additional equipment from their waist, they
    need a more robust belt. The belt of choice is a heavy nylon web belt with
    Velcro fastening and an extraction loop such as Blackhawk's CQB Riggers
    Rescue Belt.

    Gloves: The nomex gloves provided with the rapid fielding initiative were
    too thick and warm for this environment. Soldiers preferred the air crewmen
    or mechanic style nomex. Other popular gloves include moto-cross or batting
    style gloves. Some soldiers purchased HellStorm gloves from Blackhawk.

    Camelback: Everyone agrees that the camelback-type hydration system is the
    way to go. Soldiers stopped even using their 1 qt canteens once the NBC
    threat subsided. However, the camelback variant that we distributed to the
    82d was not rugged enough. The most common comment was that bladders
    ruptured easily with no way to exchange them. Soldiers' personal experience
    with camelbacks they've purchased is much better. It seems either we
    purchased a lower quality version or we received a bad lot. Camelback also
    offers an NBC variant now that should be considered for future purchases.

    Camelback bladders ruptured

    MOLLE: Overall, the soldiers appreciate the design and intent of the MOLLE
    system and view it as a vast improvement over its predecessors. In general,
    soldiers are attaching pouches directly to the IBA and not using the FLC.
    The exception to this rule is with the M203 and SAW gunners. If these
    soldiers are taken out of action for some reason, it is not reasonable to
    transfer their ammunition to another soldier given the different sizes of
    the IBAs. In order to keep the key weapons systems manned, the vest is
    transferred to another soldier. Soldiers asked that the surface of the IBA
    have as many loops as possible. They even said an x-large IBA should have
    more loops than a small to take advantage of the greater surface area.

    According to the soldiers the strengths of the MOLLE system are its
    flexibility, the sustainment pouches, the repair kit and, in general, the

    The soldiers identified several areas for improvement. First, there is
    general dislike of snaps. They thought Velcro in combination with fast
    tech-type connectors were better. There is also a connector by a commercial
    company, Tactical Tailor that soldiers preferred. The 82d did not bring the
    MOLLE ruck because they have not certified it for airborne operations yet.
    Soldiers noted that the straps on the Alice ruck, when worn in combination
    with the IBA, tended to ride out on their shoulders and cut off the
    circulation to their arms.

    Soldier modified load carriage

    The MOLLE grenade pouch only accommodates frag grenades. Flash-bang
    grenades and smoke grenades will not fit. There is also not a pouch for
    their PVS-14s. They use the corpsman pouch, SAW pouch or MBITR pouch for
    their NVGs.

    The assault ruck received many positive comments but many soldiers found it
    too small and insufficiently durable. They were attempting to carry 60
    pounds in the assault ruck. To cope with this they either added sustainment
    pouches and butt packs to their assault pack or purchased commercial rucks.
    I personally saw a very large number of Blackhawk black rucksacks used by
    RTOs and others in lieu of the assault ruck. The message I received was
    that the need for a sturdy, stand-alone ruck for the assault outweighed the
    need for a modular component of the MOLLE system.

    Interestingly, we received no comments on the fact that the MOLLE was
    woodland green and many soldiers did not have the desert camouflage covers.
    I assume the paucity of comment was due to the lack of a need for stealth
    for this operation. However, we need to continue to pursue a common
    camouflage pattern or field sufficient quantities of camouflage covers.

    Neck Gator: Many light soldiers told us that this was the single best piece
    of gear for the desert environment. Unfortunately, it is not flame
    retardant so the vehicle crewman cannot use it.

    Magazines: Soldiers carried as many as 15 magazines with them for this
    operation. They local purchased two items to facilitate their ability to
    manage this amount of ammunition. They purchased several commercial
    variants of devices to allow for quick magazine changes such as the Readymag
    product pictured below.

    Commercial ReadyMag product

    They also purchased commercial bandoleers for wear of additional magazines
    on the chest and upper leg.

    Commercial chest-mounted bandoleer

    Multi-Tool: Unanimously positive comments about the Gerber multi-tool
    (leatherman) provided with the rapid fielding initiative. The multi-tool
    may be the new bayonet. Very few soldiers carried a bayonet unless required
    to by unit SOP.

    Batteries: Soldiers expressed a strong desire for uniformity of battery
    types - namely AA's. They did not feel rechargeable batteries were
    sustainable in the field but they've had very little experience to date with
    a high density of rechargeable batteries and the equipment to support them.
    Overall, soldier equipment performed well and enabled the very impressive
    execution of a difficult operation these soldiers completed. However, our
    soldiers are professionals and, as such, have very good opinions about how
    the equipment should be designed and how it can be improved. I offer the
    following synopsis from my foxhole:

    Top Performers:
    Lethality: The soldiers that employed the XM107 and their leaders
    had nothing but praise for the accuracy, target effect and tactical
    advantage provided by this weapon.
    Survivability: A tie between JSLIST and IBA. Clearly both of these
    systems are on the right design path.
    Mobility: It would be very difficult to get the units to return to
    the days before the M-Gator...and I wouldn't want to be the one who tries to
    take it away.
    Situational Awareness: Our suite of optics and sensors provide an
    overwhelming tactical advantage against the quality of threat encountered in
    Sustainment: The Camelback-type hydration system is clearly what
    the soldiers desire - just need to emphasize durability.

    Top Areas for Improvement:
    Lethality: The pistol system requires greater stopping power,
    improved magazines and a better holster.
    Survivability: Combat identification still relies on methods and
    technologies used 10 years ago. Our army is extremely lethal - we rely too
    greatly on the discipline and skill of our soldiers.
    Mobility: Soldiers can get pretty passionate about boots and socks.
    Recommend a down-select for boots similar to the one conducted for socks.
    Situational Awareness: Communications at squad and below. The squad
    radio is currently not a PEO Soldier item but one we can help fix with the
    Land Warrior program.
    Sustainment: Soldiers still spend too much of their own money to
    purchase the quality packs, pouches, belts, underwear, socks and gloves they
    believe they need for mission success and comfort.
  4. Henry Bowman

    Henry Bowman Senior Member

    Dec 30, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Time to revisit US. v. Miller?
  5. Sven

    Sven Senior Member

    Dec 20, 2002
    Los Gatos, CA
    Great post - thanks. No M14 mentioned, eh?
  6. Monte Harrison

    Monte Harrison Member

    Jan 7, 2003
    Can we get a link to the original article? There are too many things listed here that have changed since I was in Ronald Reagan's army, and I could use visual aids.

    Overall, I am very surprised that so much civilian produced gear is allowed to be used. When I was in, we were basically told "if the Army didn't give it to you, you don't need it and can't have it." Of course, this is one of the big differences between COMBAT units and toy-soldier units.
  7. bogie

    bogie Member

    Jan 2, 2003
    St. Louis, in the Don't Show Me state
    I _knew_ that hummers wouldn't be all that useful. Too darn big. The M-Gator looks like the new jeep.

    I want one.
  8. Gewehr98

    Gewehr98 Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Sven, did you see this bit?

  9. Jim March

    Jim March Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    SF Bay Area
    Heh. Ya, that's one consideration :) (referring to US vs. Miller).

    On this pistol issue:

    What the heck to do here? 9mm ball isn't something *I* would carry on the street, and I see no reason to limit our troops to it.

    Since they can't pack hollowpoints, that means there's only three ways to increase lethality:

    1) Velocity - but until you hit somewhere around 2,100fps and the "shockwave effect" kicks in, that ain't much use. Especially with round-nose.

    2) Flat-nose. A Keith-type or "wide flat nose" hits harder, and gains from velocity boosts even below the shockwave point. The original 357 load with a Keith-type pulling 1,500fps was known as a manstopper. And if you use a semi-jacketed design with dead soft lead at that speed, you can get expansion without a hollowpoint. But these shapes feed like crap in a slidegun.

    3) Big-bore - go back to the 45?

    If I knew I was being sent to the sandbox, and could carry any personal pistol so long as it'd shoot 9mm, I'd almost be tempted to score a 6.5" barrel Blackhawk with dual 9mm/357 cylinders. Bring as much super-hot 158grain 357 JSP as I could, keep the 9mm cylinder in case that wasn't available. Run a tritium front sight, OneRaggedHole rear. The handgun is a backup to the rifle in case it jams or something, I'm not convinced high-cap is that big an issue compared to stopping some fool right NOW, one shot if possible. A 357 158grain up over 1,500 out of that barrel oughta do it.

    But the better answer might be a good modern 45ACP slidegun. Maybe a 1911 type, modernized, or H&K, SIG, etc. If any particular trooper has hands too small for something like that or isn't a combat trooper to start with, maybe both the rifle and pistol are wrong, and they need a "modern Tommy gun/UZI" of some sort? If they ARE front-liners and can't handle a 45 then...hell, what are they doing there!? They're in the wrong specialty, methinks...

    Hey WAIT a second...would the Federal E-FMJ violate the Geneva Convention!?! THAT would get you expansion in the current guns!

    That and some decent magazines and you're in one hell of a lot better shape.
  10. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 21, 2002
    Southeastern US
    The last item says a lot:

  11. bogie

    bogie Member

    Jan 2, 2003
    St. Louis, in the Don't Show Me state
    Looked up a little info on the Gator - can't buy the military version, but it is very similar to the contractor version.

    Only 18 horsepower, under 20mph. $11,000ish.

    If Deere could figure out a way to legally put a larger engine in it, maybe with interchangable wheels (for street tires), and increase the top speed to 55-60mph, it would be VERY interesting.
  12. BerettaNut92

    BerettaNut92 Member

    Dec 23, 2002
    Interesting that they are ditching their issue stuff for Blackhawk. I know that Eagle has a heck of a waiting list and is doing their best to keep up with production demands as well.

    Interesting article. How old are those Beretta mags?

    Edited to add, the thought of them downloading to 10 rounds....*shudder* :barf:
  13. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Utah, inside the Terraformed Zone
    The comments on the short range of the M4 make sense. 14" barrel means short ranges only.

    This is why I think they should build NEW 7.62x51mm rifles, with a suitable optic and backup iron sights, to supplement the 5.56mm weapons in terrains like this where long ranged shots are a distinct possibility. The Russians had the right idea in the way they used the Dragunov sniper rifle. They prettymuch invented the "designated marksman".
  14. foghornl

    foghornl Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    Interesting to see that the Military is still using the M2 "Ma Deuce" 50 cal BMG. How long has that weapon been around, anyway? I wanna say something like since 1917, but not sure.
  15. jsalcedo

    jsalcedo Member

    Dec 31, 2002
    M2 has been around in its current form since 1923
  16. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Utah, inside the Terraformed Zone
    To date, every attempt to replace the M2 has been a flop. Seems like Mr. Browning got it right the first time.
  17. mephisto

    mephisto Member

    Jan 3, 2003
    In a geographic anomaly
    Great post. I love that kind of info.
  18. Jim March

    Jim March Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    SF Bay Area
    As to rifles:

    Why not stick with the 223, but in a bullpup configuration that would allow a 22" or more barrel in a compact weapon? That would give the "urban maneuverability" of the current 14" tube but the ballistics to punch deeper and further.
  19. M1911

    M1911 Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Well, duuhhh!

    The M16 has a floating firing pin. When you charge the chamber, the firing pin slides forward and hits the primer. As long as the primer is sufficiently hard and the firing pin channel is clean, then nothing bad happens. On the other hand, if you get a soft primer or the firing pin channel is gunked up, well, that's why you point it in a safe direction.

    Sounds like the author of the article isn't familiar with the M16 (and d*mn well should be :fire: ).

    Last edited: Jun 7, 2003
  20. B Coyote

    B Coyote Member

    Jun 5, 2003
    NW Indiana
    That's sad, really.

    It makes me smile to see companies that give a discount to active duty military personel.

  21. CZ-100

    CZ-100 Member

    May 12, 2003
    Sourh FL/East TN
    This was GREAT Reading Thanks :D

    It seams that our Government NEEDS to listen to our guys that do the fighting. And give them what they need.
  22. OEF_VET

    OEF_VET Member

    Mar 30, 2003
    Murfreesboro, TN
    It's truly amazing how we pay our soldiers so little, and then they have to spend their own (limited) money in order to fight effectively.

    There are so many things like Camelbacks, Blackhawk rucks, Leatherman tools, Vibram soles, and a host of others that are almost standard in an Infantry unit nowadays. Unfortunately, very few of these things are standard 'issue' like they should be. But then again, the government has to save money somehow in order to support al those people on welfare. Might as well take it from the people that guarantee those leaches the right to receive a free ride.
  23. Wildalaska

    Wildalaska member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Anchorage, Alaska
    A few comments..

    Id like to see the reference for this story, instead of it being just an internet email report...

    Some of this stuff sounds like its advertisements from the mall ninja suppliers..

    Love that part about the desire for M14s. How well I recall my Uncle gleefully recounting how the first thing he did after his first firefight was ditching his M1 in favour of a carbine, "gawdam, who wants to run around with 10 pounds of wood and metal" :)

    What makes me real suspicious is this comment:

    "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."

    Uh huh, one 50 round blowing a man in half at 1400 meters (almost 9/10 of a mile)?

  24. Dorian

    Dorian Member

    Jun 7, 2003
    Man those things are anti-tank guns, I can easily see one tearing someone in half. Espically if it severs his spine. Just think about what angles would have done that.
  25. OEF_VET

    OEF_VET Member

    Mar 30, 2003
    Murfreesboro, TN
    I spent a number of years in 1-187 Inf., the first unit listed in the article, as well as their sister battalion 2-187 Inf., and with the Brigade HQ, HHC / 3rd BDE (187 Inf. Rgt. - The Rakkasans). Let me asure you from personal experience with those units, we did buy the items mentioned such as Blackhawk, Camelbacks, ACOG, Altimas, and others. The reasoning: it's tough equipment and can endure the rigors of military use.

    The crap we were issued was made by the lowest bidder, as has always been the case. The stuff falls apart under routine use, much less when the excrement hits the quickly spinning propeller-like cooling device.

    I can also attest to the fact that some of the desert boots were garbage. I had one pair that cut into the top of my foot as mentioned, so, I didn't wear them. I can't recall how many pairs I saw wrapped with 100 mph tape to keep the soles from falling off.

    The belts the article mentions are another very popular item of private purchase. The issue pants belt is a piece of junk. You can find one of two types at clothing sales generally, an elastic like one that stretches too much to support any real weight, or a slightly stiffer one that tends to fray when put to real use. The Blackhawk Riggers belt is thick, well sewn, and is quite strong.

    The Camelback system is such an improvement over canteens. No longer does a soldier have to stop, undo a canteen cover, pull out a canteen, unscrew the top, take a drink, and then repeat the process in reverse. Now, all he has to do is look towards whichever shoulder he runs his drink tube under, bite the valve, and suck. The true beuty of it is that it keeps both hands free to use his weapon. Plus, several of the Camelbacks come as a mini-assault pack system with as much as 1500 cu. inches of storage space. Amazingly, we were actually issued Camelbacks when 1-187 Inf. (Leader Rakkasans) went to Kosovo in Feb. of 2000. One of the few times I saw the Army do something truly ingenious.

    Just the observations of someone who's 'been there, done that' with one of the units in question, and who has MANY personal friends there now, doing it again. And a couple who have already come back as new recipients of The Purple Heart Medal.

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