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Milinet: Small Arms Performance In Afghanistan

October 17 2002 at 9:02 AM
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Dick G  (Login Dick Gaines)
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Dick G
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MILINET: New 5.56mm Cartridge Discussion

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January 19 2003, 8:57 AM 

MILINET: New 5.56mm Cartridge Discussion
by Dick G (Login Dick Gaines)
Forum Owner

17 January 2003

MILINET: New 5.56mm Cartridge Discussion

The below responses were formulated as MILINET: 8th Resps "USMC Sniper Engagement Doctrine." Unfortunately, they have nothing to do with snipers. In fact, a number of responses preceding these had nothing to do with snipers. In my capacity as gatekeeper, I'm changing the theme for these and will present a summary at the end of RECAP USMC Sniper Engagement Doctrine in the hopes of re-establishing that focus.

Semper Focus,

Anthony F. Milavic
Major USMC (Ret.)

============================

Major:

While we have continuing discourse on the merits or faults with the 5.56
round, the USMC as far as I know is moving ahead with the procurement of the
A4 variant of the M16 in 5.56. Seems to me like there is a lot of data that
indicates this may need reconsideration for some applications. Maybe a
single caliber is not the total answer based on the mission or requirement.
My problem is that today we are sending folks into the field with this round
for all general applications and the data shows this increases their risk in
not incapacitating the bad guy and getting hurt. What can we do as concerned
citizens to force the issue to the table where it can be discussed
objectively by the end users and then put the best weapon in their hands. If
some high ranking officer/official has his or her posterior staked
politically on the current rifle/round so be it, it time they lost it and we
do what's right for the soldier in all branches.

Any comment on this would be appreciated.

Thank you for your efforts:

Lorace W. (Tinker) Sykes
NORTHROP GRUMMAN
ELECTRONIC SYSTEMS
The enemy invariably attacks on two occasions ----- when you're ready and
when you're not.

---------------------------------ANOTHER RESPONSE------------

Lorace Sykes,

I share your concern that the continuation of the 5.56mm NATO round as the U. S. Service cartridge will place U. S. warriors at a disagvantage in a "gun fight." MILINET has posted reports from the Vietnam Ia Drang Valley Operation in 1964 to operations in Afghanistan in 2002 that enemy soldiers sustained mutiple hits without going down; many even observed these soldiers continuing to advance while firing their weapons after mutiple 5.56mm hits. It would follow that this will happen again; I fear, unfortunetly, with one tragic difference: an American warrior will be killed by the RETURN FIRE. During a protracted conflict in Iraq, or afghanistan, this could happen to more than one American warrior if not many Americans. If this does occure, I would hope that those who have followed this issue on MILINET will be here to hold the proverbial fire the feet of those who decided to upgrade the M16A2 without changing the cartridge. Marines, as well as ALL members of the Armed Forces are taught that they are individually responsible for their actions and that applies equally to the leadership. It is now only a matter of HOLDING them responsible.

Semper Fidelis,

Anthony f. Milavic
Major USMC (Ret.)

-----------------------------------ANOTHER RESPONSE-------

STATEMENT: Â "I can see where the 5.56 might be too small to allow good air flow, but Abe is still around....somewhere in California. Might be worth a few minutes of consideration.Â
Â
IMHO: I would refer you to the following page and the discussion of the soviet 5.45x39mm round and it's "air space" at the tip.   http://matrix.dumpshock.com/raygun/basics/pmrb.html

Â
Ever hear of thermobolic or Thermobaric ammunition?  That is truly the wave of the future. I think the next small arms round we see in service will be one of these.   When you look up "one round knock down power" in the dictionary, there is a picture of this stuff there.
----------Â
QUESTION:  Token Civilian questions. So the m855 round is frangible? Or is this the M193 ball round which is supposed to be frangible? I have heard alot of this breaking up. Â
Â
The M855/SS109 is not frangible.    Olin-Winchester was producing a 5.56mm, 45-grain frangible round some time ago, but I am not sure if they still are.  The SS109 breaks up at velocities exceeding 2500fps because once the round begins to rotate base forward, the pressures exerted on the case cause the case to break in half at it's weakest point (the cannulure). Then the bullet fragments further to varying degress.   This is an aberdeen proving ground photo diagram showing the various stages of break up at velocities ranging from about muzzle to about 500m. An SS109 shot out of an M4 drops below 2500fps at about a 100yds.
Â
Â
Â
-----------
QUESTION:  Where can I find evidence of this fragmentation?   Â
Â
IMHO:Â The link the Major offered is the definitive resource for this info.
-----------Â
STATEMENT: Â Canneluring is a process to keep the bullet seated in exactly the same position and resist 'set back' from recoil or other abusive forces. Caneluring is not a scoring process it is an indentation process, it does not (to my knowledge) cause a line of fracture in the jacket,Â

 IMHO: Correct, but it weakens the jacket to the point that when the bullet is traveling xxxx thousand fps through soft tissue at 90 degrees from the angle of original flight, it breaks along this line, which at that moment is the weakest point of the jacket.Â
 -----------Â
QUESTION: Â Oh, question. Does the Marine Corps still teach the credo, 'this is my rifle - - - etc, as seen on Full metal Jacket?
 Â
ANSWER: Yes. Always will too I hope.Â
------------Â
STATEMENT:   If it were up to me, I would not equip USMC infantry with the 7.62x39 round because (in my opinion) ----- 1) It is doesn't have stopping power beyond short range. 2) It is too under powered to consistently shoot through exterior walls, trees, car doors, etc.  3) It is too limited in effective range. ----- to be an effective general purpose round. And that is what infantry is... or should be... a --- general purpose --- as opposed to a ---special purpose (SOF) --- force.  Â
Â
IMHO: Sir I must respectfully disagree with you. The 7.62x39 round is more than capable of stopping power at 200yds (which up to 300 I consider short range, 300m to 500m being medium range and beyond 500m long range).  I have also personally shot this round through exterior walls (it took a couple), trees, car doors, wood core doors and through Light Armored Vehicles (the kind you carry VIP's around in, not the kind Marines have).Â
Â
I would also argue the point that a "general purpose" round as you call it should be effective to 300m.  A special purpose round being one step above and beyond a "GP" round, would be effective to 500m or beyond, and would require an additional skill set to enable the shooter effective capability at that range. GP forces should be able to engage accuratley to 300m.  "Specialists" (SOF/DM's) should be able to engage to 500m and beyond. Before you dismiss this theory as HERESY!, please read on.
Â
I'll talk more about my opinons on "engagement ranges" later in this email....
--------------
STATEMENT:   Marines armed with AR-10s / SR-25s with Picatinny rail type receivers would be able to RELIABLY drop (incapacitate) bad guys pumped up on adrenaline rushes with single shots out to 300 meters (330yds) with open sights. They could also put a serious hurtin on someone at 600 meters (660yds) with 2.5x scopes when the tactical situation called for it.  I believe rifles firing 7.62x39 ammo would only have about half of the effective range, all other factors being equal. And I'm not sure that the 7.62x39 at 300 meters... I think 175 meters is pushing it... will reliably incapacitate a hostile.Â
Â
IMHO:  Check out this link for more info on the NATO 7.62 round. I have read this several places and if it is true then we need to make sure we get the W. German stuff and not the US stuff for our trigger pullers: http://matrix.dumpshock.com/raygun/basics/pmrb.html
Â
I'll address the comments about "660yds" engagements further down....Â
--------------
STATEMENT:  A rifle that can also power through light cover at medium to close range to get to a bad guy behind it. I would do that rather than regress to a rifle/bullet combo that required that our riflemen would always have to close within effective range of the bad guy's rifles, or get into face to face hand grenade and pistol duels in town because of the limited capability of the rifle/bullet combination in their hands.Â
Â
IMHO: Sir, I believe you are making the same argument here that the USAF likes to make for "air power".  The sobering reality of all combat is that the Infantryman will always have to close with the enemy...with urban warfare we will always have to get "face to face" with them in "grenade and pistol duels" as you portray it....unless we lay siege to the city with artillery a la stalingrad, or unless we bomb them into submission a la Dresden, or unless we use the ray gun to make them all go to sleep (who knows?).Â
Â
As an 0311, if I had a dime for everytime I heard or said things like "locate, close with and destroy the enemy", "use belt buckle tactics", "get in close", etc...I would be a very rich Marine.
Â
The mission of the Marine Corps Rifle Squad is to "locate, close with, and destroy the enemy by fire and manuver..." FMFM 6-5.
Â
Finally, in most all cases, if we are close enough to shoot through his cover and hit him (because we can see part of him), we are going to be within effective range of his SA fire.
--------------
STATEMENT: Â As for house to house / room clearing work, I've said before, if you know you are going to be door kickin and gang bustin for an extended period of time, then 45cal M1Thompsons, short barreled 12 gauge shotguns, 40mm M-79s and 45cal auto pistols (or 50AE autos for those who choose to carry and can handle those blasters) are the way to go for the gang busters. Snipers and MG teams can handle the distance shooting and covering fires in those scenarios.Â
Â
IMHO: For house to house in urban terrain you need: 1) snipers for overwatch. 2) Automatic riflemen for security/overwatch (SAW's/GPMG's). 3) lots and lots of smoke and frag grenades (more than you can carry) 4) something to "make" holes in buildings....c-4, TNT, SMAW's, whatever....but you will have to create your own entries to avoid booby traps and to manuver in a "3D" environment. This is just the start......
--------------
STATEMENT:  Lastly, in town, as you probably know better than me, ROE may not allow a rifleman to take a shot at a hostile unless the he can be positive he will hit him and not the women and kids positioned around the hostile whom he is using as cover.   Â
Â
IMHO: The ROE will almost never (I have never heard of it), say "you must be able to hit".  It will typically say "you must be able to identify the hostile action or imminenet hostile action" or "you must be able to identify the enemy engaging you" or "you must be able to identify the hostile in possesion of a crew served weapon", etc. No commander should ever "dictate" that you must be able to hit "hostiles only"....I don't think any ever would....it would be the death knoll for the outfit once the enemy figured it out.
Â
The Rangers did a superb job in Somalia and they killed untold numbers of so called "non-combatants" who were unarmed but were standing directly in front of those where were and were aiding and abetting the enemy by providing them with concealment. The majority of those killed in Somalia were non-combatants I believe.Â
--------------Â
STATEMENT:  In the boonies, a rifleman will not be able to reliably hit those head and pelvic shots at range, or any time the target is not simply standing out in the open unless he is solidly grounded in basic marksmanship skills.   Â
Â
IMHO:Â Please see my final comments.....Â
--------------
STATEMENT:  The only way to learn, acquire, maintain and improve on basic marksmanship skills, and learn your rifle, is to conscientiously challenge and push yourself through a thorough 500 - 600yd/meter KD course on a re-occurring basis.  Â
Â
 IMHO: I shudder whenever I hear the words "only" and "never" and "always".....I tend to believe these are rarely true.Â
 --------------
STATEMENT:  No disrespect to the army, but I have shot their infantry M-16 qualification course and it doesn't require much more in the way of marksmanship skills than an amusement park shooting gallery does. Maybe that's because it is set up like a shooting gallery. It's fun... (no one to my knowledge has ever used the word "fun" to describe the USMC KD rifle course...) but, the course doesn't require sight adjustments, (or much in the way of sight alignment or sight picture) max range is 300 meters, the targets are pop-up movers that close towards the shooter, and you are given enough ammo to allow you to shoot low on some of the first shots in order to observe the impact and then use hold-off (Kentucky windage) for the remainder of the course.  Â
Â
IMHO: I have shot both courses numerous times.  I would only ask this question: Which is a better combat replicator:
Â
A course of fire where the targets are black on white silloutes, never move, you have as much time as you need to get into your position, and you have the target pulled after every shot and marked with a big orange disc to show your shot impact, after which you can take the time to adjust your sights, before your next shot, wearing nothing but your sweatshirt, cammie blouse and black "shooting glove".
Â
OR:
Â
A course of fire where you load your magazines and get into a fighting position with full battle gear, after which a series of green targets (most often on a green background), pop up and down at random intervals, closing with your position as you progress, with limited exposure times (you better make your shots count), and sometimes giving you no idea (at 300m) whether you hit the target or whether it just went down at the end of it's exposure cycle?
Â
More on this later....I'm not dismissing the USMC KD course at all.....Â
 --------------
STATEMENT:  What you learn is one limited combat shooting technique (because, not all light and surface conditions will allow you to see impacts around the hostile you may be firing at in combat and ROE may not allow you to shoot low in front of him anyway).  Â
Â
IMHO: How is the USMC KD course different from this? Do you learn any "combat technique"? Do you shoot in low light, etc on the KD? (Only on the field firing portion which is "ammo blow off so we can go home" at most USMC ranges). Again, more on this later....Â
 --------------
Â
SOME FINAL WORDS (IMHO): I have had the pleasure (or displeasure depending on how you look at it) to deploy operationally with a long gun to the Balkans, eastern Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, western and southern Europe, and the middle east.  The recurring theme I tend to see in duscussions revolves (as I see it) around "engagement ranges" as well as terminal ballistics. Â
Â
Based on my limited experience, realistic operational and offensive engagement ranges almost never exceed 300m, over 90% of the time. Almost everything we (USMC) have been doing in the last twenty years has been contingency based. That means we have been operating doing NEO's (Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations), OOTW (Operations Other Than War), Humanitarian/Peace missions, etc. Â
Â
Invariably this has brought us into the cities. Or closer at least. Thus the commandants emphasis on the "3 block war" and the "urban warrior" experimental warfighting lab. Engagement ranges in urban areas invariably close to under 300m....(less the 8541's in the watchtower who can see for miles).
Â
Somewhere I hear someone screaming "AFGHANISTAN!...the ranges were much further there!"  Agreed....in some places. But where were the Marines?  At the airport. At Rhino.  In the city. Dug in and holed up for the most part. With respect to the number of the Marines in country, few supported the screening/blocking mission for SOF. Â
Â
The most celebrated (or over celebrated depending on your view) example of Marines in combat came from a Force Recon engagement where those very brave Marines were close enough to see their rounds impacting in the enemies chest. (Let me introduce you to Allah!!!)
Â
99% of our US casualties have come from 1) Fratricide 2) poorly planned operations where the engagement distances were under 300m, 3) Mines.  Were some Taliban killed out in the open by a grunt with an M16A2 at a range over 300m? Some maybe, but not enough to really matter (I have heard of none...if someone has an example please share). Â
Â
Combined Arms and close in fighting (in caves and cities) rules the day in Afghanistan. Now it is standoff explosive, rocket and RPG ambushes and small arms ambushes in the boonies at close range...(the enemy won't engage from 500m with SA).
Â
So again, counterintuitively, we are faced with another "300m" battlefield.
Â
Now back to what I was saying earlier about closing with the enemy. If I am closing with the enemy (assaulting the objective), I want volume of fire in addition to average marksmanship. (let's face it, when you are running after someone to kill them, and they are shooting at you (a lot), you are not neccisarily going to be taking your natural breathing pause, making sure you have good bone support and excercising superb trigger control....most people I know are going to be trying to put as much lead downrange at the booger eaters as possible).
Â
Once I am on the objective and consolidating, I want a weapon that will still function after firing 160 rounds in a couple of minutes, and that I can continue to fire at the rapid rate, hitting out to 300m with, to repel any counterattack. Â
Â
If I am in an urban environment, I want the weapon to manuver easily through doorways and windows, and I want it to kill anyone I shoot (typically at 50m or less) with the first one or two rounds.
Â
Once I set the defense, I want a weapon that I do not have to worry about cleaning (even though it has been dropped in the mud/sand/snow/dirt during the assault) that I can carry around loaded for a few hours until I have the "D" set, and that I know will still function when I pull the trigger.
Â
Now, let's look at range and how it affects our perception of what we "need".  Ok, lets talk about engagement ranges in different environments in terms of distance you can see the enemy and thus "engage him", (unlike Vietnam where most say they never saw the enemy and if they did it was at bayonet range):
Â
Jungle: Inches? Let's say 100m just for kicks (even though it is more like 100 inches in most jungles).
Â
Forest: 200m?
Â
Cities:Â 300m?
Â
Desert: 1000m? Ok, so the desert we find ourselves with long ranges right?  Now lets look at the last desert battle we fought, dust bowl 1991.  Did we have troopers out on line taking 500m and beyond shots? Hell no. All our boys were 'mech'd up in armor. After the Air/Arty/Tanks/Line Charges/B52's and M2's and Mk19's got done, they debarked those AAV's and did what? Ran trenchlines. Seached command and control bunkers. Secured urban areas.  And again, we find ourselves (counterintutively) in a engagement range environment that 90% of the time did not go over 300m. (If that). (Again the sniper in the bell tower is a different story, but we are talking about "grunts" here.)
Â
So some say, "yes but what about sitting in the defense in the desert or snow...that will exceed 300m.  I agree, but under those conditions (blowing sand/snow, heat mirage, effects of sunlight on the sand/snow/target, effects of sand/snow on the weapon and operator) I would argue that your chances of engaging a partially obscured, camoflaged, moving target wearing body armor and advancing under supporting arms is slim at best.  You are going to have to hunker down while his ARTY/Mortars/Air blows the s--t out of you and then, at the last moment before they hit the objective (you) they will roll the barrage over the target and be on top of you. Engagement range: less than 300m.
Â
Not to mention the fact that your average 0311 Joe Schmuckatelly doesn't even know the first thing about range estimation, much less is he able to do it in the mountains, snow or desert where it can be tricky.  Most 0311's in the USMC don't even know this little tidbit:
Â
Range Estimation via the front sight post:
If a man size target is wider than the front sight post, he is closer than 300m = Engage.
If a man size target is not wider than the front sight post, he is farther than 300m = save your bullets for something you can hit.Â
Â
Â
So what to do?
Â
1)Â Teach the current USMC KD program as a "basic introduction to marksmanship"Â course for ALL Marines.
Â
2)  ALL Marines continue to fire this course once a year for qualification.
Â
3)  Infantry Rifleman (0311's) are required to fire the Army Unknown Dist. course once a year in addition to the USMC KD course. If they qualify here, it counts as an additional amount of points for promotion...but you either qual, or you don't...no badges.
Â
4) Infantry Rifleman (0311's) are required to attend "intermidiete combat marksmanship" training once a year in addition to the above.  This can be taught at the Battalion level under the supervision of the Battalion Gunner (Infantry) and effectively put into place by 8531 (Coaches) within the Bn.  Training will consist of 3 days of battaion classroom followed by 2 days of snap shooting at unknown distances to 100m and urban engagements to 300m, it will also include practical app of range estimation, shooting at partialy obscured, camoflaged targets. Training will be attended by squads...working together as they are organized in the Platoon. Perhaps just prior to MEUSOC workup once they have dumped all non-essential personnel.
Â
5) One Marine per squad is designated a "Designated Marksman" prior to workup and attends a 10day division level school where he learns "advanced combat optics marksmanship", is issued a 4x ACOG optic for the rest of service (like his boots) and learns to employ that optic in support of the company objective down to fireteam levels.  Upon completion he earns the right to mount that optic on his issued service rifle, regardless of promotion or assignment. He knows how to use it and should be allowed to. (This optic is ballistically matched to the rifle and crosshairs are BZO. Stadia lines beneath the crosshairs allow for range estimation and are marked for 400m and 500m respectively. 4x optic makes ID a lot simpler as well as offering "glassing" capabilities and overwatch to the squad).
Â
Finally, equip them with a weapon that can stop people with one round out to 300m, can shoot to 500m and that will work after it has been dropped into sand/snow/mud/dirt/etc.
Â
Here are some  other links to check out:
http://www.biggerhammer.net/manuals/mcrp3-1a/3-01a/template.htm
Â
http://www.biggerhammer.net/manuals/mcwp3-35.3/toc.htm
Â
http://216.239.37.100/search?q=cache:IyAs1lj9-rcC:www.biggerhammer.net/manuals/mcrp3-1a/3-01-1/ch11.pdf+25+meter+BZO+target&hl=en&lr=lang_en&ie=UTF-8
Â
http://www.geocities.com/Pentagon/Bunker/1677/august.htm
Scroll down until you see = FOCUS: FOCUS: THE BLACK RIFLE: M16 ASSAULT RIFLE
Â
I've attached some of my favorite quotes with respect to tactics and marksmanship below my sig block just for GP.
Â
Thanks,
Semper Fidelis,
DK
Â
My rifle and myself know that what counts in this war are not the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, nor the smoke we make. We know that it is the hits that count. WE WILL HIT...
Â
"The one weapon every man, soldier, sailor, or airman should be able to use effectively is the rifle. It is always his weapon of personal safety in an emergency, and for many it is the primary weapon of offense and defense. Expertness in its use cannot be overemphasized."
— General Dwight D. Eisenhower
Â
 Lee Harvey Oswald, shooting from the top floor of the Book Depository was able to take 3 shots from an old Italian bolt action rifle. From a distance of over 258 feet and shooting at a moving target he was able to score 2 hits including a headshot. Now does anybody know where he learned to shoot like this? In the Marine Corps ladies!
- Full Metal Jacket
Â
They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist.….
- General John Sedgwick, (1813-1864), last words
Â
Today we did what we had to do. They counted on America to be passive. They counted wrong.
- Ronald ReaganÂ
Â
Anything worth fighting for is worth fighting dirty for.
- Unknown
Â
War doesn't determine who's right, just who's left
- Unknown
Â
In war, there is no substitute for victory
- Douglas MacArthur
Â
War hath no fury like a non-combatant
- Mogadishu, Somalia
Â
"Aim small, miss small..."
-Mel Gibson, "The Patriot"
Â
"Speed is fine, but accuracy is final."
-Bill Jordan
Â
"The only reason I carry a spare mag is so I can go home at the end of a gunfight with a full load."
-Jeff Cooper
Â
"There are three kinds of people in the world.  There are wolves and there are sheep. And then there are those who protect the sheep from the wolves..." -Christopher Shields
Â
"Ammunition . . . The precious metal of the future." - Unknown
Â
A man's greatest work is to break his enemies, to drive them before him, to take from them all the things that have been theirs, to hear the weeping of those that cherished them, to take their horses between his knees and press in his arms the most desirable of their women." -- Genghis Khan

"The truth is that any good modern rifle is good enough. The determining factor is the man behind the gun." – Theodore Roosevelt, 1910
Â
"The wolf cares not, how many the sheep be." - Plato
Â
"Anyone who gets in a fair fight...has no tactical skills." – Anonymous
Â
"Every Marine is, first and foremost, a rifleman. All other conditions are secondary."
- General A.M. Gray, Commandant USMC
Â
"We're surrounded. That simplifies our problem of getting to these people and killing them."
- Chesty Puller at the Chosin Reservoir
Â
"Comfort is an illusion. A false security bred from familiar things and familiar ways. It narrows the mind. Weakens the body." –USMC
Â
A quotation in a speech, article or book is like a rifle in the hands of an infantryman. It speaks with authority. - Brendan Francis
Â
"There is only one tactical principle which is not subject to change. It is to use the means at hand to inflict the maximum amount of wounds, death, and destruction on the enemy in the minimum amount of time."
- General George S. Patton, Jr.
Â
"Being ready is not what matters. What matters is winning after you get there." -- LT General V.H. Krulak, USMC: To a Marine unit leaving for Vietnam, April 1965
Â
--------------------------------------END RESPONSES--------

Posted on Jan 17, 2003, 9:22 AM
from IP address 66.133.133.195

 
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