Army Report: GIs Outgunned in Afghanistan

Army Report: GIs Outgunned in Afghanistan

This is a discussion on Army Report: GIs Outgunned in Afghanistan within the Law Enforcement, Military & Homeland Security Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Politics Daily ^ | 04/2/10 | David Wood Posted on April 3, 2010 4:03:04 PM EDT American troops are often outgunned by Afghan insurgents because ...

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  1. #1
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    Exclamation Army Report: GIs Outgunned in Afghanistan

    Politics Daily ^ | 04/2/10 | David Wood
    Posted on April 3, 2010 4:03:04 PM EDT

    American troops are often outgunned by Afghan insurgents because they lack the precision weapons, deadly rounds, and training needed to kill the enemy in the long-distance firefights common in Afghanistan's rugged terrain, according to an internal Army study.

    Unlike in Iraq, where most shooting took place at relatively short range in urban neighborhoods, U.S. troops in Afghanistan are more often attacked from high ground with light machine guns and mortars from well beyond 300 meters (327 yards, or just over three football field lengths). The average range for a small-arms firefight in Afghanistan is about 500 meters, according to the study.

    Unless U.S. troops under attack call in artillery or air strikes and risk civilian casualties, the only way they can fight back is with long-distance precision shooting -- a capability currently in short supply among infantry units, according to a study done at the Army's School of Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., by Maj. Thomas P. Ehrhart.

    According to Ehrhart's paper, Army infantrymen do not regularly train and practice shooting at distances of more than 300 meters. The round fired from their M4 carbines and M16 rifles, the 5.56mm bullet, don't carry enough velocity at long distances to kill.

    While the Army has moved recently to equip each infantry company of about 200 soldiers with nine designated marksmen to overcome this problem, they don't often carry weapons with sufficient killing power at distance, and there aren't enough of them, Ehrhart reports.

    Army spokesmen had no immediate comment on Ehrhart's paper, which was released by SAMS last month and given wider circulation by defensetech.org and the Kit Up! blog on military.com.

    Most infantrymen in Afghanistan carry the M4 carbine, a version of the standard M16 rifle, but with a shorter barrel. It was designed to allow soldiers to operate from cramped armored vehicles and in the city neighborhoods of Iraq. But the shorter barrel robs the weapon of the ability to shoot accurately at long distances, because the bullet doesn't acquire as much stabilizing spin when it is fired as it does in a longer barrel.

    Soldiers commonly are taught in training to use "suppressive fire,'' in effect returning enemy attacks with sprays of gunfire, which are often ineffective in Afghanistan.

    One reason is the ineffectiveness of the most commonly used round, designated the M855. Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East, was once accidentally shot in the chest with an M855 round from a light machine gun; rather than being killed, he walked out of the hospital several days later.

    Ehrhart recalls seeing a soldier shot with a M855 round from a distance of 75 meters in training. Twenty minutes later he was "walking around smoking a cigarette.''

    Such incidents may be flukes, but they do illustrate that the rounds can lack killing power. Most infantrymen are equipped to fire the M855 round from their M4 carbine, M16 rifle, or the SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon), a light machine gun. When a firefight erupts in Afghanistan, they are unable to fire back accurately at more than 200 or 300 meters, leaving it to soldiers with heavier weapons -- the M240 machine gun, 60-mm mortars or snipers equipped with M14 rifles.

    "These [heavier] weapons represent 19 percent of the company's firepower,'' Ehrhart wrote, meaning that "81 percent of the company has little effect on the fight.

    "This is unacceptable.''

    One quick fix, he suggested, is to equip the designated marksmen within each company with a powerful weapon that can kill at long distances, the M110 sniper weapon, which is effective out to 800 meters.

    These rifles are expensive -- about $8,000 apiece. But you could outfit every infantry squad in the Army with two M110 rifles for the price of one U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor supersonic stealthy fighter, Ehrhart noted.

    Ironically, American doughboys in World War I were better trained and equipped for Afghanistan-style firefights than today's GIs.

    "The U.S. infantry weapon has devolved from the World War I rifle capable of conducting lethal fire out to 1,200 yards, to the current weapon that can hit a target out to 300 meters but probably will not kill it,'' Ehrhart wrote.

    The School of Advanced Military Studies, where Ehrhart was a student last year, trains the Army's brightest young officers for senior leadership. His unclassified paper, written last year, does not reflect official Army positions. But the paper has rocketed around in military circles and has been read avidly in some units preparing to deploy to Afghanistan.

    But even before his report began circulating widely, some Army units were acting on the hard-learned lessons from Afghanistan, where the Army has been fighting for almost nine years.

    Several weeks ago I watched an infantry battalion of the 10th Mountain Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team working on live fire maneuvers in central Wyoming.

    One key focus, according to Command Sgt. Maj. Doug Maddi, was to hone soldiers' skills in high-angle and long-distance shooting -- precisely the skills not widely required in regular Army training, according to Ehrhart.

    Where normal Army marksmanship training is often conducted on level ground against pop-up targets, Maddi and the battalion commander, Lt. Col. Chris Ramsey, had their men shooting up towering ridgelines and down steep inclines, and at distances out to 600 meters.

    The battalion's troops, wearing their full battle kit, also were firing live rounds while running, and while running with heavy packs, up and down the steep Wyoming ridges.

    "We're here to replicate the environment of Afghanistan," said Ramsey, who brought his battalion to Wyoming from its home base at Fort Polk, La. "We don't get this kind of terrain at home."

    Ramsey told me he had not read Ehrhart's paper before his battalion deployed to Wyoming for a month's training in early February. Polishing those skills was "intuitive," he said. But he said the paper now has been read across the battalion.

    At a meeting with reporters this week, Army Secretary John McHugh was asked whether he was familiar with the Ehrhart report. McHugh said he was not, but after hearing a brief description, he said he would track down the paper and read it.
    Former Army Infantry Captain; 25 yrs as an NRA Certified Instructor; Avid practitioner of the martial art: KLIK-PAO.


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    VIP Member Array dukalmighty's Avatar
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    The M16 was designed to wound not kill,thus overloading the Enemys ability to treat and take care of wounded soldiers
    "Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country,"
    --Mayor Marion Barry, Washington , DC .

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    Interesting read, and I would hope it gets the attention it deserves. I think the "fatal flaw" is the Army's assumption that one rifle and one round (or variants of the basic rifle and round) are adequate for all missions. The SE Asian jungles and Iraqi urban combat pose different problems than the mountains and open landscapes of Korea and Afghanistan, and one need not stretch the imagination to understand that different tools are required.

    Re the Petraeus story, the reader is (mid)led to believe that getting shot with an M855 round is a nonfatal deal. Petraeus was drilled through a lung and had two vertebrae shattered. Senior officers on the ground with sucking wounds tend to get people's attention - if he hadn't had the prompt, high-priority emergency attention he did, we'd probably be speaking of him in the past tense. In the field, a wound of that nature would have a high likelihood of becoming a fatality.
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    "The U.S. infantry weapon has devolved from the World War I rifle capable of conducting lethal fire out to 1,200 yards, to the current weapon that can hit a target out to 300 meters but probably will not kill it,'' Ehrhart wrote.

    ^^^^M4^^^^^sucks

    They need to start mass producing M14's again, or start gettin some more M240's to really light the sandbox up.; all the way up into the mountain areas.
    I have never been a fan of "wounding the enemy" and letting his comrades start worrying about him. Nowadays, these cretins don't seem to care about their own. The US needs to start shooting to kill. They will begin to respect that


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    Every unit should be equipped with at least two sniper/spotter teams to assist with this problem.

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    Where is the M-60E4 machine gun when you need it? BTW: The US is recalling some ot the M14 rifles that were given to foreign countries under MAP.

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    We should never have to read something like this in the media. What happened to our generation where we don't rally behind the troops like before?

    This would have outraged the WWII generation and they would have fixed it, as a whole.
    "Don't hit a man if you can possibly avoid it; but if you do hit him, put him to sleep." - Theodore Roosevelt

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    I think the problem is with the M-4 and the training that the army provides. I have heard of no problems from any of my former students in the Corps. Most of them are using the M16A4, that has enough oomph to get out to 500 yards. I would love to see the option of 7.62 for more of the troops over there, but the 5.56 is in my opinion a great round.

    Oh yea .... locate, CLOSE with, and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver. If you sit on your butt and dont move in on the enemy.... well I will leave that thought unfinished.
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

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    All they need to do is adopt something like the 6.8spc round for the troops, spend more time training them in basic marksmanship and I think the tables will be turned. I have seen some of the marksmanship training they receive and my opinion is that they don't get near enough practice. The pure simple fact of the matter is that during WWII we were a nation of riflemen, so the basic fundamentals were well ingrained in our troops because the vast majority of them had to shoot to put food on the table.

    Contrast that with today's generation of soldiers who learned to shoot by playing endless rounds of "Call of Duty" and "Doom"...... No comparison. They could also start issuing .308 bolt rifles with basic scopes to the troops and that would greatly extend their range in the short term, I am sure Savage, Remington & Winchester would be happy to throw something together for them to use.....And unlike an auto, a bolt gun will always work..
    "Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined". - Patrick Henry

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    Another good example of trying to fight a war that nobody above the trenches wants to win. France was smart enough to get out of Viet Nam. Russia was smart enough to get out of Afghanistan. We're not smart enough to get out of the United Nations. We pay all the bills and get treated like the bad guys. As long as it's our sons and daughters that are getting killed and not those of the politicians, the wars will go on. There isn't one American life that's worth every towel head in Iraq and Afghanistan. I love the look of a mushroom cloud above a hot, sandy desert or cool rugged mountain. It's so peaceful.

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    Paco - the equipment deficiencies of WWII are legendary. Our stuff was quite often inferior in every way to that of our enemy, and it stayed that way throughout the war. To imply that this is the first war where there were people (and note that it's not ALL people) complain about the equipment is just...silly.

    usmc1369 - Amen.

    Here's my question - how are these Afghans, who are basically untrained and are using beat up, poorly maintained, inherently less accurate and less accurate "at range" weapons scoring any hits? If our MUCH better trained and disciplined guys aren't getting hits with our weapons, what do you think Najibulla is doing with his rust encrusted AK? Shooting the wings off of flies?

    Yes, the M4 has limitations. ALL weapons (and, indeed, all things) have limitations. There is no easy fix (despite what so many internet generals seem to think) for every battlefield problem. More training will help. More DM rifles will help. Being able to maneuver effectively will help. Going "wah, wah, wah" on an internet forum will not help.

    What the UN has to do with any of this, I can't even begin to guess...I seem to recall us going into Afghanistan (and by us I include myself, having spent 16 months there) as the direct result of a Tuesday morning in 2001...

    BTW, this is the monograph that Ex posted before, repackaged as a "news" article... I recommend you read that rather than this if you want to understand the author's point (and note that it IS the author's point, and is not any sort of universal or official position).
    A man fires a rifle for many years, and he goes to war. And afterward he turns the rifle in at the armory, and he believes he's finished with the rifle. But no matter what else he might do with his hands - love a woman, build a house, change his son's diaper - his hands remember the rifle.

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    Can we start a service-person rifle care package donation? You can get a decent Remington 700 in .308 and scope for about $1k.
    Sticks

    Grasseater // Grass~eat~er noun, often attributive \ˈgras-ē-tər\
    A person who is incapable of independent thought; a person who is herd animal-like in behavior; one who cannot distinguish between right and wrong; a foolish person.
    See also Sheep

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    Here's my question - how are these Afghans, who are basically untrained and are using beat up, poorly maintained, inherently less accurate and less accurate "at range" weapons scoring any hits? If our MUCH better trained and disciplined guys aren't getting hits with our weapons, what do you think Najibulla is doing with his rust encrusted AK? Shooting the wings off of flies?
    OPFOR makes a very good point. I worked overseas as a marksmanship/firing range advisor to foreign armies for a long time.

    There are some devastating eye diseases in that part of the world including trachoma, which is contagious. How many of those deadeye al Queda and Taliban "insurgents" are ever seen wearing glasses? Answer: Almost none. Rural Muslim men with vision problems almost never wear glasses; it ain't manly.

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    VIP Member Array Sticks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OPFOR View Post
    Here's my question - how are these Afghans, who are basically untrained and are using beat up, poorly maintained, inherently less accurate and less accurate "at range" weapons scoring any hits? If our MUCH better trained and disciplined guys aren't getting hits with our weapons, what do you think Najibulla is doing with his rust encrusted AK? Shooting the wings off of flies?
    I am not a military person, a tactician or even did real good in world history.

    IIRC 1 person with some skill, dug in at range and position can keep an entire platoon pined down.

    These people we are fighting are not just using rust encrusted AKs. They have a plethora of weapons and ammo collected from the last 120 years of modernish warfare from around the world. Nor are they a bunch of outland peasants with no skill.

    I am not a marksman or rifleman by any stretch of the imagination, but I can hit a 16"x16" steel plate regularly at 400m with my 1928 Russian Mosin Nagant shooting 1980's mil surp ammo and open sights. My Romanian PSL, I can maintain a 6" group @ 400m. Both are 7.62x54. This is only from shooting a day or two a month for a few hours. Either rifle being shot at me from that range, I would want the equivalent of 1/2" plate steel for cover or better (given the condition of my targets).

    These people are like we were 100+ years ago. Grew up with guns, and if you wanted to eat, you learned how to use it.
    Sticks

    Grasseater // Grass~eat~er noun, often attributive \ˈgras-ē-tər\
    A person who is incapable of independent thought; a person who is herd animal-like in behavior; one who cannot distinguish between right and wrong; a foolish person.
    See also Sheep

  15. #15
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    Its not the M16(A4, A3 ect) That are the problem, its the M4. Going door to door and street to street had the weapons outfitted with barrels of uppers that were 16, 14, or even 10.5 inches in length. Great for cutting weight and increasing the weapons movement, but now its a new playing field. Cutting 7, 6 or even 4 inches off of the barrel will ruin the 5.56mm's trajectory.

    The 5.56 round does not have a steady flight of path until around 100 meters. The 5.56 Nato round was... "designed to produce larger wounds with high velocity, lower mass bullets that tumble, cavitate, and release energy quickly upon striking the target." This round can and will provide the above with the correct weapon, but we take that barrel lenght away and there goes our "high velocity", and us in the doghouse. My vote? Start implementing more M14's back in with HP rounds (only for accuracy, of course)
    "AND YE SHALL KNOW THE TRUTH AND THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE"
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