Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Return of an Old Friend

The U.S. Army adjusts to the battlespace by reintroducing a weapon that was first introduced over fifty years ago as the standard issue rifle for U.S. Forces. The M-14 Rifle is making a comback due to the extreme ranges that are the norm for many of the engagements in mountainous Afghanistan. I linked a study in a post last week that called for changes in weaponry and increased emphasis on marksmanship.

It seems that someone has been reading MAJ Thomas P. Ehrhart's report and acted to reclaim the title of the Major's report," Taking Back the Infantry Half-Kilometer."

Anyone who served in the military from 1957 to about 1968 knew about the M-14 and for some like the U.S. Marines and the early Army units deployed to Vietnam like the 1st Infantry Division and most of the combat support units, packed the "14" into battle with a basic load that shot for shot was outgunned by the AK-47. In hindsight, after the bad start of the early M-16 "Mattel Models" with their ammo jams caused by using the wrong powder, many dead soldiers would have a better chance armed with the old reliable 14.

When the United States went to Afghanistan it became the first war we had fought for any extended time in areas of wide open spaces and mountainous terrain since fighting in North Africa and Italy during World War II. And then it was total war with little concern for collateral damage. For a similar long term war, one has to look back over a century to the Great Plains and Apache Indian Wars of 19th Century America.

This week Army Times carried an article explaining how the Army was doubling the number of 7.62mm weapons in the infantry squad to now provide for two EBR's for every 9 man squad.

Since the beginning of the war, a typical nine-man infantry squad has included a single squad-designated marksman, armed with a surplus M14 rifle for engaging the enemy beyond the 300-meter range of M4s and M16s.
Today, squads are deploying to Afghanistan with two SDMs, each armed with the M14 Enhanced Battle Rifle, a modernized version of the Vietnam War-era weapon that’s accurate out to 800 meters.
To any old soldier, a first look at this new M-14 would not look like the rifle you first learned to field strip in basic training back in the 60's.

The EBR features a standard M14 barrel, plus a receiver and trigger assembly that’s fitted with a Sage International adjustable aluminum stock, a Leopold 3.5x10 power scope and Harris bipod legs.

Read more:
 Marksman Issued Better Rifle

And more:
The Last Surviving M-14 Battle Rifles


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