December 18th, 2009
01:15 PM ET

Your view: Is U.S. combat equipment up to snuff?

Yesterday's post on Rep. Ike Skelton's letter raising concerns about jamming M4s and restricting plastic straps on soldiers' rucksacks kicked up some pretty interesting comments on the way purchasing is handled for U.S. troops.  We heard from several soldiers, Marines, and civilians on the issue.  Mike says "Don't totally blame the military on this one, most of the blame is on the congress and how they fund the military." And commenter Adam wonders if the Pentagon's focus on larger weapons such as "$2 billion each for a B-2, $300 million for an F-22" has distracted from funding troops on the ground. Meanwhile, David states that "the M4 is a fine combat weapon. Soldiers begged to have M4s in lieu of M16A2s in 2003-2004, Soldiers will always complain about something. "

What do you think? Are U.S. troops on the ground getting what they need? Is Congress doing enough to ensure they have the right equipment? And is the American public willing to foot the tax bill to pay for it all?

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soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. SSG SUdarevic, Mladen

    Proper gear!? I am currently serving in Afghanistan and majority of the gear I use when I go out on patrols is purchased not by the Department of the Army or Department of Defense but with my own money. Being army reservist I was issued one pair of cold weather mountain boots that were one size too short (they ran out of my size and gave me a pair anyway). I work with Marines and they jokingly try to stay away from me during patrols because my uniform ACU’s (Advanced Combat Uniform) sticks out in any environment; they call it sniper bait. Other Marines call my uniform ICU’s (I See You). Army Reservist and National Guard Soldiers deploy with even less gear than regular army soldiers. I would be content to get old regular army crap.

    June 25, 2010 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
  2. Pvt. Ryan, US Army

    It is not the guns that is killing us. It the people who is killing was. The guns are a tool and Humans kill each other. Why? Why did they have to do the 9/11 and all kinds of bad stuff. Why do people kill each other. If we keep fighning each other, human population will ghet lower. I wonder why the military didn't send bombers to the mountain or a spy plane taht can look close to the mountainm. This idea is better than the Cuban Missile Crises last war.

    June 1, 2010 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  3. LT

    The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy of position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the US Government.

    May 29, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. LT

    I am currently about to deploy for the first time ever to Afghanistan. I read this article and could not help thinking what my Soldiers have and what they're deploying with. My team goes out of the wire constantly, carrying site exploitation equipment on their person. All we have for weapons are M16s. So on top of their site exploitation equipment they have to deal with M16's. Even though longer barrels are more accurate for long distance engagements, when you're 400 meters away from a target or in an urban environment, you're not looking for the perfect zero. The M4 is a far more effective weapon and has an adjustable butt stock which for some of the females on my team would greatly appreciate since they are short (and have short arms) and cannot comfortably engage a target with an M16. Our coc (chain of command) keeps saying that sometime we'll get M4s. We're less than 60 days out and no M4s, only 6 M9s (for the whole company) and heavy guns for our vehicles (ie M2's or M240B). Although I trust my Soldiers, I am really frustrated as their leader, because I cannot give them the best equipment. Every time I ask I get shot down by higher and told to stop asking. Not to mention that my sister battalion and all the other companies in my battalion (some of which have Soldiers whose MOS' don't even take them out of the wire) have M4s.

    May 29, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. MAJ Pain

    Soldiers get stuff two ways. Through CIF and RFI. The CIF piece seems to work pretty well. The Rapid Fielding piece is a joke. I was given a complete duffle bag of cold weather gear for Iraq. It was 90 degrees at night. Why did I have to take all this crap to theatre. Also, most of our gear did not match. They cannot get all the right sizes in all the right colors. So we had Soldiers with three different types of clothes BDU, ACU, and Desert colors. Makes us a good target for a sniper.

    May 6, 2010 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  6. antuan

    Buy Kalashnikov.... This automatic machine has proved the superiority over all

    April 22, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. john burgess

    Its all up to snuff but we don't use all these weapons that can kill they just need to bring out them bombs and fighter jets start at one end of the country and work their way thru and start the country over with the survivors

    April 19, 2010 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
  8. Caleb

    The reason the Marines always have horrible broken old gear is because the marine corps only gets 17% of the Navy's budget. That ends up being about 5% of the Dod's budget. So while the army has more than enough money to spend on getting new packs for their infantry the 03's get shafted because the only thing that can fix their pack is 550 cord and tape.

    February 13, 2010 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Rob

    The military absolutely is failing to provide our soldiers with the best equipment, and in some cases is preventing them from accessing it on their own. For instance, if you send your family marine better body armor than what is issued, their benefits are void if they are killed wearing it.

    The issue isn't funding from Congress, the issue is the ridiculous contracts the military has with the people who design and produce these goods. They're too worried about protecting their own interests to be concerned with the safety of our troops.

    February 13, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Walt

    I spent 14 months in Iraq back in '06-'07 as a Scout with the 1st Cavalry Division. I can honestly say I don't recall ever being short of equipment that we absolutely needed. Were there some things that I wish we could have had or some equipment that could have worked better ?(i.e. the electronics on our Bradleys were sketchy from time to time, that Boomerang system we had never worked) Yes. But that's always the case in every war, isn't it? As far as the M4 goes, I think the majority of jams occur as a result of double feeding which is a result of poor quality magazines. Some of the mags we had were total garbage. And if you're in a firefight and reloading your weapon, you're likely to just to toss the empty mag on the ground. It gets banged up, then later pulls a double feed. On a positive note on the M4, during one particularly intense engagement that saw me and my weapon soaked in mud, that thing still fired for me when I needed it. I was amazed. There was mud caked all over the receiver, the muzzle, everywhere. The dust cover was open and mud was even on the bolt. Yet it still didn't let me down. Now I was up in the Diyala Province and anyone who's been there knows the DRV looks more like Florida than any desert so I can't really offer any insights into how it operates in those conditions. But in my experience, the M4 is more than efficient. It's reliable, and more importantly, accurate. Our M2 .50 Cals on the other hand were absolute garbage. They were constantly jamming. Every gunner in my platoon opted for the M240B instead of the .50. Keep in mind though, I was in the Army. I know Marines get shafted when it comes to equipment. Why I have no clue. But my old Platoon Sergeant had a force protection platoon of Marines during his last deployment at an outpost near Mosul. He told me how blown away he was by the lack of equipment Marines get. Never understood why that happens.

    February 13, 2010 at 2:36 am | Report abuse |
  11. MAJ Jamison Kirby

    The Army of today possess some of the greatest equipment we have ever had during a time of war. On an ever fluid battlefield with a constantly evolving enemy we can't have everything at the exact right time. Since 2002 we have developed, purchased or required more equipment than the entire history of the US Army. Many of the new items were purchased based on the "needs" of the Soldiers and they were involved in the testing and fielding process.
    We have been required to upgrade vehicles due to a new enemy tactic that we all know as the Improvised Explosive Device (IED). From 2004 until now the Army has spent over 300 billion dollars on purchases and upgrades for the HMMWV. We have also purchased the new MRAPS which is a more IED protective vehicle, which is being used in Iraq and Afghanistan today.
    As we progress into the future and become involved in more persistent conflict worldwide there will be new enemies with new techniques, and we will need to develop new technologies. However, as long as we continue to recruit, train, and equip the best Army in the world we will be successful

    MAJ Jamison Kirby, US Army
    The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy of position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the US Government.

    February 7, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. John D. Kirby

    Our Son a Marine,who has been deployed to Afghanistan for 4 months,has not received any mail &packages from us,or any other family member.When we last taked to him,he mentioned about our own mail clerks,stealing there mail.I am a Marine veteran and this is totally what those brave men&women don't need to add to there daily tasks! I hope someone at Camp Lejuene looks into this corruption problem.

    January 17, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bryon Letterman

    Let me just say one thing. It has to do with the picture. I realize that its just an example, but many people will associate what they see in the picture with the subject youre talking about. Yes, the equipment is up to snuff.

    January 17, 2010 at 3:29 am | Report abuse |
  14. Teresa

    I think that our troops are given what everyone thinks they need. I don't think American's are willing to foot the bill for these things that they actually need. For example, in many places in Afghanistan, where our troops are, Marines are going to the restroom in holes in the ground and in buckets and have to wash their clothes by hand....and these are BASES in Afghanistan where they are. They need toilets at the very least.

    My husband is a deployed Marine and since he left in early December he has YET to recieve a package from me. Something must be done about the mail. The guys need mail, they need packages, they need reminders of home to keep them going over there. Six plus weeks for a package and letters is outright ridiculous....and I do understand packages must be searched for harmful things, but did you know the people checking the mail have been stealing things from guys packages and selling them??

    I think amidst all of the corruption, our men and women just need the feeling that they have the support of Americans behind them. They need simple things, like water to wash their cammies that they've been wearing for months on end....they need toilets to use the restroom....they've got good enough gear, they've got the essentials and what they need to make it over there and what they need to accomplish their goals....

    I think they're needs are much different than the obvious. I am a Marine Wife, of an Infantry Officer....my reality is what they're really feeling over there, and it's sad.

    January 10, 2010 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Quentin L Richardson

    I've used it (military equipment) extensively and it worked well for me as well as others with me. I think that we are the best equipped military anywhere. Some leadership is questionable.

    January 9, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  16. bachir

    just have heart broken when see all these death and casualties, wonder why does us back this tyran called karazai , why does us back all dictators, such as yemen president? really wonder why when goergians shout for freedom all word back them, when all world is silent of what happens now in nigeria?????

    December 31, 2009 at 4:29 am | Report abuse |
  17. Dallasman

    I believe the troops get what they need but not always what they want. This is the norm for the military complex. However, I feel there has to be a much better Quality Control on all items made for the military. The equipment needs to excede expectations, always. This must be the standard.
    The prices the government pays for equipment gives the government the right to insist on higher standards. In turn, the equipment issued must be taken care of and made to last past its life cycle. If any product does not meet strict standards, the military should not accept it and be able to send back to a manufacture anytime defects are detected..

    December 29, 2009 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Kim Robb

    My son is US Navy Corpsman and deployed to Afghanistan for his second trip with 2 prior trips to Iraq. This latest deployment came after the budget cuts from the Obama administration. The list of required equipment for his deployment could not be entirely supplied due to these cuts. Some of the equipment that was supplied lacked the necessary durability and looked like it would have about a 1 month lifespan.
    The only way he had enough equipment such as ammo pouches, durable packs and extra sacks for medical gear was to purchase what he needed himself. In his case, I was going to make sure he had everything he needed plus some. But what about the young Corpsmen and Marines on their first deployment? Where they being forced to choose between spending money for needed deployment gear or making sure the family and/ or obligations they were leaving behind were provided for?
    Our military is a volunteer force. The young men and women that are serving deserve the best training, care, and equipment that we are capable of supplying. If the administration was to purchase one less F-22, couldn't these funds go further in supplying the forces on the ground the equipment they need?

    December 22, 2009 at 7:47 am | Report abuse |
  19. A. Smith, Oregon

    Why do the advance troops in the tiny forts scattered thru-out Afghanistan not equipped with portable ground following Radar on all mountains and highlands overlooking their positions?

    Small portable ground following Radar has been routinely used by the Military for well over 40 years. There is no surprise from a hilltop or mountain range with those units in place and being used.

    Why are they entirely missing? Does the DOD actually enjoy having the Taliban and their snipers fire on American troops daily from their mountain positions?

    There is a kit to swap out the light caliber of the M4 with a new barrel and receiver for a larger round which is supposedly a well received temporary fix for the troops in the field.

    Only a tiny handful have even one automatic grenade launcher which completely slows down a swarm of attackers in a very short time. Seems like mini-guns and automatic grenade launchers should be found in all of the American mini-forts there in Afghanistan if America was properly supporting the troops there with firepower.

    Why is the CIA telling the US Military hands off the vast Opium Fields? Opium is the number one cash provider for the Taliban, if you really want to cut the heads off of those snakes, American needs to napalm each and every Opium field it locates. Put Big Oil to good use for once!

    December 22, 2009 at 3:49 am | Report abuse |
  20. ORLANDO

    Is sooo true about soldiers always complaining but what soldier dont"....im light infantry and just got done with a 12 month deployment in afghanistan, I did complain alot but only because the gear that we get issue is way to heavy for afghanistan especially when you have to ruck everywhere on 130 deggre weather. I understand that we as INFANTRY have to be physically fit more than others but when you are carrying 220 lbs worth of gear will break you down eventually. I believe that our nation is doing its best but instead of them spending money on private contracters such as BLACK WATER they should be spending that on us! I dont think an M-4 or an M-16 is much different as long as you have an ACOG, if you know how to shoot then i dont see whats the problem plus most soldiers dont even get to leave the wire soo quit complaining!!!

    December 22, 2009 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
  21. TR

    Having been in 4 combat zones in 3 different theaters, I can tell that our soldiers and Marines on the ground are nowhere near having the best equipment available. It is simply beyond belief when you look at the money wasted in our congressionally mandated federal procurement system, focused on huge, multi-decade weapons system development. It's unfortunate, but we have the best government lobbyist dollars can buy. A few simple, easily implemented programs could save lives and improve our forces combat effectiveness:

    1. Replace the 50 year-old rifle design and rifle caliber that our ground forces use, and provide our soldiers with the best magazines available. Yes, the M4A1 is a better CQB weapon than the M16A2, but we're now shooting an inadequate round out of a barrel 20% shorter, further degrading it's ballistic performance. Either drop the M16/M4 series completely, and compete out an entirely new rifle around around the 6.5 Grendel, 6.8 SPC, or 7.62×51 mm rounds, or adopt the HK416 piston-driven modifcations to the existing rifle design. $142.6 million (unit cost of the F22 Raptor) will buy you a LOT of rifles and magazines

    2. Issue every infantry soldier (or soldier in an infantry role) summer, spring/fall, and winter boots designed to provide ankle support, cushioning, and stability during foot movement over rough terrain. Make them waterproof, with rubber bumpers over the toe and other high-wear areas. There are any number of commercially available backpacking boots that can replace the existing desert boots, which were designed around a lowest cost/least worst approach.

    3. Issue socks and sock liners that wick

    4. Ditch the HMMWV (designed for non-combat units in a "traditional" force-on-force war defending Western Europe from the godless communists) and Stryker (if it wasn't survive an RPG strike or an IED then it's got no business in our arsenal). There are plenty of wheeled armored alternatives (many of them originating in South Africa) that are designed to survive RPG strikes with the V-shaped hulls and specialized armor required to survive IED's.

    5. Focus on ruthlessly paring down the weight of the gear our soldiers are required to wear. At 8500' elevation on a 5-day dismounted patrol chasing the locals through the mountains, not having to lug around 50 extra pounds of gear might help improve soldiers' performance. Speed is life.

    6. Will somebody please build a better battery? NVGs, flashlights, radios, GPS, night sights, and laptops all run off of electricity. We need to build batteries with a higher capacity in the existing form factor or get the same capacity out of smaller, lighter form factors.

    7. Modernize our communications packages. Are we really relying on line of sight radios in the 21st century? We are fighting in terrain where things like the Hindu Kush and multi-story buildings regularly block FM radio signals, leaving our soldiers vulnerable to being cut-off and fratricide.

    8. Focus on the next-generation A-10. It's low, slow and ugly. It's also survivable, precise, and carries a dense weapons payload with a long loiter time. Those characteristics make it the perfect air support weapon. (would you want someone dropping a JDAM near you at 350 miles/hour or 500 miles/hour?) It was designed with a high aspect ratio wing, multiple redundant systems, around simple, rugged, proven off-the-shelf technology. The cheapest route would be to revise the avionics package (keep the redundant cable/hydraulic approach, upgrade the targeting and defensive package) while we retool the assembly line.

    There are many, many other improvements in the areas of individual training (more time on individual weapons proficiency, cultural history of the theater, language skills, counter-insurgency theory) unit training (more practical counter-insurgency exercises, live fires, react to ambush/sniper/IED, less time wasted on all of the non-combat oriented training), and medical care (pre/post enlistment and deployment brain trauma scans, 10-20x as many mental health professionals, force a cultural change on PTSD).

    December 21, 2009 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Hope

    I deployed twice to Iraq in support of OIF and am currently married to an Infantryman. He deployed to Iraq in support of OIF 07-09 and will be deploying in the near future for Afghanistan. We have discussed the flaws in the gear over and over. When we first received the new plastic rucksacks a few of our friends wanted to test their durability along with the durability of a new bipod pistol grip assembly for the M16/M4. Both items failed the "infantry test" that they were given. The two items were dropped about 20 feet and landed on a concrete walkway. This may sound like the soldiers were overdoing it but with the height of todays vehicle it wouldn't be out of the ordinary for an item to fall that far. There have always been problems with military equipment since the invention of the modern military; however, when it is a problem that will cause injury, or death then I think it is something that should be addressed. They have invented new magazines that seal tightly into a weapon and prevent dust from entering through that space; however, the Army still issues old magazines and Soldiers are expected to buy anything else they may "want." I do not mean to suggest that all Soldiers should be purchased this kind of equipment but those people who may live out in the dusty dessert among the dangerous hordes should receive everything their little heart desires in order to protect themselves, each other, and by extension our country. I told my husband that even though we aren't that financially stable whatever equipment the Army doesn't issue him that he feels is necessary in order to ensure his safety and survival that we will purchase it so he can come back home. On the list already is a new scope, a new tac light with pressure switch (the one he has been issue conflicts with his 203 system), new socks that provide moisture wicking and support, as well as plastic/new magazines. I'm sure the list will get longer as his deployment date approaches but this equipment which is necessary in order for him to do his job well and properly is not issued to him or as noted is not the proper equipment for his weapons system. I would gladly purchase him a different weapons system if he was allowed to take it but he is not.. All military/government contracts go to the lowest bidder and Soldiers receive the kind of equipment you'd expect to receive from a low bidding company.

    December 21, 2009 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Michael Bentley

    First off this problem is very easy to solve. While I was deployed last year I noticed that we were well funded. Yet, on the the other side of the issue. We spent so much money on private contractoring. Numerous private contractors that would spend just about everyday in the rack not doing anything. Because, while they were sleeping the military was doing their very same job. Funding thousands and millions of government funding to companies like Dyncorp, and KBR. Sure they put up mess halls, and various accomidations to make us feel more at home. But I strongly believe that a Burger King, Pizza Hut, Cinnabon, and other various fast food chains were completely uncalled for. Thus, this creates tons of jobs for the population of Iraq and Afghanastan. But what happens when we leave? If we would just stay focused on mission objectives at hand, we could have left years ago. This also leads me to believe that if we were so concerned about troop withdrawl. Why are we still feeding the problem? By putting up various things that indicate we are not leaving for a very long time.

    December 21, 2009 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  24. Jim Bl#$%^&H

    How about a new tanker?!?

    December 20, 2009 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
  25. 808Swat

    I am a police officer and spouse of a deployed (Iraq) security forces Airman. From what I've seen and deduced, equipment and training rest just on the level of "adequate." My wife and I spent a couple hundred dollars on gear for deployment, mostly on "upgrades" or items some genius in supply deemed non-essential for combat. I do have a problem with the level of training. As a police officer my training, particularly weapons, self-defense, and control and arrest tactical proficiency is always done under simulated combat conditions. Before weapons quals for example we always do some sort of circuit PT in effort to simulate the human physiological response to combat. In the Air Force, weapons quals for the M-16/M-4 consists of 45 rounds of static shooting. Before training with me, my wife, an expert marksman in the military, would've failed my department's minimum standards. The same can be said with M-9. I am also dismayed to see the lack of focus on physical preparedness in my wife's squadron. This is a shame and the one thing that leads to more than a few sleepless nights.

    The reality of the matter is that gear is but a tool. The best a Soldier, Marine, Airman, or Sailor can do is finely tune their primary weapon system (themselves) and feed recommendations for improvement up their chain-of-command. If life gives you lemons, make the best damn lemonade possible. Those who say our military men and women have no reason to "complain" because they are "volunteers," tend to be the same people who whine when their waiter takes too long to deliver their drinks, If my wife is tasked with a mission (one that causes her to miss our anniversary, birthdays, and spend the holidays away from my sons and I) but not provided the minimal tools to succeed, you're damn right I'll be the first one in line demanding answers. That being said, happy holidays to all our troops and their families.

    December 20, 2009 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Kyle

    Yes sir, we do always have something to say. I would believe that anyone who is told their job is to be in the direct line of fire of the enemy for up to and more than a year of time away from family would have something to say. I wouldn't call it complaining. Yes we gripe, but in a world of such unknown there is plenty to improve upon.

    The government has done a better job in the last few years of improving our gear. I used to wear BDUs. Things have advanced, some good, some bad. But to keep in mind the sacrifices that are asked of us I would give soldiers the right to comment on necessary improvements.

    I've been with my wife for two years and only seen her for five months of that. It is a reality and while I did volunteer for it, it doesn't mean things could not be improved.

    December 20, 2009 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Mara

    My husband is an LAV crewman in the Marine Corps. During his 3 month workup to deployment he was driving the LAV to 29 Palms and the engine pretty much exploded on the highway. His crew was without an LAV to train on for the remainder of the workup. The first time his crew got to actually work together in a vehicle was in Afghanistan. So yes, I do believe quality is an issue.

    December 20, 2009 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  28. us marine

    i am a us infantry marine and i can tell you that our gear is not up to sunff but on the other hand this is the best gear we have had in 20 years

    December 19, 2009 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  29. eddie .w

    i think for the most part they are receving most what is needed. but i do think things could be better.i think armorment and other devices agenst road side bombs and other ied's could be better. but with the budget and other spending being streatched to the max i guess that what is being done is all that can be done. with war there are going to be casultys and as sad as it is. it is gonna happen on both sides as much as we dont like it.untill there is a true resolution there are gonna be griving people no matter on what side. there is always someone who loves and cares about some one who is lost in war no matter for what reason or cause right or rong.

    December 18, 2009 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Herrick

    You don't need to design an entirely new weapon, there are piston driven M-4s, like the ones made by LWRC that are more than capable of firing without jamming in conditions that the current M16/M4s wouldn't dream about operating in. They are more expensive, but is spending more money on a reliable weapon system for the 18-24yrd PFCs too much? I hope you say no, jams suck. Luckily they are easy to fix, most of the time, using the SPORTS method.

    The plastic plate on the MOLLE system run isn't that bad. Unlike its predecessor, the ALICE pack, it's shaped sort of like a spine and can be adjusted much more effectively. It takes a long time to set up over the ALICE, but it's not like you have to do that often. I've never seen the plastic break, the straps do and some of the metal fasteners, but that's also rare.

    The thing I don't like is the ACU. But I'm not going into that whole debate....

    December 18, 2009 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  31. John

    I am an Active Duty Marine about to deploy on a combat patrol mission and I can tell you first hand our gear is not up to snuff. I am about to deploy and my peers and I are finding ourselves forced to go out and purchase, on our own dime, the gear that we would need to be combat effective. The flack jackets we are issued are too bulky and restrictive to be of use and the kevlar helmets they issue are in such short supply that no can even get the right size issued to you (you try shooting accurately when a kevlar thats two sizes too big keeps sliding down over your eyes), The M4 is better suited for CQB (Close Quarters Battle) than the M16 because its lighter and shorter and easier to manipulate in a tight environment than the M16, and our current mission makes it preferable over the M16. 75% of the time the gas system isn't what causes the jams of these rifles and carbines, it's the cheap magazines that we are issued that cause a failure to feed or get a cartidge jammed. When we go out and buy our own mags with a better spring design, jam occurances are almost negligent, however these magazines tend to be expensive. The M249 SAW on the other hand is a poorly designed machine gun. Due to the extraction system and location of the ejection port, cartridge casings frequently get lodged into and jam up the bolt, It is very difficult to keep this weapon fullfilling the machine gunner's role, we need this weapon replaced yesterday. The other problem I have with issued gear is that the officers and Staff NCO's of my unit, who won't be going outside the wire or seeing combat, are the ones that got the new M4's when they came to the unit, us enlisted personnel were issued newer heavier M16A4's that just get in the way when we are clearing buildings and getting in and out of humvees while on patrol, and scanning the roads for IED's and the tight towns for insurgent activities. Those of you who argue about the AK's inaccuracy are correct that it doesn't have the range or accuracy of the M16 series rifles, however in the ranges that we have been engaging the enemy lately, up to 400 meters, you don't need the range of the M16, you need reliability, they're the ones picking the fights, we won't be able to engage them before we are within effective range of an AK anyways. Bottom line is that better gear is in our supply lines (somewhere) they just need to work on getting it to the service members that need it. The other thing thats funny is that the Air Force gets 2 thirds of the defense budget for projects like the F22 and B2, but what role did those projects play after the initial invasion? What roles do those planes play today? we are spending all that money more or less on "what if" deterent projects, but they can't even spend some of that money on things like new M16 Magazines or properly fitting kevlars?

    December 18, 2009 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Brian Paredes

    M4's, and the whole M16 family of weapons for that matter, are all great weapons, accurate, controllable, and fairly simple and affordable, but the thing is that they are designed to be constantly cleaned and maintained. M4's aren't really designed to be in contact with constant sand, dirt, etc. Basically they aren't as reliable as they need to be, not by a long shot. There are similar, superior weapons available, such as the HK416, that solve the reliability problems but they are much more expensive. Sometimes people forget that the first M16 was designed in the 50's and 60's, which makes it a ballpark age of 50 years old, and we are up to the fourth generation of M16 and the third generation of the M4... maybe it's time to go back to the drawling board and design an entirely new weapon that will solve the issues at hand and improve upon other features. Something to consider, however, is the fact that we are in the middle of war and changing such a basic an necessary weapon system, the all-branch standard-issue primary weapon, may not be the best idea (that said though, we're going to be in a constant state of war for the foreseeable future, regardless of when our conventional ground forces leave Afghanistan and/or Iraq). On the other hand though, the even greater, immediate issue is that we are shooting people multiple times with our standard FMJ 55grain 5.56x45mm NATO ammunition and they keep on coming towards our guys on the ground. We may be stuck with the M4 for the time being, but when the resources are available we should, without a doubt, make a weapon change. The M16 family of weapons, M4's included within that, has a lot to offer but they are far from perfect and far from fulfilling our current weapon needs.

    December 18, 2009 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Johan

    What do the guys on the ground need the most to finish thier task at hand? Is at hole new air plane, some new type of missile that can tear through buildnings i ultra speed, a new service rifle that can handle a desert environment or new "mine safe" vehicles? Or maby a new combat strategy is needed to take american service men and women of the front line so they don´t need to us their weapons and "save cash" in that way?

    Im concerend that equipment focus isn´t a first priority for the troops on the ground. It isn´t just the desert that makes a soldier complain, for example, about his service rifle. We need to have a new focus on a more quality orientated army that also focus on the everyday obstacles for a soldier, so him or her can for fill" the job". Doesn´t a wounded (or maby killed) soldier cost more in budget then poor equipment?

    Maby better so see to the soldiers need of equipment (weapons, body armor, "mine safe" vehicles etc) and education in the field (how-to-win-hearts-and-minds, how insurgents think and wage war in urban-/desert area´s, think-first-act-later, advanced knowIedge of IED´s and how they work etc) then spending to much money on new airplanes and such that doesn´t do in an urban/desert "post-war-zone". Maby that will save alot of american and coalition lives and save money/abit of money that can but a marker in the "war budget"?

    December 18, 2009 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  34. George Medlyn

    Having spent 20 years in the military nad another twent-one years working for the government. I have to say that even though a lot of improvements have been accomplished for the military personnel fighting for our way of life, hindsight overwhelmingly indicates that these accomplishments were never enough nor were they put to use fast enough.

    December 18, 2009 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  35. Mike

    I have very few in the way of complaints on equipment. Most of the people who seem to be complaining are new soldiers who have no memory of how bad equipment used to be. Sleeping bags are a great example. The old system was rated down to 20 degrees. Well, maybe you were alive if the temp was 20 degrees, but not much sleeping was going on...the bag just did not provide comfort needed to slep at that temp. The new systems have multiple layers plus a goretex outer cover which provides a very comfortable sleeping environment for practically any type of weather and temperature.

    When weapons jam, it is primarily due to magazines that feed ammo to the rifle. If these are old or dirty, then the rifle jams. Sometimes they jam even if all the maintenance is done correcly. But, the M4 works a whole lot better than the AK. While the AK is designed to fire when it is dirty and hot, it is very inaccurate. The M4 is small, light, accurate, and a pretty good rifle for most occassions.

    December 18, 2009 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  36. SImon

    Any shoulder firing weapon that uses direct gas system such as M-4 or M-16 A1-A2 will always have reliability issue especially in an intense firefight where high volume of rounds are being fired. Tests have proved that gas piston system such AK-47 (long stroke gas piston) and G-36 (short stroke gas piston) are far more reliable then any type of direct gas weapons. We should give our troops a weapon that works when they need it most.

    December 18, 2009 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  37. Ron

    In each war that has been faught, the foot soldier has never been equipted well enough to do the job without many cashualties. Right now every squad should have at least one minii gun and the support necessary to kepp the weapon firing in a combat situation. The mini gun would stop any attack against our troops in the fieldand allow our troops to advance on the enemy positions to destroy them. The M4 cannot deliver near as many rounds on the target as a mini gun and it would asshure that none of our positions would be overrun.

    December 18, 2009 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  38. chris

    Message to Brad H:

    The reason the U.S. uses the M4 rather than the AK47 is not because the AK is Russian made. The AK47 will not out perform an M4 in any situation where accuracy counts. If you are looking to simply fire a higher caliber at a rapid rate then the AK47 would be a great weapon. If, however, you had the proper marksmanship training then the M4 is a much more effective weapon in combat.

    December 18, 2009 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  39. seth

    this david guy has no credabilitly at all, soldiers "complain" because our lives are on the line, the m4 is a great weapon but has been proving to jam quite frequently in desert combat. that is why the US military started looking at alternate standard issue assault rifles they did tests on the m4 and g36 and the g36 jammed 1/3 less times then the m4. they tested 5 assault rifles and the m4 took last in this field test

    December 18, 2009 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Brad H

    I am a believer in the fact that any weapon currently available to the average soldier, especially those based on the M16 are prone to serious malfunction issues. The only reason the US military does not use the AK is that it was designed by the Russians. This weapon is superior in just about every aspect of its design even 60+ years later. Jams are very rare, easy to clean and repair, easy to train on as any child could use one, You can put this weapon into any situation that would destroy an M16 based weapon and it will fire every time, the M16 even in its newest incarnation still has push pad to close the breach. The AK's main flaw is the way the stock is designed where as the M16 models stock makes for good control and better accuracy. The round currently used in the M16 and its brothers is a small round meant to maim so that this would pull 2 soldiers, one that is wounded and one to pull him away. This would be very effective against countries like out own but not so effective in places where they expect high numbers of wounded and deal with them after the fight. The AK on the other hand serves one purpose, to kill without exception, The 7.62mm round can usually punch through normal body armor unlike the M16 rounds, hence the need for the better body armor our troops did not receive until much later in the current wars.

    December 18, 2009 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  41. tony

    As a Vet of both Iraq and Afghanistan with the 173rd Airborne Brigade. I will say that some of the equipment that is handed to the soldier is tested by a unit that does not use the equipment as an Infantry soldier would. The equipment looks good on paper and in the test runs but when it comes down to actual use it is worthless. But we make do with what we have and improvise to make it better and mission capable. Now on to the M4. This is a good weapon, but it is not made for the sand of the Middle East so there are a few problems with it. The best way to combat some of these problems is to keep the weapon clean but we all know that is not going to happen. Next would be to give out a graphite powder lubrcant instead of the oil based which attracts the dust. For those who are concerned thank you and for those that contiue to fight A-I-R-B-O-R-N-E.

    December 18, 2009 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Robert Schoenberger PA

    Ask the guys and gals who are sacrificing their time and possibly their lives or health in harms way for us. Their opinion is the only one that counts. Should we pay for it,? Well seeing I am back home in a lot safer environment than them, that is the least I and we could do for so few who are bearing such a large burden for the rest of us.

    December 18, 2009 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  43. Albert

    Having been in Afghanistan for 12+ months plus currently in Iraq I would say we are getting what we need granted having fired both russian and american weapons the M4 could use some improvement. We will always complain no matter how good we have it.

    December 18, 2009 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  44. Jason

    I was deployed to Iraq for 15 months during last years "surge". It is true that soldiers will always complain about the equipment they are issued. Fact of the matter is, the Army's PEO division (Program Executive Office) who happen to be in charge of testing and fielding new equipment, does a pretty decent job for the hundreds of individual piece gear that we are issued.

    They have to make sure it is durable, lightweight, and most importantly "soldier proof". Changing out the current line of M4/M16A2/M16A4 to a new line of weapons is not so far fetched. However I believe there are three major roadblocks in the way. First, deep government contracts with the existing arms manufacture and the kick backs that ultimately follow. Secondly, training the trainers and trainees to utilize a new weapon system. Third, the issue of what to do with the existing supplies of weapons.

    December 18, 2009 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  45. Wade

    I'm a combat vet. As such, I can appreciate both sides of this issue. If our troops can go overseas and put their lives in jeopardy,for our liberty, then they deserve the very best equipment to accomplish that job. We claim we want every US Soldier/Sailor/Marine to come home safely, yet question if we should bear the burden of their sacrifice?

    The fact this question has to be asked is more of implication of where our heads/hearts are as citizens. Our military personnel deserve the absolute best equipment available, regardless of cost. If not, then we should bring them home immediately, because we're not honoring their sacrifice.

    December 18, 2009 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  46. MIchael Haschker

    I believe the troops on the ground get what they need. However, there will alway be equipment that they want but do not have. One example is the holographic battle sight. I know of troops who purchase them with their own funds because it gives them advantages that may save lives.

    December 18, 2009 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |