Army Considers Need for Better Bullets and Rifles in Afghanistan

Thursday, March 04, 2010
M4 Carbine

Combat experience in Iraq has shaped the training and arming of American soldiers in Afghanistan, even though the aspects of warfare are noticeably different. Whereas the Army, Marines and Special Operations regularly engaged insurgents within close proximity (less than 1,000 feet) in Iraq, U.S. personnel fighting the Taliban often find themselves in firefights that span longer distances. But according to a research paper authored by Major Thomas Ehrhart at the Army School for Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth, soldiers are trained to fire their rifles accurately up to only 600 feet. Also, the M4 carbine given to troops can’t hit targets beyond a thousand feet (300 meters), even though half of enemy attacks come from beyond that range.

Another problem is that enemy forces in Afghanistan have learned to attack from high ground because they know that U.S. soldiers can’t operate effectively at elevations higher than 6,000 feet.
Ehrhart’s critique has attracted the notice of senior commanders who are considering changes for the Afghan campaign. These include improvements designing bullets that can remain lethal past 500 meters, redesigning the M4 rifle, completely replacing the carbine altogether, and developing new camouflage uniforms that better match the terrain.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Army Paper Prompts Look at Combat Gear (by Christian Lowe,
Increasing Small Arms Lethality in Afghanistan: Taking Back the Infantry Half-kilometer (by Thomas P. Ehrhart, School of Advanced Military Studies, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College) (pdf)


Ken Proctor 11 years ago
Our military never gets the weapons right. The M4 Carbine is a remake of the old M16. It's bullets are 5.56mm which are the civilian .223 rounds. During the Viet Nam war it wasn,t unusual to see soldiers carrying "unauthorized" weapons that better suited conditions. Weapons like the M3 "Greasegun" whose rounds plowed through vegetation rather than getting deflected like the 5.56 mm rounds often did. Too bad the military destroyed all those old M14's. They used 7.62 mm ammo, which are the same as the civilian .308. If every squad had the option of carrying a couple re-tuned M14s with sniper scopes, they would feel less vulnerable and be more effective.
Christopher Haug 11 years ago
I hope this newer more capable weapon gets deployed soon. Our military members have a tough task in Afghanistan and any way we can take care of our military in this austere environment is greatly appreciated.

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