Infantry: August 5, 2003


American infantry operating in Afghanistan have lots of gripes about their weapons and equipment. Most of all, the troops wanted everything to be lighter. When carrying weapons and gear through the mountains at high altitude, every pound counts. Same deal if you are lugging stuff around in hundred degree heat in Iraq. The troops have been complaining about the weight for centuries, but with modern design techniques and lightweight materials, there's something you can do about it. The troops know this from lighter weight civilian gear they can buy and use. The troops want the government to buy the better stuff. There are still complaints about the 5.56mm round currently used, especially when fired by the M249 light machine-gun. At ranges under fifty meters, the M249 would fire bullets at such high velocity that they would tend to just zip through who ever they hit. These bullets are built to penetrate and they do it too well. This would often not disable a fired up Islamic warrior and you had to hit him again. At longer ranges, the slower moving 5.56mm round tumbles when it hits, and tends to knock down whoever it hits. The troops also found the 16 pound SMAW-D "Bunker Defeat Munition" far superior to the 15 pound AT4 anti-tank weapon. The SMAW-D will also destroy light armored vehicles, while the AT4 will take out most older tanks. But U.S. troops more frequently encounter enemy troops in caves, bunkers or buildings than in tanks.


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