Infantry: The Philippines Accepts The Truth


September 5, 2014: Noting that Filipino soldiers fire over 5,000 bullets in combat for each armed opponent they kill, the Philippines is trying to reduce the ammo use by arming its troops with new M4 automatic rifles and a training program based on the one the U.S. adopted after September 11, 2001. The American experience in Iraq and Afghanistan led to an emphasis on aimed single shots rather than frequent use of automatic fire. The M4 is designed to mount a variety of sights and accessories developed since the 1990s to enhance single shot accuracy. In addition the U.S. made numerous changes in its marksmanship programs. U.S. troops now train firing their rifles while taking cover, wearing full battle gear and hitting difficult to see targets. The training also includes rapid reloading and trainees are graded on speed as well as accuracy when shooting. American troops also were allowed to fire their rifles a lot more each year, and in more imaginative training situations. Since 2011 U.S. Army trainees have gone from firing 300 rounds in basic, to 500 for non-infantry and 730 for infantry. There's also been a big increase in the number of rounds fired by everyone each year for training. The U.S. shared its experiences with new training, weapons and accessories and showed how they managed to greatly reduce the number of bullets expended for each enemy kill using all these changes. Filipino commanders want to make this happen in the Philippines.

This is all part of a trend that has been underway for over a century. A major observation was that combat experience would, for a while, cause rifle training to get more realistic. It works like this. In peacetime, there's a tendency for marksmanship training to become rather sterile, with troops graded on their ability to hit obvious targets (often the traditional bull's-eye) at specific distances. When a war comes along, and a lot of people realize that you don't shoot at obvious targets, at known distances, in combat, the rifle training and testing tends to change. It becomes more realistic.

The U.S. Marine Corps also found that there was still some value in honing basic shooting skills. This is the old "known distance" firing. But this only pays off if known distance training is in support of the "combat firing", and performance there counts a lot more towards your qualification score. If you cannot demonstrate a certain degree of accuracy firing a rifle, at annual "qualifications," you can no longer be a marine.

In the United States army and marines have long had many a similar marksmanship programs, with the marines often taking the lead in practicality and inventiveness. But since 2001 the American army was forced to be more competitive in marksmanship training. It's a matter of life and death, because most of the fighting has been done by soldiers. Even the navy and air force, where only troops in jobs that required the use of small arms used to get a lot of weapons training, are now giving everyone a taste. This is especially true of the sailors and airmen who volunteer to spend a year helping the army out in Iraq or Afghanistan. The army found that increased marksmanship training for non-combat troops led to more enemy casualties and fewer friendlier ones on those occasions when support troops did come under fire.




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