COMMENTS ON THE M4 AND WANAT
Allen West, Barrett Tillman Speak Out!
By Harold Hutchison
In the wake of covering the controversy surrounding the performance of the Army’s M4 carbine, SOF has received comments from LTC Allen West, United States Army (Ret.), who also served n the House of Representatives, and author Barrett Tillman.
From LTC Allen West:
“There can be no debate that the M4 carbine assault weapon requires a high level of maintenance in harsh combat environs such as Iraq and Afghanistan. It is imperative that our men and women are equipped with a dependable and versatile personal assault rifle that can sustain the rigors of intense combat. Everyone knows the AK-47 is a low maintenance system that is lethal, not highly accurate but fitting for certain militaries — and jihadists. The US military needs to develop a simple, fewer component part, assault weapon that is accurate, durable, and dependable.
“I have known some who prefer the old M14 rifle. We certainly need firepower in the hands of the individual warrior. I suppose with the recent announcements coming from SecDef Hagel, that is not the focus. My real question about the combat engagement in Wanat is where was the immediate rotary wing attack close support? Not only should we look at better individual weapon systems but also how we fight on the 21st century battlefield. We need a full panoply of light to medium to heavy attack helicopters and gunships that can get into constrained and restrictive terrain to support patrols, COPs and FOBs. I am not referring to flying tanks like the old Soviet HIND-D aircraft.
“Truly we need civilian leadership in Washington DC that has recently been on the receiving end of an AK-47, RPK, or RPG. As well as individuals who will listen to the troops and combat leaders, not industry lobbyists to develop the needed combat systems. Those experiences are invaluable and may prove integral to training and equipping our warriors and their success on this modern battlefield.”
From Barrett Tillman:
“The missing components in the Wanat story are (1) extremely poor fire discipline and (2) poorly made or maintained magazines. One soldier admitted firing 12 magazines full auto before it occurred to him to use semi on his last mag. Out of circa 350 rounds, how many hits did he get? It keeps coming back to training, guys! Putting go-fast switches on infantry rifles remains an extraordinarily bad idea for just that reason. Otherwise, I've met a couple of troops who knew that Big Army usually buys from the lowest bidder so they took their own rifle & pistol mags to Iraq & Afghan, and had no trouble.”