Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Bigger Bullets And The Internet

Many readers will have been troubled by Michael Yon's description of an infantry engagement in which an enemy combatant kept fighting after taking multiple M4 rounds - these are 5.56mm, (22 caliber). Now, serving soldiers are using the Internet to lobby for something closer to the 303 caliber our fathers used, and procurement is listening.

Yon's report:

Prosser shot the man at least four times with his M4 rifle. But the American M4 rifles are weak - after Prosser landed three nearly point blank shots in the man's abdomen, splattering a testicle with a fourth, the man just staggered back, regrouped and tried to shoot Prosser.

I was surprised by this - US instructors recommend a heavy caliber for personal protection - one shot stops your assailant.

Turns out the infantry want bigger bullets too:

While the 5.56mm bullet was OK when used in an automatic weapon, it is much less useful when you have so many troops who know how to shoot, and can hit targets just as easily with single shots. In addition to better shooting skills, the troops also have much better sights, both for day and night use. It’s much more effective to fire less often, if you have troops who can do that and hit what they are shooting at with the first shot. Most American troops can.

Moreover, the 5.56mm round is less effective in urban fighting, where you often want to shoot through doors and walls. The 5.56mm round is not as effective at doing this as is the heavier 7.62mm bullet. And the troops have plenty of 7.62mm weapons available...(lots) of 1960s era 7.62mm M14 rifles have also been taken out of storage and distributed.

...the heavier 7.62mm round does a better job of shooting through cinder block walls, and taking down bad guys with one shot. Too often, enemy troops require several 5.56mm bullets to put them out of action.

A decision on the army’s new assault rifle will probably come sooner, rather than later, because the troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are making a lot of Internet noise over the issue.

All of which is another example of the way the Internet improves upward communication in hierarchies.