Wednesday, September 11, 2019

When You're Hitting Your Head Against A Wall...

 feels so good to stop.

Cdr. Salamander is a stand up guy, with a solid blog bailiwick.
Regarding the Navy in general, and the Surface Warfare side of Big Blue in particular, he's a pure gold go-to destination.

Infantry topics and small arms: not so much.

Case in point: 6.8mm on the way
"Ground combat is not my specialty, my professional toolbox has big things that make big fireballs going out and going in, look cool on video, and require AC power - but please. There are more bad theories there than you can shake a stick at. I thought we stressed Aimed Fire? Spray and pray is what poorly trained targets do. Say what you want about the Soldier or Marine of 2006, but "..poorly trained and clueless 18 yr old" isn't very accurate. There was a move post OEF/OIF experience to go to a 6.5/6.8mm, but the bean counters, again, are trying to kill it."
To which we remonstrated, quite a bit more on-point:

1) Unless the laws of physics were revoked while I was off fishing, WTH difference is caliber going to make in accuracy for Sam Snuffie?
Either you train your people to shoot straight (Marines/most SOF), or you don't (Big Green and everyone else).
A new caliber will give you precisely Jack and Squat in that endeavor.
The only thing that'll help is proper initial training, and regular refreshers.

2) Adopting .26 or .27 caliber versus .223 or .30 will change nothing except how many shots per pound, the size of the hole (if you hit your target in the first place), and the penetration achieved/achievable.
Nothing else notable.
No other result is possible.

This windmill-tilting quest is the Military Industrial Complex version of vinyl/8-track/cassette/CD or Betamax/VHS/DVD/BD/4K, except without any of the helpful improvements in quality of the latter two examples. It's change to make a profit for everyone but the buyer.
A business deal is good when both parties come off better off.
When one side gets the money, and the other side gets the shaft, the useful forensic terms for that are fraud and swindle.
I'm assuming that was not the desired intent...?

3) Oh, except for one definite change:
making obsolete overnight every bit of stockpiled ammunition and parts, and requiring an entirely new procurement chain, delivered product, ammunition, spares, maintenance tools and equipment, training materials, affecting everyone from the issued item's end users to third-level maintenance, and shooting ground combat readiness in the pants for a few years during the changeover.
This is the Manager's Special, where you get $1/lb ground beef for $15 for 10#. The Manager loves that. The customer, not so much.

So, we're going to go with new Magic Beans, because the old beans were just...beans?
Except you're spending non-infinite dollars to get them.
So, how did that approach work for the F-35 Thunderjug, the Little Crappy Ships, and the Ford?
Got plenty of money left over for shells, bombs, fuel, training, and maintenance, have you??

And when you buy the New Hotness, what changes, other than the bottom line of certain Military Industrial Complex corporations and salesmen?
The only thing driving this change is people looking for commendation medals and promotions over in the Braid Grades.
It does bupkus for the grunts.

This is why Pentagon Wars is more documentary than black comedy.

You want to help the grunts?
Get them the best machineguns, mortars, and artillery, which each kill more than rifles, in any war since 1865.
Our issue rifles work fine, and have been top-notch since 1903. (If you want to buy new replacements exactly like the old ones every decade or two, when the old ones are shot out, well and good. But that doesn't require scrapping the entire alligator from tooth to tail, even if you can.) 
Even the Krag wasn't that bad, and twenty years of product improvement even turned the M-16 into what it was meant to be before the Army fornicated up the original concept. Nobody's come up with anything better in rifles since the FAL and the Armalite. Nor, likely, ever will.
Most changes since 1945 have been keeping up with the Joneses/STANAG problems, or raw envy. And the result of that has been mixed, at best.
Even our obsolescent stuff from 80 years ago is and would continue to be quite deadly and adequate, which proves the point that a new rifle is a genuinely stupid idea.
And nothing anyone dreams up will change anything in that regard until we adopt phased plasma rifles in the 40W range.

In this respect, the bean counters are trying to stop someone from making a stupid mistake with Other People's Money (and lives, when it gets down to it).

You really want to help the grunts out?
Can the Ordnance Branch. Wholesale.
It took them 25 years and more, plus two-three wars, to admit the FN-MAG was superior to the M-60 p.o.s. our troops were force-fed.
They didn't improve our WW2 mortars for forty years.
They adopted a too-heavy 155mm towed howitzer, only lately (finally!) replaced.
They still barely noticed that a quality 105mm light howitzer might improve on the WWII relic in use for 50 years afterwards.

Then, if you're really serious, double the training budget, and quadruple the ammunition budget allocation, every year, forever.
The only way to shoot better, is to shoot a lot.
And you can't get a qualified ATGM shooter if you only give him one round/yr.

In Salamander terms, I can buy you the sexiest new guns for every surface combatant, but if your fire control party has their heads up their fourth point of contact, and can't hit the side of a mountain, and never gets to practice doing it, nothing I buy will make any difference.
If no one has pointed this out to you with regard to proposed 6.5/6.8mm Magical Bean Launchers, allow me to be the first.

And if someone says "We'll include more training and ammunition in the budget for the New Hotness, then WTH not do that now with current products, and save wasting $1B or three on change for change's sake?!?

But that's not sexy, and minimally affects anyone's stock price or brings home more pork to anyone's congressional district.

But that's what it means to give the troops the best.

Not buying some new rifle, and doing the same dumba$$ failure to budget/failure to train, and allocating paltry sums for annual refresher training.

Buying a new caliber weapon isn't just pointless, it's like buying an LHD, and then not allowing any time or budget for paint and dockside maintenance, and then sending it to a Baltic dog-and-pony show looking like a refugee from the Red Banner Fleet circa 1991.
So, just wondering, how's that approach working out for ya?

Asking for 2,000,000 friends.


Anonymous said...

The 6.8 is no replacement for the 5.56, but it can be useful in a niche role: light machine guns.

Currently there are two light automatic weapons used by the infantry: the M240 and 249. Two guns, two calibers. The 6.8 could replace both, and use polymer bullets to reduce the weight of both gun and ammo:

The reason it can't replace the 5.56/AR-15 is because polymer bullets have to be fired from an open bolt (to avoid cooking off) and their individual diameters are wider than brass casing (which makes it harder to shoot prone due to a longer magazine). But on belt-fed weapons, these problems are less significant, and the current prototypes are 27 pounds lighter than the 240. Plus, the 6.8 has better ballistics and accuracy at range compared to a 7.62.

So it's neither a total replacement nor a total loss. As long as we keep it limited to belt-fun, open-bolt guns, we're good. And you're right that it only matters if we upgrade our marksmanship training.

Arthur Sido said...

I am all in favor of the military endlessly tinkering with new weapons systems that don't work seeing as how a lot of those same systems are going to be aimed at people like me in the near future. The more gender-queer, non-binary tranny Latinx soldiers in wheelchairs they recruit, the better.

Aesop said...

Ballistics and accuracy are fine, but it won't top penetration of 7.62.
(.30 cal: turning cover into concealment since 1903).
5.56, yes.
So now you've only replaced one weapon, at a relatively enormous addition to the supply/maintenance/log/training tail.
Which is why a new caliber is, inevitably, a fail.
We can play that game with .23 cal, and .24, and .25, and .26, and .27, and .28, and .29.

Spot the trend there.

Like 10mm and .40S&W, this is a solution in search of a problem, and the answer to a question no one is asking.

If the answer to .223 vs. .308 was to simply split the difference and go with .265, and do all jobs as well or better than existing inventory, and replace 3-5 separate weapons, I'd go with it.

But physics is a bitch.
You always give something to get something.

It's nice to want a car that will get 80MPG, do 140MPH, seats 9 people, tows 11 tons, and folds into a briefcase and can be carried by hand.
It's another thing to build one.

When you meet someone smarter than Gene Stoner and His Holiness, John Moses Browning, combined, give a holler.
Until then, if it ain't broke, stop trying to spend billion$ to "fix" it.

That's how we got the F-111, and its spiritual heir, the F-35 Thunderjug.
And the M-85 MG. And on and on...

A.B. Prosper said...

I'm not military but common sense would seem to say since most killing is done with explosive weapons and we have 3 calibers now that should meet nearly all needs,, 5.56 for rifles and Squad Autos , .038 for GPMG and if we really need them battle rifles and .50 cal for heavies , we are well set

On top of that the "specials' , highly trained guys can have .338 lapua and .45 as needed

Ass 6.8 is just a waste of time for now gaining nothing but costs we can't afford and teething troubles on new platforms

Ominous Cowherd said...

The gun you have is infinitely better than the gun you can't afford.

Still, if Uncle Sucker surpluses all his 556, that's more billions of rounds in circulation, and the money spent to replace it is more billions of dollars which the NSA can't spend on spying on us. In other words, sure this will be wasted money, but there are worse things they could waste it on.

Anonymous said...


7.62 does have better penetration than 6.8... for now. Since half the reason the Army wants the larger caliber is body armor, the 6.8 is being designed specifically with penetration in mind. Of course, a 5.56 still works with "hips and heads," but this is for semi-auto, not engaging multiple targets on full auto. The final product will be more accurate, have better range than a 7.62, and aim for at least comparable penetration, while also being a helluva lot lighter. Also, replacing 2 LMGs with 1 simplifies logistics. If 7.62 really is as solely amazing at penetration (debatable), then the polymer bullet casing tech can simply be applied to that caliber. An individual soldier with his trusty AR doesn't need a new rifle, but the AR/LMG guys wouldn't have to lug around so much weight in ammo.

I disagree with the idea that it's a solution in search of a problem. Everybody complains about how overburdened American troops are, yet here is a solution that doesn't require batteries or exoskeletons. It replaces 7.62, whose performance was so unbeatable that every military was planning to switch to smaller calibers before the Great Depression hit, and replaces two guns with a lighter one. You yourself said that you'd support intermediate calibers if it could do the jobs of both calibers at once; that is this gun's primary job. If it can't, then it fails its own criteria. I'm not dismissing the 7.62 as useless, I just think it doesn't hold a monopoly on good penetration.
(as a side note, the 40 S&W was developed after two bank robbers survived getting shot 5 and 11 times by 9mm, .357 Magnum, and 12-gauge 00 buckshot at point blank range. They didn't have drugs in their systems, either.)

And yes, a lot of designs turn do out to be dead-end duds, or inefficient at first. Ask Edison how many times he failed to make a functional lightbulb. Yet they should still be explored because they may become useful down the road. Look at how early tanks were about as mechanically reliable as the F-35 and could be defeated by .50-cal rifles. Yet they are now indispensable for modern combat.

Aesop said...

You're chasing Moby Dick.
Every time we lighten ammo, we up the number of rounds carried.
Every time.

Civil War soldiers carried 40 rounds of .58.
Cavalry troops carried 60 rounds of .45-70.
WWI doughboys had 100 rounds of .30-06.
In WWII, we went to 160 rounds of it.
The M-14 basic load was 140 rounds, plus box magazines much heavier than Garand clips.
M-16 upped it again to 210 rounds.
GWI and II turned that into 360+.

All while body armor metastasized.
And now, troops get smaller and more frail, because some jackasses think troops with pigtails can cut the mustard (they cannot and will not, ever).

The soldier's load will get lighter when commanders cut stupid requirements, and when you cross load pack loads onto cargo carriers, whether it's mules with hooves, or mechanical contraptions.

Not before, and never since.

The greater penetration of 6.anything has yet to be demonstrated under realistic conditions.
Plastic cases bring a host of new problems.
If they want to play with wonder toys at Natick Labs while they work the kinks out, well and good.
That worked out so well with the G-11 and countless other whizbang dumbassery.

New weapons are guilty of being pointless and stupid until proven innocent.
The Army's procurement history going back to 1787 is proof of that theorem.
Their patron saint is St. Moron, and their mascots are a dumb ass, and a jack ass.

As I said, call me when they crack the riddle of physics, and spare me the promises of sales brochures from the guys in charge of bringing home the pork.
What they bring to the table, over and over, is 10 pounds of pork wrapped around 100 pounds of bullshit.

And they're playing with people's lives, and Other People's Money.

When someone makes a no-shit improved anything, it should mandatorily turned over to separate testing companies of 100 certified fucktards in both the Army and Marines.
They should have the lowest GT scores in their branch, substandard NCOs, and officers one step ahead of getting cashiered.
They will also comprise exactly 50% women.

They will be deployed 90 days at a time, to the Arctic, the desert, the jungle, and the mountains, where they will cover 10 miles a day on foot, minimum, fire a basic load of ammunition per day, half in the daytime, and half at night, over standard courses of qualification at all ranges, and they shall maintain the weapons under field conditions, with nothing but minimal issue of standard gear and expendable supplies.

Then, said weapons will be evaluated, for accuracy, reliability, etc. Primarily by the fucktards themselves.

Any weapons that go tits-up during testing shall be discarded, and not replaced, and replacement of original parts shall not exceed 2%, and only of operator-replaceable parts removed for normal field-stripping and cleaning.
Anything else is a 0, for the duration.

Their judgment shall be final, and irrevocable.
A passing grade is 90%.
Anything 89 and below is shit-canned.
Any weapon with an 11% failure rate overall his just booted the entire eval, on the spot.

Anything less than that for weapons eval is gold-plated B.S.

Goose said...

Design is a bitch and the 6.8 is just that. Go out to the range and talk to the guys who are tinkering with the round. Every variable is up for grabs and the work to find a barrel, projectile weight, projectile shape, powder and charge all effect this round. It is why there is no announced answer as yet. Yes the long range shooters who have cooked up a round can literally take the hairs off a fly's ass at 1,000 yards with hitting the fly exist but that is not reality.

Both the 5.56 and 7.52 eat what you feed them and rarely complain. They zero easily and accept a variety bullet weights and powders. I do not know the rational for the so called new round but have heard complaints about over penetration by the 5.56 in the current actions (green tips defeat almost all soft armor). So a new harder hitting round will not end that. All of the new training is centered in mega cities and the resultant house to house with no long way out there marksmanship required. There have also been complaints about the 5.56 and its shorter range in places where there are long distances and a longer range weapon would be desirable. However making a body shot at longer than 500 meters takes a lot of skill and that only comes with good instruction and lots of practice.

On the mechanical side 6.8 is longer than the 5.56 but just about the same diameter so essentially nothing but the trigger, hammer, selector groups may transfer. Maybe the stock with a new recoil spring. BCG redesign, lower redesign and mag redesign and new barrel. Essentially everything new and it has to be designed for split-tails and who knows what that means in non-function. Maybe helium gas bags attached so it does not weigh so much. And do not forget that everyone who has to use one has to be retrained from scratch and get in lots of practice and be taught the new ballistics of the round; money pisser this one.

So, for the military industrial complex this is a great thing to do. After all the modular 9mm is such a hit (not) and they are making so much on that one another one is just what is needed.

Anonymous said...

Aesop for SecDef.

Upending the entire logistics train (not just for the US, but for NATO and other allies) for small arms ammo is not to be done lightly. And yet here we are, once again in hot pursuit of shiny new toys, rather than addressing any urgent and serious issue.

When it comes to small arms, the urgent and serious issue is range time. I got in more range time as a teenager than I did in the Infantry. A lot more. New weapons and new ammo aren't going to make better riflemen. Current weapons and ammo don't stop people becoming better riflemen.

I could write for hours, but most of it's been said above. I just want to note that the US' continuing fantasy that they can replace well-trained high quality people with high tech weapons is eventually going to bite the country in the ass. It's one thing to 'not win' small wars against enemies that can't invade us. It's another matter to lose a war to someone who can.

Anonymous said...


You are correct that lighter rounds mean more bullets being carried. Considering this is for automatic weapons, which eat up ammo a lot faster than semi-autos, that doesn't sound like a drawback. Also bear in mind that these will be mounted in vehicles, which carry even more ammo than a man on foot (i.e., more weight savings = better gas mileage), or dropped by helicopters, which have weight limitations. Lighter bullets are (surprise!) better for resupply.

Yes, officers should not put women into combat roles, expect technology to make up for substandard marksmanship, or place unnecessary requirements on troops. However, absolutely none of these three have anything to do with rifle caliber. They are institutional problems, not law-of-physics problems. Three red herring arguments.

Yes, the rifles should be thoroughly tested under multiple environments and harsh conditions. That is already underway, as the Popular Mechanics article mentioned. Yes they should make sure they can fulfill the roles of the guns they're replacing. Just because they haven't finished testing doesn't mean they've failed the tests. Don't grade them before they're done (unless, of course, you grade yourself before you actually finish anything).

Yes, plastic has different problems compared to brass. It can't act as a heat sink, and so has to fire from an open bolt. That is why its usefulness in small arms is limited to automatics which can fire from said open bolt. However, this is hardly a significant hurdle, and pales in comparison to replacing 2 LMGs with 1 gun that can do both jobs.

The angry-tests you proposed with the crew of the Leper Colony are far more rigorous than the testing given to the M16 when it first came out. It, too, was a step away from the "wonder-7.62" in favor of lighter, high-velocity rounds that don't overpenetrate everything in front of them. Physics haven't changed one iota, and the logic of switching from 7.62 to 6.8 is the same today as it was with the M1 Garand and FN-FAL before they were changed by political pressure. It's not an arbitrary caliber.

Yes, switching to a new rifle requires new tooling, training, and kits. Isn't that what happened when the M1 or M16 were adopted? Why is this so bad all of a sudden? Has warfare stopped evolving?

In short, these are the exact same arguments that were leveled against the M16 when the Army was fantasizing about every private being Alvin York with an M14 (despite dropping long-range marksmanship in 1953). You have not been harsh but fair; you have lumped together the platform with the developers and deemed it a failure without any evidence (conjecture and calling it "whizbang dumbassery" is not measurable evidence). Passing and/or failing something without testing are both equally stupid. One is born of insecurity and the other of pride. Take your pick.

The guns should be thoroughly tested, and they are being tested. If you want more rigorous tests, then say so. That is different from saying it's a flawed design from square one. It's not, and resorting to name-calling doesn't change that.

FredLewers said...

Military procurement has been wasting taxes since the first involuntary collection. It boils down to human nature. Most people can (in their own mind) justify why they need more money/other people's money. And shortchanging the grunts to pad their pocket has been a quartermaster specialty for millennia. That's why most kings throughout history have chosen to make a public display of malefactors as a deterrent... The MIC will continue their monkeyshines and shenanigans until such time as a deterrent is publicly displayed...

Aesop said...

Uh, no.

MGs are carried by grunts; m*****f***ing earth-pig animals who eat, sleep, and live in dirt, on dirt, and in holes under the dirt. When it rains, substitute mud for "dirt".
Lighter rounds means they'll carry more of them, for zero weight savings.
In their hands.
On their backs.
Vehicle-mounted MGs are overwhelmingly HMGs like the Ma Deuce, or Mk19 grenade launchers.
Counting on vehicles to hump your loads, because your troops are over-laden, and can't climb hills, ties them to roads.
Like it did in Afghanistan.
Where, twenty years in, we're still getting our asses handed to us by ragheads with WWII surplus weaponry.
(You'd have thought we cracked the code on not being stuck on roads somewhere along about 1775, but that assumes commanders and so-called "strategists" can read.)

And braid-grade jackholes and just-passing-through DoD civilian fucktards are the ones who expect technology to make up for training deficiencies, and place unnecessary requirements on troops. Since ever, last I looked.

Officers don't put women into combat roles. Congress does that. And they have.
Officers lead women in combat roles.
If you're fuzzy on this, and how it works, you're not tall enough for this ride.

So those aren't "red herrings", they're the goddam point! Waving your hands and uttering incantations to make them go away because you missed that briefing and can't answer them effectively isn't making your case.

The physics are that load requirements go up every time gear gets lighter.
Save a pound on boots, and you will be expected to carry another pound of ammo to make up for it. This has only been true since Roman legions. If you're going to step into the discussion, you've evidently missed a lot of required reading.

The physics are also that scrawny not-men can't hump loads like actual men can. The strongest women are weaker than 85% of all men, as documented ad nauseum dozens and dozens of times since the 1970s, from recruits to officer candidates. So whether the new round does anything at all won't matter, because all your females will have fallen out two miles back, or your entire unit will be half-stepping and carrying double loads just to stay together.

TPTB don't want to hear about that, but for Private Snuffy, Sgt. Rock, and 2LT Shitforbrains, it's an everyday fact of life from here on out.

Aesop said...

Testing is doubtless going on under carefully controlled conditions, engineered so that nobody field grade or higher gets passed over for promotion, and no one ever says "Oops" when higher-ups are watching.
Not, contrary to the way I outlined, to make sure the weapons are private-proof, reliable, and accurate under shitty average real-world conditions.
It was ever thus.

FFS, man, Pentagon Wars is available free to watch on YouTube most days; go watch it. Then realize that that production understated the depth of the Army's thumb on the scales.
Just like they do with everything else they've "tested", back to flintlock muskets.

And the reason we kept the .30-06 was because we not only had metric fucktons of the weapons and rounds sitting around(the exact same ones used in the M1919 Browning LMG), they also had the wee cachet of an entire war demonstrating the round's effectiveness in real-world conditions. Something the new mousephart rounds proposed didn't have. So all we did was save spending million$ needlessly after war was inflicted on us by surprise, and coincidentally winning another war with that cartridge anyways.

We did not decide that was a good time to scrap two rifles, a squad automatic weapon, and a light machinegun.

Anyone who thinks open-bolt vs. closed- is a minor hurdle has never seen a runaway gun, or spent an afternoon wiping someone else's blood off a tank turret after a cook-off.
And plastic casings aren't going to tolerate the conditions ammo is frequently subjected to in the exact muddy, hot, sandy, rainy, wet, and generally shitty conditions I suggested should be the starting and end-point of proper tests.

But don't worry, we'll find that out in combat, the first time the weapons get real-world testing. In Vietnam, that filled a lot of body bags, and it took 20 years to unfuck the M-16 and make it worth carrying.

If you can assure us that we'll only go to war on a dry indoor air-conditioned range, I'm open to counter-proposals.

And you'll never get "one gun that can do both jobs".
You'll get an MG that's marginally better than the M249, and notably worse than the M240. And that's the best case.
That's the inescapable trade with physics: you can never get ten pounds of shit out of a five pound bag, no matter how shiny the sales brochure, or how hard you try to pound more into less.

Aesop said...


And making obsolete all stocks of ammo, in two calibers, is no small thing.
We don't have 19 ammunition plants any more, just for one example. We have, AFAIK, five. The reason there was a nationwide ammunition shortage from 2008-2012 was because two piddly LICs sucked all available manufacturing capacity from the civilian world just to barely keep up with daily demand, and only after drawing off all surplus stocks ging back twenty years. I know guys who have more ammunition in their own storage now than most Army battalions could lay hands on in any given month, in a combat zone, then.

When we upgrade and modernize the five plants we have (and while we're wishing, let's build 3-4 more), then you can talk about scrapping every weapon and round in the small arms inventory. Then we can talk about training, materials, parts, maintenance, and so on, none of which we have the budget for anytime in the next decade.

And the transition hamstrings the entire military for a decade, minimum.

BTW, how many Trillion$$$ in debt were we the last time you checked?

Warfare evolves, but debt rules nations. And we're so far behind that 8-ball we can't even see it with satellite imagery.

The Army fatheads stating that they're "marching onward" with a half-assed, still-in-development weapon, before they even know what the bugs are, and scrapping both current small arms rounds, to go with..."something...maybe 6.5, maybe 6.8, maybe Magic Beans" is hubris and jackassery of truly flag-grade rank, and inevitably, there's a line of salivating contractors wagging that dog with pneumatic machinery.

What there isn't is either the need nor the present capability to trash everything we have, in hopes of deploying this New Hotness, getting a guaranteed flatline of all infantry capability during the decade-or-more transition (just for edification, go look up how long the F-35 program has been going on - people who were new when it was first begun have retired on pensions, FFS - and the damned things are still gold-plated shitballs, and don't meet any promised specs whatsoever, despite upgrade after upgrade, over decades), but only the promise that the Beans are, in fact, magical.

I care Jack and Shit about the fiddly details of the design.
It launches bullets. End of story.

The whole idea of swapping 1, 2, or 3 weapons systems, multi-service-wide, for no overriding reason, is more fucktarded than an interspecies barnyard orgy, because no weapon can undo the laws of physics, and we haven't the need nor capability to switch over every ground trooper in anything like a reasonable time frame, without leaving our troops, and the nation, standing around with its pants around its ankles for no reason except the greed of the military-industrial complex, and the desire of countless Courtney Massengale project officers to secure post-retirement sinecures.

That, and that alone, is all that's pushing this, at the end of the day.

Which, quite simply, is not only idiotic, it's outright treasonous mercenary corruption.

So, did you want to talk about the weather, or just make chit-chat?

Anonymous said...

No change, No change, No change, Brother! You are spot on with a tight sheaf! Make the rubble jump.
You even brought that miserable M85 into view again. Fing nightmare that was, along with it's 7.62 kin. Sure glad I was never attached to armor or amtracs.
And yes, I'd be just fine with any .30 or 7.62 USGI Rifle ( the M1 only as long as there's plenty of clipped .30 in the supply train). Oh and prefer the A3 for the Springfield option.
Boat Guy

Beans said...

Aesop is right. Once the Army quit fucking with Stoner's design and returned back to his basic principles, like a chromed bore and decent (not totally fucked) powder, the M-16 platform suddenly became a reliable mother-fucking killing machine. Like it was designed to be.

5.56 is good against body armor, up to 300m. Perfectly fine against even Level IV, with the right bullet.

6.8, uh, yeah, we're still trying to get the right powder, twist, and projectile design.

And anyone wanting to play case-less just has to talk to people who played with the Sheridan. You know, the aluminum tank with the 152mm gun that had caseless ammo, that caught fire real damned quick because caseless? WTF? Great idea, on paper. And great idea, as long as the fire was going away from you (knew some guys who loved those pos tanks as long as they weren't next to one) but woe unto him who was near, in or on one if the fire was incoming.

Caseless is fine if the ammo system is an enclosed armored system, like in an IFV or MBT, but on a grunt, fuck, I'd throw that shit as far away from me as possible. Rather juggle phosphorous grenades with the pins pulled and spoons popped.

What should be done is what is working now in a real world situation. Most members armed with 5.56mm, with designated sharpshooters toting 7.62 for the ragheads who are wearing chiCom's finest body armor.

Now.. ask yourself, who is responsible for the push for 6.8mm? Why, it's the same morons who pushed for crappy powder and unlined barrels in the M-16 back when it was introduced in mass quantities. (early production 'test' M-16s had lined barrels and good powder, but Big Army wanted to use the same powder as in the M-14, so you get the same fuckup that screwed over the M-1 Carbine (which is a fine intermediate caliber round that had lots of potential, until some Big Army goat-fudger screwed that beautiful gun up.)

Beans said...

That's right. The M-1 Carbine, with modern powder and bullets, could easily compete with the 6.8mm over close to medium ranges. After all, it was the preferred sniper weapon of the NYPD back when they knew how to shoot, was actually preferred by two Marine Recon dudes of Vietnam War era that I knew (they liked the really light weight, short frame, decent hitting power and both of them carried the Ruger Blackhawk in matching caliber (one said touching off one of those rounds in a tunnel would just about scare the poop out of everyone in the tunnel for a mile or so.)

As to artillery, though we have the best propellants and rounds for the 155mm NATO style gun system, we screwed the pooch by screwing over Gerald Bull. We coulda had the guns of South Africa and Israel a long time ago, but... noooooo.... wasn't invented by Harmy, so Harmy ain't buying it.

Same with all the auto-mortar systems that we coulda had years and years ago, but because Harmy didn't invent it...

Like the Carl Gustav, which we are just now re-equipping our troops with, not invented by Harmy, therefore Harmy ain't buying it.

Same with Raphael remote turrets, or any other of the wonders from Israel, that we have finally started buying and equipping our MBTs with (active armor systems, auto return fire systems, all that cool 'David Drake Hammers' Slammers' type tech, that Israel had 20 years ago and we're just now getting around to fixing it.

It's not just Big Army that's broken. Just look at the 155mm gun system on the Zumwalts. Is it just a cased ammo version capable of using Big Army's advanced projectiles? Noooooooo.... It has to be some dumbass piece of carp that can't fire any NATO compliant or US 155mm ammo, but has to use some dumbass proprietary 155mm wonder round (probably dreamed up by the same dumb-bunnies that started the whole 6.5/6.8 ammo garbage) that is too expensive to actually, you know, shoot. Why not invent a dual loading round-propellant can system that utilizes all ammo currently and proposed? Why? Because there's not enough MONEY into it.

Money, money, money. That's what drives the whole 6.8mm bullscat.

We have plenty enough weapons available in either 5.56mm or 7.62mm that work, work well, and have a history of performance that just can't be beat.

If 5.56 is so crappy, then why was and is Big Army still looking at 4.7mm for a personal defense weapon? Why not a 5.56 SBR or Machine Pistol, based upon the existing M-16/M-4 systems that have been working fine since the late 60's?

As to what will happen with all the stores of old 5.56 and 7.62 ammo and guns? What the Mil will do with all of it if 6.8 replaces it is exactly what Congress has told the Mil to do with any potentially useful item, all of it will be destroyed and sold for scrap. Just like you can buy a HMMMV from the Army now, for scrap, after it's been demil-ed and cut up into chunks.

Thanks, Congress, ya bunch of gutless worthless tapeworms.

Anonymous said...


Boy, I must have touched a hidden nerve! I think you've misunderstood my support of the gun's technical usefulness for supporting the institutional problems which produced it. Never have I voiced support for women in combat, overburdening infantrymen, or shitty procurement. I do think, however, that the gun should stand on its own feet, rather than judging him on who his daddy is.

Yes, grunts will hump the guns, but if they're out going on the offensive, they'll need resupply. Who delivers the 72-hour ammo? Trucks and helicopters. Is more compact/quantity/lighter ammo in a resupply better or worse? In a prolonged firefight, is more ammo better or worse than less ammo for the same weight? Plus, not every vehicle has a .50 cal or bigger. Plenty of them still pack 240s.

Yes, I agree that it's dumb to overburden the infantry, and that this is caused by more than just one group of people. However, how do you get to lighter loads? By either having porters/pack animals/vehicles carry (extra logistical footprint), lighten the gear itself, or all of the above. This gun concept does the latter option, and does it well. 27 pounds is not an insignificant reduction in a 180-pound ruck.

I have seen Pentagon Wars, and I supported your high testing requirements. However, in your rage at the system, you demanded standards that are higher than necessary, as well as providing no useful feedback. Yelling and cussing doesn't exactly imply harsh objectivity. Pass/Fail is a useful testing method, but it doesn't help engineers optimize the design or make corrections. Most problems in any system are solvable by simple changes (human nature makes it harder than it needs to be). While it's easy to scoff at sanitized lab tests, these are no different from training marksmanship on a bench- it removes random variables and gives useful (quantifiable) feedback. As an engineer myself, I appreciate the need for both styles of testing. Not using them both is criminal, as I'm sure we both can agree.

Anonymous said...

As for intermediate calibers, America wasn't alone in trying to downsize in the 1920s. Literally everybody was trying it, and were all interrupted for the exact same reason: The Great Depression. After WWII, the British wanted the FN-FAL in an intermediate cartridge, but was overruled by the USA. So the same generals who you don't trust with making good decisions selected that exact caliber. Those supposedly "mousephart" rounds you dismiss out of hand are also much more powerful then a 5.56, which you and I both agree should stay. So yes, we won the war with 7.62, just like we won it with the Sherman tank. As soon as the war was over, we did try to improve our arsenal, including replacing the M1, M1 carbine, Thompson, and BAR with the M14. This gun is akin to trying to develop a gun that could replace the BAR and M1919, as most other countries did (think Bren gun). The only difference is that those two had the same caliber and today's don't.

As for open-bolt, we can take inspiration from the grease gun, which used its dust cover as a safety- the gun could not fire when the dust cover was closed. Flipping open a dust cover would take less than a second during a firefight (particularly if it's spring-loaded). Open-bolt designs also have fewer parts, which makes them easier to learn.

As for plastic casings, they are a lot tougher than you think. The M16 uses plastic parts, yet they handle all the terrain/weather types you list just fine. Plastic is waterproof and can easily withstand dust and heat. Unlike brass (or most metals), it doesn't corrode. Ever. It'll handle your harsh weather just fine.

I disagree that the gun will be marginally better than a 249 and much worse than a 240. Velocity matters more than mass when it comes to accuracy and penetration, which this gun is meant to supply. Remember k=0.5*mass*(v0-vf)^2? Velocity's effects on kinetic energy are squared, mass is not. Smaller calibers have higher muzzle velocities, and therefore a much better chance to penetrate at close range. The 6.8 is designed to shoot through walls and body armor, while also being lighter and providing better accuracy at range. Anything the 6.8 can't penetrate can be knocked out by a well-placed grenade.

Switching to 6.8 would not make the 5.56 obsolete, as I've already mentioned several times. The 5.56 is still superior for individual rifles. The 6.8 would only replace the 7.62 and 5.56 LMGs. All that extra 5.56/7.62 ammo would then be available for training men to shoot straight. No additional ammo purchases necessary for a few years. Hell, we could even do like the British did after the Boer war and issue every soldier to fire 250-300 rounds of practice ammo per year!

Rotating in a new weapons platform is not complicated except when we try to rush it. I agree that we need more ammo plants, and so does Mark Esper. By the time the 6.8 is ready for mass production, his reforms will have taken effect. He's playing the long game here.
The easiest way to introduce a new piece of equipment is to start with the guys in boot camp, and then work our way outwards. The Germans in WWI did this twice, introducing tons of new weapons and tactics, without hamstringing their armies. Another decent innovation would be to introduce a warrant officer into every company/battalion to serve as an expert on gunnery. That way, when a new type rolls off the line, he gets trained first, and then trains the men beneath him. Again, play the long game.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the Army is making a mistake by rolling the gun out too early, but I strongly disagree with the notion that the concept is a step backwards. Not being able (or interested) in differentiating hardware's own merits apart from the fubar system means that the baby will get thrown out with the bath water. We both agree the system needs to be fixed, but I'm not going to snub my nose at objectively good ideas just because their inventors are politically-connected brown-noses (of course they want money, it's in their self-interest. They're not going to sacrifice their livelihoods like lemmings!). Half of modern medicine comes from the Nazis' war-crime experiments, but does that mean we should trash it? I think not.

So if you don't actually care about the weapons themselves, how about we shift the focus instead to how to fix the institutional problem? I can propose two simple institutional fixes that would rock it to its core. You interested?

McChuck said...

The .223 is an inadequate cartridge for modern warfare, especially with the 62 grain "green" round. It wounds, and eventually kills, but it doesn't stop the enemy. The Army published this in training documents 15 years ago. It takes 5-7 rounds to the torso to reliably stop an enemy at close range. (I really don't care if the jihadi bleeds out tomorrow, I want him to stop bothering me right now.)

Our enemies have learned over the last 18 years. Engagements now happen at under 50 meters, or over 600. The .223 doesn't stop at close range, and it doesn't hit at long range.

When you have to use full metal jacket bullets, you want a greater diameter bullet delivering more energy to the target. A longer, heavier bullet also has greater hit probabilities at long range. That's basic ballistics. It's also why the gunpowder navies went to larger and larger naval cannons. Well, that and armor penetration, which is also a concern in modern infantry combat.

We currently have an inadequate .223 and an overpowered .308. We need some middle ground. Riddle me this - is it easier and better to supply one caliber per squad, or two? (This is why the Serbs switched over to the 6.5 Grendel, by the way.)

McChuck said...

None of this debate really matters, anyways. The Army has cooked the test project so that it cannot succeed. They want a 6.8mm round to achieve a higher energy than a .308, with a shorter barrel, lighter projectile, and less recoil. That's impossible, so the entire test will ultimately fail, and we will be left with the status quo of firing under performing, over pressured rounds through a gas system not designed to handle them, with weapons not designed to hit targets at common engagement ranges.

Can we please just reopen the last lead smelting plant (What? You didn't know that Obama's EPA shut it down?), and go back to the 55 grain rounds that actually worked?

Termite said...

A big reason that the M855 round doesn't stop at close range as well as it could, is because doesn't have the terminal effects that the old M193 55gr FMJ did. It is a "tough" round, and is fired from a fast twist(1-7) barrel. But it penetrates pretty well.

The old M193 55gr FMJ was fired in a 1-12 twist barrel, and would generally tumble after a couple of inches of penetration, often breaking at the cannelure into 2 pieces. This increased the effectiveness considerably. However, it will not penetrate nearly as well as the M855 round.

There are trade-offs for everything, there are no "wunder boolets". If there were, I'd like a 7 lb.carbine that hits with .50BMG power, shoots flat & accurate as a 90 milliwatt laser, and recoils like a .22 RF. Such a rifle doesn't exist anywhere, except in Gamer-land.

How about we spend more time/ammo teaching rifle marksmanship? Oh, and maybe, MAYBE, if practical, see if we can change the twist rate on the M16/M4 platform so that the M855 rounds will act more like the old M193 when it encounters human bodies.

lineman said...

I wonder why we argue about things we have no power to change...I mean it's fun and all but to what purpose...

Ominous Cowherd said...

Funny you mention the 30-40 Krag; I got one last Fall, and I like it. A decent cartridge, a wonderfully slick action, and my sporterized model is pretty as can be. For a battle rifle, it would be nice to set them up to take stripper clips, but as is, it's very easy to drop a couple cartridges into the hopper.

There really isn't much reason to take the latest and greatest cartridge that we cannot afford over the more-than-a-century-old model, let alone over the current model.

Aesop said...

That's exactly the point:
A new round conveys nothing we can't get already, but it spends billions we don't have, and hamstrings the entire ground force for years to a decade with the changeover, obsoletes everything we have, know, and do, and the promises of the new system are almost entirely sales brochure hyperbole, and exactly zero ground truths.

Show me 100 copies of a functional weapon, and bring forth the data.
No one can do that, because there isn't any.
The Army fatheads in charge announcing they're going with it anyways is tantamount to telling me they just purchased some magic beans, which the salesman promised were much better than ordinary beans. Neither more nor less.

If there's an accuracy problem, the answer is proper training (something the Army abandoned half a century ago, because "too hard"), not buying new toys.

You're not going to get training on a new round made of unobtanium, for ammunition that won't be available in usable quantities for years to decades, even if you started yesterday.

And it's not going to replace multiple weapons systems without even more needless and unnecessary upheaval, for little, if any, net benefit, except to the company selling the Magic Beans.

Rifle technology peaked decades ago.
And the .50BMG hasn't been improved on in 100 years, despite earnest efforts to do exactly that, for the same reason the A-1 Skyraider and C-130 were and are as far as existing technology can take you without massive tradeoffs. (Just for the record, how much are we spending on the flimsy foreign-made Super Tucanos to replicate a fraction of the capability the Spad had forty years ago? I'll wait while anyone tallies that boondoggle, and then tells me a new battle rifle or LMG will be different this time.)

When you order 20 pounds of shit in a 5 pound bag, you either do it to make the seller rich selling you a fraction of what you ordered (that's handily known as fraud), or to prove it cannot be done(which goes by futility). A new infantry weapon will do both. And it's going to cost us blood and treasure we cannot spare, to make the troops on the ground less capable.

Like I said, if they want to keep beating their heads against the wall testing dumbass contraptions at Fort Bumfuck, have at it.

But don't screw around with ground forces' armaments until you have a mature weapon that offers real-world changes sufficient to justify the effort.

Nothing in development or foreseeable can do that, nor likely ever will with current technology.
Everything else is horseshit with a bow on it.

This is the rifle version of self-driving cars.


Anonymous said...

Speakin of "self-driving cars" our local Army post got "given" a $4M grant to " test autonomous vehicles" courteousy of our Senators and the same kind of fukwits referred to above. TPTB locally were NOT given the option of "Thanks, But No thanks" so they will drive on (intended) and try not to hurt anyone

Kevin said...

And once an individual weapon is issued to a a military member, it is theirs for life.

Anonymous said...


You are correct that the data isn't finished yet. Therefore, your claim that it's a nothingburger is unsubstantiated. All you can do is cuss and call it fake science. This is equal and opposite to the Army which simply drew the opposite conclusion for the exact same reasons.

I agree that weapons platforms don't make shitty shooters shoot better. The Army recently released an updated shooting manual, which I suggest you check out ( But a round that shoots more accurately is an improvement, and the better penetration of body armor is nothing to scoff at. As I said before, if it can't do those two, then it fails its own criteria (like an F-35 that can't fly, for instance). Training is a separate matter, and rolling out a newer, simpler gun that replaces two existing guns is easier to train than the reverse. See my previous post on how to properly introduce it into the force via boot camp.

The .50 BMG is irrelevant, because that ain't an LMG. Same with tank ammo. Anything beyond the 249/240 is a dead end, given the immaturity of the technology. Saying it's pseudoscience and dumbfuckery to think that it can't improve is like saying in 1870 that it's impossible to develop gunpowder that's smokeless, because all fire produces smoke.

Again, the actual problem is rushing it into production without finishing testing. Blaming the rifle is exactly what the Big Army did with the M-16, and they blamed it for the exact same arguments you've listed above. Unsubstantiated claims about it being a step down from the "wonder-7.62," fragile (some old-timers in the infantry thought they could snap it in half with their bare hands), and useless in "muh reel war" is why the only top-level commander who liked the gun was Curtis Lemay, an Air Force Officer. Lemay didn't fuck around, and was as prompt to reward as he was to punish (the Army only knows how to quickly do the latter today).

So can we both at least agree that before passing judgement on whether it passes or fails the ultimate test, we should actually finish the ****ing tests? I'll take your Leper Colony test as the final exam any day. :)

Aesop said...

It's a nothingburger until they make them and test them in quantity, and they meet or exceed specs.

No rounds is "more accurate" (unless we want to go back to smoothbore vs. rifled musketry) per se.
There are too many other variables to attribute accuracy to a given round.
(Powder burn rate, rifling twist, barrel length, sectional density, ballistic co-efficient, and on and on.) Including the loose nut behind the trigger.

Whether any new round brings better penetration of body armor remains to be seen.
That was the entire impetus behind going to a 62gr projectile in the SS109/M855 for the M16A2 (which achieved the intended goal: successful penetration of a Threat helmet at 600m), and that didn't work out to be quite the bonus everyone hoped. Mainly because gaining that left it to whistle right through Skinnies and later jihadis and on out the other side, without doing sufficient man-stopping damage. We had to go to much heavier projectiles like the Mk262 to get good stops, which decreased range, while improving lethality. That's how physics works: TANSTAAFL. the same is irrevocably true of 6.anything. So better penetration, alone, is very much something to scoff at. You appear to be wholly ignorant of that unfortunate historical prologue to this discussion.

And frankly, if we want range and penetration, the 7.62x51 has had that nailed down for the last 60-70 years, just like the .30-06 before it for another 50 years prior to that. We can product-improve the FN-MAG just as we did the p.o.s. M-60 it replaced, and shave a couple of pounds, while sacrificing little worth nothing.

The reason for the M249 was the lack of a true automatic weapon at the fire team level since we dropped the BAR thirty years earlier. Both weapons were literal godsends to grunts, because more machineguns equals more firepower, period. This has been true in infantry combat since WWI. Good rifles are nice, but good machineguns win battles.
And the M249 uses the exact same ammunition as the service rifle, and can even (notionally, at least) use the same magazines in a pinch. That simplifies logistics, it doesn't complicate them.

Scrapping two proven weapons, to trade for a compromise round fired from some prototype will-o'-the-wisp that will be both better and worse, and compatible with nothing but itself, is thus folly, not progress.

It remains to be seen whether what comes out of this will be simpler. It will definitely be newer, which is generally the entire problem.

As for rolling it out in boot camp, first you have to have enough (of everything, from spare parts to magazines to cleaning gear to ammunition) to do that, and the system has to be mature enough that all training doctrine has been carved in stone. Otherwise you're just spinning your wheels.

Aesop said...

And the military doesn't let privates lead; they listen, they don't teach. Boot camp will not be where this thing cuts its teeth. The first people you're going to have to train (and convince) are the marksmanship communities in the Army and Marines, which means NCOs, SNCOs, and WOs, and they're generally some tough sonsofbitches to bamboozle. When they tell you you've discovered a new way to royally fuck things up, and to go back to the drawing board, you should listen to them. But we never do.

Waving your hands and saying "Newer" isn't going to cut it with them though.

You also keep claiming better accuracy.
In a rifle, that's paramount.
In a machinegun, it's a bug, not a feature.
With any MG, you actually want a beaten zone that's spread out at range, because a machinegun is an area weapon. You don't want all the roubnds going to the same address; you want a cone of fire to hit people all around your aiming point at ranges far beyond those the rifle is good for.
That's the entire point of a machinegun.
And you can't have it both ways.
It's either going to do what it needs to, or not.
Being dead-on-balls accurate would be bad.
Being accurate to "minute of grid square" would be worse.

And a lighter weapon firing a heavier projectile at a higher velocity, is going to be about as accurate as a sawed off shotgun at all ranges. "Any foole knows" this much, yet you gallop over such obvious physics shortcomings with the proposed weapon as though it were calculus in Mandarin.

The 5.56 even full auto, is so mild as to be tame.
6.something out of a lightweight weapon at higher velocity is going to punishing.
on those wimpy little snowflake troops everyone seems to want to deploy in combat arms, whether they can cut it or not.
That's going to make accuracy moot. They're going to be flinching, and spraying and praying, which is supposedly exactly what we don't want.
So this thing has failed before we even test it, because it cannot do other.

The .50BMG is not irrelevant: it stands as the obvious example of a ne plus ultra design, which was precisely why it was cited. If anyone could have surpassed it, they would have. We see what the attempt looks like in the disastrous M85 project. The FAL, the AR, and the AK are three different attempts to get there, and as the rounds they were deployed to use suggest, there are trade-offs.
Going to a round between .223 and .308 doesn't change that, it just highlights the inevitable compromises that must result, because physics.

Aesop said...

The teething problems of the M-16 have been detailed in depth and at length, and "rushing it into production" was none of them.
It was a mature weapon system when adopted, not a prototype.
The problem now, and the exact thing I'm railing about with 6.whateverthefuck, is rushing it into service.
I don't give a good goddam how many they make, just as long as we don't buy them.
At least until we can play with them exhaustively, to see if there's any point to the exercise besides novelty for its own sake.

We have no such mature weapon, no proof it can do anything claimed, and no reason to adopt it. It's like passing a 5000 page bill without reading it to find out what's in it. Which worked so well with ObozoCare. Not.

If they actually produce a weapon that can meet the standards, and you can back the sales brochure claims up with real-world proof, we have a starting point for discussing whether or not it ought to be adopted, and on what timeline.

What we're actually doing, is pandering to defense contractors, without any reason to sign any damned contracts in the first place. That's asinine, which yet again describes precisely the mascots of the Ordnance Branch.

Color me shocked.
Big Green is going to fornicate this up exactly like they did the original M-16, and the M1911 replacement trails, and the G-11, and...and...and...all the way back to Brown Bess and Charleville muskets.
Fucking the pooch is what they do.

Anonymous said...


I said the .50 BMG is irrelevant to the discussion, not irrelevant to warfare. It's not an LMG, so bringing it up in a discussion about LMGs is about as relevant as bringing up pistol designs. They're employed very differently from one another.

Wait, on the one hand you say that it's too accurate to be an LMG, and then say it's as inaccurate as a sawed-off shotgun (despite having less recoil- don't make up shit about it being a shoulder-pounder). Which is it?

Again, the 6.8 cannot replace the 5.56. It replaces the 7.62. The 7.62 is like the Sherman tank- it worked, we won the war with it, but it wasn't the be-all, end-all of tank design. The new gun is already lighter, the ammo is already lighter, there's less recoil, and it's intended to offer better penetration. Whether it succeeds or fails these criteria, you and I will need to wait for the testing to finish. Don't repeat the same outdated arguments the big Army said about the M-16.

Testing will not be performed in boot camp. It'll be performed by the marksmanship community and SOF, who happen to be the ones asking for it. After the marksmanship community gives it the green light, then the mass rollout will be through boot camp. That way, the old guard can keep theirs for the longest time, and the new/replacement infrastructure can be built in the least-invasive way possible. Again, see the Germans in WWI.

So yes, we agree that it shouldn't be fielded without thorough testing. But let's wait until after testing to make such wild claims as to inaccuracy, higher recoil, etc. Less cussing, more measurable criteria.

As for the procurement/ordinance branches, what's your solution for fixing them so this problem doesn't repeat itself in the future? They've got mouths to feed, and signing these shitty contracts is in their self-interest. Just firing them is playing whack-a-mole. My solution is to separate rank and pay grade, so that if a guy isn't cut for higher-command, we'll incentivize him through his pay to remain at the bottom where he's actually useful. That, and replace non-combat commissioned officers with warrant officers so that our generals aren't comprised of managers and political butt-kissers. I want our careerists on the front lines, not behind desks. What's your solution?

Aesop said...

The .50BMG is relevant because there is a ne plus ultra with every design, including LMGs, battle rifles, pistols, airplanes, automobiles, or even paperclips. The BMG is proof of that theorem. So are the FAL, the AR, and the AK. Anything from there on will be minute, evolutionary change. Not revolutionary. Anything past that point is rearranging doilies on the table, and gilding a lily, and generally not worth the effort. Certainly not worth total upheaval of the ground forces.

And let's be clear: you're the one saying it's so darned accurate (on a dearth of experiential data), which is a worthless attribute for an LMG.
And it cannot have less recoil than the current-issue M249, a heavier weapon firing a lighter projectile at a lower velocity. It's physically impossible! You've just posited a square circle. The physics are plain and simple. Unless you were comparing its recoil to the FN-MAG, which is not only specious on a weapon typically fired from the ground on a bipod, not from the shoulder offhand, but also an apples to oranges comparison. it's like telling me the M-16 has less recoil than the FN-MAG. Well, duh. They're intended for entirely different tactics.

If the whole point in your mind is to replace the 7.62, it's already a fail: less range, less penetration, less power. That's sending a Nissan Sentra to drag race with a Corvette. It's only worth considering at all to ratchet up from the 5.56 round. Better penetration than 7.62 AP?? It is to laugh.
Show me the money.

SOF, OTOH, can ask for all the exotic shit they want. C'est son métier.
Rarely, if ever, do their choices translate into what's best for conventional units, and if their recockulous wants and wishes are the tail wagging the entire infantry dog, it's time to cut them off at the knees. They're officially too big for their britches if that's the case.

The rollout, as with everything in the military, will be fornicated beyond belief. I'm assuming you have zero practical experience with this, but what it looks like on paper will be ass-raped beyond belief, and hamstring our ground forces and logistics for a decade, easily. Like it always has, and does, every time since 1775.

The claims of accuracy are illusory, as that's a function of training, not physics.
The higher recoil is inevitable compared to the FN-MAG.


If that's unfamiliar to you, you should look it up.
It was Isaac Newton's way of telling you that you can't put 20 pounds of shit in a 5 pound bag, no matter how hard you wish it were otherwise.

That's the hyperbole about a new round and new weapons system in a nutshell.
If we hadn't seen this sort of nonsense with the SA80 vs. the SLR three and four decades ago, or the trainwreck G-11 back before the turn of the millennium, it would be novel and funny. As it is, it's just fanboy pathetic.

Aesop said...

As for procurement and ordnance, fire them all. Move them into productive work.
Landmine removal, IED tester, range police, septic tank cleanup, IDGAF.

Start with a whole new crop, from scratch.
Then, make it a requirement that no one can move into the ordnance branch without 10 years time non-stop in combat arms first, in perpetuity.
SNCO or field-grade, minimum.

The military already incentivizes performance: it's called up or out.
The problem is they still keep way too many Courtney Massengales, and shitcan too many Sam Damons.

The cure for that is to make all promotion boards composed solely of officers and SNCOs with actual combat experience. CIBs and CARs only. No REMFs need apply.
Staff officers, when good, are priceless. When bad, they're disastrous. They should also be neutered drones, with no say in the careers of others, not even their own, and merely tend to their ledgers and inventories until retirement.

The Navy, wisely, has line officers, and support officers.
The latter, are de facto second-class citizens.
The ground forces should formalize this as well.
It's informal now, but there shouldn't ever be anyone above field grade without battlefield experience, either in the air or on the ground.
We could also can 50% of the generals and 80% of the admirals across the board, and all it would do is save us a shit-ton of payroll. The Navy is currently lurching around with a permanent bloat of as many or more admirals than WWII, with 1 per commissioned ship, except we have a 200-something ship Navy, not 600 ships, let alone a thousand.
The Army and Air farce are as bad with generals.
The Marines alone are relatively trim in that respect, but they too could stand to ditch quite a few as well.
That's pure dead weight, and it's ruining the service.
Not least of which because the political ass-kissing douchebag types have too many places to hide and slide until another promotion opens up.

Everybody above the rank of 1LT should be under a microscope every waking minute, and the culling should be ruthless from Major/LTCDR on up.

Anyone who makes general or admiral should be a by-God bloodthirsty tiger, whipsmart, and no bullshit, coming or going.
Any tendencies towards invertebrate squishiness should be grounds for summary separation, evaluated by their superiors.
The rules should be well-known, and applied with all careful deliberation; but when someone fails to measure up, the chop should be as final and swift as a guillotine blade.

Our entire military, bottom to top, in their best dress uniforms, should resemble nothing so much as an amped-up pitbull straining at the leash, firmly but barely under control of civil authority, desirous to go rip throats and kill everything in its path, and frothing to go do it again if ever set loose for even a moment.

Two words never applicable to the military should be "kinder" or "gentler".
Those people can go work at H&HS or Meals On Wheels.

You want to sell a weapon system?
It should look like Zorg's demonstration of the ZF1 in The Fifth Element.

Every time.
Call me when SiG or anyone else has that.
Or the pitch-man is wasting my time and his.

Goose said...

On recoil just got done with a mod on my AR-10. Put in a flat wound spring in place of the piano wire one. Try it you will like it said the ad boy. You can look up why by yourself if you care and can try it. BTW it slows the BCG a little and reduces recoil so if the selector is set to full auto might not work as well but I have no means to determine.
As for the 30.06 M1 learned to shoot it at age 13 no recoil problem - fine piece of goods as Gen Patton said.
As for rounds we have both the .243 with its .308 case and the 25-06 with its 30.06 case flat trajectory they have and take it from there. Only about 150 years of ballistic information between them. That is if anyone in the ******* could actually read. Plus about 150 years of discussion in various magazines and probably military studies.

Anonymous said...


Cute. More swearing and no links to Textron's own tests. Let's rectify that, shall we?

Testing with the army:

Note the lack of sanitized, air-conditioned labs:

Are you seriously trying to pretend I didn't put the kinetic energy equation into one of my previous posts? I used it when talking about the advantage of higher-velocity rounds in penetration. For recoil, you should be using p=mv. Nice try.

And I'm comparing the recoil of the 6.8 to the 7.62. Stop pretending I'm one of those guys who thinks the 5.56/M-16 is obsolete. Also stop pretending that an assault rifle and an LMG are pretty much the same- you yourself admit they're employed differently.

And no, the 6.8 is designed from square 1 to have, at a minimum, comparable range, power and accuracy. If it stopped there, it would be as pointless as you say it is, but it doesn't. It's lighter and more compact, which matters to the guys who have to lug it around all day. The gun itself has fewer parts as well, and fewer parts= less chance of malfunction. For someone who supposedly didn't care because it just spews bullets, you seem awfully keen about keeping the cartridge chosen by the Big Army ordinence you loathe.

Oh, and did you forget that the M16 was first tested by SOF and they loved it when the Army brass didn't? So why don't you believe the marksmen and other shooters in the Army who support this new LMG design? Were they wrong back then, too?

Spare me the fanboy condescension. You're talking like every cliched guy who talks about the "wonder-7.62" without being able to answer why every major military has moved towards smaller calibers multiple times in the past century. I think you underappreciate what materials science can do for design. The only reason any of this works is because of modern materials- just like how Stoner's design introduced aluminum parts instead of going all-steel. Claiming designs can't get any better ignores this basic engineering fact and is akin to claiming smokeless powder is "20 pounds of shit in a 5 pound bag" because all fire produces smoke, right?

Anonymous said...


Switching gears...

Up or out is one-dimensional because the world's greatest PFC who has no business being an E-3 can't stay there are do what he does best. He either gets promoted or fired. Separating rank and pay grade would allow him to choose to stay put and get paid more for doing what he's actually good at. Promotion should favor the alpha-pitbulls, but there needs to be something for the guys who aren't.
Also, you're ready to lash out with extreme punishment for mistakes, but haven't differentiated between honest mistakes and negligence. That's what we have, and exactly why we have a zero-defect, toxic command culture. Most people would prefer demotion over being canned as punishment. Nobody wants to get fired. We are limited to promote/fire as a response to anything, which is silly. Separating rank and pay grade would mean a guy who fucks up can be demoted and go back to mopping floors.

The bloat of generals is due to two factors: one, George Marshall wanted extra staffs so we wouldn't have to build an army from scratch. He ended up making a bigger mess than the one he cleaned up in 1940, so we can ditch that idea. Separating rank and pay grade would mean we could send them down the totem pole along with all the butt-kissers.
The second reason is that among commissioned officers, a small minority actually lead men into combat. The rest are support, admin, and logistics. Switching the latter three to warrant officers (i.e., akin to Naval support officers) would put them lower on the pecking order and ensure that all commissioned officers are combat leaders. Then we'd get the pit bulls you want (although remember that Grant and Eisenhower weren't like that, but MacArthur was- guess which one screwed up the defense of the Philippines?).

Enjoy the videos!

Aesop said...

Wow, you really want to test my limits, don't you?

I could give two shits for Textron's tests, or Ordnance's, so far.
Either they're complete and comprehensive, or they're not.
If they're not, citing them would be pointless.
If they are, you'd have actual numbers to put up, apples to apples.
Shit, or get off the pot.

As you're one of countless "Anonymous" posters, what you put in any post is entirely undiscernable.

And recoil is a function of energy at both ends; you can't get less recoil out of a lighter gun firing heavier bullets, at higher velocity, which is the case with WunderGun vs. M249.

You can't get greater controllability out of a lighter gun firing comparable (albeit smaller) projectiles of a notional 6.something, and you won't achieve greater penetration that 7.62AP, unless you drive the thing so fast accuracy goes to total shit, and beats the weapon to pieces in a couple of years' use.

Also, I've never stated nor implied that a battle rifle, and AR, and an LMG are comparable. That's why three weapons do that job. And should. Even Stoner's original system (you could look it up), as well as the HK G3 family offerings, noted that obvious necessity. So I don't know where you're getting that.

A 6.8, or anything else, can have comparable range and accuracy to a 7.62. Granted.
But power and penetration are physics problems that cannot be solved by magic bean hand-waving, no matter how many times you try it.
If you can best the 5.56, you're trying to get rid of M-249 (and by extension, dumping the AR, which was the point of Salamander's original article, which I'm pretty sure you haven't read, let alone the nearly 200 comments there.) You can do that, in return for exactly the logistics and adoption nightmare mentioned, at a cost of billions, for accomplishing something for which no one can articulate a need sufficient to justify the exercise.

But you cannot then cherry-pick the GPMG/M240 to claim "lighter, less recoil" and more penetration. This isn't being proposed as a replacement to one of them, it's being tracked as a replacement to all of them.

You keep wanting to flip back and forth between platforms when it suits your argument, and I'm calling you on that continual b.s.

You have a lighter, more compact gun than the M240? Let's see it in action, under service conditions, not cherry-picked sales brochure testing.

Aesop said...

You think a smaller bullet will penetrate better than M61 AP at comparable ranges?
Habeus corpus, or fuck off with that nonsense.
Physics says that idea is crapola.

Trying to damn the 7.62 round for being an Ordnance selection in the 1950s overlooks the wee factoid of its use and demonstrated performance in four wars in the last 70 years, which documented performance kind of undoes any taint from the idiots at Ft. Lee. Also, I have never heard anyone complain the 7.62x51 round is under nor over-powered for its designed uses, in rifle or MG, any more than any such claim for the .30-06 which it replaced. It's a non-fact.

Every major military has moved towards smaller rounds because of efficiency: they want more bullets that will each get the job done with enough authority. A .68 Brown Bess slug will definitely fuck up anyone's day, but someone with an AR and 100 rounds could take on a company of musketeers and win 100-0, far beyond any range from which they could return fire.

But at a certain point, the math becomes recockulous. I.e.: if one man can build a house in 12 days, 12 men can build a house in 1 day. So far, so good.
But 144 men cannot build a house in 2 hours, nor can 17280 men build a house in 1 minute.
Physical reality is not 1:1 with sheer mathematics.

The same is true for weapons.
We aren't for example, going to a 4mm rifle shooting projectiles at 18000 fps, even though we could carry 2000 rounds in a canteen cup. A BB is still a BB.
.223/5.56 seems to be the smallest useful caliber. For man-portability, .50BMG seems to be pushing the upper limits of the spectrum.
Everything in between trades among X, Y, and Z, to offers different inescapable compromises between the extremes at useful ranges in the final product.

6.5/6.8 will get you what you'll expect: less rounds than .223, more than 7.62.
Comparable accuracy, if you train for it.
Less penetration than 7.62 or greater, but more than 5.56.
Less recoil than a gun the same weight firing larger rounds, and more recoil than a gun the same weight firing smaller rounds.

After than, wholly independent of the ballistic physics, is reliability.
A lighter gun that beats the shit out of itself due to being fired at ludicrous velocities is worthless. You'll spend more on replacements than you'll save by adopting it.

The .50BMG comes in again as an example , because it's a heavy beast. Which is why one from 1940 shoots as well as one made yesterday: it has to be the size it is, because of the forces of firing and cycling.
They tried to lighten it, and we got the M85. Disaster.

Textron and Sig think they can fire something heavier and at higher velocity than 5.56, and make the gun lighter?
I'm from Missouri. Show me.

Five to one odds you'll get a gun that beats itself to death inside a few years.
A gun at depot maintenance when you go to war is worthless.
If the object is to design a disposable weapon, like the M72 LAAW, I think they have a winner.
The grunts, however, will not be amused.

Make a better weapon, and it sells itself.
That's not what's happening.
What I see is braid-grade hype juiced up on manufacturers offering them cushy retirements, not grunts clamoring "Take my money!", based on field testing under actual conditions that's beyond reproach.

That's hucksterism and hype, not performance, which is all the 6.5/6.8 gear whores have been about, since ever. Let's save that nonsense for the gun ad rags, where it belongs.

Call me when that changes.

Aesop said...

We don't need 45-year-old privates.
Up or out culls the non-hackers appropriately.

And enlisted men who fuck up are demoted and go back to mopping floors.
Officers who fuck up are demoted to civilians, and go back to mopping floors.
The current system wins.

The "Toxic command culture" is for zero defects on anything, including a lot of PC horseshit. All I care about is whether a soldier can do his job and fight.
All the PC bullshit add-ons since the 1970s and extended pinkie nonsense is a direct result of pussifying the military, by over-subscribing people with pussies to inhabit its ranks. (Spare me the 0.5% exceptions that prove the rule who can pull their own weight, either literally or metaphorically.)
They don't belong, never have, and our abysmal performance of late is the direct result. Military service is not and never should have become co-educational.
Biology is destiny, and you can't bend physics or gravity to shrill edicts from the Sisterhood Of The Perpetually Aggrieved And Physically Second-Rate.

When we fight a peer, and get treated afterwards like Germany in 1919, we'll recognize that reality, but far too late. And if we're really lucky, we won't be treated like Carthage in 146 B.C.

Grant was a pit bull. He just sucked at everything besides command.
Eisenhower was a staff officer, doing a staff officer's job.
And MacArthur was what happens when you hang on to somebody, but leave him too far from home to get his head on straight.
He should have been mandatorily retired prior to 1940, and would have been NLT 1945, even under current regs.
And all of them were better than 90% of the current lot of losers.

Listed below are the names of every o-7 and above who, choosing principle over pension, told presidents and service chiefs they were endangering America by fucking up the military, from 1980-present:

In contrast LtGen "Brute" Krulak, USMC told LBJ to his face he and SecDef McNamara had their heads far up their asses on Vietnam in 1966, and was grabbed by POTUS by the arm and marched out of the Oval Office, and the door slammed on him as he exited. His career, and any chances of a forth star, ended at that point.

History tells us who was right in that exchange.

Anonymous said...


I think I pushed your limits a while ago. Your posts have been far more emotionally charged than mine.

Yes, you can reduce felt recoil by having the mechanism take longer to cycle, or by putting in some kind of dampener. Weaponsman blog talked about this with the M4's buffer weights (the original link is acting buggy atm):

Of course you don't give a shit about Textron's data. You can't prove it's false, rigged, or anything malicious. There's also the possibility that they have the data and either haven't published it yet, or it's classified (especially for body armor tests). I also note that you didn't comment on the youtube video I posted of the Fort Benning tests conducted in 2011. If they haven't actually improved the gun since then, then the only explanation is they're falsifying data. The burden of proof is on you if you accuse them, however. Past bad behavior is not proof in and of itself, it simply makes finding the proof easier. Innocent until proven guilty.

Of course a 6.8 ball won't penetrate as well as a 7.62 AP. That's what I call a rigged test. Why not compare it to 7.62 ball? Or do you believe they won't think to develop a 6.8 AP?

I have voiced agreement that the new gun shouldn't replace the M16. I agree with you that that's a bad idea, but do think that it's a decent idea for an LMG. I am certainly capable of having an opinion that isn't 100% for or against something. Cherry-picking what I agree with and disagree with is not an inconsistent position except from an all-or-nothing perspective. I'm more nuanced than that.

A lighter gun doesn't automatically mean a weaker gun that wears out faster. There are materials on the market today (Textron is an aircraft company, so they're well-aware of the developments) that can be thinner and lighter than an equally reliable part made out of normal steel. This is why I brought up the materials science bit: it doesn't negate the laws of physics, but it can redirect them. If you still don't believe me, then look at these two polymers:

The 7.62 is not a broken or unreliable round. However, intermediate cartridges can match it's performance except at more extended ranges, and the technology is still improving. Cartridge design did not stop once the 7.62/5.56 were finalized, and if they can make plastic shotgun shells (yes, they used to be all-metallic!), then they can make plastic rifle cartridges.

Anonymous said...

The toxic command culture goes back well before women were allowed to do more than secretary/nurse work. What we had in the 1970s was just fine. Yet that was the time of the Pentagon Wars, without a single female involved in decision-making outside of congress. So no, the pussification of our military did not cause the toxic command culture. They're definitely related, but the toxic culture came at least a decade before the women did.
What actually happened was that once the wars (WWII, Korea, Vietnam) were over, the adventure-seekers left the military. Those who remained were yes-men and conformists, whose group-think mentality allowed them to take advantage of up-or-out to reward cronies and fire anybody who challenged their worldview. Most of these men weren't combat leaders, and were very insecure, but they quickly became the majority of high-up decision-makers. Even some of the combat generals were in on the cliques, and none of them wanted to sacrifice themselves like lemmings.
Insecurity breeds fear and suspicion. Fear and suspicion breed zero-defect mentalities. Zero-defect mentalities lose all methods of correction except extreme, indiscriminate punishment. Punishment then reinforces the culture of fear and conformity. It's a predictable process. My proposal makes it so that men don't automatically risk their careers if they do what's right. A demoted man can still fix problems and be re-promoted as vindication; a fired man can't. And the ones who got fired were the men who had the moral courage you and I both want in the higher-ups. Simply playing whack-a-careerist only lasts as long as anybody cares, and doesn't tackle the source.

Our current crop of generals are similar to the Union Generals at the start of the Civil War: they're high-ranking because they're the only ones who stayed when there wasn't a war to attract adventure-seekers. If they're the only ones who will stay, then they need to be kept in lower ranks (officer and enlisted) where they can lead from the front. 45-year old privates and 2LTs can be stuck behind desks in a FOB just as easily as 22-year old privates and 2LTs, and might appreciate the A/C after being in the field for so long.
We could even assign 2LTs to each lead a platoon in boot camp, where they'll get treated like shit along with the grunts, and keep them all together for their first assignment. As the platoon's members leave the service, get promoted or reassigned, or are discharged, their numbers will dwindle and we won't have a glut of 45-year old privates. If need be, we can always merge partial-platoons within a company and then bring in a fresh, intact platoon. It's a good way to preserve Esprit de Corps.

Aesop said...

My posts aren't emotionally charged.
I just don't have any tolerance for bullshit, and I don't suffer fools.

They can do whatever they like to reduce felt recoil.
But all that that ups the complication, number of parts, and failure points.
And also the weapon weight.

Invent and produce a 6.8 AP. No one's stopping anyone from doing that.
Oh, wait, Textron and SiG didn't think of that?
This is the difference between a sales brochure weapon, and a mature system.
When you have the latter, test them head to head, and get back to us.

Your nuance is noted.
Unfortunately, it's at odds with the actual plans of Ordnance Corps.

A lighter gun driving a heavier bullet at higher velocities does presage a gun more frail and failure prone, prima facie.
If they manage to use new polymers and beat that hobgoblin, well and good.
Yet again, don't what-if me, build it and show me.
See if you can guess which step in this process has been completely ignored.

If you've given up range, you've already compromised the rounds for, and utility of, an LMG using 6.whatever vs. 7.62x51.
It was inevitable. You can't make sports car that goes 200 MPH, carries six, tows 11 tons, and gets 90MPG either.
The saying in the movie business (and many others) is cognizant of this reality:
Pick two."

Plastic cases in a high-cyclic bet-fed automatic weapon bring another variable you don't need, and another dozen failure points.
So, what's the cyclic rate on the fastest semi-auto shotgun?
And how fast do you clear that jam when a plastic-cased round cycling at 20 times that rate does something not on the engineers wish list?
Asking for every machinegunner that ever humped a Pig.

Aesop said...

What toxic command culture do you refer to?
Zero defects wasn't a thing until there was a clowncarnucopia of silly PC bullshit, which was decidedly after the all-volunteer force.
Does Tailhook ring a bell?
Pop quiz? That was in what year? And traceable to what ultimate source?
I'll wait while you look it up.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon Wars details the development of the Bradley IFV, starting in 1958, and larded up into unrecognizability by 1977, when it had metastasized to three times the weight of the original proposal, and umpteen times the cost. It has nothing to do with a "toxic command culture" it has to do with a shitty procurement process.
Apples to oranges comparison: achievement unlocked.

The procurement process just for that vehicle began between Korea and Vietnam, so obviously predated your time frame.
It did fall right smack in the heart of when Eisenhower was complaining about the "military industrialist complex".
That's been a staple since 1946, and it's been larded up and fornicated even more since then.

Like I said, fire them all, the entire branch, and shit-can every civilian involved, and bar them from government service for life.
Then start from scratch.

Due process in combat is a body bag. For a lot of other guys too.
Officers who fuck up in peacetime don't need a second chance, they need a second career. The military obviously isn't where they belong.
You don't "reform" an officer who's massively failed.
You've just put a splint on a horse with a broken leg.
Put 'em down.
The pyramid is pretty narrow at every step up, and those who can't cut it, need to go before a screw-up has consequences that fill cemeteries.
If you want to bring back corporal punishment for derelict officers for minor offenses, we can talk.
Major offenses are career-enders, for cause.
That's not making shitty officers, it's showing how poorly prepared most of them are.
You want to address that, go ahead on.
Start by shit-canning the 4000 things they now have to do and supervise that have Jack and Shit to do with killing people and breaking things.
You can't lead men if your entire time is spent nannying adolescents, adjudicating playground squabbles, and ass-kissing the PC police and their Special Snowflakes in your unit, but that's 90% of officer time right now.
Things like training are 47th on the list of things to do, from COs, commands, generals, and service chiefs who should (and do, if you can get them drunk enough to admit it out loud) know better.

Aesop said...

Hence why shitcanning half of them, for cause, is a good second step.
Start with interviews.
Anybody who scores 1 point or higher on the PC Buzzword Bingo card in that interview gets fired and retired, same day.
Everyone from O-4 to O-9.
Any company-grade officers get a pass, and six months to re-test. Once.
OERs are based on things like shooting, unit movement, physical fitness, O-course scores, and other warfighting and unit leadership skills.
All the other bullshit combined counts as 1% of your total score.
Quantify the measurements, eliminate the beauty contests and pettifogging essays, and post the scores on the wall.
Your unit smoked the O-course and the rifle gunnery range?
Fucking A skippy!
You only have a 2% participation rate in Army/Navy Relief and the United Way?
Who gives a flying fuck?
Problem solved.

You're a transportation unit?
How many accidents has your unit had?
How many of your vehicles are tits up?
What's your average score on maintenance proficiency tests?
How many times have you been tasked with a mission and delivered on it at 95% or better?

This isn't hard.
just take all the social engineering and touchy-feely horseshit out behind the supply warehouse, and shoot it in the head.
Take all the career NCOs tasked with compliance for that monumental pile of fecal material, and turn them loose to supervise troops, properly, and according to what they know is what needed to perform their actual mission.

Anyone who can't hack that gets retired.

Your men will carry you on their shoulders at that point, and your performance of actual military missions will skyrocket.

45 year old privates should be shitcanned.
Soldiering is not for anyone that old, unless they've proven they can be promoted.
Ditto for second lieutenants.
Enlisted men who can't make SNCO in 12 years service are dead weight, and future casualties.
The military is not so short of bodies they need to hire the handicapped.
Lieutenants go from 2d to 1st automagically at eighteen months.
After that, the funnel starts.
Anyone who can't make captain in or above the zone after two bites at the apple is not destined for anything worthwhile.
The only thing left to show them at that point, is the door.

Up or Out. Period.

And you'll never have (let alone preserve) esprit de corps with near-geriatrics being carried in the ranks.
If someone wants a paycheck, they should get a job at Target or McDonald's.
The hours and pay are both better than the military, and the life expectancy is greater.

It's a military, not a government jobs program.
How fornicated up this has become is the number of lower enlisted with kids, on foodstamps, etc.
No parents, no kids, for anyone not at least an NCO should become DoD policy again.
And if women want government jobs, the Post Office is always hiring, and mail sacks are lighter than packs.

This ain't rocket science, at any level.
Stop ignoring lessons in place for 2000 years, as if human beings have somehow changed.
They haven't.

All that's different is how much bullshit we expect leadership at all levels to do, and how much more infantile we've let people at the bottom rungs become.

That is a toxic command structure, because this isn't the privates' fault.
It's the generals and admirals.

And it's gotten us sailors that can't conn a ship, aircraft that don't fly, officers who lie, cheat, and steal, carriers that can't launch planes, soldiers who can't throw a grenade far enough away not to blow themselves up, or get over basic training obstacles without booster steps, and new weapons we neither need nor can afford.

The Gods Of The Copybook Headings are going to make the U.S. their bitch, at a time and place not of our choosing, and we could have prevented it.
But it requires common sense, which in the military today is an uncommon virtue.

Anonymous said...

No change, No change, No change; Battery six in effect.

Anonymous said...


Textron has tested these guns at Fort Benning and demonstrated that they aren't failing their own criteria. If you missed the last video, here it is again:

And again, you are assuming that modern materials can't deliver similar or better performance with less weight/bulk/complexity/failure points. They can, and that's a major part of their argument for the system. If they were using only standard/traditional alloys in this design, your argument would be correct. Just like if the AR-15 was built only with steel and walnut. But the fact that they're using different materials means they will behave differently under stress, and don't necessarily need to increase weight in order to lengthen the firing cycle (which reduces recoil). There are other, non-complex, ways to do this. Just not with traditional materials.

Yes, I'm aware that my opinion is at odds with the plans to replace everything. That should have been apparent in my first post. I used the term "niche role" for a reason.

As for the toxic command culture, I'm referring to the cliques that enforced group think and punished innovative thinkers. When the men making the decision to promote or fire somebody are stupid and energetic, who will be promoted? A conformist like them, or a maverick who'll make them work for a living?

The problem I have with your PC-centric definition of 'toxic culture' is that it's based on the results, not the sources. A command culture with ass-backwards priorities is not automatically toxic; it may just be inept. What we have today is toxic and inept, although long-overdue reforms are starting to be implemented. The Army can do just fine with the clever and energetic (our best men), the clever and lazy (the strong, silent types), and even the stupid and lazy (only fit for repetitive tasks at the bottom of the pecking order). Toxic cultures are the ones dominated by the stupid and energetic.

The Pentagon Wars (which went from the 60s all the way up to Desert Storm) happened because of this toxic, Game-of-Thrones style culture. Procurement was driven by tight budgets in the 60s, and conveyor-belt deployment of commanders in Vietnam, so the commanders all wanted a slice of the smaller pie. They used whatever means necessary to stay relevant, refusing to sacrifice themselves for principles, and building cliques to make themselves near-impossible to remove. Innovators were forced out by these entrenched cliques, and had practically no way to appeal outside of reactive whistleblowing. Col. Burton was undermined, and subjected to dirty tricks, at every turn in his attempts to hold the brass accountable, and he retired long before his opponents did (many of whom went on to work in lucrative defense industry jobs).
The cliques blamed the innovators, of course, for being "disruptive" and "not a team player," and could thus fire them at their leisure. I'm fairly certain that a procurement is only as good as the officers in charge of it, and a non-toxic, competent command culture would not promote shitty officers in the first place. A toxic one, on the other hand, did encourage them to take shortcuts and rig the tests to avoid painting convenient bullseyes on their backs (as opposed to just ones), no matter how well-deserved.

Anonymous said...

A toxic command culture of groupthink, conformity, petty backstabbing, and political butt-kissing is why it accepted PC crap in the first place. Defy the government, and there are plentiful rivals waiting for a chance to pounce and have him relived of duty. As you confirmed, it was there from the 60s onward, and women didn't get to do anything beyond secretary/nurse work until 1978, when women were allowed to serve aboard non-combat ships. They weren't allowed to fly planes until 1991 (the same year as Tailhook), and flew in combat for the first time in 1998. That's 30 years difference.
So yes, integrating women was a bad idea (something I've never disputed), but it's not the cause, it's one of the consequences of promoting mass-produced spineless yes-men to higher ranks.

I won't dispute the need for higher standards for the top of the pyramid, but I should point out again that those at the top make the call to promote or fire. You and the generals you want to purge would both agree that "Major Offenses" should be a career-ender, but I'm sure they would consider your ideas to be a "Major Offense," rather than their actions. It's arbitrary and wrong, but they hold the power, and if you fire them all, there'll be plenty of identical failures waiting to replace them. Up-or-out provides a conveyor belt for their types, and allows men who make honest mistakes to be thrown out with the incompetent (except nobody has been fired for incompetence for along time- guess who has been thrown out?).

This is why I say separate rank and pay grade: if we want men who have the guts to put doing what's right above their pay, why not make the promotion system obligate them to sacrifice their pay (resets to the lowest each time, as it's commensurate with their experience in that specific rank) every time they move up the ranks? The only ones who'll get promoted under this system are the sort of guys who'll put your proposed reforms into action, and keep the Army's priorities straight. Plus, they'll be able to systematically prevent the stupid and energetic from gaining ranks without relying on arbitrary decision-making. The system shouldn't be neutral or indifferent.

The lazy and stupid are the majority of the population, and will be the majority of volunteers when there isn't a war to attract adventure-seekers. These can be useful for repetitive tasks at the bottom. 45-year old privates/2LTs will only refer to their place in the decision-making hierarchy. There are some men who are born to fight, and can still hack it at that old age. Others can be reassigned to ordinance/procurement, as they definitely have 10 years of experience with weaponry.
The majority won't make it that far, though, especially if they are required to progressively achieve higher and higher standards each year they remain in place. Once they can't keep doing their jobs or get promoted, then they'll get fired. Or they can be transferred to desk jobs/truck driving if they show aptitude in those fields. Plenty of men in history have been able to redeem themselves by switching jobs (overwhelmingly from combat to support roles), and the Army can treat its personnel as assets, rather than disposable. Age alone doesn't decide whether a guy can't do the job. The average age of a Roman centurion (company commander equivalent) was 35-45, and most armies in history (pre-1860) had men who served for life (until age 60). The few who will stay nowadays will be the ones we actually want to keep; the others will be disincentivized by increasingly stricter requirements designed to weed out the weaker ones.
Promotion should only be done for men who are leaders, and there should be a way to allow men who aren't leaders, but still useful, to stay. Forcing everybody to be promoted or removed is inherently one-dimensional, and ignores human nature. It throws away horizontal talent in favor of vertical talent. The apprentice-journeyman-master route is much better.

Aesop said...

Interesting idea, but the reality is we don't need horizontal talent.
There are only so many companies, fewer battalions, and fewer still regiments and brigades to command. Frankly, we probably keep too many people now.
And worse, we've got a burgeoning number of affirmative action diversity beans thrown into the promotion matrix, which is proof there's too much pork and not enough lean beef in the officer ranks.

Cashiering half the generals/admirals would be a good start. But we could stand to thin out the officer ranks by 1/3, minimum.

And any command culture than produces the current results is, by definition, toxic.
The current .mil is poised fruit from a poisoned tree. We've gone far beyond stupid and energetic, to outright malicious and corrosive.

Back to the weapons, I'm assuming nothing. I'm waiting to be convinced. In every aspect.
And until the weapons testing is done by disinterested third parties, not the salesmen, I don't pay much attention to what they claim. (There are still guys who retired from General Dynamics who'll tell you the F-111 was a helluva great airplane.)

I hope that they can build a better mousetrap.
But I've seen nothing worth the trouble to explain why bother, let alone whether or not they can and how. Worse, they're already talking about how fast they can do this.

Anybody salivating as you write them a check is probably swindling you, and they want to leave skidmarks before you find out you've been had.

And as I said, you invent a fantastic weapon, they'll fall all over themselves waving money at you.
But first, you've got to deliver the goods.

Anonymous said...


You've go that right! The difference between stupid/energetic and malicious/corrosive is one of degree, not of kind. So the only difference between now and the Pentagon Wars era is that the same old shit has accumulated, and now merely weighs so much more.

We could definitely remove at least 40% of our commissioned officers (starting at the top) and demote them to warrant officers or enlisted. Not only should we relieve them of duty, we need to abolish their offices so that nobody replaces them. A smaller, leaner officer corps can get the job done (at a minimum) better than now, and we could transfer a lot of the extra duties down the chain of command. In short, command culture must be decentralized.

Horizontal talent is much more of an enlisted/warrant officer ordeal, since it inherently favors specialists. Commissioned officers should overwhelmingly be generalists (like Grant was) and combat officers, both of whom will always be a minority in the army. The careerists, and the majority of men in general, will be specialists and therefore should be incentivized through increased pay to remain in the lower ranks where their temperament will actually do some good. After that, we ought to have the requirements for them to stay get progressively stricter, year after year, in order to weed out the barely-good-enough from the warrior gurus and the naturally brilliant.

I agree with you that the guns should be thoroughly tested before moving them into production, and I think that this new technology is only useful for a niche role at the moment. From reading other articles, the company and the Army are still performing tests, so I'm curious as to which disinterested 3rd-parties you'd like to see test the guns (the Army marksmanship guys are already on board). Myself, I'd love to see Jerry Miculek, ForgottenWeapons, and other Youtube gun experts put them through the torture tests. Make it an ensemble project! :)