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Old June 9, 2013, 07:37 AM   #26
Tucker 1371
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Pretty much everything I saw was as-issued with the exception of a few aftermarket doo-dads, I had PMags and an AFG on my M16A4.
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Old June 11, 2013, 09:24 PM   #27
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Beans, bullets & gas....

As a veteran who served in two combat support MP companies, I can honestly tell you the "FOBbits" & desk jockeys(aka REMFs ) may not of understood how mech troops or armored units would need ROOM or space to tote ammunition, fuel cans, water, food, commo gear, barb wire(which can rip or tear your flesh in seconds), etc in a combat vehicle.
Smaller rounds or ordinance means more rounds, less recoil(noise & blast) & faster operation.
I'd rather have a 134D mini-gun that fires a 5.56mm or 7.62mm with 5000 round canisters than a 20mm or 40mm with only 250rds.

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PS; Now, the GI Joe RAM or the motorcycle with a 20mm mini-gun sidecar is a bit much.
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Old June 14, 2013, 12:33 AM   #28
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Booker, I admire your confidence in the processes of weapon selection and design by DoD, but I don't entirely share your belief. The M1 might have been a better battle rifle (with a higher capacity) in a slightly smaller caliber, as Garand originally designed it. The M14 was a minimal improvement on the M1, but chosen because the "brass" didn't want to be shown up by the US adopting the FAL. The M16 should have had a chromed chamber and barrel - as Stoner originally specified - and as the SKS was manufactured about 15 yrs previously. Winchester ball powder should not have been used in 5.56 mm cartridges, as many of our troops in RVN can attest, but that powder was chosen by DoD, not Stoner.
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Old June 14, 2013, 03:55 AM   #29
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I understand that MAJ Winters - the more memorable CO of Easy company in "Band of Brothers" - in real life carried a Garand that had been modified to fire full auto - not select fire but FA only. One of the guys in his unit did this modification with a file or some such common tool.
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Old June 14, 2013, 06:45 AM   #30
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M1 carbines were also field modified to full auto, long before the M2 carbine was fielded.
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Old June 14, 2013, 02:19 PM   #31
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Doc, you're dead on target!

Doc,
You named some classic examples which show that our procurement processes often have been based on other factors than "what the troops need the most." Our modern history is still chock full of examples in which we killed a weapons program, or kept it alive, based on whose US Senate district it was in or other political considerations. (M4 carbine, Osprey, etc.)

Or on non-political factors, that still resulted in some people getting what they thought they needed, and others getting something they didn't want but could "make do" with. (Think M16A2 and the USMC desire for 500m aimed fire, vs. Army concerns about decreased lethality.)

By no means is the US alone in such things. On the contrary, we've gone farther than any other military organization in history to try to identify what the troops need & get it to them. Nonetheless, this process isn't foolproof.

I was a logistician, and the logistics organizational perspective is always going to be in favor of centralized solutions. That way, we can manage the commodity strategically, operationally, and tactically.

When the users (troops) make their own modifications, such as the field expedient "IED-proofing" HMMWV mods discussed earlier, it changes the logistic equations & drives everybody nuts because our "planning factors" have to change suddenly. If we procure HMMWV transmissions at an average rate of x hours or y miles, and a field modification (e.g. sandbagging the floorboard) suddenly causes transmissions to wear out faster than x or y, it takes time to let new contracts, modify budgets, get Congressional approval, change tables of organization, change levels of authorized repair parts stockage, change training procedures in Army schools, etc. ad infinitum. While all that is happening, we struggle hand-to-mouth to support the new requirements & it's maddening, embarrassing, and inefficient.

But even though we've gone a long ways towards designing a "quick response" capability to support changing field requirements, it will never be possible to get everybody whatever they need or want, as soon as they need it. The systemic concerns, however, are simply a logistician's cross to bear, IMO.

If soldiers at the tactical level figure out a way to do something better, they are going to do so--their lives are on the line. We may know or be able to establish a better way, eventually, to meet that need. We may take pride in our ability to react in 3 months, 3 weeks, or whatever, but troops are paying a price in the meantime. We worry about fixing the system; they worry about staying alive. Thus always, past, present, and future.

The ONLY time that logistical concerns can be allowed to take priority is when we truly have no choice. An example was sticking with the M-4 Sherman tank in 1944-45 in northwest Europe, where it was clearly inferior to German tank/antitank systems. If we'd tried to bring bigger, better tanks over from Stateside factories, the reality was that our existing ships, docks, cranes, tank transports, etc. would be unable to adapt fast enough, and supply/resupply of tanks to the ETO would have collapsed. The Sherman was better than nothing, so we stuck with it. Cold comfort, however, to the armor crewman about to face Panther or Tiger tanks.

America prefers to spend the money and save the lives, whenever possible. I'm glad.
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Old June 14, 2013, 03:03 PM   #32
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There are basically three stages of equipment design and modifications.

The original design and prototype testing, which will show up some areas that need attention.

Field troop trials, which will point out some other things that will need fixing or improvement.

And what the troops do with their toys in real life situations, which will show up some things previously missed. By the time these things are fixed, the systems are usually pretty good, and are usually ready for the next war.

Engineers and designers don't live in the vehicles. They don't fight the vehicles. Things that are obvious to the line troop can be complete mysteries to designers.

The logistics and maintenence side of things was well mentioned, and there are numerous examples even recent years. Even the classic lesson of the past (particularly WWII) seem to have to be relearned over and over.

Here's another example of a "flaw" (that did finally get fixed), but did slip through early testing, as it never occured to the designers....

After troops began serious large scale use of the M1 tanks, the transmissions began failing at an unacceptably high rate. Too many were breaking down, and too soon. This really puzzled the planners, as repeated checking of the manufacture(ers) showed they were not delivering defective parts.

That mystery was finally solved when somebody took a good look at what was actually happening in the field. Turns out that no matter what the tank was doing, when it fired, the drivers were slamming it into reverse, and punching it, to change the position of the tank, as fast as they could. Shoot and scoot is the way to stay alive.

Thousands of hours of testing where the trannmissions were shifted normally didn't show a problem. The hard use by the troops did. The trannys were changed to take the unanticipated stresses, and after the supply system got caught up, the problem was solved.

Look at any other system, down to personal equipment, and you will find the same pattern, either large or small. Sometimes one problem hides another. And sometimes the brass doesn't want to hear about it. When that happens (and we have a history of this) the problem lasts a lot longer than it has to. US torpedoes during the first couple years of WWII come to mind...

Quote:
The ONLY time that logistical concerns can be allowed to take priority is when we truly have no choice. An example was sticking with the M-4 Sherman tank in 1944-45 in northwest Europe, where it was clearly inferior to German tank/antitank systems. If we'd tried to bring bigger, better tanks over from Stateside factories, the reality was that our existing ships, docks, cranes, tank transports, etc. would be unable to adapt fast enough, and supply/resupply of tanks to the ETO would have collapsed. The Sherman was better than nothing, so we stuck with it. Cold comfort, however, to the armor crewman about to face Panther or Tiger tanks.
Cold comfort indeed. Patton himself (and others) specifically objected to the deployment of a bigger heavier tank (the amount of shipping space it took to ship one Pershing tank would ship two Shermans). To an influential segment of the brass, more Shermans was better than fewer better tanks. But that focus also had a serious downside. By the time we were facing the German border, we had lost so many tanks, and crews the system was breaking down, particularly with the crews.

Our production and shipping was able to supply a steady stream of new vehicles, but trained men took longer. We ran short of trained crew, and the army was grabbing people from where ever they could and putting them in the tanks, and into combat sometimes within hours of their first time in a tank. Which in turn caused even higher losses in men, and material.

We overcame that deadly loop, but paid the price in blood. This and other examples (and there are many) is why we try so hard to do a better job today. We don't always do it right, but we do try.
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Old June 14, 2013, 03:29 PM   #33
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44,
Very good post! I was in a TDA assignment from '02 to retirement in '05, so learned something from your discussion of the M-1's troubles.

And yes, the decision to stick with the Shermans was a very close-run thing indeed. We had similar problems with the infantry, as our entire personnel management system was predicated upon an estimate that something like 85-88% of total casualties would be infantrymen, IIRC. When the actual percentage turned out to be something like 95%, we pretty quickly found that we were completely out of infantry replacements in the ETO by fall 1944, yet we had whole units of anti-aircraft artillery that stood idly by, unused. (At which point a lot of anti-aircraft guys suddenly became infantrymen, with or without any training!)

Regardless of how scientific an estimate may appear to be, it's no better than an educated guess that allows you to make some decisions and get rolling. Just like tactical plans, which are a commander's best shot at an immediate solution to an immediate problem, NOT a blueprint. Anyone who understands what a football team's "game plan" is will understand the concept almost perfectly.

IMO, both logistics and tactics are more art than science--definitely more than just crunching numbers, and definitely not foolproof. Despite the OVERLORD planners' detailed work and best efforts, everybody missed the fundamental importance of the doggoned hedgerows! (More recently, we apparently invaded a country and changed its regime without accurately assessing what would come next. Thus, a lightning thrust into Iraq became--surprise, surprise!--a protracted war and occupation.)

Last edited by LouisianaMan; June 14, 2013 at 03:38 PM.
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Old June 14, 2013, 03:40 PM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amd6547
M1 carbines were also field modified to full auto, long before the M2 carbine was fielded.
It wasn't a difficult conversion. My First Sergeant back in 1968 once showed me how to do it, using nothing but a short length of dog tag chain.

Oh how I wish I could remember what he showed me!
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Old June 15, 2013, 05:22 PM   #35
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The Sherman was better than nothing, so we stuck with it. Cold comfort, however, to the armor crewman about to face Panther or Tiger tanks.
Remember - the Sherman was NOT DESIGNED to contend against the German armor. WWII military doctrine at the time specified that general armor (M5's and M4's) were designed to support infantry. Anti-tank duties were handled by dedicated tank destroyer battalions, consisting of the M18 Hellcats. Hellcats had a significantly higher success when dealing with Panthers and Tigers, due to the HV 76mm gun and high speed (60MPH) and the "shoot-and-scoot" mentality.
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Old June 15, 2013, 06:23 PM   #36
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When it came to destroying tanks it was

Not just M-18s, but also the M-10 Wolverine and the M-36 Jackson. The former saw service in greater numbers than the M-18 and the latter was an adaptation of the M-10 but packed a heavier punch with the 90 mm gun.

Returning to the Stinger, it was effective and showed the viability of a rapid fire MG as opposed to the slower M1919 from which it was modified.
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Old June 15, 2013, 08:43 PM   #37
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afraid we're drifting a bit. . .

Sure, Army doctrine in WWII didn't call for tanks to fight tanks, but in 1942 North Africa it was showing that doctrine and reality were parting ways. By 1944, it was obvious that tanks were fighting tanks. To the extent it wasn't clear to the TD School, Ordnance Dept., or in the War Dept., it is a classic example if the sad tradition that officialdom has often failed to adapt to troop needs.
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Old June 15, 2013, 09:06 PM   #38
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Quote:
are there any weapons out there that the military modified while in Iraq/Afghanistan just like the Stinger which was originally intended for a fighter plane, but then modified for infantry use...
Not that I know of.

However the opposite is sort of true. Some OH-58 co-pilots and observers took to carrying M4s and using them to engage ground targets from the air. Much less destructive than other means and more readily available. Most of the armaments on air craft are way too heavy to use on the ground by infantry forces.

If you question were slightly different there might be some room. Modified in theater and coming from a fighter plane (air craft) are pretty strict qualifiers.
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Old June 16, 2013, 12:26 PM   #39
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We've come full circle (yet again :-)

Alabama,
Your note about OH-58 pilots using the M-4 took me back to a series of books, published in the early-to mid-70's, about various elite forces, weapons, etc. One of these focused on "Loach" observation helicopters (OH-6, IIRC) in Vietnam, and was written by (or focused on the experiences of?) Gary Mills, I believe.

Anyway, the gist was that these scout helo guys would hover at treetop level, following footprints & tracking enemy soldiers, and often wind up in shootouts with same. The helo guys were using M-16's or carbine/SMG versions of it, to good effect. Sounds like the same concept was rediscovered in the wars of the past decade!

I wish that the proponents of "push-button" war and "war by remote control" would take to heart these low-tech realities! Instead, the same guys who seemed to think that Mach-2+ Phantom jets wouldn't need to be able to dogfight--given their advanced radars & missile systems--have now concluded that drones are the answer to all their problems. They keep convincing themselves, gullible politicians, and much of the American public that war has finally become the province of technology. Remember when atomic weapons made conventional war "impossible"? When advanced weapons systems made rifles & pistols obsolete? When "information" became the be-all, end-all of warfare?

Many of those same techno-geeks are the same ones who remark scornfully that studying history is a ludicrous waste of time. So, we continually wind up in conflicts & are surprised at the amount of old-fashioned blood, guts, human ingenuity and shoe-leather they still require.
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Old June 16, 2013, 12:52 PM   #40
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As a contractor I put a Troy ambidextrous magazine release on my issued semi auto AR-15 in Iraq. That was about as far as I went actually modifying a weapon, though I did put an Aimpoint, KAC rail, AFG, and tac light (for night shift) on the poor thing.

Some soldiers in Afghanistan came up with a backpack frame that had a large ammo box (900 rounds I think) and a flex feed chute leading to an M240B. PIO soldier ran with the idea and their version cost a fortune and I have never seen one issued.
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Old June 16, 2013, 01:07 PM   #41
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CMA ideas....

To my limited knowledge, the CMA or Command Sgt Major of the Army(the US Army's highest ranking enlisted soldier) has or had(Im not sure if he's still doing it) a Twitter link or Facebook listing where he encouraged soldiers & support staff(PMCs, DA employees, family members, etc) to submit new ideas or concepts to the US Army directly.

It's a great plan on paper but Im not sure if any new products or weapon systems were T&Eed based on this informal approach.

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Old June 16, 2013, 01:24 PM   #42
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Quote:
Remember - the Sherman was NOT DESIGNED to contend against the German armor. WWII military doctrine at the time specified that general armor (M5's and M4's) were designed to support infantry.
Supporting the infantry could include taking on other tanks. The only advantage the Sherman had was numbers. The Germain's didn't call them tommy cooker and ronson lighter for nothing. Lots were modified by their crews with extra armor how effective that was is another matter.
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Old June 17, 2013, 06:10 AM   #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LouisianaMan View Post
Your note about OH-58 pilots using the M-4 took me back to a series of books, published in the early-to mid-70's, about various elite forces, weapons, etc. One of these focused on "Loach" observation helicopters (OH-6, IIRC) in Vietnam, and was written by (or focused on the experiences of?) Gary Mills, I believe.

Anyway, the gist was that these scout helo guys would hover at treetop level, following footprints & tracking enemy soldiers, and often wind up in shootouts with same. The helo guys were using M-16's or carbine/SMG versions of it, to good effect. Sounds like the same concept was rediscovered in the wars of the past decade!
LouisianaMan, You wouldn't be referring to "Low Level Hell" by Hugh Mills would ya now?

If so (and even if not) I just finished reading it as an ebook (anyone who has one and wants to read it I'm SURE you can find it online with the correct search terms in Google. Or PM me for help) and loved it, well worth a read.

And that reminds me, didn't the M-60 have feed issues that were solved with a tin can? E.g the rounds were catching on the edge of the feed tray not riding over it? And the the field modification was incorporated into the ones coming out of the factory

As for the M1 Carbine trick, its possible to do similar with an FN FAL/L1A1/StG58/whatever you want to call it with a match or length of para-cord. I mean, so I'm told
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Old June 17, 2013, 10:31 AM   #44
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Falcon,
That sounds right! Thanks for the catch.
It's been a long time since I thought about the tin can "feed adapter" on the M60, but I do remember reading about it and seeing photos.
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Old June 17, 2013, 12:47 PM   #45
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Among people I know who have experience either using or repairing automatic weapons, the M60 is widely regarded as the worst machinegun design fielded by the US since the French ChauChat of 1917.

The M60 does have the advantage of being able to be made to work, at least part of the time, but the list of design "flaws" or features that weren't as good as they ought to have been is long. (and I'd be happy to discuss them in another thread)

The fact is, that no matter what the equipment is, GIs will find some way to make it work for them, if humanly possible. "If its stupid but it works, it ain't stupid" is a real world philosphy any soldier can understand.

What reall irks them (and sometimes gets them killed) is when its not only stupid, but doesn't "work" and often they are not officially allowed to fix it so it does work.

Stingers were created to fill a need, perfroming better than what regular issue weapons were able to do for a given task. Shermans were covered in everything imaginable in the hope of improving their armor protection (it did work part of the time, against hollow charge projectiles). We fitted a C ration can to the feed tray hanger on the M60, so the belt would slide over a smooth curve and not jam due to the right angle turn from the bandolier to the feed tray.

Troops will try any, and everything they can get their hands on to make their stuff work, or work better. Sometimes, these things get recognized and general improvements get made. Other times it just saves the ass of the guy who did it, and the brass doesn't make it general use, or even squashes it.

Note that some of the brass ordered that the Stingers be gotten rid of, (once the combat was over), and of course, the order was complied with....
And when they showed up again in a later island campaign (some of the same individual guns, and as many others as could be made) the brass just looked the other way, until after the battles, when they again ordered them gotten rid of, as they were not part of the official TO&E!

I'm sure something like this, in principle, is happening today in the sandbox(s) as well. We just won't get the specific details until we hear them from the troops who were involved.
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