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1/25/2018 7:38:29 AM
Posted: 8/24/2003 1:56:37 PM EST
[Last Edit: 8/24/2003 2:01:05 PM EST by EEJ]

U.S. Troops Use Confiscated Iraqi AK-47s
Sun Aug 24, 2:15 PM ET

By ANDREW ENGLAND, Associated Press Writer

BAQOUBA, Iraq - An American soldier stands at the side of an Iraqi highway, puts his AK-47 on fully automatic and pulls the trigger.

Within seconds the assault rifle has blasted out 30 rounds. Puffs of dust dance in the air as the bullets smack into the scrubland dirt. Test fire complete.

U.S. troops in Iraq (news - web sites) may not have found weapons of mass destruction, but they're certainly getting their hands on the country's stock of Kalashnikovs — and, they say, they need them.

The soldiers based around Baqouba are from an armor battalion, which means they have tanks, Humvees and armored personnel carriers. But they are short on rifles.

A four-man tank crew is issued two M4 assault rifles and four 9mm pistols, relying mostly on the tank's firepower for protection.

But now they are engaged in guerrilla warfare, patrolling narrow roads and goat trails where tanks are less effective. Troops often find themselves dismounting to patrol in smaller vehicles, making rifles essential.

"We just do not have enough rifles to equip all of our soldiers. So in certain circumstances we allow soldiers to have an AK-47. They have to demonstrate some proficiency with the weapon ... demonstrate an ability to use it," said Lt. Col. Mark Young, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 4th Infantry Division.

"Normally an armor battalion is fighting from its tanks. Well, we are not fighting from our tanks right now," Young said. "We are certainly capable of performing the missions that we have been assigned, there's no issue with that, but we do find ourselves somewhat challenged."

In Humvees, on tanks — but never openly on base — U.S. soldiers are carrying the Cold War-era weapon, first developed in the Soviet Union but now mass produced around the world.

The AK is favored by many of the world's fighters, from child soldiers in Africa to rebel movements around the world, because it is light, durable and known to jam less frequently.

Now U.S. troops who have picked up AKs on raids or confiscated them at checkpoints are putting the rifles to use — and they like what they see.

Some complain that standard U.S. military M16 and M4 rifles jam too easily in Iraq's dusty environment. Many say the AK has better "knockdown" power and can kill with fewer shots.

"The kind of war we are in now ... you want to be able to stop the enemy quick," said Sgt. 1st Class Tracy S. McCarson of Newport News, Va., an army scout, who carries an AK in his Humvee.

Some troops say the AK is easier to maintain and a better close-quarters weapon. Also, it has "some psychological affect on the enemy when you fire back on them with their own weapons," McCarson said.

Most U.S. soldiers agree the M16 and the M4 — a newer, shorter version of the M16 that has been used by American troops since the 1960s — is better for long distance, precision shooting.

But around Baqouba, troops are finding themselves attacked by assailants hidden deep in date palm groves. Or they are raiding houses, taking on enemies at close-quarters.

Two weeks ago, Sgt. Sam Bailey of Cedar Falls, Iowa, was in a Humvee when a patrol came under rocket-propelled grenade and heavy machine gun fire. It was dark, the road narrow. On one side, there was a mud wall and palms trees, on the other a canal surrounded by tall grass.

Bailey, who couldn't see who was firing, had an AK-47 on his lap and his M4 up front. The choice was simple.

"I put the AK on auto and started spraying," Bailey said.

Some soldiers also say it's easier to get ammo for the AK — they can pick it up on any raid or from any confiscated weapon.

"It's plentiful," said Sgt. Eric Harmon, a tanker who has a full 75-round drum, five 30-round magazines, plus 200-300 rounds in boxes for his AK. He has about 120 rounds for his M16.

Young doesn't carry an AK but has fired one. He's considered banning his troops from carrying AKs, but hasn't yet because "if I take the AK away from some of the soldiers, then they will not have a rifle to carry with them."

Staff Sgt. Michael Perez, a tanker, said he would take anything over his standard issue 9mm pistol when he's out of his tank.

And the AK's durability has impressed him.

"They say you can probably drop this in the water and leave it overnight, pull it out in the morning, put in a magazine and it will work," Perez said.
Link Posted: 8/24/2003 3:27:50 PM EST
Link Posted: 8/24/2003 3:49:00 PM EST
Soldiers always like to get their hands on the weapons that their enemies use. Hell, if they feel they need them why not? It is cheaper to use their weapons and ammo than to ship more of our over there, it is also easier to learn and operate.
Link Posted: 8/24/2003 3:51:05 PM EST
That's a hell of a deal. I'd be searching high and low for the nices AK in Iraq to be my personal arm. Maybe that pristine Hungarian I saw some Iraqi nitwit dancing around with in one of the newscasts.

I hope those guys are making sure to check the barrels. I'll bet a good amount of the Iraqi weapons have barrel corrosion issues, and some are probably shot out.
Link Posted: 8/24/2003 4:01:33 PM EST
heres a link to that story.
Link Posted: 8/24/2003 7:49:32 PM EST
Yeah, it figures. I got an M-16 and and 8 AKs, I'll take the AK any day. Local cops went shooting with me several weeks ago. Busted out their new Bushmaster to show me what cool weapons they have too. Jamed the first round. Had to take it back to the station to get it straightened out. You can tell 'em all you want, they never learn. My 16 runs well most of the time. But I clean and lube it every time I shoot it. I clean my AK's twice a year. They always work.
Link Posted: 8/24/2003 9:03:43 PM EST
Great story, saw it earlier today. Made the mistake of reading the Yahoo chat that was attached to it....my faith in humanity is very low tonight and I'll pray for nuclear annhilation for a while though.
Link Posted: 8/25/2003 3:14:20 AM EST
....and a Chinese variant to boot! Good Taste soldier!

It could be a Russian Type II AK-47. The Type II underfolder had the angled cut and the shiny bolt carrier as well. I've seen a few pics of Type II's still being used in Afganistan and Iraq, as well as other Middle East hot spots.

To bad the pic doesn't show more reciever detail to tell for sure....
Link Posted: 8/25/2003 3:48:19 AM EST
[Last Edit: 8/25/2003 3:49:04 AM EST by RotDorn]
Link Posted: 8/25/2003 4:01:08 AM EST
[Last Edit: 8/25/2003 4:11:03 AM EST by MPi-K]
It probably is Chinese. After I made my post, I compared the pic with Masami's AK book. The folding stock sure looks stamped instead of milled like a Type II wold be.

I think the dimpled rails were only used on the AKM underfolder. Some milled Yugo's had AKM style folding stocks though...

Either way, A milled AK-47 underfolder would be a way better choice instead of a M4, or worse yet just a M9.

Speaking of non-issue arms, anyone see the latest issue of SOF with the pics of Sterling 9mm SMG's at the ready hanging from bungie cords in U.S. Humvees in Iraq?

Link Posted: 8/25/2003 8:17:58 AM EST

Bonus vintage picture:

Link Posted: 8/25/2003 8:55:55 AM EST
thanks, ekie. those pics are great.
Link Posted: 8/25/2003 9:11:44 AM EST
Link Posted: 8/25/2003 10:35:01 AM EST

I seem to remember years ago reading that US GI's in Vietnam, especially SF would carry AKs for psychological value in a firefight. Not only was it a psychological shock to come under attack by your own weapons, it might be construed as taking friendly fire and make those taking the fire less likly to want to fire back.

In Iraq, I would postulate, that it might make the enemies think that they are under fire by newly-re-formed Iraqi Army/Guard units. While a lot of Ba'athist resistance fighters are quick to attack Western troops, they might be less likly to attack their own. Even if they could justify attacking their own people, they may then underestimate the skill level of their opponents and be more careless than they would engaging US forces.

Part of me *REALY* wants to be over there, part of me *realy* wants to see the US the HELL out of Iraq.
Link Posted: 8/25/2003 4:32:02 PM EST
[Last Edit: 8/25/2003 4:55:12 PM EST by mach6]
After that story hit one can only imagine the repercussions at Picatinny Arsenal, Fort Knox, Fort Benning and of course, DA DCSLOG.

Yeah, just think of the staff call this morning at the PM Joint Services Small Arms Program or at next door PM Small Arms. Must have been a hoot! I can see now the rantings of certain field grades I know personally who are catching all kinds of grief because they have yet to solve the M-4 reliability issue; have yet to get the fielding plan right and have yet to bless the requirements documentation, much less field a CQB-oriented M-16 variant for tankers, IFV and rotary wing crewmembers.

Now let's go to the Directorates of Combat Developments (DCD) at both the Armor and Infantry centers. What do you think occured at those staff calls as it relates to this story, eh? First off, I can imagine a certain Armor O-6 suggesting off-the-cuff that they "reprogram" (God, how I hate that term!) some funding that was destined to go towards, gee -- let me guess, a full-blown test of various short-barreled M-16s as opposedto some useless expenditure for (yet) another ballistic computer software upgrade. This, after how many years have tankers being saddled with an effete 9mm handgun and way too large M-4 carbines?

Now let's turn south and head to the Infantry Center and School. Hmmmm. What do you think another clueless O-6 I know was discussing? "Gee, maybe we can use this story as an argument to funnel even more money to ATK for the XM-8." You think? Of course any PIPS or SEPs for the M-16 family will be totally ignored because the brass wants a new toy to manage in the XM-8, so we can forget about a very short M4-type weapon as a cost effective upgrade. Too simple; upsets too many apple carts/rice bowls and doesn't keep a bunch of fat civil servants gainfully occupied for the next six years or gets Colonels Legions of Merit.

Heading back north we're now in the E-Ring, just outside the DA Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics office. Okay, I see this one very clearly: Three banger; "Bob, there's a PR angle to this story that simply we don't need right now. Get with Anniston and see about sending those of those early M4s to Iraq ASAP!. I know they've got issues, but this problem has got to go away." One star: "Sir, those M4s we're deadlined years ago for reliability issues. Maybe we can do some kind of MWO that will get them to the field." O-6: "Not quite that easy, Sir. COL(P)XXXXXX at Picatinny has redlined all M-16/M-4 PIP and SEP funding so as to shepherd funding for the XM-8. You know Picantinny and the rest of ARDEC, not to mention TAACOM want that thing and they won't allow anything to go forward for the M-16 family". Three star: "Time to see the Chief."

Then I can only imagine some of these dorks in the Arsenal system or one of these DCD guys, or even the DCSLOG (despite the Chain-of-Command) trying to place a secure DSN call to the Armor Bn CO in the story "offering their assistance". I bet. I can then only imagine that LTCs response to these clowns.

Call me a cynic -- been in the system far too long.
Link Posted: 8/26/2003 6:19:06 AM EST
I am sure bold steps will be taken and probably something to the effect of General Order 1A will be enforced in Iraq-to stamp out the use of foreign weapons.
I am regularly offered the M4 P.O.S. to carry-and I regularly turn it down for an AK or a full sized M16 when it is feasible.
The Engineers at Picatinney will come up with a feasibility study as to why the AK is not usable and will field a similar system that will suck as much as they do: and cost more to develop than the OICW-and still not work half as well as the AK in the end: "Lab welfare" is needed-IMHO.
Link Posted: 8/26/2003 10:12:35 AM EST

Originally Posted By RotDorn:

...........there is also the added benefit of the AK sound factor. It might just keep them confused long enough to gain advantage on them.

Or the sound might just get your ass shot off.

Link Posted: 8/26/2003 10:24:51 AM EST
Well, I carried an ak in Nam, nice folding stock chicom, plus 15 mags and 2 bandoleers. I burnt lots of ammo, F/A only, just because I could. Didn't dare try that with the AR. I once poured a canteen over my ak cause it was getting too hot to hold; the resulting steam cloud called in fire from everywhere, and I had to skedaddle out of there. After that little adventure, I tore down the ak looking for damage, found nothing except scorched handguards. I very reluctantly handed it over to a FNG when I rotated home. Most of the guys in my unit also carried ak's; we had a cool lt. and Platoon Sgt.
Link Posted: 8/27/2003 5:09:13 AM EST
Hey is that SD Padres hat special issue also? FWIW if your in SF and out there in 4 man teams, it makes sense to carry an ak. These guys look almost like terrorist themselves with their "uniforms" and unkept appearances. Carrying an M4/M16 does not help them blend in as easily as carrying an AK does. As for the regular grunts, as soon as enough M4s/M16A2s are brought in country I think we will hear less about them using AKs even though in the long run the solders who use it will prefer it over their standard issue M16. The AK is not going anywhere for a long time and to start training solders on it just in case a scenario like this happens again only makes sense.
Link Posted: 8/27/2003 9:08:16 AM EST
I wonder how many of these AKs are going to find their way back to the States as War souvenirs.
Link Posted: 8/27/2003 1:29:23 PM EST

Originally Posted By Mach1:
I wonder how many of these AKs are going to find their way back to the States as War souvenirs.

Honestly, I doubt many will make it back. There are people going to Leavenworth for trying that shit in Afghanistan.
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