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Posted: 8/24/2003 1:37:18 PM EDT
I just read this (attached) article about 4th ID tank crews using AK's because they don't have enough M-4's/M16's to go around when they have to patrol dismounted. Also some bad things said about the reliablility of the American rifles in theater.

Article:

U.S. Troops Using Confiscated Iraqi AK-47s
By Andrew England Associated Press Writer
Published: Aug 24, 2003

BAQOUBA, Iraq (AP) - 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 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 2:07:31 PM EDT
Whatever works when they need it.
Link Posted: 8/24/2003 2:37:23 PM EDT
HMMM... Yea, I'd take an AK over a M-9, but I'd still prefer the M-4.
Link Posted: 8/24/2003 3:44:10 PM EDT
I think this is a tad misleading. They keep referring to 'tankers'. I would take issue with this. I think the correct wording would be along the lines of "mechanized infantryman". By continuing to use the wording 'tanker' it brings forth an image of M1A1 crews dismounting and patrolling. To the best of my knowledge, this is not SOP. It would be the crews in the Bradleys/Humvees that would dismount to do the patrolling. If I am incorrect, I would appreciate someone bringing forth the correct information. As far as using an AK, I say hell, let them use what works for them. -REAPER2502
Link Posted: 8/24/2003 3:55:56 PM EDT
I just read this too,I guess you guys beat me to posting it. But what the hell they only have 120 Rds for their M4. Im thinking someone should definately think about properly equipping or resupplying these guys. I guess they arent very impressed with 3 shot burst either. I think we should reconsider allowing the old spray and pray method. I have to wonder,why do I have 20 times more ammo for plinking than this guy has in a warzone? This is one F'd up war. An AK on a raid? I definately want a properly equipped m4 for that, but what ever they need to survive is fine by me. I just hope they can keep up the good work and keep safe.
Link Posted: 8/24/2003 4:06:49 PM EDT
This is'nt really anything new. Soldiers have been using battlefield pickups for how long? Better to see them put to use then cut/burned/smashed as seen in some pics. Use them like a cheap whore and carry on. I'd still prefer to use the M4 too due to mods, but in close quarters either one would due. The M43 round more so to puch through light cover, but the 75grn and 77grn maybe able to handle that as well in the M4.
Link Posted: 8/24/2003 4:44:36 PM EDT
It's great that they have a rifle to use instead of a pistol, but I hate the expression 'knockdown power'. It is absolutely misleading, making people think that it will actually 'knock you down'. I'll take 5.56 any day of the week over 7.62X39 as far as 'knockdown power'. But if resupply is a big problem, I would not hesitate grabbing an AK. I have a couple and they are fun and easy to shoot.
Link Posted: 8/24/2003 5:20:37 PM EDT
Link Posted: 8/24/2003 6:02:25 PM EDT
Originally Posted By REAPER2502: I think this is a tad misleading. They keep referring to 'tankers'. I would take issue with this. I think the correct wording would be along the lines of "mechanized infantryman". By continuing to use the wording 'tanker' it brings forth an image of M1A1 crews dismounting and patrolling. To the best of my knowledge, this is not SOP. It would be the crews in the Bradleys/Humvees that would dismount to do the patrolling. If I am incorrect, I would appreciate someone bringing forth the correct information. As far as using an AK, I say hell, let them use what works for them. -REAPER2502
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Read it again.
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
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said Lt. Col. Mark Young, commander of the 3rd Battalion, [b]67th Armor Regiment[/b], 4th Infantry Division
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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."
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Tankers, those who operate tanks, are responsible for the security of their vehicle. Having infantry along is nice, but not always a possibility. They are issued 2 M-4s as that allows for 2 to dismount, and two to remain and operate the main armament. The M-1 is an open country tank designed to engage tanks in a situation where it is likely outnumbered. It wasn't meant for counter-insurgency. There just isn't enough infantry for the operations they are running right now. The tanks are there because they were needed, but now, with Iraqs armor destroyed, they are papereights. There was a guy on another thread, who is deploying, he's an artillaryman, but expects that he will be doing a lot of door to door work.
Link Posted: 8/24/2003 6:08:43 PM EDT
Do the Bradley guys still use the internal M-16's w/o buttstocks?
Link Posted: 8/24/2003 6:22:56 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Gewehr: Do the Bradley guys still use the internal M-16's w/o buttstocks?
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Port firing devices? I don't think so. It looks like all Bradleys, M2/M3 and even the M9 "linebacker" have applique armor that has been added since they were initially put in service. Looks like the firinf ports have been armored over.
Link Posted: 8/24/2003 6:23:24 PM EDT
There are still some floating around. There was a picture posted here of a dismount armed with one. The later versions of the bradely deleted them from the sides in favor of more armor, but IIRC the rear mounts were retained.
Link Posted: 8/24/2003 7:25:22 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Gewehr: Do the Bradley guys still use the internal M-16's w/o buttstocks?
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The M231 port firing weapon? A while back somebody posted a pic of one being carried in a 'what is this?' thread. From what I understand the Bradley armor upgrade has covered the side firing ports so the only ports left are at the rear door. An open bolt, high rpm (MAC 10 level) sightless 5.56 buzzgun wouldn't be my first choice but it sure would be better than a 9mm pistol.
Link Posted: 8/24/2003 7:52:19 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Dilbert_556: Young 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."
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Future Democrap president candidate [rolleyes]
Link Posted: 8/24/2003 7:57:49 PM EDT
Let's see if I've got this right: As a soldier, I can "liberate" an AK-47 free, it costs me nothing. I have plenty of ammunition and lot's of hicap mags. I get to put it on full auto and abuse the snot out of it, without a care. I don't even have to clean it, since it doesn't get turned back in. I can dump it after having my fun. What's not to like?
Link Posted: 8/24/2003 9:25:51 PM EDT
I can see where firing an AK could become dangerous. The sound and the fire signiture are very different than that of M-16 family. Late at night, on a dark street, a fire fight breaks out...you fire at shaddows, sounds and fire signitures. AK's are neat, but remember, that's what the bad guy carry.
Link Posted: 8/25/2003 8:13:41 AM EDT
Having seen how they take care of their weapons over there... I'd be hard pressed to use just any AK I found... minimum would be shot out bores. The one I had in DS1 was a Frankengun... east german receiver/folding stock, internals from a chinese gun (from markings), and barrel and upper cover from a russian rifle (from markings). This was common on battlefield pickups in my unit, and we engaged only Republican Guard units in my unit. Pretty sad, overall... they were in bad shape, bores shot out, rusty, etc. Alex
Link Posted: 8/25/2003 8:42:51 AM EDT
AK-very good choice-it works-keeps on ticking-better than M4 or M16 in desert environment-you can say what you want about reliability-the M16 series are good weapons but in my opinion very specialized-AK easirer to maintain and much more reliable-remeber most battlefield engagements are less than 100 meters-well within range of the .30 AK round
Link Posted: 8/25/2003 6:25:12 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/25/2003 6:27:05 PM EDT by mach6]
This story has many subtexts however, one point comes through loud and clear: the Army has yet to field anything specifically for combat vehicle crewmembers, to include aircrews. They play with the idea time and time again, but in the end just shrug their collective shoulders, mumbling something inane about "priorities" and just hand them pistols. Well, I know one enterprising young CO who has stones to do something about this situation. Next month he's going to test a a very short barreled, suppressed M-16 variant. If he likes it -- he'll buy them. Yes, it can be done, Picatinny, ARDEC, and TAACOM be damned. Retired Acquisition Corps guy here who's been down this arcane road many times. You'd be amazed at all the funds cites available to those with a clue. Yeah, I know about M855 fragmentation issues with short-barreled weapons, blah, blah, blah. Spare me. Better than the lame pistols he's stuck with now. He can always get ahold of M193. After the buy, I'll spill the beans.
Link Posted: 8/25/2003 9:19:58 PM EDT
"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." Tank units are trained to fight from their tanks. Now that the Iraqi military has been defeated and we are dealing with small pockets of lightly armed resistance, even tank drivers are finding themselves patrolling the streets as civil policemen. This was not expected, but I am sure our military is dealing with this contingency as best as possible. If this article is true, I am sure that our military is finding a way to get more M-16's to our troops rather than having them use Kalashnikov's!!
Link Posted: 8/26/2003 4:46:31 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/26/2003 4:47:25 AM EDT by mach6]
Originally Posted By RockRiverAR: If this article is true, I am sure that our military is finding a way to get more M-16's to our troops rather than having them use Kalashnikov's!!
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------------ The article is quite true, as I spoke yesterday with folks in a sister battalion in his brigade on another issue and confirmed the story. Yes, I'm sure the brass will try to get some kind of M-16 to LTC Young and other units in the same boat. However, after this PR debacle has died down the ARDEC weenies and Ft Knox's DCD will still not have solved the problem of what kind of effective personal defense weapon should be issued to vehicle crews. If past is prologue -- as it is 9 out of 10 times in my experience -- they'll dither.
Link Posted: 8/26/2003 8:51:21 PM EDT
We have Tankers patrolling on foot...We have Cannon Cockers doing CQB?WTF!!!
Link Posted: 8/27/2003 12:03:23 AM EDT
My brother is in the Army in Iraq and he says he has no problems with his M-16 in the sandy environment on his patrols. He said when he pulls the trigger it goes bang! He told me he carries all the ammo he can pack and he hasn't run short yet. I think this article is a bit misleading by a leftwing slanted journalist. Just my guess.
Link Posted: 8/27/2003 12:17:51 PM EDT
I don't know about today, but from 4/1/69 to 2/14/70 any AK I heard firing was going to draw some fire.
Link Posted: 8/27/2003 12:45:28 PM EDT
I just got back from that exact city (Ba'qubah) where I was located with a FSB and I never heard about an M4/M16 shortage. My surgical unit had plenty that spent most of their time in the racks so I find it hard to believe that there was any kind of SERIOUS shortage. I did see a guy in the chow line one night with an AK style SAW/LMG (I forget exactly what they call them!) I got to examine quite a few captured AKs and most seemed to be very poorly maintained, but there were plenty captured with plenty of ammo. I never heard anything about M16's having reliability problems either.
Link Posted: 8/27/2003 12:49:34 PM EDT
I almost forgot, I operated on several soldiers with M16 and SAW wounds, all I can say is I wouldn't want to get hit with one (or an AK for that matter). They will both kill you dead if the right organ is struck
Link Posted: 8/27/2003 12:52:43 PM EDT
Out of curiousity, how well are our soldiers trained with AKs? After all, they have different sights, and my SAR is substantially harder to disassebmle.
Link Posted: 8/27/2003 1:59:57 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/27/2003 2:02:17 PM EDT by Delta6]
Here..Here, QuidProQuo
Link Posted: 8/27/2003 4:30:28 PM EDT
Hell, when I was in the Kaliforniastan Army,I had an M-3 Grease Gun to go with my M-48A5,could'nt beat it inside of a 100 ft.
Link Posted: 8/27/2003 7:29:19 PM EDT
This will certainly be an interesting topic at the Infantry Conference next week. I can easily imagine the defensive arguments proferred by DCD, ARDEC, and anyone else who should be held accountable for not having viable weapons for CQB/personal defense in the hands of armor vehicle crewmembers. Yeah, I too, carried an M3A1 back in germany when I was an M60A2 platoon leader. It rocked.
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