NGSW Rifle (M4 Replacement)

iverson

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The Infantry requested .22- and .177-cal Krags so that soldiers could carry more ammunition. When the Ordnance refused, the Infantry had prototypes made and successfuly field tested both calibers until the Ordnance got wind of it and stopped the effort.

Do you have any more info on these? I'd be really curious to see the cartridges. A .177 in the early 1900s seems really unusual.
Unfortunately not. I recall reading an article about this while waiting for someone in the periodical room of a University library many years ago. I believe it was in the US Army Association's Army magazine, but I can't be sure after all these years.
I can find records of some .22LR Krag conversions for gallery (indoor) practice shooting. But a .177 (4.5mm) combat round sounds very unlikely any time before the 1970s. It would have to be incredibly fast/hot to have even marginal lethality and would be a real barrel burner without modern metallurgy.
I am not a gun person and I do not have any definitive facts to contribute. But if I remember the article correctly, these were not 0.22 LR conversions or anything like. They were hand-made to order for the Infantry Board by arsenal experts. Both calibers were based on the 0.30-in Krag case. So, yes, they probably were "barrel burners". But they were meant to test a requirement, not to become service rounds. They weren't used for very long before the Ordinance Deopartment forced their withdrawal, so such problems are unlikely to have arisen. As it was, they were very popular in action and were considered entirely successful.

We should also remember that smokeless powder was a relatively new thing (45-70 black powder was still the de facto standards in the Spanish American War). The 0.30-in Krag was, if anything bucking the resulting trend to smaller calibers, with .30-in/7.62-mm being anything but an accepted norm at that point. The original Norwegian/Swedish Krags used 6.5x55-mm ammunition. The contemporary .276-in US Navy Lee used a 6.0×60-mm cartridge that was eventually withdrawn due to problems with barrel erosion and fouling, even though the latest nickel-steel alloy barrels were used. The 0.30 Army Krag cartridge itself proved too much for the gun's metallurgy when the Ordinance "improved" it to match the ballistics of Spanish Mausers.

Finally, as far as lethality goes, a .22 LR can kill you, even at 400 yds. So, even with a reduced powder charge, I suspect that a 5.56- or 4.5x59-mm could really kill you.
 

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<snip>
The current Army requirement to for the new very powerful 6.8 x 51 round to penetrate new body armor has shades of deja vue 70 years later.
Yes indeed. The 5.56-mm round and the AR-15 have been in satisfactory service for some 50-60 years. The basic concept has been almost universally adopted--witness the Russian and Chinese switch to similar cartridges. So of course bot must be replaced.

Moreover, history consistently shows that most infantry combat has taken place at ranges somewhere between 100 and 400 yards, never at a 1000, and, that all things considered, effectiveness depends on the number of rounds fired more than the correctness of the aim.

There's nothing new about the Ordinance people's bias towards high pressures and velocities, unrealistically long range, and aimed, single shots to discourage waste of ammunition:
  • During the US Civil War, the Ordinance Dept. rejected the Spencer (with their detachable magazines) and Henry repeating rifles in favor of muzzle-loaders. Repeaters were adopted for cavalry service over Ordinance objections and proven in service.
  • After the war, the Ordinance replaced the repeaters with the single-shot, higher-powered, and utterly unreliable Trap-Door Springfield that became infamous at the Little Big Horn.
  • The M-1 Garand was proposed with a 0.276-in (7-mm) cartridge better suited to the semiautomatic action, but Ordinance considered this too weak a loading. So the Ordinance's pistol substitute, the 0.30-in carbine, became the default US assault rifle up through the early years of Vietnam, when the USAF bought the Armalite to replace its Security Police carbines.
  • When US manufacture of the 20-mm Hispano-Suiza cannon ran into trouble, in part as a result of Ordinance-mandated improvements, the Ordinance considered switching to a copy of the Mauser MG.151--but only after converting the latter to use the more powerful Hispano ammunition.
  • The Hispano ammunition was not powerful enough either, so Ordinance tried necking it down to 0.50-in (12.7-mm) before settling on the 0.60-in (15.2-mm) machine gun as the ultimate replacement for 20-mm.
isnt this partly about the 'last' war. i.e. Afghanistan, where the standard 5.56 was found to be ineffective, hence the 7.62 marksman rifles?

As 'standardisation' tells us everyone must use the same bullet.

I'm not being funny, but if the next war requires the PBI to take up 1000m target shooting, then why are we buying stealth jets and drones etc....Better to open shooting clubs in every town, and recruit the best.
 

Hanz2k

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It was enough to field EXACTO rifles. Or give at team level one or two PIKE launchers. Or continue with this fancy HK 25mm grenade launcher.
 

iverson

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<snip>
The current Army requirement to for the new very powerful 6.8 x 51 round to penetrate new body armor has shades of deja vue 70 years later.
Yes indeed. The 5.56-mm round and the AR-15 have been in satisfactory service for some 50-60 years. The basic concept has been almost universally adopted--witness the Russian and Chinese switch to similar cartridges. So of course bot must be replaced.

Moreover, history consistently shows that most infantry combat has taken place at ranges somewhere between 100 and 400 yards, never at a 1000, and, that all things considered, effectiveness depends on the number of rounds fired more than the correctness of the aim.

There's nothing new about the Ordinance people's bias towards high pressures and velocities, unrealistically long range, and aimed, single shots to discourage waste of ammunition:
  • During the US Civil War, the Ordinance Dept. rejected the Spencer (with their detachable magazines) and Henry repeating rifles in favor of muzzle-loaders. Repeaters were adopted for cavalry service over Ordinance objections and proven in service.
  • After the war, the Ordinance replaced the repeaters with the single-shot, higher-powered, and utterly unreliable Trap-Door Springfield that became infamous at the Little Big Horn.
  • The M-1 Garand was proposed with a 0.276-in (7-mm) cartridge better suited to the semiautomatic action, but Ordinance considered this too weak a loading. So the Ordinance's pistol substitute, the 0.30-in carbine, became the default US assault rifle up through the early years of Vietnam, when the USAF bought the Armalite to replace its Security Police carbines.
  • When US manufacture of the 20-mm Hispano-Suiza cannon ran into trouble, in part as a result of Ordinance-mandated improvements, the Ordinance considered switching to a copy of the Mauser MG.151--but only after converting the latter to use the more powerful Hispano ammunition.
  • The Hispano ammunition was not powerful enough either, so Ordinance tried necking it down to 0.50-in (12.7-mm) before settling on the 0.60-in (15.2-mm) machine gun as the ultimate replacement for 20-mm.
isnt this partly about the 'last' war. i.e. Afghanistan, where the standard 5.56 was found to be ineffective, hence the 7.62 marksman rifles?

As 'standardisation' tells us everyone must use the same bullet.

I'm not being funny, but if the next war requires the PBI to take up 1000m target shooting, then why are we buying stealth jets and drones etc....Better to open shooting clubs in every town, and recruit the best.
The problem with relying on marksmanship (which has long been the Ordinance mantra) is that the even best cannot shoot at what they don't see, such as things out at 1000 yards, and even the best have trouble concentrating on range-style target shooting when people are shooting at them.

I'm also a bit skeptical about these Afghanistan stories, seeing as they just happen to come to the same conclusion that the ballistics fanatics come up with after every US war. The main Taliban weapons were the Kalashnikov in either 7.62x39-mm or 5.45x39-mm calibers and the M-16/M-4. So how were these outranging our M-4s? Why wouldn't US snipers and/or machine guns be able to deal with the odd Taliban sniper armed with a longer ranging weapon? And how much long-range shooting was really possible, given night engagements and rocky mountainous terrain?

The fact remains that elements in the US military have been talking about 6-mm cartridges ever since they finally realized that they were not going to replace the Armalite with the M-14.

We also need to remember that there are now 8,000,000 M-16-/M-4-series rifles in service world-wide. The US government's investment in the design is fully amortized and it owns the rights. The weapon is effectively a commodity. So until and unless the US can be convinced to buy something new, no one can make significant profits, The long drawn-out XM-8 program failed to produce a 5.56-mm weapon thaat was objectively superior to the M-4, despite a lot of claims. So now we have a new requirement for a 6.8-mm cartridge.
 

Tuna

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I'm also a bit skeptical about these Afghanistan stories, seeing as they just happen to come to the same conclusion that the ballistics fanatics come up with after every US war. The main Taliban weapons were the Kalashnikov in either 7.62x39-mm or 5.45x39-mm calibers and the M-16/M-4. So how were these outranging our M-4s?

No. The main Taleban small arms threat to US forces was not a carbine-sized weapon. The Taleban could never successfully contest at short ranges, American troops with better sights, a lot better training and body armor would typically beat any Taleban force in such conditions with no or minimal casualties, unless ridiculously outnumbered.

The way they could kill US troops was to have a MG team with a PKM (or a chinese copy) on a hilltop that pre-sighted their gun on an American foot patrol route in some spot where there is no cover, and that was far enough to be outside the effective range of their guns. In the early stages when patrols didn't carry anything heavier than 5.56, they would open fire at ~800m and let the patrol have it for a minute or two, and then take their guns and run before any arty or air could kill them. The amount of casualties this caused was somewhat overblown, but the experience was that the bad guys were shooting at the good guys with impunity, often wounding or killing them, and they weren't ever getting hurt doing so. A patrol shooting at a well-sited MG at 800m with M4s and M249s will simply not do anything, and once Taleban learned that, it didn't even suppress them effectively.

The immediate response was to get every single 7.62 rifle in inventory and ship them to Afganistan, and open up all kinds of crash projects for acquiring more. A substantially more effective response was for every patrol to always carry a M240 instead of a M249.

The people who run the NGSW project are of the age group that would have been Afganistan when that was going on, and the project was probably overspecialized for those conditions.
 

riggerrob

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<snip>
The current Army requirement to for the new very powerful 6.8 x 51 round to penetrate new body armor has shades of deja vue 70 years later.
Yes indeed. The 5.56-mm round and the AR-15 have been in satisfactory service for some 50-60 years. The basic concept has been almost universally adopted--witness the Russian and Chinese switch to similar cartridges. So of course bot must be replaced.

Moreover, history consistently shows that most infantry combat has taken place at ranges somewhere between 100 and 400 yards, never at a 1000, and, that all things considered, effectiveness depends on the number of rounds fired more than the correctness of the aim.

There's nothing new about the Ordinance people's bias towards high pressures and velocities, unrealistically long range, and aimed, single shots to discourage waste of ammunition:
  • During the US Civil War, the Ordinance Dept. rejected the Spencer (with their detachable magazines) and Henry repeating rifles in favor of muzzle-loaders. Repeaters were adopted for cavalry service over Ordinance objections and proven in service.
  • After the war, the Ordinance replaced the repeaters with the single-shot, higher-powered, and utterly unreliable Trap-Door Springfield that became infamous at the Little Big Horn.
  • The M-1 Garand was proposed with a 0.276-in (7-mm) cartridge better suited to the semiautomatic action, but Ordinance considered this too weak a loading. So the Ordinance's pistol substitute, the 0.30-in carbine, became the default US assault rifle up through the early years of Vietnam, when the USAF bought the Armalite to replace its Security Police carbines.
  • When US manufacture of the 20-mm Hispano-Suiza cannon ran into trouble, in part as a result of Ordinance-mandated improvements, the Ordinance considered switching to a copy of the Mauser MG.151--but only after converting the latter to use the more powerful Hispano ammunition.
  • The Hispano ammunition was not powerful enough either, so Ordinance tried necking it down to 0.50-in (12.7-mm) before settling on the 0.60-in (15.2-mm) machine gun as the ultimate replacement for 20-mm.
isnt this partly about the 'last' war. i.e. Afghanistan, where the standard 5.56 was found to be ineffective, hence the 7.62 marksman rifles?

As 'standardisation' tells us everyone must use the same bullet.

I'm not being funny, but if the next war requires the PBI to take up 1000m target shooting, then why are we buying stealth jets and drones etc....Better to open shooting clubs in every town, and recruit the best.
Taliban quickly learned that 5.56 mm NATO ammo was only lethal out to 300 or 400 yards, so they simply used full-bore Russian 7.62 x 54 mm ammo and sat farther back. Taliban also took advantage of the numerous ditches and mud-brick buildings to hide from direct, line-of-sight fire. Hence, NATO forces used more and more indirect mortar, indirect artillery and bombing from the air. This is also why NATO is experimenting with air-burst shells to penetrate trenches.
 

Hanz2k

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I this this is a little exaggeration “5.56 mm NATO ammo was only lethal out to 300 or 400 yards”. Mk12 combined with Mk262 is good for 800 meters with ease. Problem is target acquisition using standard combo M4 plus red dot optics - which was standard at the time.
 

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I this this is a little exaggeration “5.56 mm NATO ammo was only lethal out to 300 or 400 yards”. Mk12 combined with Mk262 is good for 800 meters with ease.

Issuing Mk 262 was one of the crash projects designed to solve the problem. It stumbled early on because the first ammo that was shipped to the troops would develop too much initial pressure if the rounds were too hot, especially if one got to sit in a hot chamber for too long before firing, resulting in failures to extract, burst cases, broken bolt lugs and in some cases even completely destroyed receivers. It was late 2003 before fixed Mk262 was widely available.

IIRC the problem with the M855 in Afganistan was less "it's not lethal", and more that when shot from a 14.5" barrel, it will go subsonic at ~600m (less if shooting uphill), and the bullet design meant that it would often destabilize at that point and no longer fly straight. This is one of the things that got fixed in M855A1.
 

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I am unsure why US infantry (and that is who is being discussed) ignore the idea of combined arms to counter the Taliban. They should be using grenade launchers/mortars/artillery/air to destroy the enemy at range outside that of small arms. I also find it interesting that the US has saddled itself with smallarms that have such short barrels that they can't allow the firers to hit their targets at 600 metres. Give the infantry a decent rifle, firing decent rounds and they should be able to hit their targets out to 1,000 metres.
 

drejr

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Yeah, it's amazing nobody ever thought about "combined arms" or "fire and maneuver" in 20 years lol

Or maybe they did and the Taliban adjusted their tactics several times to minimize the material and other advantage of Coalition forces?

The US Army ordinance types have a long history of pushing over-powered cartidges on the infantry. I remember reading that Ordnance insisted that the 6.5 mm Swedish/Norwegian cartridge in the Krag-Jorgensen was not powerful enough, hence the .30 Krag which, being in its turn not powerful enough, led in its turn to the .30-06. Yet as a result of lessons learned fighting in the Philippines, the Infantry Board considered the .30 Krag to be TOO powerful, too heavy, and with too much recoil. The Infantry requested .22- and .177-cal Krags so that soldiers could carry more ammunition. When the Ordnance refused, the Infantry had prototypes made and successfuly field tested both calibers until the Ordnance got wind of it and stopped the effort.

The .22 Krag was actually constructed by the Ordnance Department in 1894-95, well before the Phillipines. A .20-caliber cartridge was planned but never actually produced. I doubt there were any field tests since only 250 rounds were made.
 
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Kat Tsun

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I am unsure why US infantry (and that is who is being discussed) ignore the idea of combined arms to counter the Taliban. They should be using grenade launchers/mortars/artillery/air to destroy the enemy at range outside that of small arms. I also find it interesting that the US has saddled itself with smallarms that have such short barrels that they can't allow the firers to hit their targets at 600 metres. Give the infantry a decent rifle, firing decent rounds and they should be able to hit their targets out to 1,000 metres.

How do you shoot a mortar at a land mine that you don't know is there until you run over it?

The Taliban just shot at US troops with big guns for the same reason they'd shoot a single mortar bomb or two into a FOB every other week: it created a perception that the Taliban were still fighting and produced paranoia and fear in occupiers. The effect is one that is primarily psychological and rather effective against American troops, or any troops, who spend their times cooped up in bases instead of strolling around willy-nilly.

The primary casualty producers in Afghanistan for US troops were land mines, which are difficult to detect, and can't really be shot at. Attacks by Taliban troops like Wanat were extremely rare and for the most part were fought at close range like ordinary infantry, with extensive pre-attack reconnaissance and a thorough understanding of the opposition's defensive positions, as you would expect for any competent light infantry force.

NGSW is obviously intended to "fight" the Russian Army and break through Ratnik/Interceptor-style heavy body armor at long distance. More the latter than the former, really, since body armor is increasingly proliferating. The US Army probably asked itself "okay but what if the Taliban had our stuff".
 
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Rickshaw

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I am unsure why US infantry (and that is who is being discussed) ignore the idea of combined arms to counter the Taliban. They should be using grenade launchers/mortars/artillery/air to destroy the enemy at range outside that of small arms. I also find it interesting that the US has saddled itself with smallarms that have such short barrels that they can't allow the firers to hit their targets at 600 metres. Give the infantry a decent rifle, firing decent rounds and they should be able to hit their targets out to 1,000 metres.

How do you shoot a mortar at a land mine that you don't know is there until you run over it?

The Taliban just shot at US troops with big guns for the same reason they'd shoot a single mortar bomb or two into a FOB every other week: it created a perception that the Taliban were still fighting and produced paranoia and fear in occupiers. The effect is one that is primarily psychological and rather effective against American troops, or any troops, who spend their times cooped up in bases instead of strolling around willy-nilly.
Ah, that explains why the Australian Army didn't report these sorts of problems because their doctrine always calls for patrols to out from their bases, amongst the population whereas it appears the US didn't undertake anywhere the same number of patrols...

The primary casualty producers in Afghanistan for US troops were land mines, which are difficult to detect, and can't really be shot at. Attacks by Taliban troops like Wanat were extremely rare and for the most part were fought at close range like ordinary infantry, with extensive pre-attack reconnaissance and a thorough understanding of the opposition's defensive positions, as you would expect for any competent light infantry force.
That might be true but invariably we hear discussions of how "inadequate" 5.56x45mm was because it was supposedly outranged by the enemy. Now, only really the US Army appeared to face this problem because their rifles had too short a barrel to allow them to hit anything beyond a few hundred metres. No one else seemed to report these sorts of problems. Were the US Army incapable and could not call in their supporting arms?
 

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Australia did the same thing as every other Coalition army in Afghanistan and supplemented its 5.56mm weapons with 7.62mm DMRs and machine guns.

Were the US Army incapable and could not call in their supporting arms?

No.
Sure of that? They appear to be ones who were always rabbiting on about how useless 5.56x45mm was. The Australian Army was happy with what it could get out it's F88 rifles - only the "special forces" wankers thought otherwise and they aren't really with the rest of Army. I once held an interesting conversation with the RSM of the Army where he suggested they shouldn't have been allowed to re-equip with a rifle that the rest of the Army didn't think was worth it, the M4...
 

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Were the US Army incapable and could not call in their supporting arms?
Australia did the same thing as every other Coalition army in Afghanistan and supplemented its 5.56mm weapons with 7.62mm DMRs and machine guns.

Were the US Army incapable and could not call in their supporting arms?

No.
Sure of that?

Yes, your basic premise is nonsensical. US forces of course made full use of supporting arms, and Australia made the same tactical adaptations at squad level as the US and everyone else.

A few inches of barrel and 15 or so extra meters per second didn't give Australian soldiers any advantages in Afghanistan. Very few engagements happened at intermediate ranges. Instead distances were either very close or so far that any rifle would have negligible effect, despite fantasies of infantrymen successfully engaging targets at 1000 meters with current rifles.

In any case the US Army has been trying to extend the range of individual weapons out to a kilometer since well before Afghanistan. The NGSW may be a retrograde step in this direction (with armor penetration requirements only out to 600m) but the caliber isn't really the important thing so much as the fire control system.
 

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Yes, your basic premise is nonsensical. US forces of course made full use of supporting arms, and Australia made the same tactical adaptations at squad level as the US and everyone else.

Why then were they always complaining that 5.56x45mm rounds were useless as a means to respond? They should have known that you don't respond with small arms to targets beyond the range of small arms to hit the target. SS109 was originally specified to hit and penetrate M1 helmets at 1,000 metres. Why did the US Army adopt a rifle which could not hit anything more than few hundred metres away? Why did the US Army turn away from basic all-arms response to the Taliban and expect that individual riflemen were the answer? Seems a disjointment there in the way the US Army is trained...
A few inches of barrel and 15 or so extra meters per second didn't give Australian soldiers any advantages in Afghanistan. Very few engagements happened at intermediate ranges. Instead distances were either very close or so far that any rifle would have negligible effect, despite fantasies of infantrymen successfully engaging targets at 1000 meters with current rifles.
Australian "Special Forces" had been seduce by the same thinking as the US Army - they thought it was more important to Gucci their rifles with geegaws than to concentrate on having a weapon with a long enough barrel and sights to spot their targets...
In any case the US Army has been trying to extend the range of individual weapons out to a kilometer since well before Afghanistan. The NGSW may be a retrograde step in this direction (with armor penetration requirements only out to 600m) but the caliber isn't really the important thing so much as the fire control system.

As the US Army doesn't teach proper fire discipline I think its a waste the time...
 

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Why would the average infantry soldier need to fire at 1,000 metres? You are talking of more training and very expensive sights. One member per squad can carry a 'long' rifle while the rest concentrate on the 400 to 600 metre spread. We had Sterling MK 4 as our personal weapons, not because they were the best but because the fit the requirement and were cheap. Why over equip the squad?

While operating In NI we changed personal weapons for the SLR which was overkill but, the army had those and were not going to buy anything else.
 

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Why would the average infantry soldier need to fire at 1,000 metres? You are talking of more training and very expensive sights. One member per squad can carry a 'long' rifle while the rest concentrate on the 400 to 600 metre spread. We had Sterling MK 4 as our personal weapons, not because they were the best but because the fit the requirement and were cheap. Why over equip the squad?

While operating In NI we changed personal weapons for the SLR which was overkill but, the army had those and were not going to buy anything else.
There is normally no need to fire at that range in an army that understands how combined arms doctrine works. The problem is it appears the US Army has ignored it. They are the always complaining about 5.56x45mm and their M4 rifles....
 

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There seems to have been some general reluctance to use the overwhelming advantage in artillery that the US Army should be bringing to the table. Of course realistically they need something to return fire with until the artillery starts landing so DMRs and LMGs in 7.62mm NATO or this new 6.8mm caliber make sense.

What's the range of the current 120mm mortar? Firebases should have those at least if not actual 105mm or 155mm howitzers.
 

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There is normally no need to fire at that range in an army that understands how combined arms doctrine works.

Is there or isn't there? You're the one positing that a rifleman with a "decent rifle, firing decent rounds" "should be able to hit their targets out to 1,000 metres." You're also arguing that the M4 is subpar because its short barrel (with the practical effect of a 15 m/s drop in muzzle velocity) reduces its range compared to the Austeyr which seemed to be perfectly adequate at long ranges. In reality the difference is negligible.

SS109 was originally specified to hit and penetrate M1 helmets at 1,000 metres. Why did the US Army adopt a rifle which could not hit anything more than few hundred metres away?

The SS109 was originally meant to penetrate the NATO plate at 600 meters (which it exceeded), and wasn't designed for rifles.

Indeed, it's quite odd that an army completely ignorant of "combined arms," solely relying on long-range rifle fire, would decide to completely replace its rifles with carbines in 2014 after years and years of combat experience in Afghanistan. It's so exceedingly odd that there's most likely something wrong with the basic premise.

Australian "Special Forces" had been seduce by the same thinking as the US Army - they thought it was more important to Gucci their rifles with geegaws than to concentrate on having a weapon with a long enough barrel and sights to spot their targets...

The most Gucci attachment on the typical M4 is the exact same Trijicon optic used on the Austeyr in Afghanistan. I'm still unsure how a 15 m/s velocity difference transfers to any meaningful increase or decrease in range.

In fact, you're the one ignoring combined arms and thinking only of individual rifles. In order for a squad or section to use fire from supporting echelons and/or maneuver, it must fix the enemy with a base of fire. The Australian army in Afghanistan, despite the 15 m/s velocity advantage of their long barrels, along with most other armies with experience anywhere from cities to the Crimea, found 5.56mm inadequate for this purpose. This is why the Australians provided their infantry sections with 7.62mm machine guns and DMRs, just like the American army and every other Coalition force in Afghanistan.

Since you're only thinking of the NGSW as an individual rifle/M4 replacement, you're ignoring the other two major (and probably more important) components - a squad support weapon intended to provide an effective base of fire without the weight penalties of 7.62mm and a fire control unit designed to integrate into a network of "combined arms," a proper conception of which involves complementary effects rather than huddling under cover waiting for mortar rounds to arrive. (Of course the Taliban were quite good at selecting sufficient cover to allow them to operate under artillery barrages and the increasing proliferation of body armor reduces the lethality of fragmentation as much as or more so than small arms.)

The other thing about combined arms is that everyone else has them, and they're rapidly gaining in capability. The days of the fire team as we know it are probably coming to a close as PGMs and surveillance capabilities are miniaturized and shifted down echelons. NGSW probably has a number of flaws but its unlikely simply adding a few inches of barrel will be adequate in the near future, and more experimentation into precision, versatility, and mobility is likely better than less. If you ignore Afghanistan and think about the probable effects of actually bringing technologically-advanced combined arms down to the squad and platoon level, something broadly similar to the NGSW begins to make more sense than the traditional fire team organized around a belt-fed machine gun. You don't even have to speculate on the exact technology, just make the relatively safe assumption that the historical trend towards dispersion will continue.
 
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Kat Tsun

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I am unsure why US infantry (and that is who is being discussed) ignore the idea of combined arms to counter the Taliban. They should be using grenade launchers/mortars/artillery/air to destroy the enemy at range outside that of small arms. I also find it interesting that the US has saddled itself with smallarms that have such short barrels that they can't allow the firers to hit their targets at 600 metres. Give the infantry a decent rifle, firing decent rounds and they should be able to hit their targets out to 1,000 metres.

How do you shoot a mortar at a land mine that you don't know is there until you run over it?

The Taliban just shot at US troops with big guns for the same reason they'd shoot a single mortar bomb or two into a FOB every other week: it created a perception that the Taliban were still fighting and produced paranoia and fear in occupiers. The effect is one that is primarily psychological and rather effective against American troops, or any troops, who spend their times cooped up in bases instead of strolling around willy-nilly.
Ah, that explains why the Australian Army didn't report these sorts of problems because their doctrine always calls for patrols to out from their bases, amongst the population whereas it appears the US didn't undertake anywhere the same number of patrols...

The primary casualty producers in Afghanistan for US troops were land mines, which are difficult to detect, and can't really be shot at. Attacks by Taliban troops like Wanat were extremely rare and for the most part were fought at close range like ordinary infantry, with extensive pre-attack reconnaissance and a thorough understanding of the opposition's defensive positions, as you would expect for any competent light infantry force.
That might be true but invariably we hear discussions of how "inadequate" 5.56x45mm was because it was supposedly outranged by the enemy. Now, only really the US Army appeared to face this problem because their rifles had too short a barrel to allow them to hit anything beyond a few hundred metres. No one else seemed to report these sorts of problems. Were the US Army incapable and could not call in their supporting arms?

I don't know if you're being sarcastic in that last one but I'm assuming so. Either way:

No, it's because rifle fire is only effective out to maybe 100-200 meters for most of your shots, and that's with an optic if you want to hit the majority of the time. The purpose of shooting from far away is to get people to dismount and be need to clear out a shooter position or something. It wastes time, is annoying, and is good at showing that the occupiers are still being fought without committing a large amount of resources.

There's literally no reason to expend huge amounts of ammo on what is usually some guy or two with a PKM firing a belt of ammo at a motor patrol to distract them from where they're going or whatever they're going, which is usually to visit village headmen and talk about broken irrigation or people complaining about debts or property rights violations or whatever. The long range "engagements" in Afghanistan were simple harassing tactics. They were not exactly a major or groundbreaking tactic that news articles would have you believe I guess. The Taliban are not super snipers running around dropping hundreds of guys with accurate machine gun fire. Soviet partisans and French resistance guys did the same thing.

By the time you get on the radio the ambush is basically over and you're moving on. Or you've hit a really serious ambush and some guys were wailing on you with PKMs from far away and blew up your lead Humvee with a land mine. And you have to call mortuary affairs and pack up like three or six bodies. Either way the ambush evaporates quickly because the purpose is to make America look like it can't control the roads. It worked because it was true.

When the Taliban wanted to take something they did it in a fairly conventional manner, i.e. a light infantry infiltration, where 5.56mm or whatever is perfectly fine. Focusing on big guns like machine guns or whatever is pointless and somewhat irrelevant, but NGSW is nothing about bigger guns and Afghanistan. It's literally the opposite.

The entire purpose of NGSW is two-fold: first, is to penetrate body armor at longer ranges where rifle fire is effective which is about ~150 meters (about the length of the suburban street where I live, which if I squint is just about as far as I can someone walking and have a decent chance of hitting them if they're moving), and second, increase the probability of hit of the rifleman with a new fire control system that makes leading and marksmanship less important.

Conversely, Afghanistan would suggest some old fashioned weapon like a .308 or .338 belt-fed machine gun with a big scope and a pair of binoculars. Incidentally this is exactly what SOCOM ended up buying because they're relatively backwards looking and not very farsighted, but they have a lot of experience in close combat and fighting against small groups of rough and tumble mountain men.
 
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Rickshaw

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drejr,​

You seem not to understand what I have been saying. The US Army is the one complaining with it's members talking about the need to replace 5.56x45mm at every turn. They are the ones who talk about their inability to reply to the Taliban. The Australian Army doesn't. They just get on with the job. I am not calling for the ability of soldiers to hit targets at 1,000 metre ranges, the US Army is. I am asking why they adopted a carbine with it's inability to hit targets more than a few hundred metres away. I'd actually ask what advantage M4 has? The US Army is showing apparently a lack of understanding of what is required by the task facing them and instead is seeking a technical solution which was found way back in WWI - combined arms....
 
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drejr

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The US Army is the one complaining with it's members talking about the need to replace 5.56x45mm at every turn. They are the ones who talk about their inability to reply to the Taliban. The Australian Army doesn't. They just get on with the job.

Indeed, after making the same urgent requests for the 7.62mm machine guns and DMRs necessary to suppress and fix small groups of Taliban as the US Army.

I am asking why they adopted a carbine with it's inability to hit targets more than a few hundred metres away. I'd actually ask what advantage M4 has?

The title of this slide explains what's happening here fairly succinctly:

yB3RmJ8.png


The advantages of the M4 are that it's handy (especially when wearing armor), light, popular with users, and there's no practical disadvantage in range over full-size 5.56mm weapons, which are also limited to a few hundred meters. The 3% drop in velocity (I apologize for saying the difference was 15 m/s based on chronometer tests, the official difference is a incredible 30 m/s) has a neglible effect on accuracy compared to weapon and ammunition variances, environmental, and user factors.

A shorter answer may be they're not as dumb as you think and understand combined arms.

But the concept of combined arms evolves, and it's not the be-all and end-all of tactics. In Afghanistan it was merely frustrating to have only a fraction of the close combat force able to effectively engage the enemy, in future wars it may be impossible as precision munitions prevent concentration of forces and undermine battlefield linearity.

The US Army is showing apparently a lack of understanding of what is required by the task facing them and instead is seeking a technical solution which was found way back in WWI - combined arms....

On the contrary, they understand that the responsiveness and lethality of modern and future supporting arms make the current paradigm of fire and maneuver based on volume of fire as potentially suicidal as an attack in column during WWI. They may not have a perfect solution, but nobody else has any solutions at all besides digging trenches like Ukraine.

There may be some dumbs advocating a bigger rifle based on Afghanistan but the real movers of the project are reading Hubin, thinking about massed precision fires and new ways of organizing forces from the squad up to deal with them, not people in turbans. How do I know? Because NGSW is one of Mark Milley's pet projects, and whatever else you want to say about him he's a futurist who could care less about Afghanistan.

Conversely, Afghanistan would suggest some old fashioned weapon like a .308 or .338 belt-fed machine gun with a big scope and a pair of binoculars

A MAG is great until your assistant gunner has to be xx meters away so he isn't taken out by a smart grenade launched on its relatively impressive and static signature and can't carry extra belts anyway because he's got the fire team's EW gear.
 
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Colonial-Marine

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On the contrary, they understand that the responsiveness and lethality of modern and future supporting arms make the current paradigm of fire and maneuver based on volume of fire as potentially suicidal as an attack in column during WWI. They may not have a perfect solution, but nobody else has any solutions at all besides digging trenches like Ukraine.

There may be some dumbs advocating a bigger rifle based on Afghanistan but the real movers of the project are reading Hubin, thinking about massed precision fires and new ways of organizing forces from the squad up to deal with them, not people in turbans. How do I know? Because NGSW is one of Mark Milley's pet projects, and whatever else you want to say about him he's a futurist who could care less about Afghanis
What happens though when the ranges do close and you need that volume of fire you get with rifles and carbines firing intermediate caliber cartridges? My concern is that equipping the whole squad with this new 6.8mm would be at a distinct disadvantage in close quarters. Little different from the situation if a squad with M14s bumped into an enemy force armed with AKMs in the jungle back in 1968.

I think a two caliber approach would be more ideal. The 6.8mm would represent the solution for squad DMRs and LMGs and a new intermediate power cartridge would provide an improvement over the current 5.56mm carbines while keeping the same ability to be controlled on automatic fire.

I still think something along the lines of the XM25 should be doable with today's technology, even though the end result of that endeavor seemed disappointing.
 

drejr

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What happens though when the ranges do close and you need that volume of fire you get with rifles and carbines firing intermediate caliber cartridges? My concern is that equipping the whole squad with this new 6.8mm would be at a distinct disadvantage in close quarters. Little different from the situation if a squad with M14s bumped into an enemy force armed with AKMs in the jungle back in 1968.

This is a good point, but ultimately any new intermediate cartridge is going to have a heavier bullet. Too light, and its hardly worth it. Too heavy and what's the difference between full power? If technology can provide decent recoil mitigation and case weight reduction that would seem to reduce the need to fiddle at the margins.

I suspect its slightly overpowered but nobody knows the recoil and controllability requirements, which surely exist.

I still think something along the lines of the XM25 should be doable with today's technology, even though the end result of that endeavor seemed disappointing.

The XM25 is good to think about, as are the airbursting Carl Gustav rounds the army dumb enough to only rely on rifles recently got. What do you when responsive airbursting HE is ubiquitous at the squad level, not to mention more futuristic developments? What do you do if you're fighting someone like Australia who as mentioned can instantly organize combined-arms attacks against even the most fleeting targets?

It's not "make everyone shoot a kilometer," which is most likely only envisioned for the NGSW-AR. Without going into weird multi-domain battle concepts like stigmergy, you disperse further, lay down effective fire from many directions, and call in accurate supporting fire quickly, all while remaining mobile enough to keep the initiative and aggregate for a seamless transition into close assault. In effect everyone needs the precision and situational awareness of the designated marksman.

This is a tall order, and NGSW will likely fail to some degree or other. The good news is the work into fire control, signature suppression, etc, is agnostic towards weapon and caliber.

As for Afghanistan, what has somehow gotten simplified into "M-4s were outranged by Taliban" was the understandable frustration at their ability to disappear before heavy fire was brought to bear or even press the assault through it. They were actually typically pretty bad shots, but their operational art (not just on the battlefield, but in the political and psychological arena) is worth studying.
 
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Kat Tsun

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drejr,​

You seem not to understand what I have been saying. The US Army is the one complaining with it's members talking about the need to replace 5.56x45mm at every turn. They are the ones who talk about their inability to reply to the Taliban. The Australian Army doesn't. They just get on with the job. I am not calling for the ability of soldiers to hit targets at 1,000 metre ranges, the US Army is. I am asking why they adopted a carbine with it's inability to hit targets more than a few hundred metres away. I'd actually ask what advantage M4 has? The US Army is showing apparently a lack of understanding of what is required by the task facing them and instead is seeking a technical solution which was found way back in WWI - combined arms....

I think everyone knows what you're saying. You just don't know what you're talking about: Conventional tactics of "fire and maneuver" and "supporting arms" are irrelevant if you no longer need to close the distance. How many machine guns does a sniper team need to kill someone with a TAC 50 from half a mile away?

The purpose of a machine gun is to stop an infantry force from moving so riflemen can get closer to kill them with hand grenades and gunfire from 100-200 meters away, which is about as far away as you can just about make out a moving person with some drab clothes on a dreary winter's day.

I know this because my cousin lives down the street from and has dogs. He walks his dogs sometimes and I wave to him while walking to the store. I can see him down the street where I live which is about 200 meters. He's very tiny. I don't think I could see someone to the tree line behind his house, which is closer to 300 meters, unless there were a lot of people and they were being inconspicuous. Or they were shooting at me. Even then I wouldn't be able to hit them. I'm no expert marksman. I can barely hit a tin can at 25 yards with a tiny gun like a M1 carbine. I have a Type 53 carbine personally but that's not worth much these days, though I'm sure Li or Boris would have used it well enough back when folks were raised on farms and not in libraries. My eyes are just too egg-shaped to be useful for that kind of stuff though. I'd probably need an optic to reliably hit things at 300 yards. Or a lot of practice.

I tried to make the evidence obvious but it's pretty clear that shooting people is a hard task without computerized guidance, so I gave you a real world, common sense example of "suburban street" which happens to be what the Red Army considered to be within the distance of 75% of small arms engagements in the Great Patriotic War, to help visualize the issue.

Anyway the Squad Designated Marksman Rifle trialed by the 82nd ABN had an "effective" range of 800 meters with a large ACOG optical gunsight or 6x sniper scope. It was based on the M16 because the Army had a bunch of them and no one carried them as much anymore. The US Marines just bought HK416s with 16" barrels and shoot out to 600 meters regularly. SDM-R was kept from away from everyone presumably since the Army decided that dedicated marksmen are kinda dumb in a world where optics are cheap and they're now pursuing a 1x/6x variable zoom scope for everyone, possibly combined with a fire control system for NGSW.

If the Australian Army had any brains or money it would be trying to turn everyone into snipers. It may be doing that, I don't know. I just know there's simply no range problem.

Afghanistan's long range ambushes were irrelevant since they never caused casualties.

They were an annoyance at best and useless at worst. When combined with IEDs they just slowed down a column. These are the physical effects, but the psychological effects were greater. The moral is to the physical as three is to one.

So this sort of attack is great because it makes the occupiers angry, frustrated, and destroys their morale while doing very little to expose your weak fighters to danger. You get to score a victory by blowing up a truck, shooting guns at some foreign invaders, and go home to tell of great victories while those guys, who lost three people in a Humvee (an objectively small but subjectively massive loss) get to go home in shame and wondering if they will ever control the roads. We already know the answer.

It's pure harassing tactics that are the bread and butter of any paltry and militarily weak partisan force like the Vietcong and Soviet partisans before them. When the Taliban wanted to come out and fight they did it like any other light infantry force. If they had to fight a 2040s ground force instead of a 2000s ground force they would have been slaughtered because in the 2040s everyone will be a super accurate soldier with multispectral vision and computer guided gunsights.

These are not new technologies in any practical sense. Such systems exist for commercial hunting, and if the history of militaries tells us anything, pushing weaponry down to the lowest common and requiring less and less training and expertise to use is the natural outcome. The issue with NGSW, which is more about the fire control system than the big bullet, the latter of which is just to punch through ESAPI-style plates that the Red Army had and Russians have, as it's a "everyone is turning into snipers" problem. In the next 10 or 20 years everyone will be capable of hitting moving targets accurately, at significant range (excess of 300 meters, perhaps even 500 maybe) with single shots, possibly while moving or unsupported, and using silenced rifles to do so to make gunshot detection problematic:

5. Does ShotSpotter detect gunshots from gun silencers?
Yes, it does. “Silencers” are more accurately called suppressors as they suppress the
impulsive sound of gunfire, but do not wholly eliminate it. The ShotSpotter sensors are
designed to pick up the sound of gunfire from suppressors, but it does make it more
challenging. [emphasis mine]

There's literally no way to protect against this without making soldiers bulletproof or re-inventing trench digging machines at the moment.

Either you start wearing power armor and strutting around at 10-20 miles an hour like PITMAN or you dig a big trench and shoot without seeing the enemy because light infantry ambushes are confusing and chaotic.

Maybe people will be hiding with multispectral cloaks or something but there's no real way to determine if you're under infrared/thermal observation and potential sniper attack from several hundred meters. Perhaps bullets for elite snipers will be laser guided or maybe robots will be necessary to lead armored/mechanized phalanxes due to massive casualties of human ground troops? Either way infantry tactics are slowly devolving to singletons or pairs of men in foxholes controlling half a kilometer of terrain with a big ass sniper scope, radio datalink to a stealthy recon plane, and maybe an anti-tank missile.

That's probably more a 2080's meme than a 2040's one though, but it's the current trend line. Barring some massive disruption in global industries like "the world economy collapses" or "global thermonuclear war" it will get there eventually.

This is well known by subject matter experts at Frunze and other military academies who formed the bulk of Soviet warrant and commissioned officer corpus, and became the Russian military's NCO corps. It's not some new secret sauce or invented cultural revisionism. It's simplified, distilled forms of Liddell-Hart's and Fuller's semi-religious, doctrinaire, primitive groping-in-the-dark about the nature of war put into easy to understand rules of thumb and heuristics.

The only reason Westerners on the Internet don't know it largely is probably because military science is still treated as a sort of religious scholarship or art school isolate instead of a real science. These sorts of facts and figures are somewhat obscure, but not particularly special or secret knowledge. OTOH even in military circles there's a tendency to think the current way is the only way, and there's no Academy of War Sciences in the typical Western democracy, whereas Frunze has a connected network of universities and treats its curricula like an engineering degree.

Of course all militaries are the same so the difference is more of one of degree than one of practical. It mostly says more about the quality of officers churned out on their first day than anything, not who rises to the top. The cream always rises, Western cream just needs a percolating period to really get up there while Soviet cream came prepackaged.

West Point has very gifted professors and writers who do good works, as does Sandhurst and the various military associated labs in UK and America have produced extensive reams of knowledge about main battle tanks and aircraft respectively. The average Boris Vatnik probably thinks the AK74M is just fine and doesn't need an optic which is why he hates the rails on the AK-12 without the optics that Russia badly wants but can't have.

tl;dr Supporting arms (i.e. machine guns, mortars, grenade launchers) are not major casualty producers, they are vehicles towards casualty production.

Rifle fire is the most effective mass killing tool during the attack by light infantry. This is perhaps equaled by the grenades from mortars and hand-tossed. The entire purpose of a defense is to stop riflemen from getting within 100-200 yards of a defense position at which point rifle fire becomes overwhelmingly deadly. Beyond that distance, due to the limitations of the human eyeball and frequency of movement of unsupported fire caused by breathing, errors in lead calculation and trajectory, and shooter wobble, all combine to "make hitting things hard". Putting a .223" slug on a target with an area of maybe 100 sq. inches moving laterally at 5 miles an hour at 200 yards is a fairly tough maths problem, even without stress of being shot. Doubly so if the target is constantly altering its shape and exposed area.

We're reaching a point where optics have eliminated the eyeball limit and computerization and mechanization will eliminate shooter wobble and lead errors. This eliminates some of the prime purpose of the supporting arms, which was to increase rate of fire over massed groups of riflemen (as was the case in 1899 and 1905 and to a lesser extent, 1861 and 1871) and free up manpower to do other things.

The distinction between supporting fire and rifle fire will eventually disappear and it will just become 'gun' that 'kills'. The natural outcome is everyone is a sniper in 2100 and wears a stillsuit like Fremen that has all sorts of neat stuff built in so they don't leave spoil besides dirt and they subsist entirely on a liquid diet that doesn't leave solid waste or something I guess. That's probably hyperbolic but it makes for funny mental images and good fodder for my pixel art hobby.

Anyway manpower will again be freed up to do other things. Perhaps they will fly drones or make robot tanks or just work at Starbucks.
 
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Rickshaw

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Kitsum, I am basing my comments on what I read continually from US Army members/ex=members that their rifles are inadequate and unable to reply to the Taliban. Now I spent 10 years in the Australian Army learning how to undertake Combined Arms actions in COIN environments. I may be old-fashioned but what I learnt seem to still work. What you are saying is at odds to what I have read. Their seems to a mighty search to try and find a solution to this problem and it rarely looks at using combine arms tactics. It seems the US Army has forgotten the lessons of Vietnam and elsewhere. I know the US Army concentrates - too much - on the war of the big battalions and ignores COIN operations but these seems to be basic...
 

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NGSW is obviously intended to "fight" the Russian Army and break through Ratnik/Interceptor-style heavy body armor at long distance. More the latter than the former, really, since body armor is increasingly proliferating. The US Army probably asked itself "okay but what if the Taliban had our stuff".
If you're fighting the Russians, just call in combined arms such as MRLS or 155mm to suppress the infantry.
 

drejr

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Kitsum, I am basing my comments on what I read continually

Have you ever considered reading in detail about actions in Afghanistan, including those involving the Australian army?

At Doan, an Australian patrol en route to the village endured harassing fire for three days. At the village itself, the patrol encountered heavy fire from a smallish group of Taliban who retreated to fortified positions on a hill, where they resisted all counter-attacks even when they were supported by Bushmaster guncars, 81mm mortars, various infantry heavy weapons and Apache gunships. The Taliban finally withdrew after nightfall and a (US) air strike.

Final result: one Australian wounded, one Bushmaster destroyed, no confirmed Taliban kills.

This wasn't the worst ambush the Australians were involved in, nor was it the best outcome they experienced. It was probably typical of the frustrations experienced by all ISAF nations.

But it's funny you should mention "combined arms" and "big battalions." A battalion is about the smallest practical current combined arms formation, although I suppose the French have companies. At lower levels current support weapons, both organic and those at higher levels, have a number of weaknesses - they're not responsive, lethal, selective (too lethal!), or available enough. The Taliban learned to exploit these weaknesses, even in Uruzgan Province, and I'm certain if you looked enough you could find Australian soldiers understandably wanting a simple way to quickly incapacitate "Talibs" who eluded supporting fire. (Where do you suppose the bulk of supporting fire for Australian troops came from anyway? The small Australian artillery contribution was attached to British forces in Helmand! Did American forward observers attached to Australian units and employing American assets require remedial instruction?)

The problem in COIN and more conventional warfare is that both will likely see continued dispersal. Nobody with any sense thinks a new rifle is anything but a small part of the solution.

Really your criticism just seems like a mish-mash of self-contradictory ideas that don't make much sense. The US adopts a carbine most suitable for mechanized warfare, they're ignoring combined arms but can't hit anything past a few hundred meters. They experiment with a new rifle that can hit things past a few hundred meters as part of an initiative to push certain capabilities down echelon, they're concentrating on the war of the big battalions. This is quite a lot to infer from people complaining about 5.56mm, which has happened continuously for generations for reasons both valid and nonsensical.

I would consider broadening my reading past soldiers griping about their rifles - these kind of endless gun debates are one of the silliest American pastimes.
 
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Kat Tsun

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NGSW is obviously intended to "fight" the Russian Army and break through Ratnik/Interceptor-style heavy body armor at long distance. More the latter than the former, really, since body armor is increasingly proliferating. The US Army probably asked itself "okay but what if the Taliban had our stuff".
If you're fighting the Russians, just call in combined arms such as MRLS or 155mm to suppress the infantry.

Why? The last time the US Army fought the Russians it just bombed them with F-22s.

Wagner Group is an arm of the Main Intelligence Directorate. It's a VDV assault brigade with the serial numbers filed off for plausible deniability operations against Western aligned troops, based on the radio call signs that they use, which are identical to a numbered brigade of the airborne troops. They're pretty tough guys. Then GI Joe drew a big pp on a whiteboard when the Russians came to take over the JTAC bunker.

Or maybe that was before. Maybe the big pp made the Russians mad?

Kitsum, I am basing my comments on what I read continually from US Army members/ex=members that their rifles are inadequate and unable to reply to the Taliban.

Pub chats aren't hugely relevant though. Just read detailed after action reports or something and don't bother talking to GI Joe. Joe doesn't know what he's talking about. He'll say 5.56mm is weak and doesn't stop the enemy because he never hit them in the first place, or they were just some random guys, or whatever.

And that's pretty rare that you ever actually see what you're shooting at anyway.

Now I spent 10 years in the Australian Army learning how to undertake Combined Arms actions in COIN environments.

I don't mean to be rude but the track record of the Australian Army, and the rest of American-aligned states, in training their COIN troops is not particularly compelling.

What you are saying is at odds to what I have read. Their seems to a mighty search to try and find a solution to this problem and it rarely looks at using combine arms tactics. It seems the US Army has forgotten the lessons of Vietnam and elsewhere. I know the US Army concentrates - too much - on the war of the big battalions and ignores COIN operations but these seems to be basic...

I don't know what any of this means but it sounds like you're confusing definitions of things. Define for me what "combined arms", "supporting arms", and "COIN" means to you. I don't think these words have any intrinsic meaning, they may describe certain actions mechanically, but in a mnemonic that is meant to be applicable only to a certain time and place.

What is the actual thing occurring when you "engage" a "unit" with "combined arms"? Are you, commanding a group of six other men, splitting that group of people in two and having one grab hand grenades and another shooting in automatic bursts? Are you picking yourself up and running at the enemy to close the distance as fast as possible to get inside a trench? Are you crawling on your belly at nighttime with a bag full of grenades? Are all of those "combined arms" "engagements"? Only some? What if you have a guy with a grenade launcher such as a light mortar, a 40mm, or a rifle grenade, firing? Is that now a "combined arms unit"? Or is it only belt-fed machine guns with three to five man crews carrying two dozen ammo belts, half a dozen barrels, and a pair of binos and maybe a LAW?

The latter are actual things you do.

The former are just words you say that come with a bunch of loaded assumptions that may or may not be correct.

What I'm saying is what actually happens.

What you're saying seems to be colored by perceptions of people who may or may not be biased towards perceiving something as another thing. For instance, if you fire your rifle, are "sure" you're hitting the target, and he isn't dropping dead, what is happening? Is he coked up? Is he wearing a bulletproof vest? Is your bullet too weak? Or are you just a crummy shot under the circumstances since you're firing with open sights at someone hundreds of meters away and missing him by a few inches but that little puff of smoke was right on him?

What actually occurs is more important than what is perceived to occur. In the vast majority of instances, from the M1 Carbine to the M4 Carbine, the result has been that bad shots aren't hitting their targets because of a variety of factors that impact most people substantially. These factors can only be mitigated through the use of computer technology and optical sights that have become capable enough to overcome these issues in the past decade or so, so well and truly too late to see combat action in Iraq or Afghanistan, but just in time to be issued in the latter half of the current decade.

As I said the future is going to be a guy in a single foxhole with a big ass sniper scope, a rocket launcher, a radio to a spy plane that is stealthy, and covered in multispectral camouflage. He will own everything around him for 500 yards or more and kill anyone that gets close. A super duper woke army might even give him an electric motorbike so he can put put around because he sure as heck isn't going to have much in the way of immediately available friends to help him out. He might have one. Assuming that guy isn't in another foxhole 50 yards away.

That's a real problem for targeting. It's trivial to find a hundred fighters moving through a mountain and bomb the stuffing out of them. It's harder to find a pair of fighters in a beet truck with a PKM in the cab. Likewise it's trivial to find a platoon size earthworks of mechanized infantry and demolish it. It's much harder to find a single guy in a forest who has more in common with Arnie's Predator than a Vietnam-era Joe.

Supporting arms at the end of the century will probably end up being asking the guy next to you help out with shooting some guys if you're fighting a really, really backwards army that attacks with mechanized carriers, light mortars, and belt-fed machine guns to suppress defenders and close in with rifle fire and grenades. Because everyone will be a sniper at that point with some sort of extremely high powered weapons al a Payload Rifle or MBT-LAW.
 
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Rickshaw

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Kitsum, I am basing my comments on what I read continually

Have you ever considered reading in detail about actions in Afghanistan, including those involving the Australian army?

At Doan, an Australian patrol en route to the village endured harassing fire for three days. At the village itself, the patrol encountered heavy fire from a smallish group of Taliban who retreated to fortified positions on a hill, where they resisted all counter-attacks even when they were supported by Bushmaster guncars, 81mm mortars, various infantry heavy weapons and Apache gunships. The Taliban finally withdrew after nightfall and a (US) air strike.

Final result: one Australian wounded, one Bushmaster destroyed, no confirmed Taliban kills.

This wasn't the worst ambush the Australians were involved in, nor was it the best outcome they experienced. It was probably typical of the frustrations experienced by all ISAF nations.

But it's funny you should mention "combined arms" and "big battalions." A battalion is about the smallest practical current combined arms formation, although I suppose the French have companies. At lower levels current support weapons, both organic and those at higher levels, have a number of weaknesses - they're not responsive, lethal, selective (too lethal!), or available enough. The Taliban learned to exploit these weaknesses, even in Uruzgan Province, and I'm certain if you looked enough you could find Australian soldiers understandably wanting a simple way to quickly incapacitate "Talibs" who eluded supporting fire. (Where do you suppose the bulk of supporting fire for Australian troops came from anyway? The small Australian artillery contribution was attached to British forces in Helmand! Did American forward observers attached to Australian units and employing American assets require remedial instruction?)

The problem in COIN and more conventional warfare is that both will likely see continued dispersal. Nobody with any sense thinks a new rifle is anything but a small part of the solution.

Really your criticism just seems like a mish-mash of self-contradictory ideas that don't make much sense. The US adopts a carbine most suitable for mechanized warfare, they're ignoring combined arms but can't hit anything past a few hundred meters. They experiment with a new rifle that can hit things past a few hundred meters as part of an initiative to push certain capabilities down echelon, they're concentrating on the war of the big battalions. This is quite a lot to infer from people complaining about 5.56mm, which has happened continuously for generations for reasons both valid and nonsensical.

I would consider broadening my reading past soldiers griping about their rifles - these kind of endless gun debates are one of the silliest American pastimes.
As I keep saying, I am basing my comments on the comments of members/ex-members of the US Army. If they are getting things wrong, blame them, not me. They are the ones who have described 5.56x45mm rounds as "inadequate". My question is why aren't they reaching out with weapons other than just rifles to pin down/eliminate the Taliban? Why is the US Army always seeking weapons that can reach a thousand or more metres? Thus far you've decided to point out there apparently isn't anything wrong with the M4 and 5.56x45mm rounds....
 

Kat Tsun

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Because there's nothing to "pin down". They're a dismounted patrol taking fire from a guy with a 50-round belt who looses it in three or four bursts over an hour. By the time they realize he's gone they've probably tons of time exchanging fire with some pair of nerds who keep running around a bunch of mountainous concealment and shooting wildly in the direction of the ISAF troops.

You find a bunch of shell casings, maybe a dead sheep or goat, a Joe is dead, two are wounded (one with amputation), and a Humvee is trashed by a land mine. That's the normal Taliban, and general partisan, attack method: shoot at a distance, don't close in, send as few people as possible, and use land mines extensively, because these are tough things to beat. A larger group of troops would be killed before they arrived, a small group of people can't attack at close range (there's not enough), and land mines are hard to find until you run over them.

So you send a tiny group of fighters with the biggest guns they can carry and they shoot at some guys for a bit and get them to shoot back and then they leave before the mad lads get too close. If you're lucky you kill a guy or two and they get no one, but usually no one gets hurt on either side.

Why do you think that they're up in the face of the Taliban? The average Joe probably only saw the Taliban from a distance through binoculars or as a dead body. Of course they're not going to stand up and fight at close range if they can help it. They would get clobbered for the most part, which is why they only did a few stand up tough guy attacks like Wanat and Camp Bastion and they required a ton of rehearsal and planning to get it right, and lack of diligence on ISAF's part.

The only thing wrong with M4 and 5.56mm is that it can't kill a guy wearing ESAPI if you hit him in the chest. Which is why .277 exists: to punch through ESAPI. If you ask the British or Australians they'll try to hammer .223 into a ESAPI breaker somehow. Whether that will work or not is an open question.
 
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drejr

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As I keep saying, I am basing my comments on the comments of members/ex-members of the US Army. If they are getting things wrong, blame them, not me. They are the ones who have described 5.56x45mm rounds as "inadequate". My question is why aren't they reaching out with weapons other than just rifles to pin down/eliminate the Taliban? Why is the US Army always seeking weapons that can reach a thousand or more metres? Thus far you've decided to point out there apparently isn't anything wrong with the M4 and 5.56x45mm rounds....

Right. There are two issues here.

1) Selection bias. There are a great many American firearms enthusiasts, many of whom are soldiers, who like to discuss the caliber and other attributes of individual weapons ad nauseum on the internet. There are many less combined arms or tactical theory enthusiasts, but any objective analysis of combat in Afghanistan will show extensive use of supporting fire regardless of nation. There was nothing special about Australian tactics, they differed only in minute detail from other ISAF forces and showed similar success.

2) While this supporting fire was generally devastating against large groups of Taliban fighters, they made the obvious adaptation of operating in smaller and more mobile groups. This isn't unique to Afghanistan, it's the universal historical trend towards dispersion - as supporting weapons grow more lethal maneuver units become smaller and spread out to survive. This necessarily pushes lethality down echelons in reponse. In this regard the NGSW is unique only in its caliber. Every other modern nation, including Australia, is testing intelligent fire control systems to extend the effective range and hit probability of their individual weapons.

In the US Army at least NGSW pales in importance compared to generating and allocating supporting fires, but you're much less likely to read internet comments about efforts to combine AFATDS and JADOCS because nobody knows what that means. A lot of people know 6.8 is larger than 5.56.

Of course they're not going to stand up and fight at close range if they can help it.

Hmm...I'm not sure this is accurate. Taliban tactics varied widely depending on terrain and circumstances. If good pre-determined escape routes were available in an area close ambushes were common.

What they all showed was an awareness of Coalition air and artillery superiority. A Taliban ambush on a patrol might open up at less than 20 meters in the green areas around Sangin or at the self-destruct range of an RPG (around 900) in the hills and then withdraw after a few minutes, but they would seldom let themselves get caught at ranges where both small arms and artillery could be used. The guys at long range might take off and lure even armored vehicle pursuit into a closer ambush. If they were caught in artillery or even heavy airstrikes they might play dead and then start firing again at close range as infantry closed.

An attack on a convoy might be a few guys or many dispersed over as much as 30 kilometers of road. They might even pursue convoys in certain circumstances, and massed attacks were still carried out in areas with little ISAF presence.

As Coalition forces got better at dealing with all this they just switched to more and better IEDs, as countermeasures for these were adopted they began to recruit suicide bombers, etc, etc.
 
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aonestudio

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Vortex’s XM157 beat the submission from L3Harris Technologies to win the 10 year fixed price contract worth a minimum of $20 million but with a “maximum ceiling value of $2.7 billion for production and delivery of up to 250,000 XM157” optics.
 

muttly

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The current 5.56 rounds will only fragment out to 90m with the short 14.5 barrels
in use now greatly reducing their killing effect. So something else is needed for longer
range engagements.
 

Marcellogo

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Oh, men.
It seems me that you have here conflated a lot of thing together and made a big mess.
Let's came back to the initial point: we are talking there about a rifle and MG that are intended to take the place of the standard individual and squad weapon currently issued to US army and USMC.
Now, let's begin to sink into that: individual, squad and maybe the next level i.e. platoon level standard weaponries.
Us army has taken the M-4 and the M-240 instead of the M-16 and M-60 in order to standardize the squad level weapons to a single caliber and in same time to have less weight to carry around.
So, if the actual idea is to ditch that lightweight combo and not just come back to a updated version of the old combo but to issue an individual weapon whose bullets have better performances of the old 7,62x51 round y'all can bet that it is because they found it grossly wrong or just to said it in midler term completely inadeguate to the situation they have faced on the battlefield.
What they are prospecting there is an U-turn even greater that the one that led to the adoption of the M-16 as almost in that case they kept the 7.62 for the GPMG.
Actually, I think that the idea underneath the NGSW is per se a quite good one, a way more powerful cartridge to overcome the range limit of the old one coupled with optics that could aid it to be effective at the given distance plus something that could control the recoil is surely well though, compared to all the previous efforts.
Feasibility of all seem me still a lot hard to achieve but surely there is a definitive progress there.
Still it seems me to suffer the same drawbacks than the most of all US (and NATO) efforts in that fieald.
First one is the fixation about keeping anything on the same caliber.
No matter how much you try, it cannot work. Or it is too much for an individual use or is too weak for a squad level.
Worst case is being no good for both (and NGSW could end like so, almost surely in the case of the bullpup proposal).
Second (and in my own opinion even worse) is the equally persisting fixation on symmetrical composition of the small infantry units being made almost exclusively by small arms operators with practically all support fire units concentrated at company or even btg. level.

So, it's not the 5,56mm to be "inadeguate", it's to have more marksmen armed with such a caliber in a company than MG in 7,62mm or RPG/recoilless guns at btg level that is such.
 

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What about your Allies? 5.56x45mm SS109 was a NATO decision. The rest of the world followed suit. Are they going to have to ditch their weapons, all on a whim?
 

Moose

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What about your Allies? 5.56x45mm SS109 was a NATO decision. The rest of the world followed suit. Are they going to have to ditch their weapons, all on a whim?
Whim?
 

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The US will dictate this, just like they dictated 5.56 and before that 7.62.

Certainly I don't want my country to even try to persuade the US of anything, they didn't listen in the last two occasions and we wasted time money and people in thst pointless hope.
Never again.

So forget science.
Forget real world experience.
Forget reason.
The US will lead on this according to their prejudices and we (NATO members) will have no affordable choice but to follow them or adopt Russian or Chinese standard ammunition instead.
 

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