Did M4 Carbine Fail U.S. Troops During Afghanistan Assault?

Discussion in 'SitRep' started by ToughOmbre, Oct 11, 2009.

  1. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    First that I've heard of a problem with these weapons. Eerily reminicent of the issues with the M-16 back in the early days of the Viet Nam War, but the M4 has been in service since 1997. :eek:

    Sunday, October 11, 2009

    WASHINGTON — In the chaos of an early morning assault on a remote U.S. outpost in eastern Afghanistan, Staff Sgt. Erich Phillips' M4 carbine quit firing as militant forces surrounded the base. The machine gun he grabbed after tossing the rifle aside didn't work either.

    When the battle in the small village of Wanat ended, nine U.S. soldiers lay dead and 27 more were wounded. A detailed study of the attack by a military historian found that weapons failed repeatedly at a "critical moment" during the firefight on July 13, 2008, putting the outnumbered American troops at risk of being overrun by nearly 200 insurgents.

    Which raises the question: Eight years into the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, do U.S. armed forces have the best guns money can buy?

    Despite the military's insistence that they do, a small but vocal number of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq has complained that the standard-issue M4 rifles need too much maintenance and jam at the worst possible times.

    A week ago, eight U.S. troops were killed at a base near Kamdesh, a town near Wanat. There's no immediate evidence of weapons failures at Kamdesh, but the circumstances were eerily similar to the Wanat battle: insurgents stormed an isolated stronghold manned by American forces stretched thin by the demands of war.

    Army Col. Wayne Shanks, a military spokesman in Afghanistan, said a review of the battle at Kamdesh is under way. "It is too early to make any assumptions regarding what did or didn't work correctly," he said.

    Complaints about the weapons the troops carry, especially the M4, aren't new. Army officials say that when properly cleaned and maintained, the M4 is a quality weapon that can pump out more than 3,000 rounds before any failures occur.

    The M4 is a shorter, lighter version of the M16, which made its debut during the Vietnam war. Roughly 500,000 M4s are in service, making it the rifle troops on the front lines trust with their lives.

    Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., a leading critic of the M4, said Thursday the Army needs to move quickly to acquire a combat rifle suited for the extreme conditions U.S. troops are fighting in.

    U.S. special operations forces, with their own acquisition budget and the latitude to buy gear the other military branches can't, already are replacing their M4s with a new rifle.

    "The M4 has served us well but it's not as good as it needs to be," Coburn said.

    Battlefield surveys show that nearly 90 percent of soldiers are satisfied with their M4s, according to Brig. Gen. Peter Fuller, head of the Army office that buys soldier gear. Still, the rifle is continually being improved to make it even more reliable and lethal.

    Fuller said he's received no official reports of flawed weapons performance at Wanat. "Until it showed up in the news, I was surprised to hear about all this," he said.

    The study by Douglas Cubbison of the Army Combat Studies Institute at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., hasn't been publicly released. Copies of the study have been leaked to news organizations and are circulating on the Internet.

    Cubbison's study is based on an earlier Army investigation and interviews with soldiers who survived the attack at Wanat. He describes a well-coordinated attack by a highly skilled enemy that unleashed a withering barrage with AK-47 automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.

    The soldiers said their weapons were meticulously cared for and routinely inspected by commanders. But still the weapons had breakdowns, especially when the rifles were on full automatic, which allows hundreds of bullets to be fired a minute.

    The platoon-sized unit of U.S. soldiers and about two dozen Afghan troops was shooting back with such intensity the barrels on their weapons turned white hot. The high rate of fire appears to have put a number of weapons out of commission, even though the guns are tested and built to operate in extreme conditions.

    Cpl. Jonathan Ayers and Spc. Chris McKaig were firing their M4s from a position the soldiers called the "Crow's Nest." The pair would pop up together from cover, fire half a dozen rounds and then drop back down.

    On one of these trips up, Ayers was killed instantly by an enemy round. McKaig soon had problems with his M4, which carries a 30-round magazine.

    "My weapon was overheating," McKaig said, according to Cubbison's report. "I had shot about 12 magazines by this point already and it had only been about a half hour or so into the fight. I couldn't charge my weapon and put another round in because it was too hot, so I got mad and threw my weapon down."

    The soldiers also had trouble with their M249 machine guns, a larger weapon than the M4 that can shoot up to 750 rounds per minute.

    Cpl. Jason Bogar fired approximately 600 rounds from his M-249 before the weapon overheated and jammed the weapon.

    Bogar was killed during the firefight, but no one saw how he died, according to the report.

    TO
     
  2. Vassili Zaitzev

    Vassili Zaitzev Well-Known Member

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    Interesting, does kind of sound like the M-16 when it first debut, but the M4 has been in service for awhile.
    Adler has fired an M4 before, I wonder what his opinion is?
     
  3. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

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    And so have I, and I am a firm believer that the M-4 needs to be replaced...

    Gimme an AK any day of the week...
     
  4. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Is this the weapon in question?
     

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  5. javlin

    javlin Well-Known Member

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    #5 javlin, Oct 11, 2009
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2009
    Dan I think while heavy I probably go the M14(.308 ) or maybe the VZ 58 same round as the AK but very well balanced.Kevin

    Just wanted to add there is just something about a 55-65 grain bullet that does not bode well with me.The AK rd is what 130-150G, .308 150-175G they finish the job.
     
  6. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    I never had a problem with the M4. I agree with Dan that it is not the best weapon, but I did not have any problems with it. It always fired just fine for me. Based off of my experience, as long as you took care of it, cleaned it properly it worked just fine.
     
  7. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

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    Therein lies the problem Chris.. No matter how anal retentive u are with ur gear, especially in desert/mountainous enviornments, theres always the chance of a jam....

    Never had an AK jam on me, and AIve fired it after crawlin through mud and swamps and sand dunes....

    I totally agree with u Kevin regarding the weight of the M-4 rounds, just no goddamn stopping power....
     
  8. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

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    I forget where I saw this, but it was a TV show comparing guns and they put the guns AK and M4 in mud and water, the AK was fine the M4 jammed after I few shots
     
  9. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    #9 DerAdlerIstGelandet, Oct 11, 2009
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2009
    I certainly agree with you. I also think partial blame can lay into the methods used for cleaning. When I was in Iraq my M-60D would jam quite a bit even though I cleaned it after every mission. It would just fill up with sand and it would stick to the CLP. I ended up switching to WD 40 and cleaning it only every 2 or 3 missions and it worked like a champ. Did not have a jam for 6 months or more.

    The AK is probably the best. You can literally drag it though the mud and it will still work. As Dan said, I myself have never had one jam on me.
     
  10. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    The M4 is a shorter and lighter version of the M16A2, 80% of it's parts in common with the M16A2. Hard to comprehend that there should be a problem with this weapon in 2009.

    TO
     
  11. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

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    Certainly a good attribute! :D
     
  12. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

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    Hey TO, it is basically the same weapon as in Nam, but the fact remains, it doesnt have the stopping or brush cutting power of the larger calibre rounds....

    I can recall atleast 3 occasions where the M-4 jammed on me, and I kept my sh!t wired tight.... Ive also known several SEALs that were in Nam and had similar experiences with the M-16 and the Stoner 63 System...

    Think of all the wasted man hours spent field cleaning and stripping down those M-4's just so they dont jam on u when u need it most...
     
  13. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    Very true, no argument there Dan. Always thought that the muzzle velocity of the M-16 sort of made up for the difference in calibre.

    The jamming problem still really bothers me.

    TO
     
  14. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

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    Hehe, bothers u???

    Try havin 9 frickin Africans spraying 7.62 rounds all over the place rushing ur posistion and the damn rifle jams after 8 rounds....
     
  15. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    If the Special Forces are changing for something else, then that something else it what I would want to seriously look at.

    Troops must have absolute confidence in their weapons and the rifle above all.
     
  16. javlin

    javlin Well-Known Member

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    Yea TO the 5.56 is about 400-500 ft/s faster but when you can get a 150g .308 going 2400 ft/s and less drift in wind I don't know.Now I thought that one of the reasons for the smaller cailbre was to wound more than kill.Make the enemy(his comrades) tend to wounded on the field (and this could just be old lore).The enemy we have now could care less about the guy beside him I think.
     
  17. Butters

    Butters Member

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    Les,

    Are there any Western assault rifles/carbines that you think are a match (per reliability/durability) for the AK? I know that the Isreali Galil is based upon the the Kalishnikov design philosphy. Have you ever had a chance to handle one of those?

    JL
     
  18. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    For "western weapons", I really enjoy the G-36.

    I hear that some Spec Ops are replacing the M-4 with the HK-416 which is an improved M-4 with a new redesigned bolt systme that reduces jams and malfunctions.
     
  19. Vassili Zaitzev

    Vassili Zaitzev Well-Known Member

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    Maybe the G-36 should replace the M-4. What rounds do the G-36 fire?
     
  20. javlin

    javlin Well-Known Member

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    The same as the M-4 the 5.56 or .223 for some.I do not know and it probably has changed but I thought I heard that the armour(bullet vest) was basically made to stop a 5.56 rd but not the .308 so much?any enligthment out there?
     
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