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Weapons: Spray And Pray Fades Away
   Next Article → SUPPORT: Miracle In The Desert

December 6, 2008: American troops are slowly helping Iraqi forces convert from Russian designed AK-47s to American M-16 and M-4 assault rifles. The process involves taking one Iraqi brigade at a time and putting the troops through a 21 day course on how to use the M-16. The training involves a lot of time spent on marksmanship, as well as the need for keeping the M-16/M-4 clean. Neither marksmanship or weapon maintenance have ever been major priorities in the Iraqi army.

Over the next five years, Iraqi security forces will be replacing all of their AK-47s with U.S. M-16 and M-4 assault rifles. In the last two years, the Iraqis have received 235,000 M-16 and M-4 rifles, but most have not been distributed yet. So far, only the more elite commando and SWAT units have received the American rifles, in addition to a few infantry brigades. Marksmanship and cleaning issues aside, Iraqis like the M-4 because it is two pounds lighter than the AK-47. This is a big deal for Iraqis, who tend to be smaller than U.S. troops, and also get worn down by the heat. The M-16 and M-4 also have less recoil than the AK-47. This, and the better inherent accuracy of the M-16, make many Iraqi troops believers in single aimed shots. With the AK-47, the favorite firing mode was "spray and pray" (poorly aimed full automatic fire, which can empty an AK-47 magazine in a few seconds).

Many Iraqi troops are not keen on getting the M-16. They know it is more accurate, and that they are getting more target practice to improve their shooting skills. But the M-16 requires more maintenance. You have to clean it a lot. The less accurate AK-47 was much more tolerant when it came to sand and dust. However, Iraqi NCOs and junior officers tend to prefer the M-16 for its lighter weight, and lighter ammo. The M-16 ammo weighs more than a third less than AK-47 rounds. That extra accuracy and ammo can be a lifesaver in combat. Iraqi NCOs also note that the U.S. troops manage to keep their weapons clean, and believe that Iraqis can be trained to be as diligent.

Iraqis may differ on whether U.S. troops should be in the country, but all agree that the Americans are formidable warriors. Increasingly, Iraqi troops are wearing similar combat uniforms and driving hummers. The Iraqi soldiers consciously copy their U.S. counterparts. This includes handling their weapons, and moving, in a similar fashion. But it isn't all superficial imitation. The Iraqis stand and fight now. U.S. troops, back in Iraq after having been away for a year or so, are pleasantly surprised to find, when called to reinforce an Iraqi unit (like a checkpoint, or a police station) under fire, that the Iraqis are now fighting harder and smarter. In the past, the U.S. troops would often show up to find the Iraqi troops or police had fled.

With so many Iraqi units equipped with M-16s, and wearing similar uniforms, it's often hard to tell Iraqis and Americans apart. This has led to situations where, in the thick of combat, a U.S. NCO goes up to a soldier and yells an order in English, which results in an Iraqi soldier. Who only speaks Arabic, turning around and giving the U.S. sergeant a puzzled look.

Next Article → SUPPORT: Miracle In The Desert
  

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trenchsol       12/6/2008 6:28:54 AM
Why AK-74 never achieved "popularity" of AK-47 ?
 
DG


 
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WarNerd       12/6/2008 1:06:21 PM
Do not be fooled, changing the cartridge a nation uses is VERY EXPENSIVE.
 
The AK-74 is only superior to the AK-47 in long range accuracy, something of little use for poorly trained troops selected for their political reliability, instead of the ability to keep their eyes open when firing and maintain their weapons.  The AK-47's cartridge is superior at short ranges because it is does more damage when it does hit.
 
The AK-47 is probably the optimum design for the 'spray-and-pray' crowd.
 
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nyetneinnon       12/6/2008 10:37:35 PM
IMHO, if you want to increase morale of new Iraqi National Army as far as you can with regards to practical weapons outfit goes, I'd suggest the Polish wz.96 Beryl 5.56mm NATO, with 40 mm grenade launcher.  No offense to the M-4 and the intent therein.
 
But such a superior 5.56 developed, common AK-looking rifle there, would even make the USMC squeal!
 
Not to mention Iranian Revolutionary Guards troops doing backflips to get one!!
 
As far as end to 'Spray and Pray' goes... let's talk about making the small investment to converting those said 40mm launched grenades into common laser-guided sharp shooters @ 800m out!  Game over...  lights out!  One shot.  Call back the Air Assault battalion en route..
 
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dumbnotstupid    Hah!   12/7/2008 6:15:18 AM
Just like we did for POS Osama> Trained him and he screwed us hard. we live in a very trusting (too much 4 our own good) country.The U.S needs to take care of its own like the rest of the World does.
 
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trenchsol       12/7/2008 8:48:56 AM

Just like we did for POS Osama> Trained him and he screwed us hard. we live in a very trusting (too much 4 our own good) country.The U.S needs to take care of its own like the rest of the World does.

For the sake of the facts, US never collaborated with Osama Bin Laden. US services worked with some mujahedeen fractions and leaders during Soviet campaign, like Hekmatyar and Haggani, but not with Osama Bin Laden or Taliban. Taliban, probably, did not even exist during Soviet occupation.
 
Why are people ignoring the historic facts so effortlessly ? "Those Muslims" are not all the same crowd. There are differences among them, some of those people would never agree to work with any western agency or service.
 
 Much better example is Saddam, who received a lot of aid during Iran - Iraq war.
 
DG

 
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REMF       12/7/2008 9:49:27 AM
In the fight to push the USSR out of Afghanistan the Pakistani ISI made sure there was little or no contact between the US and the Afghan mujahideen. All weapons and money from the US, from Saudia Arabia and other countries were required to be funneled through the ISI's distribution network.
 
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maruben    brotherly love   12/10/2008 10:45:23 AM

Iraqis may differ on whether U.S. troops should be in the country, but all agree that the Americans are formidable warriors. Increasingly, Iraqi troops are wearing similar combat uniforms and driving hummers. The Iraqi soldiers consciously copy their U.S. counterparts. This includes handling their weapons, and moving, in a similar fashion. But it isn't all superficial imitation. The Iraqis stand and fight now. U.S. troops, back in Iraq after having been away for a year or so, are pleasantly surprised to find, when called to reinforce an Iraqi unit (like a checkpoint, or a police station) under fire, that the Iraqis are now fighting harder and smarter. In the past, the U.S. troops would often show up to find the Iraqi troops or police had fled.

With so many Iraqi units equipped with M-16s, and wearing similar uniforms, it's often hard to tell Iraqis and Americans apart. This has led to situations where, in the thick of combat, a U.S. NCO goes up to a soldier and yells an order in English, which results in an Iraqi soldier. Who only speaks Arabic, turning around and giving the U.S. sergeant a puzzled look.
 
I like your comments on how goood the Iraqi soldiers are following the big brothers´example, it is almost like brotherly love. My experience from other conflicts tells me otherwise, but I hope you are right, if it is not your comments are just propaganda.
 
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WarNerd       12/13/2008 3:53:16 AM

 Much better example is Saddam, who received a lot of aid during Iran - Iraq war.

I would call level of support Saddam got just about right -- both sides lost.
 
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