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Weapons: Afghans Have To Earn The M24
   Next Article → ARMOR: Rolling Along In Safety
January 13, 2011: Afghanistan is buying over a thousand American M24 sniper rifles for its army and police. These will be delivered over the next 40 months. Why not deliver them faster? Because most Afghans are lousy shots. While there are a lot of weapons in Afghanistan, and most families have one, there is not a lot of money for ammunition. Many of the weapons are old (often a century old) rifles and shotguns. Afghanistan is a very poor, if heavily armed, country. While marksmanship is admired, shooting skills have greatly deteriorated in the last three decades. Thus the U.S. is not supplying the Afghans with the more powerful .300 Winchester magnum version of the M24 (the M2010).

The big issue in Afghanistan is how to get Afghans to shoot more accurately. To remedy this problem, NATO trainers have obtained large amounts of rifle ammunition and are having Afghan troops expend it regularly learning to fire accurately. Afghans, and especially the Taliban, consider themselves great warriors. But they are not noted for their accuracy in a firefight. Blame this on new toys. Since the 1980s, the country has been awash with AK-47s and RPG rocket launchers. The Afghans took to the AK-47, and the thrill of emptying a 30 round magazine on full automatic, as a worthy battlefield technique. Actually, it's not bad for a brief, close range firefight, especially if you were fighting other Afghans. But against soldiers who aim and fire single shots, the "spray and pray" approach gets you killed.

NATO troops have built rifle ranges for the Afghan Army, and trained Afghan officers and NCOs in time-tested techniques of becoming an accurate shot, and training other Afghans to do the same. Afghan troops are also being equipped with M-16 rifles. These are more accurate, for single shot use, than the AK-47 (as well as being a little lighter, and using lighter ammo). The Taliban now try to be more careful when getting into a fight with the Afghan Army. Like the foreign troops, Afghan soldiers can be detected by ear. They will be firing M-16s, one shot at a time, while their Taliban adversaries will be on full automatic with AK-47s. The sound of an M-16 and AK-47 are different, and full auto fire is obviously different than single shots. The Taliban often depend on setting up an ambush, with the intention of fleeing if they do not destroy most of the army force with their initial fire and roadside bombs.

There used to be an Afghan tradition of precision, long range shooting. Before the 1980s, this skill was treasured for both hunting and warfare. Since Afghanistan was the poorest nation in Asia, ammo was expensive, and older men taught the young boys all the proper moves needed to get that first shot off accurately. But because of that poverty, few families had a rifle, and most of those who did, could not afford to buy the ammo needed to develop accuracy. Thus sharpshooters were highly respected, not only for their skill, but because they could afford to buy a rifle (usually a bolt action one) and had an innate talent for getting the job done with one shot.

During the 1980s, Saudi Arabia spent billions of dollars to arm Afghans with all the AK-47s and ammo they could use, and they used lots of it. But rarely for target practice. Compared to bolt-action rifles like the British Lee-Enfield, the AK-47 was much less accurate when one shot at a time was fired. During the last three decades, it's become much more common for Afghans to have a rifle, usually an AK-47. But it was rare for any of these new riflemen to be very accurate with their weapon. The NATO training program is changing that, and changing the way the Afghan Army fights.

The last stage of this training is selecting the best marksmen and training them to be snipers. In addition to shooting skills, a sniper has to learn about concealment, and moving about the battlefield without being seen.

 

 

Next Article → ARMOR: Rolling Along In Safety
  

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shep854       1/13/2011 8:15:49 AM
There's also the loyalty issue.  I'm sure the NATO instructors are being very careful who they give the training and weapons to, yet are still nervous.
 
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VisigothCAS       1/13/2011 12:51:05 PM
I was wondering about that as well. How do we know some of these weapons won't end up being sold or just given to the enemy and turned against our own troops? Same goes for the training.
 
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cwDeici       1/13/2011 2:44:57 PM

I was wondering about that as well. How do we know some of these weapons won't end up being sold or just given to the enemy and turned against our own troops? Same goes for the training.


If they feel like they actually need the weapons it might help a bit I suppose?
At any rate these things can be traced... but as for how to stop it? I suppose unit leaders would have to be accountable which works somewhat as the ANA is improving, and those persons would have to be accountable to someone further up which is where things get bad coz Karzai sucks.
 
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cwDeici       1/13/2011 2:46:31 PM
well, not Karzai, someone in between, though it does drip from the top, but u get my point
 
Anyway, its not like the Taliban don't already have access to sniper rifles. The worse part would be the PR of them waving around specialist rifles on TV from the US army.
 
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AThousandYoung       1/13/2011 4:02:38 PM

Stick a GPS beacon in them.

 
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tscottme       1/13/2011 4:11:19 PM
This reminds me of a movie with Judge Rhinehold and Eddie Albert, I think it was "Inc."  A parody of a multi-national conglomerate was reviewing recent business deals. One deal was the company selling advanced modern fighter jets to backward tribes in some African country even though neither tribe in the conflict had any pilots.  The tribes simply planned to put the multi-million dollar jets on hills facing their enemy and roll them toward their enemy creating a spectacular crash between fighter jets.
 
Seriously, there is a reason why Afghan culture is 1000 years behind and it's foolish to expect anything to turn the land that time forgot into anything but the land that time forgot with a few modern items broken along the side of the road.  Let the Afghans keep diddling little boys and living in mud huts.
 
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Tucci78    Why M-16 or M-24 rifles?   1/14/2011 4:26:41 AM
The government of South Korea is closing out its inventory of M-1 Garand rifles and M-1 carbines.  Bubba's Bitch (marking time as U.S. Secretary of State while she's waiting for somebody to demand Barry's birth certificate and the whole gaudy "born in Hawaii" fraud comes crumbling down) has done everything possible to keep these old but perfectly useful semiautomatic battle rifles out of the hands of American private citizens. 
 
The Garands are relatively simple, sturdy, accurate weapons with real range and stopping power, a single step up from the old SMLE bolt-action beauties once revered by the Afghani shooters.  The South Koreans are willing to part with them cheaply, and it would be far better to put into the hands of these "spray-and-pray" Sandbox guys longarms which cannot fire promiscuously and rend the earth.
 
As for sniper rifles...  Hm.  Aren't there any M1903 Springfields yet in stock in an arsenal somewhere?  
 
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cwDeici       1/14/2011 10:22:21 AM


The South Koreans are willing to part with them cheaply, and it would be far better to put into the hands of these "spray-and-pray" Sandbox guys longarms which cannot fire promiscuously and rend the earth.

That's a... great idea! I mean not for their best shooters, but just to force the bad eggs in the classes to stop and aim.
 
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Sty0pa    Not like they used to be   1/14/2011 1:46:31 PM
Funny thing is, in the days of the "Great Game" in the latter 19thC, Afghans were famous (infamous?) amongst the Russians and British in the area for being uncanny riflemen.   
 
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Dave_in_Pa       1/15/2011 12:06:23 AM

The government of South Korea is closing out its inventory of M-1 Garand rifles and M-1 carbines.  Bubba's Bitch (marking time as U.S. Secretary of State while she's waiting for somebody to demand Barry's birth certificate and the whole gaudy "born in Hawaii" fraud comes crumbling down) has done everything possible to keep these old but perfectly useful semiautomatic battle rifles out of the hands of American private citizens. 

 

The Garands are relatively simple, sturdy, accurate weapons with real range and stopping power, a single step up from the old SMLE bolt-action beauties once revered by the Afghani shooters.  The South Koreans are willing to part with them cheaply, and it would be far better to put into the hands of these "spray-and-pray" Sandbox guys longarms which cannot fire promiscuously and rend the earth.


 

As for sniper rifles...  Hm.  Aren't there any M1903 Springfields yet in stock in an arsenal somewhere?  


Tucci, that sounds really interesting.  Got any more info or links on that?
 
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