Infantry: May 20, 2003

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The Iraqi campaign brought forth a lot of requests for changes in how the infantry are equipped. You'd think some of these things would show up in peacetime training, but for some reason there's nothing as intense as the real thing. Actually, a lot of the complaints coming from troops in Iraq have been heard before, but now they are more likely to be listened to. While the troops thought most of their training was good, it's now recognized that more of that training has to be done in full combat gear, including protective vest and hauling around the chemical protective gear. Also, keep a magazine (even if it's an empty one) in the M-16 most of the time. By operating more in full "battle rattle," it would have been discovered earlier that the Humvee really needs a new seatbelt. The current one, when used by a trooper with all his gear on, takes too long to unfasten. This can be fatal when the shooting starts and you are in an Humvee. The debate still goes on about the MOLLE pack and webbing that replaced the older Alice gear. The MOLLE rig feels too bulky, too heavy and seems to have less space for storing gear than the older Alice pack system. MOLLE was also criticized for not holding hand grenades properly, and under some conditions the pins call out. Troops operating with their protective vest and MOLLE pack on noted that the lower pockets on the BDU (Battle Dress Uniform) shirt were useless. It's been recommended (many times over many years) that some pockets be added to the sleeves. As for weapons, troops were impressed with the superior range and accuracy of the RPG, versus their M203 40mm grenade launcher. This has been a lament heard since the Vietnam war (when U.S. troops with 40mm grenade launchers encountered opposition using RPGs). Troops using the new, lighter M-4 rifle (a shorter M-16) also noted that once you added all the neat new accessories to the M-4 (which was built to more easily take new electronic sites and such), the weapon is actually heavier than the M-16. But the new electronic sights were well liked, no complaints there. There were more requests for a decent squad radio. The word was getting around about the neat squad radio the British marines had. 

 


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