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Subject: Marines ditching the M249!!!!!!
ArtyEngineer    9/18/2008 11:40:41 AM
Front page of teh Marine Corps Times has the following headline. "Kiss your SAW goodbye, New Automatic rifle with 30-round mag comming in 2009. Why the Corps is cutting firepower to lose weight." Now did the british army not discover that this didnt work out to well with the L86 LSW (Light Support Weapon). Be interested on what our infantry experts think of the plan?
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panzerc       9/18/2008 5:04:19 PM
cant really think of any advantages of having a fully auto 30rd rifle replacing a saw or a 240 for that matter. the only obvious advantage is saving a few pounds which makes a huge difference on a 20 mile ruck march. with the sling hung on your neck you really feel the extra 10 lbs of the saw after the first mile and the 240b just about killed me everytime i had to carry one. thats why im glad to be just a rifleman less to carry. anyways back to topic, the saw was made for one purpose and that was to keep the enemies head down. when you replace the belt with a magazine you take away that one advantage the saw had. now looking at the corps point of view they have 13 man squads compared to the armys 9. that extra fire team makes a world of difference when it comes to laying down fire which could very well be the reason the marines are replacing the saw. another big reason might be simply because of the type of warefare we expect to be in in the foreseeable future. thats obviously urban. on a four man stack entering a building you usually dont have the saw gunner up front simply because he has way too much firepower. ive seen units do it that way but normally the gunner would be the fourth man and pull rear security. so replacing a 20lbs bulky weapon with a 10lbs fully auto rifle with a heavier round could be ideal for the automatic rifleman in mout. me personally im glad the army is keeping the saw in the fire teams, a replacment weapon would be nice though.
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Marine Rifleman       9/18/2008 9:11:28 PM
If they have made the decison thes my clear up the reasons why:

Automatic Rifle Concept: Part I—History and Empirical Testing

by CWO3 Jeffrey L. Eby

?Those German units fortunate enough to have officers who understood the effect of modern firepower went into battle in dispersed skirmish lines, with as many as six meters between each man and with each man granted the freedom to make use of whatever cover was available during his forward movement.?1—Bruce Gudmundsson
Stormtroop Tactics

The relationship between the lethality of weapons and the dispersion of the troops found on the same battlefield has been a consideration for commanders since man first engaged in combat. From the Spartan phalanx to German stormtroop operations, combat leaders have been forced to adjust their tactics to the technology of the day. The dispersion of the troops has always been a critical aspect of the tactics employed. As the lethality of weapons has increased so has the dispersion necessary to preserve combat power.

Throughout history, advances in technology have driven tactical changes. As smaller units of combatants have gained greater firepower, dispersion has become a critical function of survivability on the battlefield. Dispersion is not merely a function of physical distance between elements but also incorporates the elements of mobility, command, and control. One end of the spectrum of dispersion is a massed armed force in physical contact, slow to move, and under the direct observation and control of its senior leader. The opposite end of the spectrum is a force of individual skirmishers moving quickly and guided only by a general intent. Commanders have continually adjusted the deployment of their forces in order to most effectively bring fire to bear on the enemy while simultaneously attempting to minimize the effects of enemy fire on their own forces.

The combatants of World War I learned a number of lessons as they attempted to resolve how to increase dispersion in the face of increased firepower, while still maintaining some type of control over their squads and platoons. By increasing the training standards of the individual soldier they hoped to enable themselves to decentralize command and increase dispersion.2 Better trained soldiers could operate more effectively without direct supervision.

Realizing that coordinated rushes drew fire, soldiers began advancing using stealth, microterrain, and individual rushes.3 The development of a light machinegun and trench mortar—fielded at the squad level—increased the unit?s firepower without having to resort to linear formations of riflemen.4 Without the need to ?build up the skirmish line,? squads could maneuver freely, furthering dispersion while maintaining offensive momentum.5

By the beginning of World War II almost all combatants possessed squad organizations built around light machineguns and automatic rifles (ARs). Armies fielded units capable of the dispersion necessary to survive and operate on this new, more expansive battlefield in both offensive and defensive operations.

As World War II progressed, American Army and Marine Corps squads focused on gaining further firepower that improved their survivability and allowed for further dispersion and movement. Army experiences in the bocage country of Normandy and the woods of the Huertgen forest led to two and even three Browning ARs (BARs) at the squad level. The American ?light? machinegun—a water-cooled, .30 caliber model—could not be used in the assault due to its weight.6

The Marine Corps developed the fire team concept. As early as the Corps? Nicaragua experience, Marines recognized the need for a squad-level automatic weapon.7 Through World War I and into the Pacific campaigns of World War II, Marine Corps squad development continually evolved toward smaller maneuver elements, each armed with an AR. In keeping with the ?triangle? concept, the Corps finished World War II with the 3 fire team, 13-man squad still utilized today.8


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Marine Rifleman       9/18/2008 9:13:12 PM

Automatic Rifle Concept: Part II—Reorganizing the Infantry Squad

by CWO3 Jeffrey L. Eby

This is the second article outlining the automatic rifle
assessment conducted by 2d Battalion, 7th Marines (2/7).

The previous article summarized the relationship between weapons lethality and dispersion on the battlefield and the need for a highly mobile automatic rifle (AR)—reliable and capable of semiautomatic fire—at the fire team (FT) level. The first article also indicated that, rather than eliminate the M249 squad automatic weapon (SAW) from the Marine Corps inventory, the weapon should be employed in its designed role as a light machinegun (LMG). The M249 as an LMG, coupled with a true AR at the FT level, would markedly increase the lethality of the infantry squad. It would further the historical paradigm, already outlined in the first article, of increased lethality resulting in the need for increased dispersion.

Because of the results achieved in Phase I, experimental squad and platoon organizations were constructed in order to examine how the inclusion of a true AR and the consolidation of the SAWs at various levels of command would affect tactics, techniques, and procedures at the platoon, squad, and FT level. This article will summarize the results of the constrained squad reorganization.

2/7 reorganized its rifle companies in order to better utilize the SAW and to integrate the AR into the squads. The battalion hoped that different configurations in squad and platoon organization might prove better at taking advantage of the mass, flexibility, and command and control available when removing LMGs from the assault role. Each rifle company maintained one platoon, using the current table of organization (T/O) and with current tables of equipment, to act as the evaluation?s control group. The companies then reorganized one of their platoons, integrating the ARs and consolidating the SAWs at different levels of command. The first platoon in each company reorganized a squad by replacing the SAWs in the first and second FTs with one of the AR test variants and consolidating the SAWs in the third FT. (See Table 1.)







Squad Leader


1st FT Leader

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smitty237    Interesting   9/18/2008 10:22:08 PM
I found the test results fascinating and illuminating, if not necessarily surprising.  Finding a weapon system that fits in somewhere between the AR and the GPMG has been wone that has vexed militaries for decades.  The SAW seemed to be the best solution for the mechanized, mobile battlefield, but the Iraq War continues to teach us new lessons.  The SAW provides the infantry squad good suppressive firepower, but it is too heavy for room clearing, and automatic firing belt fed gun probably isn't necessary or desireable for this purpose. 
A lot of people are going to point out the loss of firepower by switching to a box fed versus belt fed gun, but each of the systems used in the trials are capable of using 100 rd. drum magazines, which would negate this disadvantage.  Remember, the M249 was capable of firing from an M-16 magazine, but this was designed as an emergency measure, allowing the SAW gunner to employ rifle mags should he run out of belt ammo.  This feature did not, however, make it particularly useful for room clearing, which is not what it was designed for. 
The problem with auto-firing guns is that if they're fired on full auto for more than a few seconds they get hot---real hot, and unless they are equipped with an open bolt and a quick change barrel you will soon experience stoppages and the gun will eventually seize up altogether.  The fact that the Colt gun experienced negligent discharges was surprising but made perfect sense.  Every user of the AR-15 based weapons system is taught to release the bolt and load the weapon by slapping the bolt release.  What a shock it must have been to the Marines participating in this trial when the Colt weapon then cut loose a burst!  This is a training issue to be sure, but it could also be a design issue.  Perhaps on this weapon Colt should remove the conventional bolt release common to M-16 rifles.  The bolt can still be released manually by pulling back and releasing the charging handle, and you can even ride it home slowly (though you may need to tap the bolt assist to properly seat the round in the chamber).  There are probably other ways they can deal with this issue. 
I'm not sold on the whole concept, but maybe it will work.  I can certainly see the utility of this weapon.  On patrol it can function as a drum fed automatic weapon capable of providing full auto supportive fire.  When it comes time to clear buildings the automatic gunner can remove the drum and load a conventional thirty round M-16 magazine. 
Any pictures of the weapons used in the trials?
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longrifle       9/19/2008 7:07:20 PM
Worth noting from WWII infantry combat:
The big USMC squad with 13 men and subordinate fire teams developed around three automatic rifles, not light machine guns.  I think there were three squads to a platoon. 
The smaller German squad with 10 (later nine) men that had no fire team subdivision developed around a single light machine gun.  I think there were four squads to a platoon.
The end numbers for the platoons were very close to the same and both squads were successful in heavy combat.  It would be hard to argue that one squad was more successful than the other. 
It's different ways of going about the same thing, but a squad with small fire teams is probably better suited to AR employment, while one LMG in a smaller squad is usually more than enough for effective suppression and leaves more carbineers/riflemen for the close fight (which the smaller squad is already somewhat short on). 
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