I noticed something today that I hope is not typical. In an Army Times photo a Marine from A 1/3rd Marine Regt is using an AK instead of a US weapon.
Despite redneck talk of how great the AK is, compared to the M16A2 or M4 it is a piece of shit. Inaccurate, too loud, and not able to take scopes and NVGs. Most importantly - inaccurate. And it is NOT more reliable than an A2 or M4, despite myths of firing thousands of rounds after being buried in mud. And when it does malfunction it has a nasty habit of blowing apart in the user's hands (well, not that nasty if the enemy is using it at the time.) It also, depending on the quality of the ammo, tends to overfeed and jam (and my guess is the enemy in Iraq has some old-ass ammo). And did I mention less accurate?
So while armchair commandos think it is normal for US troops to use AKs, to me it shows something wrong. Did his weapon malfunction, and the supply chain couldn't get him a replacement fast enough? Are they low on ammo so that he is burning up enemy stuff and conserving US rounds? Is he so poorly trained that he prefers looking "cool" with an AK instead of using his own, better, weapon? Does he have an outstripped weapon that hasn't been replaced, so the AK is actually better than his worn-out rifle? What the F? None of these scenarios are good.
Then I noticed something else.
None of the Marines in A 1/3 Marine Regt. had scopes. They didn't have day scopes, NVDs, AN-PAQ-4 designators, nothing. Just iron sights. All they had were plain vanilla M16A2s, with no "goodies." And those "goodies" help, especially at night. A designator, for instance, sends out a beam, like a laser sight, that you can put on the enemy and, if you are properly zeroed, that is where the round will go. So you put the "dot" on the enemy's forehead or center mass and send him to Paradise. The enemy, unless he is wearing NVGs, can't see the beam. And if he isn't wearing NVGs then he can't even see you, and that is why the US Army owns the night. Plus, in well-trained units, the use of designators helps you to stay in your sector of fire and avoid two soldiers engaging the same target. And day scopes are handy even when not firing - you can see farther and pick your next position, or see what is going on, and communicate farther with hand and arm signals.
So why doesn't A 1/3 have them? Are they standard in the USMC, or do the Marines do without? The US Army has them. The M4 has the rail system designed to take the "goodies," and most pictures of US soldiers show them equipped with sights and night vision and designators. Pictures of Marines aren't showing this. If you are a Marine don't give me the "we are better trained and don't need them" line of bullshit. The Marines are awesome, but not better than the US Army. And you don't go to combat without ALL the advantages you can get. So I want to know why some American kids are over there without the proper equipment, especially since other American kids have it.
They also don't show the helmet-mounts for NVDs. Soldiers operate at night almost as well as in the daytime because of our huge investment in night vision. Not that night vision doesn't suck to use - it is like walking looking through a paper towel tube. But it is better than being blind. And with the helmet mounts you can use them even when flares are constantly going off and illuminating the scene bright as day. Pop - flare goes off, you flip up the NVD. Flare burns out and you flip them down. You are never blind.
So where are the NODs for the Marines? And why the F is one of them shown using a piece of crap AK? They have the rest of the equipment they need, from what I can see. I've seen them with shotguns, and with lots of frags, and I saw some use a pre-prepared demo charge to blow a hole in a wall. So why not NODS and scopes?
This bothers me. Can somebody tell me why the Marines aren't as well-equipped as the Army? And are they as well supplied as they should be?
A quick explanation for civilians, but veterans and those already familiar with the US military can skip this:
NOD- night observation device, a "night scope." The green picture you sometimes see when news networks are showing night battles is taken with a NOD.
NVD - night vision device, same as a NOD.
M4- the shorter version of the M16A2 that the US Army has adopted, with adjustable stock and a rail above the barrel and reciever to take NODS and other things, like flashlights, etc.
Designator - a "laser sight" kind of device that shoots a beam visible only to those wearing NODS. The beam is aligned with the sights. You put the beam on the target. You know why.
Zeroing: adjusting your sights so that when your sight is center mass on a target the round is too.
AK - most will already know this. The standard assault rifle of the former Soviet Union, and pretty much the entire third world, with a distinctive very-curved magazine. Usually fires 7.62mm rounds in the AK-47 version. It has been updated to fire 5.54mm ammo in the AK-74 version, which is very common nowadays. The 5.54 mm high-velocity round is even smaller than the 5.56 NATO round of the US military. Smaller is not necessarily less effective: since force = mass times acceleration, the round is smaller but moves much, much faster, causing more impact and damage than a larger, slower bullet. It is cheaply made, fairly reliable, and not very accurate. It is cheap and simple to use and maintain, which makes it the weapon of choice for conscript armies that don't have the time or money or motivation to train their soldiers to a high standard. The M16-series in the US military is actually a much, much better assault rifle, but more expensive and more complicated to use. It is thus preferred by professionals, but not by mass conscription armies. The AK fires in the semi-automatic mode (single-shot each time you pull the trigger) or full automatic mode (empties out when you hold down the trigger). The M16-A2 and M4 fire on semi or 3-round burst mode. Full auto is usually the equivalent of saying "I can't shoot accurately, watch me waste up all my ammo before a well-trained enemy ends my misery." US troops like it when they face enemies that use full auto - it means the enemy can't shoot straight and is very poorly trained.)