Standardization of Service Ammunition

Whether we like it or not, the US military is living in a post-sequestration time period. That means each service is going to have to make difficult decisions in order to save dollars. Getting away from service-specific camo (bleh!) is one of those things. Another one that has popped up, according to the Army Times, is a standardization of ammunition.

The Army and the Marine Corps have been having a tiff over what their standard ammunition will be. The Army wants M855A1, the Marines want Mk 318 SOST. As an Air Force officer, and one that is not expected to carry a rifle at that, I don’t have much of a dog in this fight. When it comes to small arms, though, the USAF does tend to follow the Army’s lead (even though I would prefer SOST). Regardless, from a logistical standpoint (which is what wins wars, by the way), it is silly to have the huge footprint it takes to have multiple sources of camouflage and different ammunition manufacturers with different specs. That costs a lot of excess money.

At the end of the Army Times article, Larry Vickers (a prominent trainer in the firearms world, and former member of some elite military units) says it best:

Tackle some training deficiencies first. Go out and issue M193 ball to Delta and they will hand anyone their ass on a platter because they are bringing training and technology together…You can’t bypass the first step. You need guys who can hit targets in a variety of situations under stress, bringing the skill to the table that warrants that ammo. [Nitpicking ammunition] is like trying to fix a software problem with a hardware solution.

The US military as a whole — their theory is not to put in time and effort to build better skill, but to try to buy better effectiveness and hits on target…It is very misguided.”

I believe I’ve been saying the last point repeatedly in the last year. You cannot buy skill with new technology. I sincerely hope that if the day ever comes that we have to square off against a first world power again, then we send in people that we know we’ve actually invested in through training, skill, and education. New gizmos aren’t going to last long against a country that can copy you quickly, and find a way around it.


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