Dec 12, 2013

Weapons of the US Infantryman

US Armed Forces branches each of specific missions which compliment each other in a unified fighting force and because of their mission differences they use different individual and crew-served weaponry or different models of the same weapon. The following is the beginning of a series that looks at the weaponry of the United States Armed Forces, its history, usage and specifications.
US Army Infantryman: M16/M4
From Top: M16A1, M16A2, M4, M16A4
The primary standard individual weapon for a US Army soldier is the M16 rifle, the M16A2 variant of the original Colt manufactured “assault rifle”. Armalite Corporation made the original design, but Colt got the contract after rejection by US Army - Colt purchased manufacturing rights and first sold it as a semi-automatic sporting rifle destined to become the standard issue of the US Army. 
The M16A2 can fire single-shot or three-round bursts, unlike the fully auto version used in the Vietnam War. The idea of the three-burst mode was to enable controlled auto fire versus continuous fire until magazine is empty in which the Vietnam vets refer to putting into “rock-n-roll” mode. Currently the M16 is being phased out in favor of the M4 [M4A1] – a shorter version of the M16 that has an adjustable stock to be used as a rifle or a short assault rifle for close quarter combat [CQB] tactics commonly used by the quick reactionary forces of the US Army soldier today. 
M3 - "Grease Gun"
M4 with M203
The M4A1 is currently issued to vehicle crew members, like tankers and armored infantry vehicles. Mechanized Infantry was phased in towards the end of the Cold War era and used in the Vietnam War as part of the armored cavalry units. The previous vehicle crew weapon was the M3 [Grease Gun] established in WWII in .45 caliber to compliment the Thompson Carbine submachinegun in the same caliber. 
The side arm of the infantryman for NCOs, officers and crew-served weapons is the M9, a 9mm double-action semi-automatic pistol produced by Beretta that replaced the Colt M1911 single-action semiautomatic as a standard-issue sidearm. As you can see in the following video, the M16 was hindered by politicians and obstinate military leadership that was prejudice against the light infantry weapon and also because the army and development teams did not ensure that the weapon was prepared to be used in Vietnam and troops who first received the rifle were not properly trained to use it.

M249 - Light Squad Weapon
M240 Medium MG
The present support fire weaponry used by the US Infantryman is the light M249 [5.56mm] and the medium M240B [7.62mm] machine gun, the latter's design taken from the German WWII M42 machine gun; although those who research history of US M240 do not recognize it. Indeed, the US Army Kevlar helmet used today is from the design of the Nazi German helmet of WWII. Hey, if the design is good - use it.

M203 - dismounted
Another support fire weapon is the M203, which is a modern version first used in Vietnam of the M79 grenade launcher. Previously, special adapters were used on rifles to fire grenades from secure positions and long range developed in WWII. The grenadier of the Vietnam War carried the wooden stock, single-shot grenade launcher and a M1911 sidearm for personal defense. When the M16 became the standard-issue rifle, an attachment called M203 was developed and used to replace that, which gave better versatility to a designated grenadier and all infantrymen were trained to use it. The grenadier is issued a special vest that holds various 40mm grenade rounds for signaling with colored flares, buck shot for close-range and riot control, as well as standard High-Explosive (HP), tear gas cartridges, and Phosphorous-Magnesium rounds that create intense heat. 
The US Army and US Marine Corps still have a stand-alone grenade launcher but replaced the M79 with the M320 and will soon replace the M203 as an attachment to the M16. As a stand alone version it is capable of using a day/night sight and a Laser Range Finder [LRF]. Its breech opens to the side which allows it to use the newer longer rounds. The other stand-alone grenade launcher is the MGL [Multiple Grenade Launcher] that is a six-shot revolver-type grenade launcher for serous fire support. It has been adopted for use by military and police forces in over 50 countries; formerly only used by Special Forces units. The US has designated it as the M32 MGL. Crew-served weapons used by infantryman, trained to use them is the M2HB .50-caliber heavy machinegun, used since WWII with little changes. It was designed by John Browning, just as the M1918 [BAR] used in WWII. 
M16: used from 1962 to present; designed by Eugene Stoner and rights bought by Colt; weighs 7.18 lbs unloaded and has barrel lengths from 20 inches to 13 inches, depending upon model; muzzle velocity is 3,110 ft/s with an effective range of 550 meters [point target] and 800 meters [area target]. Standard box magazine holds 20 rounds and a combat 30-rd magazine. The new C-Mag 100-rd drum can also be used, but generally found in the M249. Designed to attach various accessories like night-vision and quick-fire scopes, as well as the M203 or the M32 grenade launcher.
M203: from 1969 to present, weighs 3 lbs, cartridge is 40x46mm, single shot with a rate of fire of 5 to 7 rounds per minute; muzzle velocity is 250 ft/s with an effective range of 105 meters [160 yards] and maximum range of 400 meters. It has a quadrant or a ladder sight. Most effective in thick vegetation areas and urban warfare for room/building clearing.
M9: Made by Beretta, an historical Italian firearm mfg that produces quality to this day; it is a semi-auto pistol designed to fire NATO 9mm pistol ammunition; it has been in US service since 1985 to present; weights 33.6 oz unloaded with a length of 8.5 inches with a short recoil and double-action; magazine holds 15 rounds of 9x19mm Parabellum ammunition. Muzzle velocity is 1,250 ft/s with an effective range of 50 meters.
M249: A squad automatic light machine gun originally developed by FN in Belgium has been in service from 1984 to present, originally designed in 1976 by Fabrique Nationale de Herstal. Weighs 17 lb empty and is 40.75 inches long with an 18-inch barrel. It fires a 5.56x45mm NATO round, is gas-operated and empties with an open-bolt. It can sustain 100 rounds-per-minute [RPM]with a rapid rate of fire of 200 RPM. It used with M27 linked belt ammo or a STANAG magazine.
M240: In service from 1977 to present, used by all branches of the US Armed Forces as a medium machinegun. Weighs 27.1 lbs [M240B], M240G = 25.6 lbs, and M240L at 22.3 lbs. Overall length is 49.7 inches and fires 7.62x51mm NATO linked ammunition; is a gas-operated, open belt weapon with a muzzle velocity of 2,800 ft/s. Effective range with bipod extended is 800 meters, mounted on a tripod [M192] – 1,800 meters. Maximum range is 3,725 meters. It has a folding leaf sight with aperture and notch at the front blade. Used as a squad support fire weapon as well as vehicle mounted [M240B] and various other configurations including mounted at the door of helicopter gunships. US Coast Guard also uses it on their patrol boats. The infantryman carries the M240L. The infantryman also uses it with an attached M145 attachment and AN/PEQ-2. Has ability for quick-change of barrels when used on tripod or bipod defense operations and when rate of fire is intense. Can be used as an individual or a team weapon, like the M2 heavy machinegun.
M24/M110: Issued US Army Sniper Rifle system fires 7.62x51mm NATO [.308 caliber], a bolt-action rifle with a 5-round internal magazine. It marks the return to bolt-action rifles for sniper use, replacing the M24 that was a customized semiautomatic M14 originally used in the Vietnam War on into the 1980s. The wooden stock was replaced by a Kevlar, graphite and fiberglass stock bedded with epoxy resins and aluminum bedding block. It also has an adjustable butt plate, a detachable bipod produced by Harris; and like the US Marines, has a Remington 700 action receiver that has been adapted to take a .300 Winchester Magnum round. Standard is a 10x42 Leopold Ultra M3A telescope sight with Mil-Dots and detachable emergency iron sights. Its overall length is 43 inches and weighs 12.1 lb without the telescope and unloaded.
The M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System was designed to be the future standard-issue sniper rifle and has been used in Afghanistan with excellent results. Snipers usually prefer the M110 over the M24. The optics has been improved on the M110 for day/night vision and a quick swivel base for tracking moving enemies. The rifle is ambidextrous, used by left- and right-handers alike. It uses the same ammunition as the M24. The M110 weighs 15.3 lb with scope, bipod and loaded 20-round magazine. It is 40.5 inches long and 46.5 inches long when buttstock is fully retracted and the suppressor is attached. It is gas-operated with a rotating bolt like a bolt-action and the effective range is 800 meters with a muzzle velocity of 783 ft/ with 175-grain M118LR ball ammunition.
US Army Sniper
The sniper has been used throughout the history of warfare and beginning in WWII the sniper was used in special operations by Special Forces units. In the 1980s, as the US Army began to be reorganized from Cold War tactics to smaller strike units outfitted with better technology, the company sniper was formed, training soldiers who fired Expert rifle in order to accompany platoons as part of the fire team. The company sniper has a spotter who is armed with an M16 and M203 using a powerful spotter binocular system to assist the sniper in determining and terminating targets. The lone Special Forces sniper was used extensively in Vietnam usually against specific targets to eliminate other snipers and important strategic individual targets. Contrary to general belief, the US Army sniper is trained with only 20% of his training being shooting and the rest learning patience, working alone or with a spotter and how to properly conceal and camouflage self and position. The US Army Sniper School was established in 1955, after the Korean War ended in a cease-fire. 
The present US Army Sniper School is located at Fort Benning, Georgia and the course is five weeks in length. In 1993, the Army National Guard Sniper School was established and is located at Camp Robinson in Arkansas. In order to be a sniper the soldier must have prerequisite of the following MOS [Military Occupational Specialty]list: 11B, 11M, 19D, or CMF 18. The standard sniper weapon system is the M24. Snipers are not restricted to this issued weapon, however.
US Army Infantry - 1940s
 The US Army soldier has evolved drastically since the WW2 ...
Infantry Close Combat Team - 21st Century
Infantry Military Occupational Specialty Codes:

The infantry is the main land combat force and backbone of the Army. It's equally important in peacetime and in combat. The Infantryman's role is to be ready to defend our country in peacetime and to capture, destroy and repel enemy ground forces during combat. Assists in the performance of reconnaissance operations. Employs, fires, and recovers anti-personnel and anti-tank mines. Locates and neutralizes mines. Operates, mounts/dismounts, zeros, and engages targets using night vision sight. Operates and maintains communications equipment and operates in a radio net. Operates in a NBC contaminated area. Constructs field expedient firing aids for infantry weapons. Performs as a member of a fire team during a movement to contact, reconnaissance, and security, an attack, defense, situational training exercises and all infantry dismounted battle drills. Processes prisoners of war and captured documents. Leads an infantry team in combat operations, providing tactical and technical guidance to subordinates and professional support to both superiors and subordinates in the accomplishment of their duties. Leads, supervises, and trains subordinate personnel. Calls for and adjusts indirect fire. Evaluates terrain and selects weapon emplacement. Controls organic fires. Installs and recovers anti-handing devices on anti-tank mines and electrical and non-electrical demolition charges. Supervises construction of hasty fortifications and re ceipt, storage, and issue of ammunition. Records operational information on maps. Receives and implements combat orders, di rects deployment of personnel in offensive, defensive, and retro grade operations. Requests, observes, and adjusts direct supporting fire. Evaluates terrain and supervises the emplacement of sighting and firing all assigned weapons. Uses maps and map overlays, performs intersection and resection, and determines elevation and grid azimuths. Leads a fire team during a movement to contact, reconnaissance and security, an attack, defense, situational training exercises, and all infantry dismounted battle drills.
 Duties as infantryman, plus ...
Employs, fires, and recovers anti-personnel and anti-tank mines. Performs self extraction from a mine field. Locates and neutralizes mines. Navigates from one point on the ground to another. Orients a map. Operates and maintains communications equipment and operates in a radio net. Operates in a NBC (nuclear, chemical, biological) contaminated area. Emplace and recover early warning devises. Constructs and camouflages individual/crew served weapons firing position. Constructs and camouflages a mortar firing position. Maintains mortars and fire control equipment. Performs safety checks on mortars. Performs as a member of a mortar squad providing indirect fire support
 11H & 11M:
The fighting vehicle infantryman leads, supervises, and serves as a member of a fighting vehicle unit or activity employing vehicular and dismounted weapons in combat operations.
(1) Skill Level 1. Performs duties as IFV driver, gunner, or fire team member. Operates both mounted and dismounted to close with and destroy the enemy. Employs, operates, and maintains assigued weapons and equipment. Employs proper dismounted movement techniques, cover, concealment, and camouflage as part of dismount team. Performs basic communication functions and operates platoon communications equipment. Constructs individual fighting positions. Assists in the construction of fortification and barriers, including minefields and obstacles. Assist in the breaching of minefields and obstacles. Collects and reports tactical information as member of combat or reconnaissance patrol. Operates IFV over varied terrain in varied visibility. Conducts preventive maintenance checks and serv ices on the IFV and its components. Assists in target detection, identification, and round sensing.
(2) Skill Level 2. Performs duties shown in preceding level of skill. Performs duties as IFV gunner or team leader of dismounted element. Provides technical and tactical guidance to subordinates and professional support to both subordinates and superiors in the performance of their duties. As team leader, leads infantry dismount team in combat operations; processes operational and intelligence data. Receives and implements combat orders. Evaluates terrain; selects weapons placement sites; assigns target engagement areas and fields of fire. Requests, observes, and adjusts direct and indirect supporting fires. Supervises construction of fortifications. Records operational information on maps; reads and interprets maps. Pre pares sector sketch of vehicle or dismount team positions and sec tors. As gunner, detects, acquires, identifies, and engages targets. Maintains the turret and weapon systems of the IFV.
(3) Skill Level 3. Performs duties shown in preceding level of skill. Perform duties as squad leader or section leader in IFV pla toon. Provides technical and tactical guidance to subordinates and professional support to both subordinates and superiors in the per formance of their duties. Receives, issues, and implements orders. Controls vehicular and dismounted weapons fire in mounted and dismounted operations. Coordinates actions of the squad with adja cent and supporting elements. Coordinates organic and supporting firepower. Ensures collection and proper reporting of intelligence data to unit and responsible staff sections.
(4) Skill Level 4. Performs duties shown in preceding level of skill. Performs duties as platoon sergeant or operations sergeant. Provides technical and tactical guidance to subordinates and profes sional support to both subordinates and superiors in the performance of their duties. Receives, issues and implements orders. Assists platoon leader in controlling platoon in mounted and dismounted operations. Assists in dissemination of intelligence information to unit and staff sections. Assists in planning, organizing, directing, supervising, training, coordinating, and reporting activities of subor dinate elements. Performs battle damage assessment. Supervises pla toon maintenance activities. Supervises receipt, storage, and distribution of ammunition, supplies, equipment, and rations to sub ordinate elements. Assists in production and administration of staff journals, files, records, and reports. Assists in coordination and implementation of combat operations, training programs, and admin istrative and communications procedures. Assists in organization and operation of the tactical operations center.
(5) Skill Level 5. Performs duties shown in preceding level of skill. Performs duties as first sergeant or operations sergeant. Provides technical and tactical guidance to subordinates and profes sional support to both subordinates and superiors in the performance of their duties. Serves as principal NCO in a mechanized infantry IFV Company and supervises the processing of operations intelli gence information in an infantry battalion or higher level unit. Plans, coordinates, supervises, and participates in activities pertaining to organization, training and combat operations and intelligence of units at battalion or higher level.

The Cavalry Scout is the commander's eyes and ears on the battlefield. When information about the enemy is needed, they call on the Scouts. Cavalry Scouts engage the enemy with anti-armor weapons and scout vehicles in the field, track and report enemy movement and activities, and will direct the employment of various weapon systems onto the enemy.
Performs duties as crewmember, operates, and performs operator maintenance on scout vehicles. Armored Airborne Reconnaissance Vehicle, and Cavalry Fighting Vehicle, crew-served weapons, and communications equipment. Loads, clears, and fires individual and crew-served weapons. Operates and performs operator maintenance on wheeled vehicles. Assists in the recovery of wheeled and tracked vehicles. Secures, prepares, and stows ammunition on scout vehicles. Performs mounted and dismounted navigation. Serves as member of observation and listening post. Gathers and reports information on terrain features and enemy strength, disposition and equipment. Applies principles of except and evasion. Collects data for the classification of routes, fords, tunnels, and bridges. Performs dismounted patrols Employs principles of cover and concealment and camouflage. Assists with construction of light field fortifications, laying and removal of mines, and emplacing demolitions. Performs dismounted patrols. Requests and adjusts indirect fire.
Supervises scout vehicle crew, cavalry fighting vehicle crew, and M551A1 crew. Supervises operator maintenance of tracked and wheeled scout vehicles and individual and crew-served weapons. Selects, organizes, and supervises scout vehicle recovery operations. Trains scout vehicle crew. Supervises request, receipt, storage, and issue of ammunition. Leads scout vehicle crew and assists in leading scout squad. Serves as gunner, on CFV, ITV, TOW jeep, HMMWV, and M551A1.

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