Task and Purpose, Jeff Schogol
Bigger, faster, stronger.
To paraphrase the legendary military theorist Carl von Clausewitz: Everything in small arms is simple, but the simplest thing is difficult.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley has waged a relentless war against the Department of Defense’s acquisition process (hereafter referred to as “purgatory”) to replace the decades-old weapons currently in soldiers’ kit with new pistols and other small arms. So far, he’s had some major successes on the pistol front with the Army’s adoption of the Sig Sauer P320 as the XM17 to replace the M9 Beretta as the branch’s sidearm of choice.
But finding an upgrade for the M4 carbine has proven a more elusive challenge. In November, the Army’s plans to purchase a 7.62 mm off-the-shelf rifle as an intermediate solution finally gave up the ghost after months of budget-related uncertainty.
Now, the Army is currently evaluating a rifle that could actually be fielded relatively soon, Milley said Wednesday at an Association of the United States Army event in Crystal City, Virginia.
“There have been some research and testing done down at Fort Benning, [Georgia] and with industry partners that indicates that we could — it’s possible — have a rifle in the hands of American soldiers or Marines in the not too distant future — I don’t want to put a timeline — that can reach out at much greater ranges than currently exist with much greater impact or lethality and with much greater accuracy,” Milley said.
The rifle’s increased lethality can be attributed to the type of ammunition it uses, its chamber pressure and its optics, Milley said at AUSA’s Institute of Land Warfare breakfast. He did not reveal any specific information about the rifle, such as whether it chambers a 5.56mm or a 7.62mm round or if it is fully automatic, like the M27 infantry automatic rifle used by the Marines.