22:19 GMT09 May 2021
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    Few countries on the planet could hope to dominate the US in tank, air or naval warfare but US soldiers would be easily outgunned in a fire fight, military analyst Jim Schatz wrote in his article for National Defense.

    "Yet every bad actor with an AK-47 takes on US and NATO ground forces in a small arms fight. We are no longer suitably armed to prevent it," he wrote. "The current US Army small arms development and acquisition system is dysfunctional and virtually unworkable, even for those within the system."

    The problem became visible after the Battle of Wanat in 2008 at Combat Outpost Kahler in Afghanistan. Nine soldiers of the 173rd Brigade Combat Team were killed and 27 others were injured. Their weapons, including M249 machine guns, Mk 19 grenade launchers and M4 carbines, stopped firing due to overheating.

    The flaws of the M4 carbine have been well known to military analysts. For example, tests in 1990 and a report by US Special Operations Command in 2001 proved its numerous shortcomings. However, that was ignored by lawmakers as well as by military command.

    Billions of dollars are spent to develop high-tech weapons that are never used in modern warfare while the issue of small arms has never been tackled, according to the author.

    Small arms are the most deployed weapon systems in the arsenal of the US military, but the eight most numerous conventional weapons in the army were developed over 35 years ago, and have never been upgraded.

    "While we have replaced uniforms, helmets, body armor, radios, rations and footwear countless times in three decades, the weapons and ammunition we use in 2015 are little more than variants of Vietnam-era technology possessing the antiquated capabilities of a bygone era," the analyst wrote.

    The Pentagon is still procuring thousands of ageing weapons which are totally outperformed not only by commercial small arms used by US allies as well as its foes, Schatz pointed out.

    "While the current Army standard-issue M4 carbine has received a series of upgrades over time, not one of these improvements has made the weapon more effective where it really counts — in its effects on target and stand-off range beyond that of US enemies," he wrote. "Yet, today we plan to procure tens of thousands of M4s with 'new' improvements — standard and proven features that existed in the HK416 when it was first fielded a decade ago."

    He also noted that in Afghanistan, US and coalition troops used 5.56x45 NATO weapons, and as a result were outperformed by enemy fighters employing 7.62x54 mm caliber weapons. The same caliber is used now by Islamic State (ISIL) fighters.

    "The nation will be remiss if it does not exploit the many modern, often paradigm shifting technologies that are available today in the commercial and defense markets," the analyst concluded.

    military capabilities, soldiers, AK-47, US Armed Forces, US
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