The Good News is: The Iraqi Army Has Arsenals Full of Reliable Weapons...

So, let's assume you've occupied a third-world nation and you have to build an army from scratch. Time is tight and resources are scarce. The public at home is complaining loudly about the cost of the occupation and the slow rate of progress in getting the army trained and ready.

There is some good news. The indigenous male population of the occupied nation is thoroughly familiar with the Kalashnikov family of rifles, one of the most reliable, durable and cost-efficient weapons on the planet. Scores of young men coming into the army are experienced in operating and maintaining these types of weapons, and the country's arsenals have these exact weapons stacked up like cordwood, along with tons of spare parts, ammunition and magazines.

So, of course, the intelligent thing to do, in this time of tight budgets, tight timetables and training challenges--but plentiful Kalashnikovs--is to take away the Kalashnikovs and replace them with expensive, notoriously-temperamental weapons almost completely foreign to the soldiers and armorers of Iraq:

[T]he M4 variant of the M16 finished dead last in a recent U.S. Army Small Arms reliability test in an environment that was designed to test the weapons in a heavy dust environment... an environment very much like Iraq. The M4 finished behind the XM8, Mk16 SCAR-L, and HK416 weapons systems developed precisely because the U.S. military [wants] a more reliable weapons system than the M16/M4.

The M16/M4 that the military is passing on to the Iraqis has a hard time functioning even when in the hands of American soldiers who are trained to practice rigorous weapons maintenance. The Iraqi military and police forces, which have come to trust the AK's ability to function in almost any environment and despite shoddy maintenance, are going to be in for a rude, and for some, unfortunately fatal learning experience as a result.


Posted by: Ragnar at 10:20 AM


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