Let’s Further Abuse the Army’s Primitive Small Arms Maint Policy

Guns and uniforms change.  but progress eludes maintenance and storage.

Guns and uniforms change. but progress eludes maintenance and storage. Q: Do you maintain your car like you did in 1955? Your home?

Yesterday, we said a few unkind things about Army small arms maintenance policy, more or less in passing. Let’s elaborate on that today.

If you have been an armorer in the Army for many years, you could very well be pig-ignorant of how firearms fail and what maintenance they require, without that lacuna in your knowledge having the least effect on your advancements and career prospects. You will, however, have mastered maintenance paperwork and the Illusion of Maintenance. Then you can become a Small Arms Maintenance Warrant Officer, and reign over all kinds of rusty barrels, mismatched parts, and forgotten & unrecorded round counts. Finally, let’s not forget the defunct optics, which as everyone knows, are merely storage repositories in which unit armorers and supply sergeants keep dead batteries.

Don’t believe me? Let’s look at this 2014 list of “Small Arms Do’s and Don’ts” that was sent out in February of last year by Fort Stewart’s stalwart maintenance support organization, and published here on an Army maintenance website. Blockquoted text, indented and in italics, is what the original document says; bold inside that is their emphasis. Plain text like this is our commentary. At the end, your own opinions may be solicited.

Small Arms Do’s and Don’ts

    The Ft Stewart Logistics Readiness Center (LRC) offers these do’s and don’ts to keep your small arms armed and ready:

Do understand how to fill out a DA Form 2407-E.  That’s how you open a job order to get something fixed at LRC.  The SAMS system generates the form for you.

Like we said, it’s all about the forms. As far as Army big-L Logistics is concerned, an SF company with 84 ready-to-rock M4A1s and a company with 84 correctly filled out 2407s are utterly fungible. However, only one of those is capable of engaging the enemy, a matter of indifference to Army logisticians.

Don’t lock bolts back for storage and transport.  If bolts are left locked back, the springs can’t relax and soon have to be replaced.

This is, for any term or period in which this model firearm, let alone this specific one, will be in United States Service is complete and utter bullshit. Springs can experience elastic fatigue when held in compression for a very long time, but given the specification of this particular spring it will still work if you lock the bolt back and forget it until you dig the rifle up in 2065. Like most well-designed springs, it is actually designed for infinite life1. Spring design is not rocket science, no more is it the sort of voodoo to which comments like this try to raise it. It is engineering, and a well-developed, well-supported, branch of engineering that anyone can learn with a little mathematics and application.

If the spring is left deflected under full load and the load is more than the yield strength of the material, then the “resulting permanent deformation may prevent the spring from providing the required force”2

But even worse, if the bolt is locked back and someone forgot to remove a round, the weapon can fire if the truck hits a bump during transport.  This happened at Ft Stewart.

We call bullshit, again. The only weapons in the world that can do this from this cause alone are open-bolt firearms guns with fixed firing pins. If this happened with an AR, think about it: sudden blow releases bolt carrier group from hold-open. Bolt slams home, into battery, chambering the round carelessly left in the mag carelessly left in the truck. Then what? Until somebody pulls the trigger, the hammer’s held back.

Maybe that’s what the statements said happened, and somebody’s covering somebody’s ass here.

Do change machine gun barrels at the range and keep barrels matched to receiver.  Many M249, M240 and M2 barrels are ruined every year because units go the range and fire hundreds of rounds through the same barrel.  A single barrel can cost $800.  Simply switching barrels, which takes just seconds, can save your unit money and grief from your CO.

This is actually really, really good advice and unfortunately most small arms users (including armorers!) are never taught the hazards of sustained low rate of fire in damaging a barrel, sometimes in ways that physical inspection won’t find.

Don’t grab just any barrel.  The M249 and M240 barrels have been headspaced to a specific weapon.  If you use the wrong barrel, you could damage the weapon and injure yourself.

You would think this would not be the case in this era of interchangeable parts, but it is — for these weapons. But what about the self-headspacing latest version of Ma Deuce?

Even with the new M2A1, which can use any M2A1 barrel, it’s a good idea to  use only the two barrels dedicated to that particular M2A1.

That’s the Army for you. “Hey, this anal retentive program has no practical value, but it shows how concerned we all are.” “Yeah, let’s also do more than it requires!”

That will save you accountability problems later when you turn in the two barrels for that specific M2A1. All barrels should have a dog tag with the serial number for their weapon.  It’s a good idea to use a marker to highlight the receiver’s serial number so Soldiers can quickly find it.

Do transport M2s either in a rack or lying flat and secured to the truck bed.  If you stand up an M2 and its barrels, they will take a tumble within the first mile.  That breaks components like the sights and ruins barrel threads.

But… but… but… Big Green says weapons transport cases are a waste of money, and that SF and other SOF have been “squandering” their money on this kind of thing.

Millions for broken sights and barrels, not one cent for prevention. There’s Army Maintenance in a nutshell.

Don’t disassemble your weapon more than you’re supposed to.  If you do, the  parts are often lost or the weapon is reassembled wrong.  With the M16 rifle, it’s usually the trigger assembly that is put back together wrong.  Then the rifle can fire on auto when you’ve got it set for single shot.  That’s dangerous. Clean and lube your weapon like its -10 says.  Then stop!

You know, if more people were taught how to do that, someone in the unit could fix it if Joe over-disassembled his M16 or M4. We understand why higher echelons of maintenance discourage this; there are at least four reasons:

  1. They do indeed get weapons that some idjit disassembled, in a unit where no one can assemble a weapon, or that some idjit reassembled improperly. (Note that Army armorers often can’t fix this kind of problem, because they know less about the weapon than you learn in the Colt or SIG or S&W (etc). 4-hour “armorer school.”)
  2. They do get weapons where some idjit who disassembled them improperly assembled minus a part. The parts most vulnerable to improper assembly are springs; the parts most vulnerable to loss in the field are extractor pins and extractor springs. (Last we checked armorers at company and battalion were allowed to keep spare extractor pins and springs for just that reason).
  3. They do get weapons damaged by improper assembly. Since hardly anybody in the Army has been taught to properly detail-strip a weapon, there are cases where improper tools are used, or pins are forced in or out violently. This is happening less thanks to the dissemination of correct information online, but it still does happen. One of the most common damaged parts is the pistol grip attachment screw, which tends to get scarred up from wrong-sized, hardware-store screwdrivers that don’t fit right.
  4. If you know how to do it, it’s not their secret any more. That’s why they have the jaws even when SF weapons men (who are trained and authorized to do this on organizational weapons) maintain lower receiver internals. They will often fall back on shibboleths about the Army’s holy Echelons of Maintenance at this point, like an imam trapped in a losing argument, groping for a suitable hadith. The Echelon concept is, of course, part of the problem, not the solution (don’t get us started on what it means for radios).

Do turn in both machine gun barrels when you send a weapon to maintenance.  Your direct support will need both barrels to do the required repairs and gaging.

Want to know a secret? In 1942, the army fielded a machine gun in which any barrel would headspace “well enough” to any gun. And spare barrels became a supply item rather than a serial numbered weapons component. Pretty neat, huh?

Of course, it wasn’t our Army, but the enemy. Naturally, when we tried to copy that weapon,the German MG42, we botched it. Then we incorporated a few features from the Rheinmetall wonder gun on our next GPMG, and got most of them wrong, including barrel interchange. Now that we can ignore serialization on one single weapon (the M2A1 .50 caliber machine gun), the maintenance griots continue to pass down the same primitive, voodoo folkways on that weapon, too. Pitiful.

Do thoroughly clean your weapon as soon as possible after firing close combat mission capability kit (CCMCK) rounds.  If the wax left in the barrel from the rounds becomes too hard, it’s very difficult to clean out.  Then a round can stick in the barrel.  Sometimes it’s impossible to remove the round without damaging the barrel.  Pay particular attention to the chamber and barrel.  If you can’t clean out all the wax, tell your armorer.  He’ll use dry cleaning solvent.

We should probably write about the CCMCK system, which is the Army’s attempt to standardize (and bureaucratize) the Simunitions type force-on-force training SOF has been doing for what, 20 years now. One advantage of Sims is that they don’t use the same barrel as lethal munitions; the CCMCK was specified to use the standard barrel, and they’re right that it leaves the barrels messy and congeals into a difficult plaque.

Don’t forget to remove batteries from sights before storage.  Each year, many sights are ruined because batteries  left inside leak. There’s no fix for that.

The ARMY way -- optics off. (This commercial, non-issue rack would support storage optics on).

The ARMY way — optics off. (This commercial, non-standard rack would support storage optics on — of course these old A1s have fewer optic options).

Well, as the saying goes, you can’t fix stupid. This is a valid point, but there are several layers of ways to prevent this from happening. Why would an armorer accept a weapon for turn-in that still had batteries in the optic? OK, things get hurried, mistakes get made. So you have a Joe assist and double-check? Just having a system like that reduces your quantity of mistakes by an order of magnitude.

Then, why not have the armorer get a Joe once a week, and while doing an inventory, double-check optics (assuming, of course, the optics didn’t have to come off to rack the guns anyway) to see that the nasty little acid containers are out of ’em?

(And, incidentally, it is possible to design electronics so that failed batteries don’t damage the gadget, or at least damage only inexpensive, and easily replaced, contacts. The Army just doesn’t specify this when they order stuff).

The guys who wrote and disseminate this list of Do’s and Don’t’s are trying. The problem is, they’re trying in a system that is stacked against them. And their weapon of choice remains tribal knowledge (at best), voodoo folkways (at worst), and passed-on oral sagas and legends that they don’t understand.

Notes

  1. Valsange, P.S.  International Journal of Engineering Research and Applications (IJERA), Vol. 2. Issue 6, Nov-Dec 2012. P. 514 (section 1.1.3). (Note particularly the application of Zimmerli’s data that renders torsional endurance limits for all intents and purposes a constant in steel springs). Retrieved from: http://www.ijera.com/papers/Vol2_issue6/BY26513522.pdf
  2. Ibid., p. 514 (section 1.1.5).

26 thoughts on “Let’s Further Abuse the Army’s Primitive Small Arms Maint Policy

  1. whomever

    “Springs can experience elastic fatigue when held in compression for a very long time”

    IANAMetallurgist, but I like to read metallurgy textbooks. I usually hear that mechanism – eventual deformation under constant load – referred to as ‘creep’. In practice, it’s usually only a factor at high temperatures.

    But my real question: this is the first time I’ve heard of lithium (2032, 123, 1/3N, …) batteries leaking. I’ve heard of spectacular fires from mismatching fresh and discharged ones and so on, but I’ve never heard of a slow leak in storage (like is common with alkaline batteries). I thought normal practice for e.g. Aimpoints was to store with the battery – otherwise who cares about a 50000 hour battery life. When you talk about battery failures in storage, are you talking about lithium chemistry batteries like 2032, CR123, and so on, or some older sight that used alkaline batteries?

    1. whitestone

      Matter of fact, that’s one of the reasons why Mother Army now recommends using the lithium batteries in optics/NVD’s… longer storage life, longer service life and the added bonus that they don’t puke their guts all over the insides of some spendy equipment. Having worked at the depot level maintanence for a number of years you can’t imagine how many NVD’s in particular have come across my bench, trashed by battery corrosion, simply because someone, somewhere left the alchy batteries in the device for a few months. Nothing says readiness like a $12K AN/PAS13 put out of service by a buck and a half,s worth of crap import batteries. But, the supply guys keep right on buying them… and Joe just don’t know no better.
      Job security, I suppose…

      1. KenW

        Dumb question – can’t the lithium batteries catch fire if they get wet? ISTR that being an issue with a bunch of radio batteries stored in a wall locker. Said wall locker was underneath a roof leak and went up in flames.

        Then again, it’s likely battery technology has gotten a heckofalot better now than when I was in. Everybody seems to have a lithium ion battery in their i-pad/i-phone and nobody’s spontaneously combusting.

        1. Toastrider

          I went looking, but didn’t see anything online about it. The first generations of li-ion batteries used a mix that was somewhat unstable, but the current gen doesn’t. From what I read, if you overcharge a battery and leave it overcharged, it might go up. Also if one of the terminals is loose and you get arcing. YMMV, of course.

  2. Tim, '80s Mech Guy

    Cycles kill springs by work hardening under normal circumstances. Over compressed springs are damaged by that “over” part. A recoil spring in an M-4 with the bolt locked back should last a couple centuries. Storing for long periods with the bolt locked back should not be an issue, that said I can not come up with a reason to do it that way.

    “Guns” are a uniform component/accessory as much now as that PPK in Herman Georings belt holster was, untill he needed it.

  3. 10x25mm

    Modern chromium-silicon alloy spring steels – properly made – are virtually immune to setting in service after they have undergone their normal preset operation, usually the final manufacturing operation. Presetting consists of compressing a compression coil spring to solid, or extending an extension coil spring to 125% of maximum service length, or single cycling a torsion spring through its full arc (AR hammer spring type form springs). Silicon free spring steels, such as music wire, will take some set in service regardless of presetting (although presetting is of benefit) because they do not benefit from the Bauschinger effect. Bauschinger effect is why silicon is beneficial in spring steels and shock resisting tool steels, and why firearms designers should specify chromium-silicon spring steels wherever possible.

    Creep is a grain boundary sliding effect in steel. Most spring steel made before the end of WW II had high phosphorous contents and phosphorous segregates to the grain boundaries, acting as a creep ‘lubricant’. Basic chemistry steelmaking technology universally adopted as steel mills were reconstructed after WW II dramatically reduced residual phosphorous contents, to the point where spring steel creep is not consequential. However, should you choose to shoot a nice pre 1946 automatic firearm, a full replacement of its springs is cheap insurance against damage. It breaks my heart to see a damaged prewar Colt 1902, 1905, or 1911 automatic which was fired only a few rounds with its original spring set.

    Xylene is by far the best solvent to remove wax residues. Available and cheap in most well stocked paint departments. Low toxicity and modest flammability.

    1. Hognose Post author

      Thanks for this detailed explanation. Being a layman reading engineering books is a little like being a layman reading law books — a little knowledge is a hazardous thing, and there’s no way to “catch up” with the lifetime of knowledge that practitioners in the field have.

      Except, of course, to pick the brains of the practitioners — to the extent that their patience allows.

    1. Tim, '80s Mech Guy

      No, that is still a heated argument. I take the science side and say YES to long term storage of MODERN mags. The springs in that MP-18 mag from 1923, NO.
      Wartime MP-38/40 mags, probably not.

      1. Davey

        I AM an engineer and I’l like to explain something about springs in modern designed firearms and springs in older designs.

        Now adays, springs and other firearms components can be computer modeled by Finite Element Analysis software, which shows the actual stresses on a component at all points. You get a 2D or 3D color heat map of the part. Modeling allows a designer to make sure that all springs cycle within their elastic range. Since an unrestrained spring is usually at zero stress, design focuses on the amount of compressive stress when the spring is fully closed.

        The other issue is working a spring. Even if a spring is working in its elastic range it will eventually fail. A spring that goes from fully extended to fully compressed will fail faster than a spring that is cycled across less of its normal stress range. The relationship between stress range and cycles until failure is usually shown visually in a Goodman Body Diagram.

        Here’s the problem with old designs – John Moses Browning didn’t have access to Finite Element Analysis software to design springs. He guessed. Poorly, it turns out. Since we can’t change any of his spring lengths or coil diameters, we can’t change much except the materials a spring is made from. That isn’t enough to solve the problem. As a result, even modern 1911s will eat springs if they’re given enough cycles. You need to particularly inspect magazine springs and recoil springs, but all 1911 coil springs should be replaced on some sort of schedule, depending on your shooting activity.

        Current US military small arms are generally old designs (pre-computer). I’m thinking mostly about the M4/M16, the M60 and later evolutions, the FN Minimi and later evolutions like the SAW and the M9 Beretta. Draw your own conclusions whether you should inspect and replace springs on a schedule. The HK416 and the SCAR are new enough that they were probably computer modeled.

        So, I keep a few of my AR15 and 1911 magazines loaded and I break them down for cleaning and inspection every few years. I’m less worried about my Glock 19.

    2. DSM

      I’d think the feed lips would suffer before a spring failure. We had duty mags that stayed loaded for years and the floorplate would bulge and the feed lips would separate. A trooper dropped one such mag on the floor accidently and we watched it violently disassemble itself and its contents.

      1. Tim, '80s Mech Guy

        Feedlips and floorplates are another story. Dropped mags sometimes blow anyway without showing any signs of strain. Interesting that Magpul no longer ships with the little cover/clips designed to take strain off the lips. Maybe they are selling so many to the G, who still considers mags to be single use, that it matters not. OR they figure if your magwell is big enough to take the early gen P-mags expanded lips aren’t an issue. None of the other aftermarket companies bothers with anything like that but in the fine print they prolly say not to store them loaded for long periods of time.

        1. HSR47

          They only stopped shipping the covers with the MOE P-Mags (gen 2). The pricier mags still come with them.

      2. Toastrider

        I can’t help it; the image that pops into my head at your description just makes me chuckle.

    3. 10x25mm

      Have a Colt marked 20 round AR magazine which has been continuously loaded with 17 rounds since 1965. No evidence of spring set. Have two 30 round Valmet M62 magazines which have each been continuously loaded with 30 rounds since 1970, No evidence of spring set. Have six Ulm P.38 magazines which have been continuously loaded with 8 rounds since 1962. No evidence of spring set. My XRF analyzer says all these magazines’ springs are chromium-silicon steel.

      On the other hand, my EDC G29 magazines get new springs every two years due to set. Used to demonstrate set before one year, but now I preset the springs myself before installing them. Think Glock’s purchasing agents are just a bit too parsimonious, or their SQA people need to update their manufacturing technology skill set. My XRF says Glock magazine springs are oil tempered or music wire – no chromium or silicon registers, unlike their recoil springs.

      Let experience be your guide.

    4. obsidian

      I accidentally left a fully loaded seven rounds .45 acp no name brand magazine in some canoe camping gear bag where it was misplaced for twenty years, it was covered in a fine surface rust that was easy to wipe off.
      I found it after seeking a sheath knife I also had misplaced and was looking for and I was amazed when I took it out and fired every round without a failure.
      Now I don’t recommend anyone storing a loaded magazine like this and I normally swap out rounds from one ready mag to the other as a rule but just to show everyone a loaded magazine stored in an old bag in a utility shed can be trusted to function correctly even after twenty years more or less five years.

  4. obsidian

    So anyway I checked into the unit at CLNC just as the IG inspection was rolling in.
    I caught Rifle and uniform inspection, went to the Armory to draw and clean the M-16 I had been issued two weeks ago the one I had never seen nor had the chance to clean, the one I had signed a number card for and was told, “Field Skills training unit has it” by the Armorer.
    I finally got my rifle along with about half of the other “victims” minutes before inspection. The Colonel came up and I snapped to inspection arms, he checked me over and then snatched my rifle looking down the barrel and into the receiver of an M-16 that had been shooting blanks for three weeks or more and carried by a new Marine in the Units Infantry training cadre, it had not been cleaned.
    His reaction was priceless!
    He stammered red faced and shaking in anger, “MARINE, WHEN DID YOU LAST CLEAN THIS RIFLE?” I stood a little straighter and jumped into my grave with both feet, “Sir This Marine has NEVER cleaned this Rifle.”
    The Colonel handed the rifle to the Major, who handed the rifle to the Captain, who handed the rifle to the Lt who handed the rifle to the Sgt Major, who looked at me with death in his eyes and passed it to Gunny who asked me, “Son, do you want to go to jail?” The true nature of the case soon became clear as ever rifle in the Plt was in the same shape for the same reason, yet we could not be allowed to just get away with it, nor the other 40 or so victims of the same incident.
    We had to show up at S-2 every day with our M-16A1’s cleaned for inspection by the Gunny in charge of S-2 for two weeks.
    The moral of this story is, _______________________________ (fill in the blank)
    I’m sure that incident went down in history some where.

  5. Kirk

    This stuff is causing PTSD-like stuff to go on in my head, right now. I really ought to sit down and vent onto paper about this stuff, because even some 8 years after I retired, the same shit is going on (obviously…), and I dare say it was going on 20 years before I put on the uniform.

    Root issue is that the Army treats weapons as props more than it looks at them as tools of the trade. We didn’t do enough training on them, in all aspects, and I dare say that hasn’t improved one iota. The basic mentality for this is built in from the beginning, and I suspect that changing it will prove to be difficult enough that nobody will ever attempt to change it.

    To fix this, you’re going to have to make weapons a more intimate part of day-to-day military life, and put incentives into place for people to start giving a fuck. Plainly put, there’s no reason for an officer to bother to make himself an expert on small arms–He’s never going to see that as a bullet point on his OER, let alone hear his commander mention it in a counseling session.

    And, yet… At the same time, that Arms Room is the most dangerous thing in his company, career-wise. Let something go wrong, and the Army’s usual path of short-circuiting its investigations out through the first violation of regulatory policy will happen, and shit that has nothing to do with the reason for the investigation will wind up ending someone’s career. Big enough fuck-up? Everyone’s career who had anything to do with it…

    Part of the issue here is that the Army does not stop to think about anything with regards to how it actually operates in the real world with weapons. Examples abound–In Iraq, we knew that a certain percentage of the unit was always going to be on leave. How many people looked ahead at that, and said “Gee, however will we store their weapons and ammunition…?”. Zipola. Zip. Nada. I put out a policy letter for our Brigade, saying that everyone was supposed to ship over enough racks and then establish a unit arms room in-country to properly secure and store these weapons, which were not insignificant in number–Most companies had a squad+ out on leave or in transit at any one time, so we’re talking ten to twenty weapons, plus the “spares” they had for other people coming in, or that were taken up from troops issued weapons that were theater-provided.

    I might just as well have left that fucking policy letter on the disk drive, because not one unit, to include my own HHC, bothered to properly prepare themselves. The incumbent armorer in our HHC lied his ass off to me about having packed up spare racks, and when I went walking by the container he had the weapons stored in, I found just a horrendous mass of weapons, basically thrown in on top of each other in piles, and that the thing was secured by a single Series-200 padlock. And, never checked, facing out away from anyone looking at it, and onandonandon… Common sense should have said “This is fucking stupid–We’ve set up a situation so that any TCN on the fucking FOB could take a rock, knock the lock off the container, and have himself a really good time with our own weapons…”. At the time, I wasn’t even supposed to be doing the S2 thing, but they’d decided I needed to be an LNO more. I found that shit, went ballistic on my boss, and suddenly some priority was put on things. It didn’t help that some dipshits working for us had set up their supply room as an impromptu AHA/Arms Room, and then had a fire. Did I mention the AT-4s, crates of 40mm HEDP, and unracked, unguarded small arms? No? I should have–The fire department wasn’t even informed that the shit was in the little building they’d turned into a supply room, that happened to be in the middle of their fucking living areas. They found out about it when the first AT-4 cooked off, though…

    I heard about that shit the day after I found my own company had set up our own Walmart o’ weapons for any TCN with ambitions. After a bit of a screaming session, my bosses concluded that my contention that physical security needed to be a “thing” on deployment was valid, and that, yeah, it was fucked up that nobody paid attention to my policy letter the Colonel had signed. Cue panicked procurement of high-security padlocks, brackets to weld onto containers, and a directive to put them under some kind of security check system (so, at least we’d know when Hadji broke in…). The need for having some kind of rational ammo storage deal, where we weren’t storing AT-4 and other explosive warheads in proximity to the troops was also addressed.

    And, ya know what blew my mind? Not one fucking thing was done about any of that shit. We just quietly fixed it, and left it at that. The whole thing was so egregious a violation of common sense and good practices that if I’d been the guy in charge, summary executions would have probably been the order of the day, especially for the idiots who had the supply room fire. Literally–They were storing weapons for people on leave in piles on the floor of their supply room, with only an Iraqi doorknob between them and glory. The mini-AHA? Same-same. And, the fire? Started by an unauthorized electric heater the clerk or someone left on overnight. Fucking amazing nobody got killed from any of that.

    Shit like that should be a career-stopper, due to the level of idiocy involved. Instead, it’s swept under the carpet, and stupid shit back at home station that has nothing to do with the things that went wrong winds up ending careers. No lie–I watched a commander get relieved at home station because of something one of his idiot subordinates did, and the theory that was used was that he’d failed to “provide proper supervision…”. Yeah, like a 1LT not reading and following the reg, and then not lying about it to the inspectors is something that the commander can really control, especially when he is lied to by that XO (who got off scot-free… Go figure.). He’s still out one military career, and the Army is out a pretty good company-grade officer. Meanwhile, that fucking moron who ordered his supply sergeant to do that shit with the weapons and AHA thing is probably a goddamn Major or LTC, by now. Fuck me.

  6. W. Fleetwood

    I was going to tell a few horror stories about arms rooms, paperwork and such like, but Mr. Kirk has seen, raised and called. So I’m folding this hand and just adding “Yeah, what he said!!”.

    1. Kirk

      Oh, my good friend… I’m not even scraping the crusts of rime ice off the top of this iceberg of complete and utterly sublime idiocy. I could write a damn book, and it would wind up looking like Game of Thrones, volume-wise.

      At the bottom of the whole issue is an almost complete disregard for common sense and reason. It’s an interesting cultural process that’s developed, over the decades. Back when, the Army treated weapons and individual gear pretty much the same–You got issued your rifle with your uniforms, from the supply sergeant, and then you kept them in the barracks with you. The arms racks weren’t even locked up–That only became a “thing” somewhere around WWII, as best I can tell. Separate arms rooms, and separating the troops from their weapons really only came in somewhere after WWII/Korea, and the establishment of the idea that you’d keep the weapons secured 24/7 seems to have become common only during the race riots of the late 1960s. I can’t get a straight answer out of the people I’ve asked this of, and nobody really has done a definitive work tracing the progression of all this from the 1900s forwards. Read the oral histories, and there seems to have been a very localized approach taken to things–They really did do things differently, in the old days.

      Nobody has really sat down and worked through all this policy, from a standpoint of “Hey, is this a good idea…?”, especially not in the terms of effects on unit and military culture. It’s just like the move from open-bay communal barracks to these bastardized dorm rooms. It was done in the name of “quality of life”, but the question of “Is this a good idea, in terms of unit cohesion and culture?” was never asked. Personally, I think the Army ought to take a hard look at permanently issuing the weapons to troops, but with a semi-automatic fire module in place until doing full-auto weapons training or deployment. Little Johnny ought to be trained and held accountable for his weapon 24/7, and if it were I, he’d keep that damn thing loaded and carried on duty. He’d also get paid based on weapons proficiency, and his leaders would get paid based on how proficient their men were with weapons, plus how well they were able to “fight” their units. I’m a firm believer that while individual weapons proficiency is a fine thing for a leader, he really ought to be getting evaluated on what his unit can do.

      Gee, SFC Smith, you’re a member of the President’s Hundred, but you sure seem to be a lousy trainer… Sorry, since your platoon can’t seem to hit the side of a barn from the inside and with the doors closed, you’re not getting pro pay, this month. Same-same for you, young Lieutenant Jones.

      I’d also make ranges open for use whenever, fully manned for safety. Want to improve your scores? Gee, PFC Smith, go ahead–Take your rifle out to the range, why don’t you? Here’s some free ammo, to boot. Want to learn to shoot other weapons better? Fine, fine… Here’s a list of instructors on the pistol and machinegun, and when they’ll be out there running the ranges for them.

      Yeah, I’m nuts. I’m one of the few people who was actually interested in this stuff, and who bought his own ammo and weapons for training. I think you could set up a system where little Johnny and his bosses were artificially motivated to do the same sort of thing, via the fine mechanism of proficiency pay, which has a noble pedigree–We used to do it, until the finance pukes told us it was too hard, and the limp-wristed faggots running things decided it was offensive to people who couldn’t shoot worth a damn.

      1. Tim, '80s Mech Guy

        I’m in for a copy of your book! You are my favorite author, sort of Dennis Miller and R. Lee Ermy rolled into one.

      2. whitestone

        Plus one on that, Good Sir Kirk!
        I’ll presume that you are from the RA background… you should see what things are like on the NG side of the house. Take your remembrances and add an exponent to them. I won’t rehash all the articles written about the sorry state of readiness… they’re there and they’re all too true.
        In my state, things were so bad that as a result of abysmal qual rates for one MP company in particular, a weapons training team was put together to go out to all the armories and ranges to provide PMI and coaching support for the shooters… we consisted of former SART team members, shooters and SME’s on weapons systems and maintenance. That was nearly 10 years ago and we haven’t worked ourselves out of a job yet. All the things you talk about as far as keeping soldiers and the weapons together in a very intimate relationship is refreshing…
        I remember those days…

  7. TRX

    > We call bullshit, again.

    “No skin off ours, our paperwork is all in order.”

    Of course the end result of that kind of thinking leads to moving nonexistent divisions around on the sand table…

    1. Hognose Post author

      “Der Angriff Steiners… Mein Führer, der Angriff Steiners ist nicht erfolgt.” Or words to that effect. Indeed.

    2. DaveP.

      More like, refusing to issue crates of cartridges unless an officer presents proper requisition forms even though the line riflemen’s cartridge boxes are running empty and the Zulu are massing for.the next charge.

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