The US Army is broke. It hasn’t got the proverbial pot to piss in, and it’s looking at years of dwindling budgets, declining end strength, nonexistent Operations & Maintenance budgets, worn-out weapons and plunging recruit quality. In other words, a return to the Jimmy Carter-era “Hollow Army.”
So naturally, it is reacting to this state of affairs by planing a new round of pistol trials. You know, pistol, the weapon of which the highest-scoring Army operator was Major Nidal Hasan, playing for the opposing team. The secondary or tertiary weapon. That pistol.
The Army has a pistol that works OK, but they think they can do better and have a laundry list of bitches about the old M9. It’s less durable than alternatives, especially in intensive combat training; it has an open slide; half-trained bozos can put the safety on while playing rack-the-slide on what must have been YouTube-inspired “combat drills”; and the MPs, who always suffer from real-cop envy, weally weally want a .40, because FBI, or something. (There might be a more recent case, but as far as we know the last gunfight MPs were in was in 1999. And they killed that suspect with M9s. Dead as a mackerel).
Now, the one source we have on this new competition is the usually-wrong-because-they-really-don’t-like-the military Gannett Army Times, so take that with
a grain of salt your horse’s entire salt lick. But they do quote an ordnance bureaucrat, and a lot of anonymous sources. Their laundry list of M9 beefs includes ones that simply aren’t true: “It can’t be suppressed… no night sights.” News to us, who’ve shot military M9s with suppressors and tritium sights (True, only the Glock night sights have an NSN, but that’s neither Beretta’s, nor the sight maker’s — Trijicon’s — fault. The Army doesn’t want to spend money on sights that wear out, except for SOF who can buy them with MFP-11 money without NSNs). And the trials they describe are like the beginning of the Book of Genesis: darkness is upon the firmament. And the Army’s head is up its fourth point of contact.
The trial is for a 9mm or .40 or .45. It’s a COTS play, except the Army wants specific things; they’re not really sure what specific things.
Ladies and gents, this is not a plan to select a new pistol. This is a trial balloon to see if the Army can get away with running a new round of service pistol tests. It is a product of wishful thinking, both of the ordnance officers, who would like to have something new to do, and of a variety of people who have the jaws at the M9 for one reason or other.
Hardly anyone in the Army has used a pistol in combat. Nearly as few have conducted extensive pistol combat training (as SF and SOF have done, especially during the period when hostage rescue and house clearing were routinely done with pistols — a period that began to draw to a close when SAS took down the Iranian Embassy hostage takers using MP5s over thirty years ago). Nobody engages with an M9 if he can engage with an M4A1, M249, M240, M2HB, 60mm mortar, etc., etc., you get the idea. We carry our M9s to give us a New York Reload in extremis — that’s all.
So we’re talking about a lot of money to replace a weapon that’s already little used.
We’re here to tell you: Will. Not. Happen.
The Army in the last few years have binned two attempts to produce a “better” combat carbine (the SOF-specific Mk 16 SCAR-L, and the Individual Carbine competition) on the rather sensible grounds that the candidates, while good, offered such a narrow incremental improvement on the M4A1 that the expenditure just wasn’t justified. And the SCAR-L cancellation (if not the IC mercy killing) was enacted in times of budget plenty, before the military budget became the deadly competitor of higher budget priorities, like food stamps and Obamaphones.
And did we mention, and we believe we did, the Army’s broke?
Army Times is hostile to hot links from military blogs or forums. So we’ll give you a text link you have to copy and paste: