Skip to comments.New Arms For A New Iraqi Army (Iraq’s Symbolic Switch: AK-47 Out, M-16 In)
Posted on 12/02/2007 3:55:26 PM PST by DogByte6RER
New arms for a new Iraqi army
Soldiers are trading in the iconic Soviet assault rifle, the AK-47, for a U.S. military symbol, the M-16.
By Doug Smith
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
December 2, 2007
BESMAYA RANGE, IRAQ The company of Iraqi soldiers pressed together for the dance of valor, singing of their bravery, stomping in the desert sand, thrusting their weapons skyward, just as they might have done not so many years ago to honor Saddam Hussein.
But what were those sleek silhouettes they jabbed into the air? Not AK-47s. The iconic Soviet bloc assault rifle that has been synonymous for decades with America's adversaries and the developing world is being phased out of the Iraqi army.
Its replacement? The M-16, a rifle that first saw service in the jungles of Vietnam and has since, over a sometimes difficult evolution, become the dominant symbol of the Western soldier.
Over the next year or two, the 190,000 projected members of the Iraqi army will be issued M-16s or related weapons, to the consternation of some military aficionados and pundits, with some saying the U.S. is tempting fate by offering the world's premier assault rifle to a country with an unstable government and a healthy black market.
Others see a stroke of genius in giving the Iraqis a weapon renowned for its temperamental nature.
"Having an insurgent pick up and use an M-16? Possibly detrimental to their efforts in the long run," one blogger wrote sarcastically.
The controversy reflects the two weapons' remarkably different characteristics and their competing roles in global power struggles over the last five decades.
The AK, bred in the Soviet assembly lines of 1947, is easy to mass-produce and renowned for its indestructibility.
(Excerpt) Read more at latimes.com ...
The US went to great lengths 4 years to arm the Iraqi forces with AK47s(or variant).
From the color of the magazine, isn’t that an AK-74?
Hamas uses M-16s. It’s the king of beers.
Leno should hire Smith to write his jokes.
Why is it I'm suddenly reminded of Jason Blair and his story about Pfc. Jessica Lynch's West Virginia tobacco fields and cow pastures.
Rush says politics is just show business for ugly people. Maybe Journalism is just creative writing for dullards.
Awful big hole in the end of that barrel to be the 74?
Isn’t war profiteering great?
For a reason, the Ak 47 is a bit more *ahhem* durable and better suited to desert conditions and a third world army and the lack of maintenance that comes with that army.
Perhaps they should have issued ACOG sites for the Ak’s instead of M-16’s?
” The company of Iraqi soldiers pressed together for the dance of valor, singing of their bravery, stomping in the desert sand, thrusting their weapons skyward...
Why is it I’m suddenly reminded of Jason Blair and his story about Pfc. Jessica Lynch’s West Virginia tobacco fields and cow pastures.
Rush says politics is just show business for ugly people. Maybe Journalism is just creative writing for dullards.”
Hmm as I recall Pfc Lynch’s rifle failed to function.
And they should be doing a bravery dance upon being issued the M-16, the longest serving rifle in US Military history..
Even the AK knockoffs and derivatives sell for $400 to $1500 over here. The real AK47’s go for abut $20-$40 in the countries where they are prevalent.
It just ain’t fair.
“Isn’t that an AK-74?”
No, it’s definitely an AKMS in 7.62 x 39. Orange bakelite magazines are common as dirt in 5.45mm for the AK-74, but scarce as hens’ teeth in 7.62mm like the one in the photo. Had one, sold it, been kicking myself every time I think about it.
That’s a neat looking AK. And yes, there are good reasons to prefer the Kalashnikov to the Armalite. Loose tolerances keep functioning when tight tolerances jam up, but it may be symbolic as well, Iraqis now carrying M-16s.
Just wonder what Iraqis whose lives depend on rifle reliability think about the switch.
Bulgaria, China, Germany and Russia made bakelite magazines for the AK-47. From the muzzle this appears to be an AK-47.
To all that corrected me on the caliber: Thanks. I did notice the barrel but thought the magazines were color coded for the cartridge. Oleg also has a knack for the unusual so I thought it was the 74.
This is not good. The Iraqis do not understand the need for cleaning a rifle. The AK will tolerate filth, but the M-16 will not. If the M-16 doesn’t work, then many Iraqis will think that we sabatoged their weapons. I know this sounds silly, but I saw it time and time again.
Hope this helps 7.62x39 prices to start going back down to pre-2005 prices. I’ve been sitting on my last 2000 rounds because of the significant increase in price of the last few years.
The AK was simply picked because of the “familiarity” we knew many of the Iraqi’s had with this firearm. The ability to recruit and train is much easier when 3/4 of the troops already have experience with a weapon. Furthermore, the AK is extremely cheap, easy to mass produce, and can be procured in vast numbers quickly from friendly countries like Jordan. We can literally buy 100,000 of them tomorrow, and have them in Iraq as fast as we can move them there.
That said, it’s a piece of junk that is in vogue among 20 something olds in the US. The AK receiver is stamped and more easily damaged than an M16, to include the gas tube. The weapon is more rust susceptible compared to the M16 which is cast aluminum and partially chrome plated internally (star-chamber, barrel etc). The M16 weighs less, is more accurate, is more controllable in a full auto variant and burst, is more adaptable in its modern versions to accessories for CQB, night image intensifiers, laser pointers, scopes etc. The M16 is even more ergonomical in CQB and other roles as the soldier tries to manipulate it. As a weapon for a military organization, the M16 is by far a superior weapon when compared to a normal AK47, as the Iraqi Army carries. The only weapon currently fielded to an Army which is superior to the proven M16 is the German G36. Based on the AR18 design it simply has less bolt fouling and because its a much newer design it uses composites which are lighter and even cheaper. When the M16 was developed, some of these new polymers didnt exist.
What I suspect will happen within the next few years-
After WWII and as the Cold War began to spin up, the Germans needed to arm their new Bundeswehr (We actually already had them armed before their Army technically stood up). We equipped this force with M1 Garand, M47/48 tanks, etc. As we equipped them, we replaced much of the equipment we had in our inventory with more modern systems. Our phased out hard-ware was going to an ally that desperately needed it while we upgraded to newer systems like the M14 and M60 tank. All through Latin/South America among friendly nations youll see old UH1 Helicopters working, many of them are old US machines that were replaced with the UH60. I know the DoD has been looking to replace the M16 for a while. There have been several large efforts to this end. I wonder what it will be?
Whatever comes next, I hope its birthing is a bit easier than the M 16’s...
I do not agree. Kournikova, Sharapova, and Dementieva.
And don’t forget, Colt and other make new uppers in a useable calibre
7.62 X 39 and 6.8 X 43.
Me? I like the vesion in 7.62 NATO.
FWIW, I also own a AK in 5.56 as my ‘semiauto’ for house use. Fun to shoot as well.
Yes, you’re right.
That said, you must admit that at the time and years later most people had no clue of how novel a design the M16 was. Cast aluminum (Very light and corrosion resistant - but very expensive to manufacture also a first); high velocity and unstable round (Small and light ammo that does a lot of damage on a human); a lay out that allows nearly complete operation with a single hand (Selector, magazine release etc); and highly modular in design (Changing the stock, upper or lower receiver, barrel is easy), made this small little weapon a trend setter others would emulate, since today S. Korea, Germany, Great Britain, France, Italy, Austria, Australia...... all use 223. I think its overlooked that this weapon was actually quite revolutionary in concept going against the stream and to a smaller cartridge that was very fast and a slug that was inherently unstable after impact. Later the smaller high velocity concept was cloned by nearly everyone, even the Russians with their 5.45. The basic bolt design of the M16 can be found on other weapons today. The German G36 is essentially a direct clone of the M18, which was ArmaLites follow on design to the M16 and shares some design features as well. The M16 was adopted fully or in part by the armed forces of 71 different nations; and remember, the M16 is a very expensive weapon in comparison because its a cast aluminum weapon with chromed star-chamber and barrel. No way can this weapon compete in price with a stamped sheet metal gun like an AK. When the M16 came out in 1964, there were NO weapons that were this light, small, accurate, with that much firepower, and so easy to use.
For example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heckler_&_Koch_G3
The German G3 was a good weapon. It was in service all the way into this millennium with the German armed forces. The M16 has a point target range of 550 meters, the G3 400. The G3 weighs more (1.7 pounds) and is bulkier. The little 223 cartridge against a human will actually (on average) do more damage than the larger 308 because of the higher velocity and specifically instability of the slug. For the same weight and volume, an infantryman can carry about 210 rounds 223, or 120 rounds 308. The M16 upper and lower receiver is less susceptible to corrosion and the stock is synthetic vs. wood (which in the mid 60s was still the norm for a stock) See a difference?
The M16 had birthing issues. Had it not been for an extreme climate (hot and wet) combined with less that perfect ammunition, this issue would have been benign and probably not come to the forefront as it did. Nonetheless, a design with a weakness was put under the least ideal of conditions and there were many failures. This was identified and corrected quickly with the A1, but the legend of the unreliable M16 lives on.
An M16A1, and the following designs are no more or less susceptible to failure than most other assault weapons. Ive seen AKs fail, just like Ive seen Glocks, my Sig 226 and many other weapons fail. Given the right conditions you can set-up any weapon to fail or look impervious to malfunction. In reality the M16s major draw back is in design because it blows carbon down into the bolt, but this issue is minor since malfunction from this would require serious neglect, bordering on stupid. I used an M4 under arctic conditions (-68F) while in 1-17 Infantry and in Iraq at 122F (1AD). Never did this weapon fail me, but I did see an AK fail for an Iraqi guard. Misuse and or neglect can cause malfunctions on all weapons, and the M16 is generally no more susceptible than others. I too hope that the follow on weapon to the M16 has no birthing pains. I also hope we get a weapon that gives our troops a performance edge as the M16 did; that we procure a weapon that is a leap in technology and is so adaptive and universally designed, with future threat developments in mind, that like the M16 the design can viably survive 43 years and still be among the best fielded standard issue rifles in any army.
556 over penetrates (especially here in the US where everything is drywall) and you risk killing others besides the intended target in “house use.” Buy a shotgun.
556 = small, light weight, flat trajectory, low recoil, easy to manage with burst or full auto. Combined with SS109/M855 is makes a big mess inside a human because of the instability and high velocity.
Non-elastic organs (Heart, liver, kidneys, and spleen) are ripped to pieces inside a human from the shock wave. The slug itself begins to rotate and after 7 cm penetration is on its side, unlike 308 which tends to punch nice clean holes through people because it does not begin to do so until 18 cm of penetration. The little 223 often comes apart and exits with two holes since the M855 ball has a penetrator tip and lead core back which usually split in two when the slug is rotating. Bottom line: 223 makes a huge mess of humans.
Nothing can replace good shot placement. If you hit the brain or spinal column the dude no matter how big or tough or what he’s doing, will drop. If you hit someone with a 50cal in the leg, as it happened at a TCP with us, the guy will sit there with his leg essentially blown off, but alive and conscious. A bigger bullet often does not bring better results and you can see that when you hunt. With my little Marlin 308 I drop big game, and someone else might shoot the same animal with a 338 (8.6 x 70) and this animal suffers. If I take someone and have them kneel, shooting them into the back of the head, a 22 will do the trick 100% of the time. If I shoot someone in the lower abdominal region with your 6.8mm he will be in agony, but most likely alive. Where the bullet goes will make the difference!
223 is a general purpose round. It depends on the ranges youre shooting at and what youre engaging. Against a human from 0 300 meters its nice to just be able to put the dot on the target and know that the bullet will only be 2 inches bellow, above, and then bellow line of sight in that range span. 223 is adequate to kill humans, that simple. On burst or auto you can control the weapon. Even when taking quick aimed shots you have an advantage because your recovery time is so little, practically none. I could easily go to the range and shoot with less than one second between shots, and every shot is actually an aimed shot, because 223 is like a kids cap gun. Because of the almost toyish feel when shooting its not an intimidating weapon that can easily be learned on even by those who might be intimidated with something like a G3. I can carry lots and lots of little bullets, and thats nice, because they dont have legs of their own and I had to carry them. 223 is not something you go bear hunting with, but it will do well with hogs or humans. 223 might not be the best choice when hunting dall sheep in Alaska on a mountain side at long ranges, but it will do perfectly well against a human from say 10 150 meters which is what over 90% of all your engagements will be at.
The 223 cartridge is a balance in performance aspects that while not perfect in all situations, all the time; is more perfect than any other cartridge most of the time. Its a round that was designed for a specific target in mind, operating at a span of ranges that a soldier might work at, and incorporating other aspects such as transportability. If having slightly more range that might only pay off in 1% of the realistic engagements means I have to carry a weapon that is heavier 100% of the time, I didnt make out on the deal! So while 223 is not perfect in every situation, it works very well most of the time and has a good balance of characteristics for meeting the purpose of what its intended use is, a general purpose cartridge for killing bad guys.
My point was that M16 doesn’t always = 5.56mm - I should have been more explicit.
I now use .223 for varmints - I can hold to a dime sized group at 100M - the bipod and glass helps as does the handloading ; )
For any social situations at the house I have a 45 ACP that is always handy..... Intrestingly I have seen 90 gr 5.56 loads advertised at 'surplus' Must hit like a buzzsaw at close range - it has to upset almost at the muzzle....
When I was on active duty, I prefered to carry the AK-47 (Romanian folding stock version) to the M16A2 or M4.
I found that the folding stock on the AK was safer and easier to handle during Fastrope and airborne ops. If you fastrope with an M16, there was a tendency to be butt-stoked by the weapon when you landed.
I found that the 5.56 round would be deflected in light foliage or moderate winds, while the 7.62 would not be affected as much. The 7.62 round is also easier to apply "Kentucky Windage" to since the splash of the round is easier to observe at medium-long ranges.
As far as the M4 is concerned, I hated it. Yes, it was a small package that was eay to handle, but that came at the expense of accuracy. We were issued the ACOG sight and that was a real boondoggle. Zero at 25 meters, confirm at 100 meters, and reconfirm at 250-300 meters only to find that the point of impact had changed at the greater ranges. I preferred my civilian AimPoint sight to the ACOG. The troops today have so many gimmicks attached to their M4's that it negates the weight saving benefits.
All in all, I preferred the AK series for the close in, heavy underbrush area's or CQB. The M16 was good for longer ranges found in desert area's. Both weapons are good when used within design parameters, or they wouldn't be as prolific as they are.
I have an AKM in .223, why not buy the Iraqis the same thing?
The Polish Army and many others that were COMBLOC now run .223 AK’s or derivatives...
Oh I see, fix it until it is broken...
Do you have Oleg’s permission to use his pictures?
Email him and find out!
Opinions are hard to argue. Facts are a different story.
Let me make this real simple. Outside the realm of some feeling some might have, an M16 will outperform an AK hands down in near all measurable evaluative tests. I can measure the weight of both weapons. I can measure their length. I can bench-rest them and fire them, seeing which one shoots tighter. I can measure recoil. I can measure which weapon punches through more steel at 100 and 200 meters (Believe it or not, the M16 wins out there as well). I can measure a lot of things, but I cant measure what you feel.
The M16 is conceptually a more modern weapon than the AK47. The M16 is made using much more expensive manufacturing techniques and materials to make the weapon more durable, lighter, and corrosion resistant. The M16 is the Cadillac, while the AK is a Saturn. Some people simply dont know what they have and they really love their Saturn.
There are three reasons why someone would carry an AK for a *practical* purpose (Opposed to wanting to be a cool guy):
The dudes youre with all carry them and you want to share the same ammo, parts etc. Imagine youre working with a bunch of locals and they all carry AKs (Compatibility).
You want a weapon that sounds like that of the threat and fires green tracers. You can use the enemys weapon to confuse him or to blend in better and not stand out as much which ties into point one. (Confusing the enemy and blending in)
You want a weapon so you can do something very bad and illegal, i.e. a drop gun. Not your ammo, not your gun, not the ballistics of a 556 = I didnt shoot him in the head. (You intend to commit a crime)
From a functional performance aspect, you do not carry an AK. It is an inferior weapon. You dont IMT with an AK that has a folding stock, but you can with an sliding stock on an M4. Your AKs receiver is more easily damaged physically because the thin stamped sheet metal bends. The gas tube is more easily damaged as well. Finally, the weapon is actually more susceptible to rust. If you want a good AK, youd actually buy one made by a Houston Texas based firm because they use a thicker gauge sheet metal when stamping it. The AK was designed as a cheap mass producible weapon based on technology and concepts many years past.
For the Iraqis an M16 would be an upgrade over their current AKs, some of which are brand new.
Pakistani street shops stamp them out and sell them on the streets for just a few bucks.
It’s a throw-away, which is why it is the revolutionaries weapon of choice.
Actually, this is a GOOD IDEA.
The weapons and the ammo now have to be home-made, or brought in, instead of simply stolen/sold from the government....