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...
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.