Skip to comments.Iraqi Army to Ditch AK-47s for M-16s
Posted on 03/06/2008 10:27:33 AM PST by gandalftb
In a move that could be the most enduring imprint of U.S. influence in the Arab world, American military officials in Baghdad have begun a crash program to outfit the entire Iraqi army with M-16 rifles.
The initiative marks a sharp break for a culture steeped in the traditions of the Soviet-era AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifle, a symbol of revolutionary zeal and third-world simplicity that is ubiquitous among the militaries of the Middle East.
"We in the U.S. know that the M-16 is superior to the AK ... it's more durable," said Army Col. Stephen Scott, who's in charge of helping the Iraqi army get all the equipment it needs to outfit its forces.
"The Iraqis have embraced that ... and the fact that it is U.S. manufactured and supplied. They are very big on U.S.-produced [foreign military sales] materials," he said in an interview with military bloggers this month.
So far, the U.S. military has helped the Iraqi army purchase 43,000 rifles - a mix of full-stock M-16A2s and compact M-4 carbines. Another 50,000 rifles are currently on order, and the objective is to outfit the entire Iraqi army with 165,000 American rifles in a one-for-one replacement of the AK-47.
"Our goal is to give every Iraqi soldier an M-16A2 or an M-4," Scott said. "And as the Iraqi army grows, we will adjust."
Scott added the mass of AK-47s from various manufacturers floating through the Iraqi army's inventory could cause maintenance and reliability problems. Getting both U.S. and Iraqi forces on the same page when it comes to basic weaponry is part of the argument for M-16 outfitting.
"I'm also a fan of AKs," Scott said. "But keep in mind most of these AKs have been sitting around in bunkers or whatnot for 30 or 40 years [and] are in various stages of disrepair."
A variety of U.S. troops, including SEALs, Marines and Soldiers - and even civilian contractors - are training Iraqis on the M-16 and M-4 throughout the country. One civilian trainer told Military.com during a brief interview in Iraq that the Iraqi soldiers are a little behind the average American trooper when it comes to learning the various parts and breakdown of the M-16, but they're enthusiastic and quick learners on the range.
After seeing some of the firing range training himself, Scott added that he "asked the Iraqis how they liked the weapon and they said it was far superior, it was more accurate ... and more reliable."
"I think the transition is almost transparent from those older AKs," he said.
A system that registers each rifle with the individual who receives it using biometric data such as thumb prints and eye scans is meant to address concerns over U.S. weapons winding up in enemy hands. A July 2007 Government Accountability Office report concluded that as many as 190,000 weapons delivered to the Iraqi army were not accounted for and could've wound up in terrorist caches.
That's something Scott isn't going to allow on his watch.
"These Iraqi soldiers know that this weapon becomes part of their person," he said. "And they also know that they are responsible and accountable for that weapon."
And from the looks of it, Iraqi soldiers aren't willing to hand them over to the bad guys.
"Most of the soldiers think they will be just like the Americans, and that is making them very happy," said Capt. Rafaat Mejal Ahmed, the Iraqi 1st Division weapons and ammunition officer, in a Marine Corps release. "They think the modern technology will make them more powerful."
Once again, if it ain’t broke, let’s fix it anyway. The AK-47 is much better suited to the region.
“Then it would be an M-14..............”
PIA to carry but my favorite weapon to shoot. 800 yd with iron sites not a problem.
They do - its called an AR-10.
They do make the M-4 in 7.62 x 51
The M-21 is a .308 M14-based rifle used as a sniping rifle.
But they do make the M-16 in .308. It’s called the AR-10. Or the DPMS .308. Or the Bushmaster XM-15 in .308.
I don't suppose we citizens could be offered good prices on those old AKs.
Oh well, just fantasizing.
the AK was the only piece of Soviet equipment worth a crap. It is a remarkable weapon.
I love that beautiful woodgrain stock............
American grown black walnut. I have two M1A’s, sanded and oiled the stocks, pretty enough to make you cry.
There is a much deeper situation going on here.
To start with, the world is covered with AK-47s, most all of which fire 7.62mm ammo. It is a weapon designed for minimal maintenance, having only three parts to clean in the field.
The M-16, however, fires 5.56mm ammo. It is a weapon that must have a lot of maintenance, and is very easy to screw up. It is not a weapon for a poor country or one unfriendly with the US.
But this misses a critical fact: Who makes the ammo?
Without ammo, either weapon is just a heavy stick. And ammo doesn’t store very well, even in good conditions.
There are relatively few manufacturers of ammo in the world, and if their nations agree, the supply of 7.62 or 5.56 ammo could dry up pretty quickly.
However, if both sides in a fight use 7.62, then sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. But if one side uses 7.62 and the other side uses 5.56, suddenly you have an interesting situation.
Say, Iraq is fighting a country that uses 7.62 ammo. If still friendly with the US, Iraq could get enormous amounts of 5.56 ammo. But if there was an embargo of 7.62 ammo, the other side would either have to pay a premium for its ammo, or not get any at all.
And this matters. Even if they stole ammo from Iraq, they couldn’t use it.
But it gets better. After years of selling AK-47s to the rest of the world, suddenly the major powers are considering restricting the sale of 7.62 ammo. Almost overnight, this could cause a worldwide shortage, followed by a de facto demilitarization of much of the world.
No longer would the third and fourth world be tormented by a few nuts with AK-47s. People who before the AK-47 had to use spears and arrows would have to return to them as their weapon of choice. Much of the world would quickly be pacified.
Yet at the same time, the major powers would still have plenty of ammunition for their own use, and the use of their allies. Belligerent tyrants could be effectively locked out.
Nothing like 5-6 loaded 20 round magazines of 7.62 on your waist to see the advantage of the 5.56 for the average grunt.
LOL, well stated.
There is a stalwart contingent of M16 haters on FR, but they're generally cordial.
The Kalashnikov is a remarkable fighting rifle, but it's not optimized for well trained, disciplined armies.
After over forty years, the M16 series has cemented its place as the most versatile, flexible, reliable and lethal individual weapons system in recent history.
This right here is the key to the article:
[blockquote]A system that registers each rifle with the individual who receives it using biometric data such as thumb prints and eye scans is meant to address concerns over U.S. weapons winding up in enemy hands. A July 2007 Government Accountability Office report concluded that as many as 190,000 weapons delivered to the Iraqi army were not accounted for and could’ve wound up in terrorist caches.[/blockquote]
We’re just looking for a good way to account for all the guns we’re handing over, in addition to getting a little business for our gun manufacturers. There are hundreds of thousands of AK’s floating around Iraq, they could find the parts and pieces to equip and repair weapons for the entire Iraq army pretty much into perpetuity with what’s already there. And i think it’s fair to say they’ve been using the danged things since they were kids.
However, caring and cleaning an M-16 would require a professionalism normally missing from 3rd world armies. If some retard terrorist stole one, he'd throw it away the first time it jammed-which an M-16 is always looking for an excuse to do.
The AK-47 uses 7.62x39, while the M-14 / M1A etc uses 7.62x51 (i.e. .308). Not the same ammo.
Geeez....... Here in CA I can’t get a decent AK or AR due to our AWB, but they’re given them away in Iraq?
Dang. They are going to give what little .223 ammo is available to the Iraqis.
I already can’t afford to shoot....
The M14 7.62mm Rifle was replaced in the sixties with the M16 5.56mm for a wide variety of reasons not the least of which is the additional amount of ammo a troop can carry into battle. Also the m16 seems to tie up enemy resources by delivering an incapacitating wound rather than certain death, or at least that’s how the theory goes.