G.I.s in Iraq have a new weapon of choice: Iraqi AK-47s.
"The soldiers (of the 4th Infantry Dvision) based around Baqouba (Iraq) are from an armor battalion, which means they have tanks, Humvees and armored personnel carriers. But they are short on rifles," the Associated Press reports.A four-man tank crew is issued two M4 assault rifles and four 9mm pistols, relying mostly on the tank's firepower for protection.But now they are engaged in guerrilla warfare, patrolling narrow roads and goat trails where tanks are less effective. Troops often find themselves dismounting to patrol in smaller vehicles, making rifles essential."We just do not have enough rifles to equip all of our soldiers. So in certain circumstances we allow soldiers to have an AK-47. They have to demonstrate some proficiency with the weapon ... demonstrate an ability to use it," said Lt. Col. Mark Young, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 4th Infantry Division.It's great that our soldiers have been able to adapt themselves to the situaiton they've found themselves in. But there couldn't be a clearer example of how poorly their Pentagon bosses prepared for the Iraqi afterwar.THERE'S MORE: "I don't think it's fair to call the use of the AK by dismounted mechanized forces in Iraq poor planning by the Pentagon. Armor crews have always been under-gunned in the US military," writes Defense Tech pal Wyatt Earp. "The Army needs to do what the Marines do, which is give everyone an M-16 (rifle) as well as supply more M-203s (grenade lanuchers) to the units and start handing out MP-5s (submachine guns) and more Combat Shotguns."AND MORE: "The surprising -- shocking? -- part of this article is that highly trained tankers are being dismounted to patrol on foot and in humvees. What better testimony to the US Army's need for constabulary-type units, maybe modeled on the US Constabulary formed in 1946 to police the occupation of Germany," replies one member of the JO Forum.AND MORE: "It's not just the rifles," Phil Carter adds. "Let's think of all the things that a regular civilian police force would have -- hand-held radios, shotguns, flexcuffs, handcuffs, batons, shields, etc. Then let's compare that to what an armor battalion has -- less than one M16 per soldier. These units are having to buy tons and tons of equipment to become more like cops."AND MORE: Maybe it's just a coincidence, but the Army has just announced that it's speeding up the development of a potential replacement of its assault weapons.