Now back to the M-4 COP Kahler/OP Topside debate.
I spoke with Col. Doug Tamilio, Program Manager for Soldier Weapons and Rich Audette, the Soldier Weapons deputy PM on Oct. 15 about the findings in a draft report on the so called "Battle of Wanat" that called out the M4 and the M-249 for multiple failures at "high cyclic rates" during the battle.
We've had a bit of a back and forth on this issue here at DT: was it a fundamental flaw with the M4 or was it a problem of leadership? Both sides are well represented here, but I thought I'd give the Army its say in this debate.
Tamilio said he was surprised with the findings and that he did not agree with the author's call for a systematic look at the M4's ability to keep up at high rates of fire.
"To date, I have never had a Soldier or a commander or an NCO come up to me and say 'these weapons are terrible'...Now I'm just talking about the M4. we don't get anything, no feedback, and you know if there was a serious issue out there somewhere in eight years of fighting with all the battles that we've had we would have some serious data."
Obviously Tamilio is defending his service's rifle, but he has a point. We all know that there are less maintenance-intensive options out there for troops who do their work in dusty environments (which is just about everywhere except the arctic and the jungle). But this issue of high rates of fire hasn't been brought up earlier.
The requirement for the M4 "mean time between stoppage" is 600 rounds. But Tamilio said today it demonstrates "3,600 rounds before stoppage...So that's a world-class weapon."
Tamilio said there are some "inconsistencies" between the draft history report and what he read and heard just after the battle. "We talked to the unit sergeant major a year ago and the report is not what I got first hand from him."
"I truly believe that some of these Soldiers fired so many rounds so quickly that could that happen? Yes," he added, explaining that he'd done tests with SOCOM where they fired 560 rounds in two minutes before the barrel warped.
"We knew this happened," Tamilio said. "We interviewed the unit, talked to them and then went on about our business because we didn't at that time think we had any issues with the M4 in that incident."