My colleague Christian Lowe over at Kit Up reached out to Maj. Tom Ehrhart, the author of the paper on infantry small arms in Afghanistan we've been discussing on the site and that has been creating a lot of buzz in Army and special ops circles. Ehrhart, who is over in Iraq, was good enough to write back and give an update on his own research and the response his paper has been getting.
What he had to say about infantry tactics in Afghanistan and what led him to research and write the paper I found particularly illuminating.
"In discussions with veterans of Afghanistan, I realized that we had another deficiency in training in that we only trained to 300m and our equipment limited us to that distance as well. Engagements were coming beyond this distance and instead of relying on our own ability to finish the fight, we called in supporting fire. Since this wasn’t always available or allowed due to political restrictions, we were more dependent on our own ability to finish the fight.
In this case, why weren’t we effective? Was it an equipment limitation, training issue, a facility limitation or just outdated doctrine? This led to another series of questions, such as why do we use the 300m popup course and when did we start? What did we do before then? How did our ancestors train to shoot to distance? This led to the questions about the history of the 5.56 and the M16/M4. I think the history aspect of the paper is interesting for the modern infantrymen to see what his lineage is. While equipment limitations seem to be what most people grasp on to, I still maintain that you must first be able to hit the target. Equipment is secondary to training."
Go check out Christian's write up for more.