We’ve written a number of posts about the debate surrounding the infantry’s standard small arms, the ubiquitous M-4 and M-16 rifles, and whether or not they can effectively engage the enemy in Afghanistan where most firefights occur past 300 meters.
For those looking for a great read on the subject check out this paper by Army Maj. Thomas Ehrhart, Increasing Small Arms Lethality in Afghanistan: Taking Back the Infantry Half-Kilometer (.pdf). In Afghanistan, the infantryman’s “weapons, doctrine, and marksmanship training do not provide a precise, lethal fire capability to 500 meters and are therefore inappropriate,” Ehrhart writes.
Christian Lowe, over at Kit Up, writes that special operators in Afghanistan have shown a marked preference for the 7.62mm Mk-17 version of the SOCOM Combat Assault Rifle (SCAR) over the 5.56mm Mk-16 version. In fact SOCOM has stopped buying 5.56mm Mk16s and is telling troopers to return them to the armory but continues to buy the Mk-17.
Christian found some comments from an Army SOF operator on a discussion board extolling the virtues of the 7.62mm round in Afghanistan:
I will say that hands down, having 7.62 rounds (LR) flying out towards the enemy at significant range (600-800m) has been a big advantage. Most of our engagements have been at range.-- Greg Grant
I’ve also heard rumor the we (USASFC) will not receive more SCARs or parts, but this team has definitely enjoyed the 7.62 capability on this trip, regardless of platform. Who ever has the power, we’ve got to get the teams this 7.62 capability (besides belt feds and sniper systems) for this theater.