After all the money and effort spent by the Army on camouflaging its troops over the years (some of it effective, some of it not) the one item that hasn't gotten much attention -- at least in the general purpose forces -- is that shiny black stick everyone's carrying across their perfectly MultiCamed gear.
Well, that's all about to change. Officials with PEO Soldier tell Kit Up that the service is about to release formal guidlines on how Soldiers may paint their weapons should unit commanders allow it.
"I'm in the final process of releasing to the field a procedure for them to spraypaint their guns," Col. Doug Tamilio, the top Soldier weapons buyer for the Army, told Kit Up at a roundtable interview at the Pentagon on 2 March. "This has been a semi-controversial issue, as you know."
The major holdup on the guidelines is the type of spraypaint the Army will allow Soldiers to use to matt out their rifles and machine guns. Tamilio recognized that the M4 and other infantry weapons stick out on camouflage backgrounds and relented to pressure from the field to formalize gun painting rules. He said camo-ing your carbine will be up to the unit commanders, but pretty soon it's going to be a go with looking all commando...
PS -- One quick note: Tamilio said the reason why so many components of the M4 and other weapons are black is because that black pigmentation results in the strongest polymer combinations. My colleague Matt Cox with Army Times quickly asked what that means for the Mk-16 and Mk-17 Socom Combat Assault Rifle, which is mostly tan polymers, and he replied "no comment," which he can do because the SCAR is a SOCOM program not an Army one. Let's remember, there were problems early on with user evaluations of the SCAR and some of the polymer parts breaking under stress. FNH fixed the problem, but Tamilio's comment seems to indicate there's an inherent strength trade-off with plastic parts that are anything other than black.