More on Maj. Ehrhart's paper as it describes how 80 percent of the standard Army infantry company's ToE consists of weaponry that can't reach out with lethality beyond 200 meters.
In the table of organization for a light infantry company only the six -M240B 7.62-mm machineguns, two- 60-mm mortars and nine designated marksman armed with either 7.62-mm M14 rifles or accurized 5.56-mm M16A4's rifles are able to effectively engage the enemy. These weapons systems represent 19 percent of the company's firepower. This means that 81 percent of the company has little effect on the fight. This is unacceptable.
So let me get this straight. 50 percent of engagements with the enemy in Afghanistan -- at least for the Army -- occur at ranges greater than 300 meters, with bad guys using altitude and distance to lob mortars, RPGs and AK rounds at Joes with lethal effect, and less than two out of 10 Soldiers can reach out and touch them? The ironic thing here, of course, is that the Talib and AQ militants are equipped not all that differently than the Muj back in 1980. During that time, now DepSecDef for Low Intensity Conflict Mike Vickers outfitted the Muj with a compliment of weaponry that would befit an insurgent army operating as a light infantry unit against an enemy with key vulnerabilities. And it still works.
I was talking to my colleague Greg Grant about this study and he has pondered the idea that very few Army Companies, at least in their ToE, have cannon, grenade launchers or recoilless rifles. The Red Army never went anywhere without the AGS-17 30mm grenade launcher, which is basically a Mk-19 with a tripod. I've seen tripod-mounted Mk-19s at the range, but never in the field. I recognize that COPs and FOBs usually have a Weapons platoon or an HHS platoon attached with Humvee-mounted .50cals and Mk-19s, but based on the strict ToE, these outposts are undergunned.
The Army is working on the XM-25 counterdefilade weapon, they've fielded the new M320 grenade launcher, M110 sniper rifle and a host of other long-range "small arms." But does Ehrhart have a point -- is the US Army company undergunned in Afghanistan by its insurgent enemy?