I know I was in Afghanistan during the NDIA Small Arms Symposium back in May, but I got my hands on some of the briefing materials and I saw something of not that I thought Kit Up! readers would be into. Maybe some of you have already seen this, but here's our take.
During the brief delivered by Col. Doug Tamilio, the Army's top gun buyer, he mentioned some requirements for what the Army is now calling the "individual carbine" (as opposed to the "improved carbine" of last year). This would be a potential replacement of the M4, which, if you'd asked me a year ago I'd have told you would never happen but now is looking exceedingly likely.
Buried in his brief, Tamilio reveals that the IC will have ambidextrous controls and be capable of providing semi-auto and full-auto fire.
Those are two big changes from the current system, particularly with the full-auto fire capability. I recognize that battles like those at COP Keating and Wanat demonstrated the need for full auto and that the service is in the midst of a "dual track" improvement plan for the M4, which includes the incorporation of a heavier barrel and full-auto firing. But the idea that the Army will institutionalize full-auto for all Joes is a pretty significant change.
One of the things it brings up, of course, is training. I spoke with a former tier one operator who stressed the need to really work on how to employ full-auto fire from a carbine so that you avoid that Afghan-style "spray and pray" technique. It's going to take some serious discipline and skill to know when and how to employ full auto so you don't just burn through ammo like a Somali militiaman.
One other note, the individual carbine also must be "the most accurate, reliable, durable, maintainable, and modular" system possible for the money (emphasis added). Maintainable and modular, huh? Gas piston and changeable barrels -- or better yet, calibers? The SCAR vs the ACR, anyone?