I was out of the office at the end of last week and forgot to post a teaser on a story we put up on Military.com about the Corps' plan for the Infantry Automatic Rifle.
During a breakfast meeting with Lt. Gen. George Flynn, the head of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, I asked about the service's training, manning and equipping plans for an IAR-equipped infantry squad.
What I was getting at is that the introduction of the IAR forecasts a fundamental shift in the Corps' infantry tactics -- or at least this arm chair analyst thinks so. I'm not saying it's a good or bad thing, I just recognize that three decades of infantry tactical development has occurred with the SAW in mind.
I called it a "quiet revolution," Flynn called it back to the future...
Flynn pushed back at critics of the M-27, saying the improved accuracy of the Heckler and Koch-made automatic rifle makes up for a lower rate of fire compared to the M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon it's being fielded to replace.You'll remember, we made the same comment about accuracy many months ago after I had dinner with a close Marine friend of mine who's a Gunner. He argued that the suppressive effect of accuracy is more potent than 200 rounds flying wide.
"The initial feedback was that the IAR performed pretty well," Flynn said of early evaluations of the M-27. "Accuracy has a suppressive power all by itself."
The introduction of the M-27 is a return to the roots of the Marine infantry squad, Flynn argued, which featured an "automatic rifleman" that eventually evolved into a light machine gunner with the introduction of the SAW in the 1980s.
Flynn said the Corps would arrive at a final fielding and training plan after the feedback comes in from a limited deployment of the IAR to five battalions starting next month. But he did go a bit further than Commandant Amos did a few weeks ago by saying that by the time all infantry battalions get the M-27, the SAW will be relegated to the company armory and used at the discretion of the CO.
"We'll still leave the light machine gun in the company. But they won't be there in the same numbers," Flynn explained.It will be interesting to see how the Corps trains its grunts and platoon commanders to wield the new weapon as it reverts back to its original organization with the "squad automatic rifleman."
The Corps says that the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines; 1st Battalion, 9th Marines; 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 1st LAR and 1st Battalion, 25th Marines will get the initial fielding of about 450 M-27s for real-world testing on deployments.