Kit Up! reader Tim tipped us off to this interesting photo showing a Taliban insurgent carrying what looks like a US-issued M240 (I think it's a G, not a B, but I could be wrong).
I guess the question here is how did this insurgent get the weapon? The picture was taken in Nangarhar province in Afghanistan's east. It's a pretty nasty place with lots of insurgent activity and daily firefights. This is where the Afghan trainees turned on their American instructors recently, killing six Soldiers.
The area is mostly patrolled by US Army troops, with some Marine trainers sprinkled in. The Army and Marine Corps use the M240B and the Marine Corps uses the M240G -- and this looks to me like a G. So the mystery is: if this is a Marine M240, How did the bad guys get it?
[EDITOR'S NOTE: A Marine commenter corrected me that the Corps now uses the M240B more than the M240G]
The most obvious answer is that the machine gun was taken off a dead American after an ambush. But I think this is highly unlikely given the importance of the weapon and the forces designated to protect it. This could also have been slipped to the insurgents by unscrupulous Afghan security forces, but I've never seen an Afghan patrol -- other than maybe a commando unit -- using US medium machine guns.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: The same Marine commenter says the ANA use M240s on their trucks in Helmand]
Some might say this was pilfered from a boosted supply convoy ambushed on the Pakistan side of the border. But this kind of weaponry isn't usually transported overland, so I think this scenario is highly unlikely.
Let's do a little "cloud" reporting here and see what we can find out about this machine gun. I'll make some calls, but I'd like to see if our readers can weigh in with some of the gouge.
Thanks again to Tim for bringing this to our attention.