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Let Soldiers Buy Pistols Like Shades: Lawmaker

Sen. John McCain, a longtime congressional critic of the Pentagon’s troubled acquisition programs, is turning his scrutiny to the Army’s effort to find a replacement for the Beretta M9.

The senator from Arizona and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee has criticized the Army’s long-delayed Modular Handgun System, or MHS, program and called for the service halt the potentially $350 million acquisition effort until it knows what kind of ammunition soldiers need.

Interestingly, in the interim, McCain also suggested that Army units could be allowed to pick their own pistols from a list of pre-approved products — similar to the way they buy protective sunglasses.

Here’s what he said about it in a recent watchdog report, as my colleague Matthew Cox reported:

“The easiest solution would be to allow Army divisions or even brigade combat teams to select from handguns, ammunition and accessories that are already tested, approved and are being used in combat by units within the U.S. Special Operations Command and the Joint Special Operations Command,” according to the report.

The relatively low unit price and low quantity of issue at the brigade and division level would save many millions in acquisition costs and bureaucracy and get new handguns to the troops three years earlier than the current plan. The Army already does this for eyewear through the Authorized Protective Eyewear List (APEL) where lower level Army units can order from over thirty different types of commercial protective eyeglasses.”

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