The U.S. Army's chief of staff told Congress the M4 Carbine's 5.56mm round can't penetrate modern enemy body armor plates and believes Infantry units need a more powerful rifle than the M4.
Gen. Mark Milley testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that the service's current M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round will not defeat enemy body armor plates similar to the U.S. military-issue rifle plates such as the Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert, or ESAPI.
I wrote a story about this yesterday on Military.com that talks about how the Army has developed a new 7.62mm round that will pierce modern enemy body armor.
This is a really interesting time for Army small arms. The Army started off the year by selecting Sig Sauer to make the service’s new Modular Handgun System, which will replace the M9 pistol.
In April, the Army issued a directed requirement for a new 7.62mm squad designated marksman rifle.
Now Milley wants to give the Army’s most deployable infantry units a 7.62mm alternative to the M4 in case they are thrown into a fight with Russian or North Korean forces equipped with modern rifle plates.
This comes a week after Retired Maj. Gen. Robert Scales Jr. told the SASC Airland Subcommittee that the Army should replace the M4 in infantry units with a 6.5mm or 7 mm rifle.
That’s a big challenge for the Army since they have invested so much money into 5.56mm and 7.62mm NATO ammunition. That’s probably why Milley wants to field an improved 7.62mm.
Milley told Congress that the Army may not have to buy a new rifle to outfit platoons with this improved 7.62mm round, but I don't see how that is possible. By the time the Army gets done altering the upper and lower receivers on the M4 to accept the heavier 7.62mm, it's not an M4 anymore. It's an AR10 rifle.
There's a lot of unknowns with this idea. The real question is whether this ambitious plan will become reality or fail just like the service’s recent effort to replace the M4 with an Improved Carbine.