Thursday, July 23, 2009


Men must be taught as if you taught them not. And things unknown proposed as things forgot. - Alexander Pope

The M16 transition is finally getting going in earnest. I'm still not sure I agree with the whole idea of replacing the venerable AK with the M16 for these guys. Seems I remember reading somewhere that we should train indigenous forces to mirror the enemy, not to mirror us. By giving them armored humvees and NATO weapons we're certainly making them look a lot like us, which would be great if the Afghan Army had any hope of supporting an army with such equipment. But I guess we'll do the supporting. Still...we've got plenty of soldiers of our own that can roll around in armored vehicles. What we need more of are lightly loaded guys that can go up into the mountains and ambush the enemy. The basic load for the Americans makes moving around in the mountains difficult to say the least. If it were me, I'd have the ANA up in the mountains with no equipment at all other than a weapon with ammo and some water...mirroring the insurgents. It takes a lot less food and water to support an Afghan...we need to take advantage of that by not weighing them down with body armor.

At any rate, we enjoy training them on the weapons systems. They're especially happy to be getting our machine guns. I usually spend the first 5 minutes of every class on the M16 'selling' it to them, as most of them are initially skeptical of why they need it. We tell them the M16 is better for a trained fighter, whereas the AK is better for the untrained guy...a not untrue statement. They seem to buy that explanation.

The rifle ranges are pretty fun with these guys. Some of the Afghans shoot better than I do, no question. We had a guy keyhole his first 3 shots at 25 meters the other day. It was easy to see he was going to shoot very well given his technique and demeanor but that was uncanny. Others...well, it takes awhile but we get them all in the vicinity of the target eventually even if they are hitting 'the four corners'. Our attached soldier from the Georgia National Guard seems to have more problems with his shooters than the marines do...a circumstance we exploit fully in poking fun at him. Coincidence? We think not. Haha. We get guys shooting left-eyed right-handed. Others close their eyes when the pull the trigger, and many like to yank the trigger. A couple of guys I've had look like they're hyperventilating when they go to shoot. If they can relax, they have some hope of hitting where they're aiming.

Certainly, the training environment is different over here. You do what you have to do to train. If a bunch of goats take up residence on the mountainside behind the range, just send a couple of ANA up there with rocks to throw at them to 'herd' them away. We try to keep the shooting going in situations that might not fly back home, but when two US Army lieutenants come out to the range to throw grenades and one of them doesn't detonate...well, you pretty much have to shut it down after that.


Little Bill said...

Train 1000's of the best young ANA by you and then a short stint with our Special Forces, pay them well, and then turn them loose in the mountains like you say.

I wonder what plans we have for all those AK's?

Chuck said...

Maybe I'm just not that trusting but how long will it be before many of these M16 end up on the other side of the line? Tricky business

Jane said...

Read much of your blog tonight and I found it informative and intertaining. Thanks for all you do for us.

Anonymous said...

K -

You note the light-weight needs of those who are going up in the mountains to ambush or engage the enemy. What other technological needs do you see as essential to either helping US or ANA forces root out the enemy. Is it improved communication, improved UAV technology, etc?

Using technology in past conflicts has been mixed at best. I think a lot of past failures have come from technological developments that were not driven from battle experience. The process for technological improvements should start with information from Marines and soldiers like yourself.

Later and stay safe.

SA said...

Yes, battlefield innovation should certainly be driven from the bottom up, not the top down. Sadly, I don't think it's done that way, and is probably more politics than anything. It's hard for me to believe we're using the Colt M series rifles at all, given the improvements that are available. You'd think we'd have the very best small arms available since we can afford a quarter billion for each F22.

Honestly, I don't think technology is the answer right now. Well-trained, highly mobile light infantry that can live off the land in the mountains are what we need.

Anonymous said...

Take care! Thoughts are with you and keep the good work. Love your blog!!

Anonymous said...

Your insight into what is needed in this struggle for freedom for the Afghan people is so wise. I think you should be THE decision maker on issues in Afghanistan regarding training, and reinforcing the ANA with what they need to retake their country from terrorists, such as The Taliban. God bless you and stay safe. Thank you for your service to our nation.