Problems with the U.S. Army's primary rifle, the M4 carbine, are leaving soldiers to fend for themselves before heading to battle, a new report in the WashingtonTimes claims. Soldiers are so tired of being unprepared for dealing with these problems, that they're taking it upon themselves to fix them by changing the rifle itself.
According to the article, soldiers are breaking rules by buying off-the-shelf triggers and other components to overhaul the weapons.
"The reliability is not there," Army Senior Warrant Officer Russton B. Kramer, a 20-year Green Beret said of the rifle. "I would prefer to use something else. If I could grad something else, I would."
Frustrations spiked recently after documents from the Pentagon were released that show the Army was warned of various flaws in the M4 carbine design and the commando version – M4A1 – before the Afghanistan and Iraq wars:
"Documents obtained by The Washington Times show the Pentagon was warned before the Afghanistan and Iraq wars that the iterations of the M4 carbine were flawed and might jam or fail, especially in the harsh desert conditions that both wars inflicted.
U.S. Special Operations Command in 2001 issued a damning private report that said the M4A1 was fundamentally flawed because the gun failed when called on to unleash rapid firing."
Problems noted in other military reports include a tendency to overheat and barrel failure. Other complaints include a short effective-kill distance; poor range; a lack in stopping power; the requirement of constant maintenance; and magazines that dent easily and springs that break.
These issues can mean the difference between life and death in the battlefield, soldiers say. Some of the problems were uncovered when, in the 2008 Battle of Wanat in Afghanistan, nine U. S. soldiers lost their lives because of issues with their M4s. Unfortunately, M4 failures do not get publicized and even those in charge are buying the weapons that protect troops in war were unaware at the time.
The fact that M4s broke down at Wanat was not known publicly until Army historians chronicled the battle and released their narrative in 2012. Even the general in charge of buying the gun said he had not heard of the problems until the pres reports emerged.
Even though the gun has flaws, the M4 still remains a highly popular rifle among the majority of soldiers. And many soldiers realize it's the best weapon of choice because of cost. The military hopes to continue to make changes and improvements on both the M4 and M4A1 to reduce flaws and accommodate advances in weapon systems needed for battle.