Happy 245th, US Army!

Today is the 245th birthday of the founding of the United States Army. On this day in 1775, the Second Continental Congress formed the Continental Army. George Washington was unanimously elected by the Congress to be the Commander-in-Chief of this fledgling army.

I think this calls for a little musical tribute with the Army’s official song, The Army Goes Rolling Along. It was adopted in 1956 to replace the earlier The Caissons Go Rolling Along.

There is a part of me that still prefers the earlier version especially with this version filmed in 1942.

So happy birthday to the US Army in which my father served 28 years.

Army “Concerns” About Transfer Of M1911A1 Pistols To CMP

I knew the Depart of Justice had become politicized under the Obama Administration but I still held out hopes for institutions like the US Army. It appears that my hopes were in vain. Based upon the document embedded below, the Army’s Congressional Liaison Office has as many political toadies as the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ.

It appears that someone in either the Department of Justice or the White House has prodded the Army to go public with their “concerns” about the potential transfer of about 92,000 M1911A1 pistols to the Civilian Marksmanship Program. I wrote about the budget amendment put forth by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) that would save taxpayers $200,000 annually by transferring these pistols to the CMP. It is a win-win plan.

Specifically, the Army worries that this transfer could be a threat to public safety, that the pistols would not be traceable, and that it might violate the Gun Control Act of 1968. If the person or committee that wrote this white paper must be depended upon to protect our nation against all enemies, foreign or domestic, then we are sunk. I have not read anything so mealy mouthed in a while.

Let’s review the rules for purchasing firearms or ammo from the CMP. First, and foremost, they don’t sell to just anyone. You have to be an eligible individual. To be eligible, you must:

  • Provide proof of US citizenship
  • Provide proof of age
  • Be a member of a CMP affiliated club
  • Provide proof of marksmanship activity 
  • Be legally eligible to purchase a firearm
The CMP runs a FBI NICS check on every sale which negates the first objection of the Army and DOJ. If you live in certain states, they ship the rifle to a FFL for the final transfer.
They also keep records on every sale and can provide serial number traces. They do this for a fee for individuals who want to know if their M1 Garand originally came from the CMP. Again, this negates the objection about traceability.
The white paper is correct that the CMP is not a FFL. However, they have been exempted from GCA68.
Finally, the CMP is distinctly concerned with marksmanship and firearms safety. They are not going to be selling guns to the Crips, Bloods, or Latin Kings OR felons OR those convicted of domestic violence OR those adjudicated mentally ill. 
Let’s call this white paper what it is – utter bullshit. The officers in the Army that my Dad served for 28 years would have been ashamed to put this out. 

Army’s Individual Carbine Competition Canceled

Soldier Systems is reporting that the Army has decided to cancel the Individual Carbine competition. This was the Army’s search for a replacement for their current carbines the M4 and M4A1. The cancellation was done because none of the contenders made a high enough score to make it to the next round of the competition.

From the Army’s release:

The IC program consisted of a three-phased competitive strategy to determine whether industry could provide a best-value, improved alternative to the M4A1 carbine. Phase I consisted of reviews of vendor proposals and non-firing evaluations of bid samples. All vendors successfully met Phase I criteria. In 2012, the Army commenced Phase II of the competition, which subjected IC candidates to rigorous evaluations that tested the extreme limits of weapon performance in such areas as weapon system accuracy, reliability, and durability. For Phase III, the Army planned to award between zero and three contracts for weapons meeting Phase II requirements for further environmental and operationally oriented Soldier testing. Upon completion of all testing, the Army planned to conduct a cost benefit analysis between the top performing competitor and the M4A1 carbine.

At the conclusion of Phase II testing, however, no competitor demonstrated a significant improvement in weapon reliability — measured by mean rounds fired between weapon stoppage. Consistent with the program’s search for superior capability, the test for weapon reliability was exceptionally rigorous and exceeded performance experienced in a typical operational environment.

Based upon Army analysis, test results may have been affected by interaction between the ammunition, the magazine and the weapon. The Army’s existing carbine requirement assumed use of the M855 ammunition; the weapons tested in the IC competition all fired the next generation M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round (EPR) currently in fielding. The use of the M855A1 round likely resulted in lower than expected reliability performance. These effects are unique to testing conditions and are not known to affect the reliability of any weapon in the operational environment.

The remaining monies from this program will now be reallocated to other Army budget priorities. There is some speculation that this is the real reason they ended the competition.

The end result is that that Army will continue to field the M4A1 and will not be buying such weapons as the FN SCAR, the Remington ACR, or the HK 416 or the like. Colt Defense and Adcor Defense were also in the competition.

Army Backtracks On PMAG Ban

TACOM Life Cycle Management Command had issued an edict stating that only Army-issue aluminum magazines could be used in the M4 and M16. Moreover, the polymer magazines such as the Magpul PMAGs were verbotten.

It appears that either someone in the Army bureaucracy actually listened to the soldiers in the field or they caught hell from some Infantry commanders. Either way, they are now saying the TACOM directive was “misunderstood”.

According to an update at Military.com, soldiers can keep using their PMAGs.

Army officials acknowledged June 6 that TACOM’s message was poorly written and not intended as a directive on the use of PMAGs. Matthew Bourke, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon responding to questions from Mililtary.com, said the message should have included guidance that the final decision rests with commanders in the field.

“At best, the message is incomplete; at worst the message allows soldiers to jump to the wrong conclusions,” Bourke said. “Maintenance Information Messages [from TACOM] are permissive. They are not an order. They are not a directive. All content and direction in those messages are optional for the recipient.”

The story concludes:

Army officials maintain that TACOM’s message was intended to make soldiers aware that not all commercial magazines have gone through the same testing as the improved magazine, but concede that there are exceptions.

“The main message we want to get out is – although the Army does support and is confident in the improved, tan-follower magazine – we don’t want soldiers to fear punishment for using PMAGs,” Bourke said.

Army Selects Manufacturers To Go Forward In Individual Carbine Competition

The US Army is taking a two-pronged approach to upgrading and ultimately replacing their current M4 carbine. As seen in the slide below, one prong is to update the current M4 with a heavier barrel, full auto trigger assembly, and an ambidextrous fire control assembly. Concurrently, the Army is also in the process of deciding on an eventual replacement for the M4 carbine.

The Army has just finished the first phase of the Individual Carbine competition. In the first phase, they evaluated the vendors who had expressed interest in competing on their production capacity. In other words, the Army weeded out those companies it felt could not deliver the goods.

According to a story in Military.com, the Army has started to send out letters to those manufacturers who will be invited to participate in Phase II.

Colt Defense LLC, Heckler & Koch, Remington Arms Company and Adcor Defense Inc., received letters from the Army telling them they have been selected to move on to Phase II of the IC.

FNH USA had not yet responded to Military.com as to whether it remains in the competition.

Army officials confirmed that Phase II letters have been sent out, but said that federal acquisition guidelines prevent the service from commenting on how many companies will advance to Phase II and which firms did not make the cut.

Phase II is scheduled to last into the 1st Quarter of 2013 and will involved the testing of prototype carbines submitted by the winners. Military.com notes that testing will involve “the shooting of hundreds of thousands of rounds through the test weapons to assess accuracy, reliability and durability.” At the end of this phase, three vendors will be selected to go forward.

Despite the competition to find a replacement for the M4 carbine, the Army may end up not going into production with any of the winners due to budget constraints. Indeed, there was much speculation earlier in the year that they would cancel the competition altogether due to forecast budget constraints over the next decade.