Sep 30, 2010

UTM’s new Blue Mag for when you absolutley, positively don’t want to kill someone

Ultimate Training Munitions had prototypes of their new 5.56 training magazine on display today. The new mags feature a center channel that’s sized for the neck of their training rounds. UTM’s shorter, thinner tipped rounds will feed fine, but a live 5.56 round will be too big to fit past that center channel.  So, if you see a blue magazine in a weapon you’ll know that it’s loaded with one of UTM’s three training rounds; marking round, silent blank, or loud blank.

 Click images to enlarge

Sep 28, 2010

M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) Accessories

Provides the Soldier using the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon with accessories for enhanced performance.

The M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) Collapsible Butt-stock allows shoulder firing in the extended and collapsed positions. It maintains a vertical buttstock position for full interface with the operator’s shoulder at all times and provides intermediate, locking firing positions. Weapon control improves when fired in confined spaces such as military operations on urban terrain. The butt-stock allows ease of ingress/egress from Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT) vehicles and reduces storage space requirements in SBCTs.

The SAW Improved Bi-pod leverages the design of the existing bipod to improve the performance of the M249 weapon, providing the Soldier with increased reliability and weapon accuracy. The bi-pod legs can be adjusted to different heights, providing improved stability on uneven terrain.

The M249 200-Round Soft Pack program is a follow-on effort to the soft packs initially provided under the Rapid Fielding Initiative (RFI). Based on requests from the field, RFI fielded a 200-round soft pack for the M249 that is designed to improve weapon retention and reduce the noise signature associated with the standard plastic ammunition container. This follow-on program selected a new design pack and resolved all issues identified with the fielded pack. User testing has validated the equipment’s performance. An initial production option was awarded in August 2008 for 9,000 M249 200-round Soft Packs. This option fulfilled requirements for the U.S. government to obtain government purpose rights for competitive procurement.


Corps targets energy use in combat, at home

By James K. Sanborn - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Sep 28, 2010

In the Marine Corps, being environmentally friendly is about more than just saving the planet — it’s about saving lives and money.
A two-pronged initiative is well under way aimed at making front-line units more self-sufficient and cutting energy use at bases across the Corps. Much of this technology will be on display at the three-day Modern Day Marine symposium, which starts today at Quantico, Va. For more on the show visit our blog.


The Army plan to change how you eat, drink

By Lance M. Bacon - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Sep 27, 2010

Big changes are coming to hundreds of chow halls. Soda fountains will be replaced with milk and juices. Half of all vending machine snacks will be healthy. Short orders will be cut back. Fried foods are out, and baked foods are in.
The changes are taking place at basic training and most of the 217 advanced schools. But don’t be surprised if the chow hall overhaul also happens on your post, as big Army is thinking about making the changes Armywide.
“U.S. Army Forces Command is aware and profoundly interested in the Soldier Athlete initiative,” FORSCOM spokesman Paul Boyce said. “We anticipate learning more details from Training and Doctrine Command about this new program’s innovations in the months to come and will then determine how best to potentially implement its strengths into future unit-level programs.”
The “Soldier Athlete” initiative of which Boyce speaks is a bold new program that treats and trains new soldiers like athletes. It is the latest project of Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, who, in the past year, has revolutionized basic training, physical fitness and marksmanship.
Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising aspect of this three-tiered program is its “Soldier Fueling Initiative,” which no longer “feeds” but rather “fuels” the soldier. The goal is to train the soldier to eat and drink healthier items that not only prepare him for strenuous physical activity, but also fuel him throughout the endeavor and aid in his recovery afterward.
“This is not simply about going to the salad bar to lose weight,” Hertling said. “You’re an athlete, and your performance depends on how you fuel. This is about how you work your body’s energy systems to contribute as a soldier. You’re an athlete, and you need to treat your body as such.”

‘Fundamentally important’

Hertling gave Army Times an exclusive invitation to his Aug. 4 “Standardization Summit” at Fort Lee, Va. There, the general gathered everyone from dietitians and sergeants major to box kickers and bean counters to hone nutrition standards and determine what changes should be made to chow hall menus and vending machines — and whether such a change was fiscally possible.
After three days of tireless analysis and statistical study, the 36-member group was able to cook up a new, healthier menu cycle that all Advanced Individual Training chow halls will offer by Feb. 1.
Before you have a coronary, realize that most of your favorite foods will still be available — with some modifications:
• Fried chicken and French fries will be baked.
• Pasta and bread will be whole-grain.
• Vitamin- and electrolyte-enriched drinks will replace soda at most meals.
• Low-fat frozen yogurt will replace cakes and pastries for dessert.
• The greasy pleasures of the short-order bar will be significantly limited.
• Fresh fruits and vegetables will be in abundance.
“It’s going to be food that helps them perform better, and it’s going to be accompanied by an education program so they understand why eating this way is not deprivation, but rather beneficial,” TRADOC surgeon Col. (Dr.) Karen O’Brien said.
Specifically, the one-hour nutrition training common to basic training will expand to the Basic Officer Leaders Course and AIT schools. In addition, healthier foods will be identified by green labels, while moderate foods will have the cautionary yellow. And yes, the chow halls will still have some “low-performance, empty-calorie” red-tagged foods. But the goal is to teach soldiers what they should avoid and how to identify healthy choices in restaurants, grocery stores — and big Army chow halls — when color codes are not available.
“A lot of people underestimate how fundamentally important good nutrition is,” said O’Brien, a family physician with 23 years in the Army.
And she is not just a spokeswoman — she is also a client.
“When we started working on this initiative, it changed the way I thought about nutrition,” O’Brien said. “I started eating differently and it has significantly improved my health, my energy and my performance on athletics.”
O’Brien said the initiative will produce a new type of soldier. Not just a warrior, but an athlete. And she said she is confident fewer basic and AIT soldiers will fail as a result. These soldiers will be less likely to have an overuse injury in their first assignment, she said, and have swifter and stronger recoveries if an injury does occur.
Hertling’s team was able to fashion the changes without generating additional costs to the existing budget — with one exception. Recovery bars that help a depleted body bounce back come with an estimated $13 million price tag. That’s down from original estimates of $30 million, but any increase is a tough sell in a time of diminished dollars. Still, Hertling said he was committed to finding a way, noting that the bars are essential to the fueling initiative.
Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Boudnik of 1st Battalion, 50th Infantry Regiment, recommended a “performance box” vending machine filled with high-performance, supplemental and energy bars. The idea caught the attention of Denise Gumbert, senior business program manager with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service. She pledged to launch a test site by year’s end.
Hertling assured his team that their efforts are not the end, but the beginning of a “counterinsurgency in which there are no wins, only gains.”
But his troops have set their sights on some clear targets.
Many of the subject matter experts and command representatives voiced a desire to see the increased emphasis on healthy options in vending machines expand to mini-marts. Gumbert expressed evident concern with the idea.
Hertling himself took issue with the food served in combat, which he described as “obscene.”
“I gained 20 pounds as a division commander over there,” he said. “You should not gain weight in combat.”
He acknowledged that some people will gain weight due to “stress eating,” which is marked by a craving for more fats and sugars. But the general said a greater contributor is the “27 different types of meals with all kinds of gravy and things that aren’t healthy for you,” as well as the ice cream shops and burger joints.
Hertling said he has not spoken with Gen. David Petraeus, who now heads up the International Security Assistance Force, but said he agreed with Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s order to remove the fast food from Afghanistan.
“Those things significantly compete with logistic demands in terms of priority,” Hertling said. “There is a have and have-not scenario because the guys on the big FOBs get a burger place while the guys in the little patrol bases never do, and the third thing is it is not healthy.”
Shortly after Army Times’ interview with Hertling, Petraeus reversed the order and now permits fast food in the ‘Stan.
There also was strong voice given by team members to getting rid of the popular high-caffeine, high-sugar energy drinks such as Red Bull and Monster. The desire was primarily due to the abuse of these drinks, leading to habitual behaviors and disrupted sleep patterns.
AAFES operates 13,000 soft drink vending machines, Gumbert said.
“It has become a trend, and is having some significant second- and third-order effects,” Hertling said of the energy drinks. “It is a huge contributor to kidney stones, especially in hot climates. And since 2002, we have indicators across the board that our dental rates are really having some challenges.”
Specifically, 32 percent of new soldiers in 2002 were classified as dental category 3 or 4, meaning they were nondeployable until the issue was addressed. By 2009, that number had jumped to 58 percent.
The general said the key contributor is the consumption of sugary beverages such as sodas and energy drinks, and a lack of milk. The lack of milk also contributes to bone problems resulting in more stress fractures, he said.
Hertling knows the plan to replace large amounts of food and snacks with healthier choices will be hard to swallow for some. And the idea of eliminating energy drinks won’t sit well with everyone. But the downward trend in the health and performance of new soldiers is all the reason he needs.
“We’ve got this whole advertising campaign of ‘Army strong.’ The question is, ‘Are we really Army strong?’ he asked. “What I’m saying is, ‘Game on — let’s see how strong we are.’ ”

‘Potential epidemic’

As deputy commanding general for initial military training, Hertling has the unenviable task of increasing the health and performance of soldiers who hail from an overweight and arguably malnourished society. The triathlete who holds a master’s degree in exercise physiology saw no need to reinvent the wheel. Instead, he slapped some Army green on proven programs used by pro athletes, and his three-tiered Soldier Athlete program was born.
It began with Armywide improvements to the physical readiness program. Training Circular 3.22-20 has replaced the 10-year-old physical fitness field manual. Hertling also told Army Times he “has some ideas” about changes to the physical fitness test. He would not elaborate, except to say he will submit his recommendations within six months.
The second aspect places athletic trainers within IMT units to optimize training, reduce injuries and help in healthy recovery. Roughly one-fourth of soldiers’ injuries result from physical training, according to Army statistics. Hertling said two test battalions recently had physical therapists, athletic trainers and strength coaches assigned, and saved $23 million in injury costs alone.
Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. and Fort Lee, Va., will be the first to receive these new Muscular/Skeletal Action Teams. All 1st Cavalry Division brigades also will have a physical therapist assigned to them by 2011, said Boyce, the FORSCOM spokesman.
The Soldier Fueling Initiative stands as the third component.
The changes inherent to Soldier Athlete are increasingly necessary as the Army is faced with an increasingly obese and unhealthy recruiting pool, Hertling said.
“We are only able to recruit about 25 percent of the population pool because the other 75 percent are too obese, have mental issues or a criminal past,” he said. “So the ones we’re really looking at are not in as good of shape as they were in the past.”
The obesity rate among 17- to 24-year-olds has increased from 14 percent to 23 percent in the past 10 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. From 1998 to 2008, the number of states in which 40 percent or more of young adults are overweight or obese grew from one to 39. The fact is not lost on Hertling, who described the negative trends he has seen in the ability of new soldiers to pass the entry-level fitness test that includes one minute of sit-ups, one minute of push-ups and a one-mile run.
He attributed this to a variety of reasons such as bad nutritional choices, changes in physical education programs in public schools and a generation that is “playing baseball with their thumbs instead of a bat and glove.”
“All of those things are contributing to the type of soldier we are getting,” he said. “As an Army, we are representative of the population we serve, and the population is getting larger. And that’s an issue.”
While Hertling is addressing this within Army ranks today, there are plans in the coming year to host forums and take the Soldier Athlete program to physical educators and external organizations in an effort to raise national awareness.
“We’re seeing the early stages of this as being a potential epidemic that goes beyond our desire to train the soldier as an athlete,” he said. “It will eventually get into health care costs ... and various second- and third-order effects. We’re already starting to see this as a nation.”
In the meantime, the team is looking to change one soldier at a time, and it is doing so during a formative period when they already are exposed to huge amounts of change. The general admitted sweeping change “is going to be tough,” and even expects some will revert to long-held habits. But he remains optimistic nonetheless.
“The good thing about the environment I control is, I control it,” Hertling said. “I can do something that I couldn’t do as a division commander in the 1st Armored Division. I can limit their choices during the period they are in basic training and AIT. Hopefully, that will give them enough of a background to understand why this approach is good for them.”
O’Brien echoed the sentiment and said AIT is the perfect place to instill new, healthy habits.
“They are very open because they want to succeed as soldiers,” she said. “They want to have an advantage, and they want the tools that will make them successful. That is what we are giving them.”

Medal winner tells of foiling attack

By Kristin M. Hall - The Associated Press
Posted : Monday Sep 27, 2010

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — Army Spc. Eric Paxton noticed something missing as he started his morning guard duty at one of the biggest U.S. military bases in eastern Afghanistan: The Afghanis who normally worked outside the walls were absent.
Within minutes, Paxton became the first line of defense against a rare assault on Forward Operating Base Fenty by 15-20 insurgents using a car bomb, automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and suicide vests.
In his first interview about the June 30 attack, the injured Paxton described how he kept the attackers from breaching the gate, a feat that led the Army to award him the Bronze Star Medal with Valor, one of about 1,300 such medals given out for combat valor in Afghanistan since 2001.
The award citation notes that "his ability to remain calm under fire ensured the safety of over 2,000 FOB Fenty tenants and the protection of millions of dollars of aircraft and equipment."
Paxton is now at home at Fort Campbell recovering from his injuries with his 13-month-old daughter, Amelia, and wife, April. A piece of shrapnel is still lodged in his knee. He was so close to the explosions that he ruptured his eardrums and now wears hearing aids in both ears. He ended up the only American soldier injured by the attack.
The 27-year-old soldier from Columbus, Kan., was about two months into his first deployment in Afghanistan as a member of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.
Paxton had just started his shift in the guard tower at the base along the main road between Kabul and Pakistan when he heard the whine of a rapidly accelerating engine. Seconds later a van slammed into the compound wall near the tower.
"I literally saw a fireball blow in front of my face," Paxton said.
The explosion peppered his face and head with shrapnel. He radioed that the base was being attacked, then stayed alone in the tower to face the assault on the base.
"I was thinking I've got several people back here that I've got to make sure make it home to their families," he said.
Almost immediately after the first explosion, Paxton spotted another vehicle bearing down on the base and targeted it with his machine gun. He stopped the vehicle by killing the driver, but fighters piled out of the car.
"I returned fire on one of them as he ran toward my gate," he said. "From what I was told, he had a suicide vest. So I stopped him before he could get through the gate."
The enemy fighters shot at his position with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons. News footage after the assault showed Paxton's tower pockmarked with bullet holes and black marks where grenades hit.
"At that point, I was bleeding heavily from the right side of my face and I had ruptured both eardrums," he said.
He went through two machine guns in the course of the nearly hour-long attack, one that ran out of ammunition and another that was struck by return fire. Weaponless, he ran down to the base of the tower and took an AK-47 from an Afghan soldier.
He took cover in a bunker at the bottom of the tower and kept firing to keep the fighters from getting to the gate as the base's security forces responded to the attack.
Eventually he was pulled back from the fighting and sent to get medical attention.
"They told me ... that I myself had held off at least 15 people for at least three or four minutes and got three or four on my own," he said.
Paxton said seeing a group of fighters trying to break through a base's defenses was shocking. According to NATO, eight militants were killed in the attack.
"It's pretty wild to see it first hand," he said. "After it was over I kind of was blown away ... It was real, it was true what people were saying, how they acted like that."
The first thing he said to his wife, April, when he called after the attack was, "Don't freak out."
"But at that point I knew he was OK because he was out of harm's way," she said, adding that he pleaded with her not to tell his mother right away.
"It scared me, it really did," she said.
He said the lessons he learned in basic training from his drill sergeant probably got him through the attack alive.
"I think in all reality I owe him my life," he said. "His training was all that was kicking in my mind at that point."

Spy balloons in high demand in Afghanistan

By Tom Vanden Brook - USA Today
Posted : Monday Sep 27, 2010

WASHINGTON — The hottest U.S. weapon in Afghanistan lacks a lethal capability, floats thousands of feet in the air and doesn’t carry troops.
It’s a spy balloon.
The Pentagon is sending dozens of the balloons to Afghanistan to meet a growing military demand for video surveillance of insurgents.
Ashton Carter, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer, said balloons fitted with high-powered cameras are needed because unmanned planes such as the Predator can’t be built fast enough. Carter says the demand for video surveillance equipment from Afghan battlefield commanders has been 20 times the rate of supply.
Spy balloons are the latest example of how unmanned weapons are revolutionizing warfare, says Peter Singer, director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative at the Brookings Institution. Commanders are pioneering new uses for drones and balloons the way their counterparts in the early 20th century developed uses for planes, he said.
“We’re in a transition period in war,” Singer said. “This kind of experimentation is a pretty good thing. You don’t know exactly the right way to use it at first. The difference between winners and losers is that winners have been the ones who have experimented.”
Spy plane use has soared in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2005 when the military flew 6,165 surveillance missions, according to the Air Force. Last year, there were 18,898 spy plane missions, and through August, there were 11,229.
Enter balloons, which look like small blimps and are known in the military as aerostats. The military began shipping them to Afghanistan to get a better look at how insurgents increased their planting of improvised explosive devices. They’re part of an effort by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to rush equipment to counter the IED threat for the 30,000 additional troops President Obama ordered to Afghanistan.
There are more than 30 spy balloons in Afghanistan, up from a handful at the beginning of the year, Carter said. The goal is to have 64 of them tethered thousands of feet above bases and key roads.
By comparison, there are 27 round-the-clock patrols from Predator and Reaper drones, said Air Force Col. Scott Murray, director of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance for the U.S.-led coalition in Kabul. That’s up from nine in August 2008.
The spy balloon’s camera is the same kind as the one on the Predator drone and can see 10 to 15 miles away, Carter said. Recently, one spotted insurgents planting makeshift bombs. They were captured, he said.
“You can spot someone burying an IED or setting up a checkpoint on a road near you; you can catch someone about to mortar your base; you (can) check whether the market is open in a nearby village,” Carter said. “It’s a (drone) in every local commander’s back yard. There was no hope we would ever get that with the expensive fixed-wing airplanes. But we can get that with these.”
At $10 million apiece, the balloons are about half as expensive as drones and the equipment and personnel needed to fly them, he said. Occasionally, they have been lost in high winds, although a few were recovered.
Balloons could someday carry cargo or be used by aircraft for refueling, Singer said.
“In essence, it’s acting as a poor man’s spy satellite,” Singer said.
The balloons’ visibility appears to help deter attacks, Carter said. “The bad guys think it’s looking at them at all times and will catch them,” Carter said. “For good people, it provides a comfort that their environment is secure and they’re being over-watched.”
Murray, the surveillance officer, said some believed the camera could see through walls or women’s clothing. It can’t, he said. For now, anyway.

Sep 25, 2010

2 MH-60R crews grounded for Tahoe dip

A couple of Navy helicopter pilots lose control of their choppers when they tried to hover too close to the water. In this video you see one of them dunk into the water and then amazingly enough, the pilot recovers and flies out.

Sep 23, 2010

Most Inexpensive SureFires Ever

SureFire has heard you telling that you like their products but discretionary funding is tight and have answered the call. Available starting in January, SureFire launches two new low cost lights; the G2X and 6PX.

“In spite of the tough times, our mission is to keep quality products in the hands of our customers, and keep jobs in the U.S.A.,” said SureFire CEO/Founder Dr. John Matthews. He continued, “This was a big undertaking for SureFire, and I couldn’t be more pleased with our employees who worked so hard to make this happen.”
Expect the same Made in USA SureFire quality and same lifetime guarantee. In order to mitigate costs, SureFire has taken a couple of measures. The main differences from the G2 LED and 6P LED flashlights that the series is based on are the adoption of Mil-Spec Type II anodizing instead of Type III, use of a polymer reflector instead of machined aluminum, and the head will not be removable.
Four new models will be offered. Two flashlights will be available in a single output tactical configuration, and two with a dual output for general use. The G2X features a Nitrolon® polymer body and tailcap with an aluminum bezel while the 6PX’s body components are entirely aluminum. Each model comes in either the ‘Tactical’ models which is a single stage, 200 lumen output, and comes with a momentary activation tailcap switch. Twist for constant on. The ‘Pro’ models feature a low output 15-lumen stage that comes on first, then can be clicked over to the 200 lumen high output stage with a clicky style tailcap switch.

COP Spera defends assault, kills 27 insurgents

By Sean D. Naylor - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Sep 22, 2010

U.S. Apache attack helicopters virtually wiped out a platoon-size insurgent force that was assaulting a combat outpost in eastern Afghanistan’s Khost province Sept. 21, according to coalition spokesmen.
But while the AH-64 Apaches were the agents of the insurgents’ destruction, a combination of at least one unmanned aerial vehicle and ground-based surveillance cameras was the key to identifying the insurgents before they were able to launch their attack, according to an account of the battle published online by Task Force Rakkasan, which is built around the 3rd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). The unmanned aerial vehicle was “an organic brigade UAV system,” said TF Rakkasan spokesman Maj. S. Justin Platt.
Coalition forces suffered no casualties during the multi-hour nighttime battle at Combat Outpost Spera, said Platt. Nor were there any reports of civilian casualties.

SEALS rescue Afghanistan eagle, bring to U.S.

The Associated Press
Posted : Wednesday Sep 22, 2010

PETERSBURG, N.Y. — An eagle rescued by Navy SEALS after it was wounded on a firing range in Afghanistan is getting a new home at a bird sanctuary in upstate New York.
Sen. Charles Schumer says federal officials agreed to let "Mitch the Eagle" into the U.S. as a special case despite a ban on importing birds from Afghanistan because of avian flu fears. Mitch will get to America in early October and undergo tests before being sent to the Berkshire Bird Paradise in Petersburg, about 24 miles east of Albany.
The steppe eagle was shot in the wing by an Afghan soldier at Camp Scorpion, a training base in the southern part of the country.
SEALS on patrol saw the shooting, saved Mitch and tended to his wounds.
Schumer says Wednesday the SEALS appealed for help from the sanctuary, which contacted him.

Sep 22, 2010

New 7.62 MG - HK 121

These are the first public photos after the gun was presented at the "day of the infantry" in Hammelburg. The HK 121 is scheduled to replace the aging Rheinmetall MG3 for both mounted and dismounted use in the German Army.

SureFire releases their first AA battery flashlight.

SureFire, LLC, manufacturer of high-end illumination tools and tactical products, has released a new model to its popular Outdoorsman series of flashlights. Like other members of the Outdoorsman family, the new E2L AA features a dual-output, solid-state LED emitter; tailcap switching; a TIR lens, and a weather-resistant aerospace aluminum body that’s been Mil-Spec hard anodized. It differs, however, in its power source. The E2L AA, as its name suggests, runs on either two AA lithium or AA alkaline batteries-a first for SureFire.
The progression of LED technology has finally led to a reasonable output/runtime combination that measured up to SureFire standards. For nearly twenty years, SureFire was the only flashlight manufacturer to use lithium 123A batteries, the only sufficient compact power source to run the high-output incandescent lamps that made SureFire famous. However, 123A batteries aren’t as cheap as AA and are harder to find. AA batteries are still not as powerful as the 123A so the E2L AA Outdoorsman was designed primarily for outdoor use, but it’s built to the same standards as its battle-proven brothers.
Of course, a choice of batteries is not the only factor that makes the E2L AA a great fit for the Great Outdoors. Its power-regulated LED generates two output levels: 80 lumens of light on high (four times the light of a typical two-D-cell flashlight), perfect for searching or signaling, or three lumens on low, enough light for navigating, reading a map, or other close-range tasks without compromising night-adapted vision. The flashlight runs for nine hours on a set of AA lithium batteries at its high setting and 60 hours at its low setting, allowing a user to better manage runtime by switching between the two levels as needed. A Total Internal Reflection (TIR) lens gathers the solid-state LED’s light and shapes it into a versatile beam with plenty of reach and enough surround light to accommodate peripheral vision. And to protect the E2L AA from the elements, its Mil-Spec hard-anodized aerospace aluminum body is sealed with O-rings and gaskets to keep out moisture and dirt.
The E2L AA retails for $159 and is available now.
For more information visit

Sep 21, 2010

Army Upgrades M24 sniper system to .300 WinMag. Army snipers smile, wince

The Army today awarded a contract valued at up to $28.2m for Remington to upgrade up to 3600 fielded M24 sniper rifles from 7.62mm NATO to .300 Winchester Magnum. PM Soldier Weapons began the competition back in January, 2010, and has made other changes beyond the upgrade to .300 WinMag as outlined below (from Remington’s  press release) to come up with the new M24E1 Sniper Weapon System:
  • A completely new chassis (stock) assembly, which maximizes the amount of physical adjustments for the sniper to provide a true customized fit. The chassis has a folding buttstock that radically shortens the system for easier transport and greater concealment during movement and accommodates the mounting of accessories via removable Mil Std 1913 Picatinny Rails.
  • An improved 6.5-20×50 variable power Leupold rifle-scope with an enhanced reticle within the first focal plane and a .300 Winchester Magnum bullet-drop compensator (BDC)
  • A quick-attach/detach Advanced Armament Corp. suppressor with muzzle brake
  • A 5-round detachable box magazine
  • Advanced corrosion resistant coatings throughout the system
Photo courtesy: Remington

Sep 18, 2010

Leupold Tactical CM-R2 Reticle

Leupold’s Tactical Optics Division introduces the CM-R2™ reticle, which allows tactical and competitive shooters to quickly and accurately estimate range and engage targets.
By combining the ranging ability of Leupold’s Special Purpose Reticle (SPR®) with the quick acquisition of the Leupold Circle Dot reticle, the CM-R2 provides the flexibility necessary on the modern battlefield or 3-gun course. The CM-R2 preserves the instinctive fire capabilities of the Circle Dot for the short-range, low magnification needs of the 3-gun competitor or CQB war-fighter.
The CM-R2 is designed to allow the shooter to focus more attention on the target and less attention on the reticle. A boldly illuminated 0.5 MOA dot surrounded by a 5.0 MOA semi-circle enhance the shooter’s focus and combine precision with speed when the target is up close and personal. Hash marks on the horizontal stadia are calibrated for leading moving targets at 5, 10 and 15 mph, respectively. Vertical tic marks allow users to estimate ranges based on 18” wide targets at increasing ranges, while also providing precise holdover points for targets between 300 and 900 meters.

“The CM-R2 reticle makes our battlefield-proven Mark 4 MR/T® and CQ/T® line of rifle scopes even more versatile,” said Kevin Trepa, Leupold’s vice president of tactical sales and marketing. “American war fighters and civilian shooting enthusiasts alike will enjoy the fast-ranging capabilities of this reticle.”
For optimum results, rifle scopes with the CM-R2 reticle should be zeroed at 200 yards using M855 5.56mm NATO/.223 Remington ammunition producing a muzzle velocity of 2,810 fps with 62 grain FMJ bullets.
The CM-R2 is available in Leupold Mid Range/Tactical (MR/T) and Close Quarters/Tactical (CQ/T) rifle scopes. Leupold has offered precision optics for tactical applications since the 1983 introduction of Ultra rifle scopes, which were designed to excel under the most extreme battlefield conditions. Today, more long-range Leupold Tactical Optics are in service with the U.S. military than any other brand. For more information on Leupold Tactical Optics, go to or call 1-800-LEUPOLD.

Sep 13, 2010

Medal of Honor nominee shares credit with squad

Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta will be the first living service member to receive the medal since the Vietnam War
By Anne Gearan - The Associated Press
Posted : Saturday Sep 11, 2010

WASHINGTON — The first living service member from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to receive the Medal of Honor said Saturday the medal honors more than a dozen fellow soldiers who were part of a deadly ambush three years ago.
“What I remember and what I would like to tell people is that it was not me doing everything,” Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta said in a telephone interview from Vicenza, Italy, where he serves.
According to the Army, Giunta, 25, of Hiawatha, Iowa, exposed himself to enemy gunfire to try to save two fellow soldiers.
He will become the eighth service member to receive the Medal of Honor during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The seven previous medals were presented posthumously.
Giunta learned of the honor when he got a phone call from President Obama on Thursday, he said.
“My wife was with me, and she heard me say, ‘Mr. President,’ so we knew then,” Giunta told The Associated Press.
Giunta was serving as a rifle team leader with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, when an insurgent ambush split his squad into two groups on Oct. 25, 2007, in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan, the White House said in a news release.
Giunta went above and beyond the call of duty when he exposed himself to enemy fire to pull a fellow soldier back to cover, the White House said. He engaged the enemy again when he saw two insurgents carrying away a wounded soldier, Sgt. Joshua C. Brennan, 22, of McFarland, Wis. Giunta killed one insurgent and wounded the other before tending to Brennan, who died the next day.
“His courage and leadership while under extreme enemy fire were integral to his platoon’s ability to defeat an enemy ambush and recover a fellow American soldier from enemy hands,” the White House said.
About 16 soldiers fought alongside him, Giunta said, and all did their part.
“My piece of the puzzle is what everyone is interested in right now, but it was not the only one,” Giunta said.
Giunta still serves with the same unit. The rest of his unit is deployed in Afghanistan again, but he is based in Italy in a support role.
The White House has not scheduled a ceremony to present the medal.

Sep 11, 2010

Improved Magazine Debuts on Armed Forces Network

PEO Soldier recently worked with Defense Media Activity to put together a “Hot Spot” on the 5.56mm 30-round improved magazine that delivers a significant increase in reliability for the battle-tested M16 and M4 weapons systems. The short, informative spot will appear on Armed Forces Network stations around the globe through September 26. The piece reminds Soldiers that “Tan is the plan. Green is good, but black? Send it back.”
The Army’s goal is to field approximately 7,000,000 improved magazines for the Army’s fleet of M16 and M4 weapons. They are currently free issue for deploying units and those in theater. All units operating in theater should contact their chain of command if they have not already received their improved magazines. The new magazines are available in the supply system now for replenishment and can be requisitioned under the NSN 1005-01-561-7200.
Special thanks to Defense Media Activity for helping spread the word on the improved magazine.

Sep 8, 2010

MRAPs reducing IED deaths in Afghanistan

Vehicles have reduced deaths and injuries by 30 percent since 2009

By Tom Vanden Brook - USA TODAY
Posted : Wednesday Sep 8, 2010

WASHINGTON — The military’s new armored Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles in Afghanistan are significantly reducing troop deaths in roadside attacks at a time when insurgent bombings are at record levels, according to statistics provided to USA TODAY.
Deaths of U.S. and allied troops fell from 76 in July 2009 to 57 in July of this year, according to the military command in Afghanistan.
Nearly 80 percent of roadside bomb attacks on Humvees from January 2009 through the end of July 2010 killed occupants, according to Air Force Maj. Michael Johnson, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force, the top command in Afghanistan. That figure dropped to 15 percent for attacks on MRAP vehicles, and an all-terrain MRAP model tailor-made for Afghanistan’s rugged terrain. The trucks are designed to shield people from roadside bomb blasts.
The military estimates that MRAPs have reduced deaths and injuries by 30 percent over that time. That amounts to dozens of lives saved each month.
More than $40 billion will have been spent by the end of September to build, ship and maintain MRAPs.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates made the armored truck the Pentagon’s top priority during the most intense fighting of the war in Iraq in mid 2007. Humvees, the one-time workhorse vehicle of the military, have been mostly confined to bases in Afghanistan in recent months.
The trucks’ performance in Afghanistan, where IEDs have become the insurgents’ weapon of choice, has prompted Gates to continue to push for more of them, said Geoff Morrell, Pentagon press secretary. There are about 12,000 MRAPs in Afghanistan and about 100,000 U.S. troops.
“This is precisely why the secretary has been so adamant that we get as many MRAPs as possible to Afghanistan,” Morrell said. “In the counterinsurgency fight, one of the best ways to protect our troops has been the MRAP.”
The MRAP’s ability to reduce casualties is important, said Andrew Krepinevich, president of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. But other factors are also considered in determining its usefulness.
“Ultimately it will be judged more on whether it helped U.S. troops accomplish their mission in Afghanistan than on its ability to reduce casualties,” Krepinevich said in an e-mail. “Right now the war’s outcome is still in doubt. If we succeed, the MRAPs, despite their high cost, will be seen as worth it. If we fail, some people will likely question whether we could have succeeded by adopting a different strategy and employing our resources differently.”
Meanwhile, IEDs remain deadly in Afghanistan. Last week, seven troops from the U.S.-led coalition were killed by roadside bombs.
Military officials rarely release data regarding attacks on vehicles, citing concerns about providing information of use to insurgents.
Johnson, the military spokesman in Afghanistan, said there has been a drop in deaths and injuries from IEDs in the last 12 weeks compared with the same period in 2009. “This period covers what is historically the enemy’s last offensive push before retreating for the winter,” Johnson said in an e-mail.

NATO: Taliban outnumbered around Kandahar

By Slobodan Lekic - The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Sep 7, 2010

BRUSSELS — The NATO-led coalition has overwhelming numerical superiority over the Taliban around the key southern Afghan city of Kandahar and expects to clear the area of insurgents by November’s end, a top commander said Tuesday.
Whether the operation’s success will last, however, will depend on the Afghan government’s ability to offer the area long-term security, Maj. Gen. Nick Carter said.
The operation to firm up security in Kandahar, with a population of about a half million with another half million in the hinterlands, is by far the biggest in the nine-year war.
The city served as the capital of the Taliban when the Islamist militia rose to power in Afghanistan in the 1990s. Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden used it as his base during the 9/11 attacks. Now, the insurgency draws its greatest strength from the province and the neighboring region, dominated by the ethnic Pashtun majority who form the Taliban core.
Carter said there were 10,000-12,000 Afghan national army troops in the region along with 5,000 Afghan police, besides about 15,000 international troops. They face about 1,000 guerrillas, said Carter, who heads Regional Command South, where Kandahar is located.
Coalition forces have been trying for years to pacify villages around Kandahar City, which the insurgents use to infiltrate the biggest urban center of the south.
Although the international force has always been successful in clearing the militants, they have managed to return within months because the NATO-led coalition didn’t have the forces to hold on to the areas.
“You need to dominate the population and dominate the ground ... in order to secure the solution,” Carter said.
He said most of the coalition effort was aimed at clearing the Taliban from the surrounding districts of Zhari and Panjwai and along Highway 1, “where they operate ... with a degree of freedom of action.”
“I can’t go into the timing of all this, suffice it to say it will happen in 2-3 months,” Carter said during a video conference from Kandahar. “Our expectation is that by mid- to the end of November we will have rid those areas of the Taliban.”
The NATO force in Regional Command South consists mainly of Americans, British and Canadians, along with Slovak, French and Belgian contingents.
While acknowledging that the ultimate success of the operation depends on the Afghan government’s long-term security capabilities, Carter suggested patience.
“These things take time, and if you give (the government) time there’s a sporting chance it will prevail,” he said.
Associated Press Writer Robert H. Reid contributed to this report.

Sep 1, 2010

M14 7.62mm Enhanced Battle Rifle (EBR)

Click picture to enlarge

Provides infantry squads with the capability to engage enemy targets beyond the range of M4 Carbines and M16 Rifles.

The M14 Enhanced Battle Rifle (EBR) is an air-cooled, gas-operated, magazine-fed, shoulder-fired weapon. It is a rack stock M14 rifle mated to an enhanced aluminum billet stock, Mark 4 tactical scope, and cantilever mount. With its new adjustable buttstock and cheek rest and M4-style pistol grip, the rifle is effective in close quarters combat and in the Squad Designated Marksman role. The EBR can be returned to its original configuration with no permanent modifications.
Five thousand M14 EBRs were reconfigured and assembled at TACOM Lifecycle Management Command (LCMC ) at Rock Island Arsenal in response to Operational Need Statements requesting a longer range capability. The upgraded weapons are currently in service with select Army units.

Caliber: 7.62mm
–14.9 pounds (empty)
–16.6 pounds (with loaded magazine)
Barrel length: 22 inches
Magazine: 20 rounds
Maximum effective range: 600 – 800 (shooter dependent)
Muzzle velocity: 2,600 feet per second

Force recon Marines return to MEUs

By Gidget Fuentes - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Aug 31, 2010

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — As part of continued efforts to enhance the Corps’ ship-boarding capabilities, Force Reconnaissance Marines are set to deploy next year as part of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
The MEU’s 2,300-plus Marines and sailors will be a multi-mission, rapid-response force equipped and prepared to do more maritime missions — including amphibious raids, assaults on ships or oil platforms and boat operations.
The addition of a platoon of force reconnaissance Marines, along with added rigid-hull inflatable boats borrowed from the Navy, will position the 13th MEU through its six-month workup and shipboard deployment to join in the Corps’ ongoing efforts to the VBSS, or visit-board-search-seize, mission.

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