The new Army study detailing the lack of stopping power of the M4 carbine and its 5.56mm round only codifies what soldiers have been saying since being deployed to Afghanistan. The M16 and M4 are good weapons, but the Pentagon has never admitted their mistake of switching from the 7.62mm round to the 5.56mm. Common sense has been verified by the study: smaller, lighter rounds don’t have a lot of stopping power past short ranges. The valleys and mountains of Afghanistan sets up a lot of long range firing situations.
The report underscores the Pentagon’s inexcusable delays over the XM25 a weapon that fires standard rifle rounds and explosive rounds that has been heard about for about a decade. The weapon has been down graded, perhaps for budget reasons, from a replacement for the current rifles to a small unit weapon that fires only explosive rounds. So instead of replacing the decades old technology of M16s the Army has gotten itself a hi-tech grenade launcher. The Pentagon has given flight to the Osprey, Raptor and Reaper and launched a new class of littoral combat ships, but somehow a new rifle that incorporates the technological advances of the last twenty years is a bridge too far?