The Green Machine

Army Airborne Divisions and Regiment Patches During World War II including Ghost Divisions.

All About Guns Hard Nosed Folks Both Good & Bad The Green Machine This great Nation & Its People War

Curator’s Corner: Gen. Patton’s Pocket Pistols – That MAN did know his guns!

The Green Machine Well I thought it was funny!


The big CH47D Chinook was amazingly agile in competent hands.
It was also blisteringly fast for its type. Public domain.

The mission was to insert an infantry platoon covertly in the desert. For whatever reason, the grunt company commander was tagging along. Unusually, we were doing this mission in the daylight. The early morning weather was cool and calm. It was a beautiful day for flying.

We got the grunts arranged in the back and put the infantry captain in the jump seat just between and behind us two pilots. The flight engineer briefed up the passengers on seatbelt usage, emergency egress procedures, and the like. That bit was just like commercial airlines, only with way uglier flight attendants. As we got ready to spool up the airplane, I noticed that my infantry buddy had left his seatbelt fully extended and, therefore, worthless. I kindly suggested he cinch it up tight.

I had not worked with this guy before, and he was a bit snooty. He explained how he had done a great deal of flying before and was more concerned with being able to egress quickly than being secured in his seat. He went on to disparage my big 50,000-pound machine, even going so far as to call it a “pig boat.”

Here’s a pro tip, whenever mounting a military combat aircraft, never trash-talk the machine to the pilots. They might just take that as a challenge.

The Chinook is really fast. It is, in fact, the fastest rotorcraft in the U.S. Army inventory. The CH47D would hold 170 knots (or 195 mph) in level flight all day long. At three feet off the ground, that is a reliably wild ride. Blackhawks and Apaches were faster, but only in a dive. In a race, the big Chinook wins every time.

This is me in a former life. I do miss it so.

This particular bit of desert was as flat as Chuck Schumer’s personality. All the monotonous flatness was interrupted by a single big black 3,000-foot basalt mountain we called the Whale. I screamed toward the Whale as fast as the aircraft would go. When we got close enough to make our grunt buddy squirm, I torqued back on the cyclic and traded airspeed for altitude. In doing so, I pushed everybody down into their seats at about three or four G’s. That’s a lot in a big helicopter.

By the time we got to the top of the mountain, we were 3,000 feet higher but moving at a walking pace. I glanced over my shoulder to see my infantry buddy now with a happy grin on his face. He clearly believed he had survived his ride with the Hookers, the cool unit moniker we had stenciled on pretty much everything.

As we puttered along the top of the mountain at maybe ten knots, I kept the radar altimeter in the corner of my vision. It read three feet from the base of the fuselage to the hard rocky earth below. I had flown this route before and knew what came next.

The radar altimeter continued to read three feet before dropping precipitously beyond its 1,500-foot cutoff. The far end of the Whale ended in an abrupt cliff face that ran all the way to the flat desert floor below. When I was certain the tail of the aircraft was clear of the cliff, I dropped the thrust lever to the floor and shoved the cyclic into the instrument panel. We plummeted out of the sky like a greased anvil.

Despite all the grownup trappings, most soldiers are just souped-up kids.
You can take the boys out of second grade, but you’ll never take the
second grade out of the boys.

I took a glance over my left shoulder to see the infantry guy bounce his head off of the ceiling. For a pregnant moment, he was suspended in space like some kind of maniacal weightless flailing frog. Once we neared the desert floor, I popped the cyclic back and firmly returned everyone to their seats. As we resumed our position, screaming across the desert at 170 knots and about three feet off the ground, I noticed the young man discreetly cinching up his seatbelt.

Twenty minutes later, we disgorged our grunts and headed for home to do something similar all over again. I never saw that particular infantry guy again. I do hope he enjoyed the ride. Thrill-seeking lunatics of the world would pay a fortune for an experience not half as cool.

Here’s a dirty little secret not everyone appreciates. For all the sexy cool toys and undeniably dark missions, soldiers are mostly just glorified kids. They gave us the most amazing machines, and while we believed in our cause, in our hearts, we were just boys out having fun. It is a wonder any of us survived.

The Green Machine This great Nation & Its People War

From Bayou Renaissance Man – What a name for a weapon!

What gets me is its name.  Apparently it’s called the ALQ-167 Angry Kitten.  Details at the link.

I’ve met lots of kittens during my life.  I don’t know that I’ve ever considered an irritated, or angry, or PO’ed kitten to represent any real danger.  Was this the best choice of name they could come up with?

Regardless, it made me smile.  “Hey, enemy!  MEEEEOOOW to you too!”

All About Guns Born again Cynic! The Green Machine

A Disarmed Army? A panel of “experts” wants to take Second Amendment rights from the very people who fight for our freedom. by SUSANNE EDWARD

Army troops silhouette

With a bias that conveniently removes the culpability and failures of the federal bureaucracy to help our soldiers and veterans, an “expert” panel recently wrote a report for the Department of Defense (DoD) entitled “Preventing Suicide in the U.S. Military: Recommendations from the Suicide Prevention and Response Independent Review Committee.” The report recommends that the federal government put in place various gun-control measures for our armed forces under the guise of suicide prevention.

The 115-page report recommends everything from weakening shower rods to ensuring people get enough sleep to reduce the number of suicides, and perhaps some, or even many, of those suggestions are worth exploring, but it also lists a series of restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms of service members and DoD contractors that have been proven to be ineffective, or even counterproductive, and that would put an emphasis on reducing freedom, not finding and helping those in need.

These gun-control proposals would, in fact, almost completely strip away our troops’ rights—the very rights they are fighting to preserve. The DoD panel’s proposals include implementing a seven-day waiting period for any firearm purchased on DoD property; raising the minimum age for buying guns and ammunition to 25; developing a national database for recording firearm serial numbers; prohibiting the possession of privately owned firearms not related to the performance of official duties on DoD property by anyone who does not live on DoD property; requiring anyone living on DoD property in military housing to register all privately owned firearms with a base authority; and restricting the possession and storage of privately owned firearms in military barracks and dormitories.

And that is just the beginning of this gun-control slippery slope. The authors of the report also seek changes that would enable the Pentagon to gather information on soldiers’ private firearms, which have nothing to do with their job in the United States Armed Forces or as DoD contractors.

An obvious criticism of this series of proposals is that it is contradictory, wrong and problematic to train individuals to defend our country and to, at the same time, deprive those very individuals of the constitutional liberty to safeguard themselves and their families when they are off-duty.

Blaming guns for mental-health issues is, to be blunt, a convenient dodge for a bureaucracy that many feel has failed to satisfactorily help our soldiers and veterans as they serve and, later, as they readjust to civilian life. Officials can simply claim it’s not their fault, it’s the existence of guns. After all, this is how gun-control activists talk about crime; they pretend that guns—and they make no distinction between those that are legally owned and carried and those that are illegally obtained and carried—somehow cause crimes, not the unlawful individuals who commit the crimes.

This excuse for bans and further restrictions on soldiers’ Second Amendment rights has received a lot of criticism.

“Limiting access to weapons and ammo for 18 to 25 year olds who make up 90% of the infantry ranks, and whose very raison d’être is to engage in close-range combat with guns to destroy enemy ground forces, will not stop suicides,” said Dan O’Shea, a retired Navy SEAL. “The DoD should address the root causes of suicides, not send a contradictory message to the troops that we don’t trust you to own, operate and keep safe the very tools of your trade.”

Indeed, veterans primarily contend that restricting access to firearms outside of work does little to achieve the goal of reducing suicides and runs a high risk of worsening the problem, as it could convince troubled persons not to seek help, since they won’t want their rights permanently taken away just because they sought professional assistance.

“The government will always start where they can assert dominion and control. But this sort of gun control will not stop people from taking their lives with firearms. It could stop people from seeking the help they need and this could ultimately increase the number of suicides,” said Boone Cutler, a former U.S. soldier and founder of the anti-suicide mission known as The Spartan Pledge. “These ‘recommendations’ would take away constitutional rights without the adjudication of a court. They would be counter-
productive all the way around.”

Data Shows This Gun Control Wouldn’t Work
The gun-control argument that dramatically limiting gun access leads to an abrupt drop in suicides falls apart when you examine countries that have some of the most-stringent laws on the planet.

Take Japan, for example. The country’s suicide rate peaked at about 25 per 100,000 people in 2000. In 2021, it was still 16.8 per 100,000 people, according to Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare. This is higher than the U.S., which in 2021 was estimated to be 14.1 per 100,000, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most firearms are illegal in Japan, and few citizens own guns, yet it has one of the highest suicide rates globally. 

South Korea tells a similar story to Japan’s. In South Korea, the low amount of hunters’ firearms that are in circulation must be stored at local police stations; however, data from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that South Korea has the highest suicide rate of all developed countries. In South Korea, the number of suicides was 26 per 100,000 in 2021, according to data compiled by Statistics Korea. Suicides in South Korea are typically carried out via drowning, hanging, ingesting poisons or jumping from tall structures. Furthermore, WHO statistics highlight that Austria, Belgium, France, Hungary and Poland all have higher suicide rates than the U.S. even though they have more-stringent gun-control laws than the U.S.

Thus, the DoD’s premise of slashing access to firearms doesn’t hold up to even a basic analysis. It is simply not proven that gun control will significantly reduce suicide rates.

“A gun is just a tool like any other tool. A hammer is great, but I can also kill someone or myself with a hammer. I can jump off a building if I want to jump off a building. I can overdose on heroin or go skydiving and not pull,” said Stokes. “There are so many ways to kill yourself, so targeting firearms is just stripping service members of their rights.”

Marine Corps Maj. Eric Antonelli, soldiers

U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Eric Antonelli (right), helps soldiers complete an advanced marksmanship training course at Camp Pendleton, Calif. Just above are soldiers serving in Iraq.

Real Causes Need to Be Addressed
Many also argue that this taxpayer-funded diatribe about gun control only distracts from the root problem: actually preventing suicides. A gun is merely one of many instruments used by troubled people; it is not the cause. Rather, the seed of suicidal tendencies is complex and manifold, ranging from depression, trauma and isolation to relationship/family troubles, employment and financial pressures. If someone is truly suicidal, removing their gun hardly solves the problem.

“I was badly injured while fighting in Afghanistan,” says Greg Stube, who served in the Green Berets and is the author of Conquer Anything. “While recovering in a hospital, and during many surgeries from injuries from being horribly burned and gutted by shrapnel, like many, I became addicted to pain medication and spent years overcoming that addiction and healing from my massive injuries. So I know physically and psychologically what soldiers can go through. My strong foundation in faith, my family and the brothers I served with all helped me through those horrific times, so I never considered suicide.

But I do understand how low a soldier can sink. And I have counseled a lot of veterans and have given many speeches to veteran groups on these issues and I can tell you that guns are not why some give up. If someone is determined to kill themselves, they’ll find a way. What too often occurs is the bureaucracy misses the signs and isn’t nimble and human enough to really be there and to stay there for these individuals. This is complicated stuff, and it drives me crazy that some want to use this as an excuse to take freedom, as in Second Amendment rights, away from soldiers.”

Many agree with Stube.

“It is stupid, contradictory and insulting to issue young men and women weapons and a chance to die for their country while restricting their ability to buy guns and ammo for their personal use,” said James Williamson, a retired U.S. Special Forces soldier.

“I have counseled a lot of veterans and have given many speeches to veteran groups on these issues and I can tell you that guns are not why some give up.”–Greg Stube, Green Beret (ret.)From his experience, what would be much more beneficial would be to emphasize suicide prevention at the officer level and to de-stigmatize the idea that soldiers sometimes must seek help.

“We also need to educate soldiers to use the buddy system and to look out for each other and recognize any signs of distress; we need to encourage them to report and take intervention action themselves,” said Williamson. “Restricting firearms is a cheap cop-out and a non-starter to a much-greater, and complex, set of problems.”

In fact, according to Matt Tipton, a physician and former U.S. Army Ranger, soldiers are incredibly resourceful, noting “We were trained to be mission-oriented. Once suicide becomes the mission, they will likely be successful. I think, typically, when a soldier or veteran decides to ‘do it,’ it’s well thought out, and they will make it happen.

If I were in charge of suicide reduction, my priority would be better mental-health screening before entry into service. A big problem is that today’s youth often have less coping and social IQ than ever. And we need to destigmatize mental-health service utilization while in the service.

The short answer is that gun control won’t solve veteran suicide, but it could enable a future tyrannical government—having the men and women most able to defend us from tyranny disarmed is pretty bad. Think the Holocaust and the Cambodian killing fields—every genocide in history started with unarmed people.”

From the lens of Del Wilber, a former police officer, U.S. Army soldier and intelligence officer, the problem of suicide in the military often comes down to poor leadership.

“Soldiers will follow a true leader through the gates of hell, but on the opposite side, with poor leaders, there will be discipline problems, substance abuse and ultimately some suicides,” said Wilber. “Will they restrict access to ropes so people can’t hang themselves? This is typical of gun-control advocates, always looking for what to them is the easiest solution, instead of putting forth the hard effort to find proper solutions.”

O’Shea also took aim at the DoD leadership by suggesting a good and hard look at the top-brass could go a long way in improving the motivation and mental health of at-risk military personnel.

“The war on masculinity, which de-arming our soldiers is a byproduct of, has done more damage to the young American military male psyche than more gun-control laws will solve,” O’Shea said. “A feeling of a lack of purpose, meaning and self-worth in one’s day to day is at the root cause of most suicides.”

Other veterans stressed the importance of transforming protocols to enable service members to seek mental-health support without first consulting their chain of command—or worrying that seeking such help could result in a loss of their rights.

President Joe Biden (D) campaigned on the premise of enacting legislation to ban “assault weapons,” including mandatory “buyback” programs and providing “technical and financial assistance to state and local governments to establish effective relinquishment processes on their own.” Moreover, Biden even said he wanted all firearms sold in America to be so-called “smart guns” that theoretically can recognize an approved user—and that, according to the dystopian dream of gun-control activists, could be shut off by the authorities.

“If the U.S. government can restrict access to firearms by a key segment of the U.S. population, besides law enforcement, that relies on guns to do their jobs, then nothing will stop this train wreck of woke ideology from spreading like a virus,” said O’Shea.

Many former service members contacted for this article commented that suicide is a very real and alarming reality within the military and society in general. It is a crisis that requires serious and practical solutions, not merely political punditry and cheerleading from anti-gun activists. Imposing gun control to stop suicide is no different than banning cars to prevent drunk driving; it is a dubious and downright precarious faux answer to make a handful of elites feel good.

“How dare military bureaucrats even consider restricting gun ownership of service members?” said Wilber. “But sadly, this has become a typical military knee-jerk response. If those [recommendations] go ahead, it will not affect suicides, but it will impact already suffering recruitment numbers. What will then become of our national security?”

All About Guns Hard Nosed Folks Both Good & Bad I am so grateful!! Leadership of the highest kind Manly Stuff One Hell of a Good Fight Our Great Kids Soldiering The Green Machine War

David C Dolby – Medal of Honor Recipient (What a STUD!!!!!!)

Art The Green Machine

One of the few acually honest Army recruting posters that I have seen

All About Guns The Green Machine War

$3 billion accounting error means the Pentagon can send more weapons to Ukraine by TARA COPP and LOLITA C. BALDOR

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon has overestimated the value of the weapons it has sent to Ukraine by at least $3 billion — an accounting error that could be a boon for the war effort because it will allow the Defense Department to send more weapons now without asking Congress for more money.

The acknowledgment Thursday comes at a time when Pentagon is under increased pressure by Congress to show accountability for the billions of dollars it has sent in weapons, ammunition and equipment to Ukraine and as some lawmakers question whether that level of support should continue.

It also could free up more money for critical weapons as Ukraine is on the verge of a much anticipated counteroffensive — which will require as much military aid as they can get. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has previously said the offensive was delayed because they did not yet have everything they needed.

The error was caused when officials overvalued some of the systems sent to Ukraine, using the value of money it would cost to replace an item completely rather than the current value of the weapon. In many of the military aid packages, the Pentagon has opted to draw from its stockpiles of older, existing gear because it can get those items to Ukraine faster.

“During our regular oversight process of presidential drawdown packages, the Department discovered inconsistencies in equipment valuation for Ukraine. In some cases, ‘replacement cost’ rather than ‘net book value’ was used, therefore overestimating the value of the equipment drawn down from U.S. stocks,” said Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh.

She added that the mistake hasn’t constrained U.S. support to Ukraine or hampered the ability to send aid to the battlefield.

A defense official said the Pentagon is still trying to determine exactly how much the total surplus will be. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said the comptroller has asked the military services to review all previous Ukraine aid packages using the proper cost figures. The result, said the official, will be that the department will have more available funding authority to use as the Ukraine offensive nears.

The aid surplus was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

To date the U.S. has provided Ukraine nearly $37 billion in military aid since Russia invaded in February 2022. The bulk of that has been in weapons systems, millions of munitions and ammunition rounds, and an array of trucks, sensors, radars and other equipment pulled from Pentagon stockpiles and sent quickly to Ukraine.

Members of Congress have repeatedly pressed Defense Department leaders on how closely the U.S. is tracking its aid to Ukraine to ensure that it is not subject to fraud or ending up in the wrong hands. The Pentagon has said it has a “robust program” to track the aid as it crosses the border into Ukraine and to keep tabs on it once it is there, depending on the sensitivity of each weapons system.

There also is a small team of Americans in Ukraine working with Ukrainians to do physical inspections when possible, but also virtual inspections when needed, since those teams are not going to the front lines.

In late February, the Pentagon’s inspector general said his office has found no evidence yet that any of the billions of dollars in weapons and aid to Ukraine has been lost to corruption or diverted into the wrong hands. He cautioned that those investigations are only in their early stages

Soldiering The Green Machine War Well I thought it was neat!

The Army sure did have some wild looking recruiting posters back in WWI or “The War to end all Wars”

All About Guns The Green Machine

“The Next Generation Squad Weapons System for the U.S. Army” from the American Rifleman

soldier with rifle

The U.S. Army’s latest multi-billion-dollar, high-tech small arms program is moving forward and, and it represents nothing less than an entirely new direction in U.S. military small arms development.

In April of last year, the Army announced that it had selected the winners of the Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW) competition: an infantry rifle and a light machine gun, along with a new cartridge and optical system that the pair would share. The news sent shock waves through the firearm and defense communities.

“We should know that this is the first time in our lifetime, the first time in 65 years, that the Army will field a new weapon system of this nature—a rifle, an automatic rifle, a fire-control system and a new caliber family of ammunition,” said Brig. Gen. Larry Burris, the Soldier Lethality Cross-Functional Team Director, at a press conference for the selection. Then, for emphasis, he added, “This is revolutionary.” For those of us in the civilian world, the announcement prompted questions about how and why our tax dollars are being spent.

The Problem
Two decades of constant combat usage of the U.S. military’s small arms have exposed some deficiencies in the current inventory. These include the effective range of the 5.56 NATO cartridge, the ability of M16-derived systems to deliver suppressive fire, the need for modularity to accommodate modern accessories and the weight that small arms systems add to an already-burdened soldier. The search for solutions to these problems are defined by a defense industry buzzword and a catchphrase: “overmatch” and “near-peer adversaries.” Overmatch is the ability to outperform the range, accuracy and lethality of the weapons used by the enemy of an advanced military with capabilities similar to those of the United States, such as Russia and China, and such militaries are seen as near-peer adversaries (see p. 26).

While the 5.56 NATO has a similar effective range to the Russian 5.45×39 mm and Chinese 5.8×42 mm cartridges (approximately 500 meters), that range would have to be extended for “overmatch.” Additionally, many arms that U.S. soldiers have often found themselves facing use the 7.62×54 mm R cartridge, as fired by PSL and SVD rifles and the PK series of medium machine guns, which have an effective range of approximately 800 meters.

Another factor determining the next cartridge’s performance is the fact that, during the past decade, ballistic body armor technology has improved and is less costly, making it possible for near-peer adversaries to equip their entire front-line forces with protection against conventional projectiles. Additionally, the U.S. military is increasingly encountering body armor in the hands of irregular forces and terrorists.

In 2017, retired Maj. Gen. Robert H. Scales stated the problem succinctly to the Senate Armed Services Committee: “Survival [on the modern battlefield] depends on the ability to deliver more killing power at longer ranges and with greater precision than the enemy.”

In response, the U.S. military has adopted limited numbers of extended-range specialty weapons, incrementally upgraded existing systems with “Product Improvement Programs” and improved ammunition with “Enhanced Performance Round” versions of both the 5.56 NATO and 7.62 NATO cartridges. But the limits of 75-year-old cartridge and arms designs have been reached. As Brig. Gen. William Boruff, Joint Program Executive Officer for Armaments and Ammunition, explained at the NGSW press conference, “the current 5.56 cartridge has been maxed out from the performance perspective.”

three cartridges considered for the NGSW program

The three cartridges considered for the NGSW program are exemplified by (l. to r.): a cased telescoped round by Textron; a hybrid-case round by SIG Sauer; and a composite-case round by True Velocity. All three were designed to fire the same copper-jacketed 6.8 mm bullet.

The History
From the conclusion of World War II, the U.S. military has sought solutions for increased lethality, greater hit probability and a lighter combat load in its small arms. When the Army announced the NGSW program in 2018, those who were skeptical that the effort would ever result in a finalized and adopted system were justified in their doubt. When the M16 was adopted in the early 1960s, the Army was already in the midst of a “future weapons” program—the Special Purpose Individual Weapon (SPIW). The SPIW program was an extension of Project SALVO, which itself was the result of the Army’s post-World War II analysis of how small arms were used by infantrymen in combat.

Its conclusion, which had already been reached by the Germans during the war, was that the most effective arm for an infantryman to carry was a fully-automatic rifle that fired an intermediate cartridge. The result was a compromise between the light weight and high volume of fire afforded by a submachine gun chambered in a pistol cartridge and the range, accuracy and ballistic payload of a full-size battle rifle. The groundbreaking Sturmgewehr” design was quickly matched post-war by the Soviet Kalashnikov, and the rest of the world was left scrambling to update their arsenals.

Project SALVO worked on the idea that hit probability was increased by the greater number of projectiles you could throw at a target, essentially making a rifle into a long-range shotgun. The search for a lightweight “Small Caliber, High Velocity” rifle led to the adoption of the M16. The SPIW program sought to develop an arm that combined a grenade launcher with a rifle firing small, arrow-like “flechette” projectiles. It was abandoned in the early 1970s, and the M16 soldiered on.

By 1972, the Army was also looking for an arm that could cover the ground between the M16 and the M60 with the Squad Automatic Weapons (SAW) program. The program centered upon a new SAW-specific cartridge firing a 135-grain 6 mm bullet that gave a ballistic performance between the 5.56 mm and the 7.62 mm. While the Army eventually adopted the FN Minimi as the M249, it stuck with using the 5.56 NATO cartridge.

Soon after the M16A2 was adopted, in 1986, the Army began the Advanced Combat Rifle (ACR) program, the goal of which was once again to produce an arm that would increase hit probability on the battlefield. Many of the innovations developed during the SPIW program were examined again, including flechette rounds, duplex projectile loads and burst fire, along with new innovations such as polymer-case telescoping ammunition, caseless molded-propellant cartridges and the advantages provided by sound suppression and optical sighting systems. As no ACR candidate could provide “an enhancement in hit probability of at least 100 percent at combat ranges” over the M16, the program was canceled.

By the 1990s, the newest effort to replace the M16 was the Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW) program. The resulting arm combined a 5.56 NATO-firing rifle and a semi-automatic grenade launcher with a computer-assisted sighting system firing air-burst munitions, but it did not result in a practical design. An offshoot of this program was the further development of the Heckler & Koch G36-derived XM8, which was also eventually canceled.

The search for more effective small arms continued into the 21st century. In 2004, the Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) program was formed to investigate polymer-case and caseless ammunition technologies. The program also developed a light machine gun prototype to replace the M249. An Individual Carbine competition seeking a replacement for the M4 ran from 2010 to 2014, but it ended without selecting a replacement. Ditto for the Interim Combat Service Rifle program. The M16 and its derivatives, it seemed, were here to stay.

XM8 prototype

Since the adoption of the M16, the Army has sought a replacement. Pictured is testing of the XM8 prototype in the early 2000s.

The NGSW Competition
In many ways, the NGSW program was a ballistics-centric endeavor. Brigadier General Boruff summarized the purpose of the program when he stated it was, “all about energy on target and the longer ranges.” The Army knew the performance it wanted and sought an integrated system of a cartridge that provided those required ballistics, an arm to fire it and a sighting system that would give the average soldier the ability to utilize both to their maximum potential.

The Next Generation Squad Weapons program sought to select a new cartridge, a rifle (NGSW-R) and light machine gun or “automatic rifle” (NGSW-AR) to fire it and a “fire control” optical sighting system (NGSW-FC). Beginning in 2017, the requirements for the systems were announced. These stipulated the allowable size and weight of the new firearms and that they were to fire a cartridge of the submitting competitors’ own design that used a specific 6.8 mm bullet. The arm and cartridge combination were to be effective to 800+ meters. Initial competitors included Desert TechMARS/Cobalt KineticFN AmericaGeneral DynamicsTextron and SIG Sauer.

The NGSW selection demonstrated a new process of developing, testing and adopting new technology with the Army’s use of “Cross-Functional Teams.” Each weapons system was given a “touch point” analysis by individual soldiers, with more than 1,000 soldiers providing 20,000 hours of feedback. In the Army’s estimation, the NGSW program condensed a process that would typically take eight to 10 years into 27 months.

In August 2019, the selection of three firearm finalists were announced. General Dynamics (its efforts were later taken over by Lonestar Future Weapons Systems) submitted a magazine-fed bullpup design for both the rifle and automatic rifle. The company partnered with Beretta for the design, which used the bullpup layout to incorporate a 20″ barrel in a firearm that would yield the ballistics the Army sought at a reasonable pressure, yet maintain an overall length less than the current M4. They partnered with True Velocity ammunition to develop a composite-case cartridge of conventional shape made of polymer and a steel base.

Textron, which had worked with the Army on its LSAT program, submitted a magazine-fed rifle and belt-fed automatic rifle of conventional layout. It partnered with H&K on the firearms’ designs, Winchester Ammunition on the ammunition and Lewis Machine & Tool for the suppressor. Its cartridge featured a “cased telescoped” design, meaning the entire bullet is contained inside a polymer case, which results in reduced weight and overall length.

The last candidates were submitted by SIG Sauer, which ultimately was awarded a 10-year, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract capped at $4.7 billion. The initial phase is a $20.4 million dollar contract to provide 25 XM5s and 15 XM250s, along with ammunition, for further development. Eventually, the Army expects to procure 107,000 XM5 rifles and 13,000 XM250 automatic rifles. SIG’s submissions are described below; although note that the components of the NGSW program are still being developed, so the specifications and capabilities stated below are subject to change.

disintegrating-link belt, armor-piercing bullet

The XM250 automatic rifle feeds from a disintegrating-link belt (l.). The 6.8 mm Common Cartridge with its solid copper training/close-range bullet and its armor-piercing bullet (r.) was on display at the Association of the United States Army exposition in October 2022 in Washington, D.C.

The 6.8×51 mm Common Cartridge
As a result of several ballistics studies, the U.S. Army determined that a 6.8 mm-diameter (0.277 cal.) bullet with a weight of approximately 135 grains would be optimal for what it believes will be the conditions of the future battlefield. For the NGSW program, the Army produced a “General Purpose Projectile” that uses a hardened-steel penetrator with a copper jacket and core similar to the M855A1. It was provided to the competing manufacturers who were tasked with developing their own cartridge that used the projectile, met the Army’s ballistic requirements and weighed less than a 7.62 NATO cartridge.

The cartridge SIG developed for its winning NGSW firearms has been designated as the 6.8×51 mm Common Cartridge (CC). As can be inferred from the “51 mm” part of its designation, the cartridge’s case is the same length as the 7.62 NATO, necessitating an “AR-10”-size firearm platform. The case is almost the identical diameter as well, meaning that capacity in a box magazine is the same as the 7.62 NATO cartridge. While the Army hasn’t revealed the exact ballistic performance of the new cartridge, the 6.8 mm CC delivers more velocity than the M855A1 with a bullet more than twice as heavy. The Army claims that the new chambering is superior to both the 6.5 mm Creedmoor and 7.62 NATO at ranges up to 800 meters and that it can defeat Level III body armor with non-armor-piercing ammunition out to 600 meters.

The new cartridge is not to be confused with the 6.8 Remington SPC, another cartridge developed at the behest of the U.S. military. Designed in the early 2000s, the SPC has the same overall length as the 5.56 NATO, meaning that existing M4 and AR-15-type firearms could be adapted to use it.

Since defeating body armor comes down, in large part, to velocity, every effort was made to get the maximum performance out of the new cartridge. The result was a chambering that operates at very high pressure. The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI) specification for the cartridge is 80,000 p.s.i., or about 30 percent higher than the operating pressure of similar cartridges such as 7.62 NATO or 6.5 mm Creedmoor.

.277 Fury loads

Three .277 Fury loads are currently offered for the civilian market: conventional brass cartridge cases loaded with a 135-grain FMJ or soft-point bullet and hybrid-case cartridges with a 150-grain polymer-tip bullet.

When SAAMI certified the .277 Fury, the civilian version of the 6.8 mm CC cartridge, it included the warning that the cartridge, when loaded to pressures greater than 68,000 p.s.i., would “require cartridge case and/or firearms design that depart from traditional practices.” This is exactly what SIG did, developing a “hybrid” metal case for the cartridge. As the unsupported portion of a brass cartridge case that protrudes from the rear of the chamber and the primer pocket cannot handle these pressures, the SIG design uses a stainless-steel case head married to a brass case body. SIG claims the hybrid case design allows for an additional 350 f.p.s. in velocity over a conventional brass case.

NGSW 6.8 mm Common Cartridge

The brass and stainless-steel hybrid case of the NGSW 6.8 mm Common Cartridge is designed to handle its 80,000 p.s.i. pressure.

In addition to its strength, steel is lighter than brass, so using it in what is the thickest part of the cartridge case keeps the overall weight of the loaded cartridge down. Though being nominally the same overall size, 6.8 mm CC weighs less than a 7.62 NATO cartridge.

The commercial .277 Fury launches a 150-grain bullet at 2,830 f.p.s. from a 16″ barrel—or approximately the performance you’d expect from a .270 Win. fired from a 24″ barrel. SIG also makes a reduced-power version of the .277 Fury cartridge that uses a conventional all-brass case and presumably operates at less than 68,000 p.s.i. The Army likewise plans to use a reduced-power version of the cartridge for training purposes and close-range combat scenarios where overpenetration is a risk.

SIG Sauer will be producing all of the Army’s 6.8 mm ammunition, using projectiles supplied by the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant, for the next few years. Lake City (a government-owned plant run by private contractor Winchester Ammunition) is building a new facility dedicated solely to producing the 6.8 mm CC ammunition that should be online by 2025 or 2026. By 2030, Lake City will take over as the lead producer of 6.8 ammunition. Lake City’s production of 5.56 NATO and 7.62 NATO will continue at current rates in the near future.

MCX-Spear rifles

Last year, SIG offered a limited run of MCX-Spear rifles for the civilian market in semi-automatic-only format.

XM5 Rifle
In many ways, SIG’s winning firearms were the most conventional NGSW choices. Its rifle prototype, adopted as the XM5, is based on the commercially available MCX, which combines features of the M16 with a short-stroke piston and recoil-spring system that mimics the AR-18. SIG had already scaled up the 5.56 mm MCX to AR-10 size to accommodate a .308 Win.-class cartridge with its MCX-MR, which was a competitor in the Army’s Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System program.

The XM5’s controls are M16-style rendered bilaterally for full ambidextrous use. The magazine release, bolt release and safety selector are present on both sides of the rifle, along with a bilateral, AR-type, charging handle. Additionally, there is a second non-reciprocating charging handle positioned on the left side of the receiver. The rifle utilizes an M4-style forward-assist device and case deflector. While having a general M4 familiarity, the exterior of the XM5 is also updated. The aluminum-alloy handguard features M-Lok slots, and there are built-in push-button sling swivel sockets on the handguard and receiver.

The XM5 mechanism uses a multi-lug rotating bolt. Function is provided by a short-stroke gas piston with an adjustable gas regulator. The upper and lower receivers are made of aluminum alloy with steel inserts in high-wear locations. Because of the gas-piston design and recoil springs contained within the receiver, the XM5’s stock not only telescopes like an M4 but also folds to the left side, and the rifle can be fired with the stock folded. The barrel has a tapered heavy profile and is held in place by a clamping system that uses two Torx-head screws that allow it to be removed in the field. The rifle is supplied with a two-stage match trigger, uses SR-25-pattern magazines and is capable of both semi- and full-automatic fire.

The XM5 is designed to be used in conjunction with a suppressor. In 2021, the Marine Corps announced that it would be supplying all of its front-line personnel with suppressor-equipped arms, to both make communication on the battlefield easier and to prevent the long-term health effects of loud noise exposure, and the Army seems to be following that lead. The XM5’s suppressor is also made by SIG and is based on its SLX series developed for U.S. Special Operations. The backpressure that a suppressor adds to a firearm can result in increased gases directed back at the shooter. The XM5’s suppressor is engineered to have a “flow-through” design that yields “low toxic fume blowback,” and SIG claims that using the suppressor results in no additional gas being expelled through the rifle’s ejection port. The suppressor is mounted by threading onto the XM5’s muzzle device and is held in place with a locking ring. Due to suppressor usage, the XM5’s 13″ barrel keeps the conventionally laid out rifle as compact as possible. With the suppressor installed, the XM5’s overall length is 36″, and it weighs 9 lbs., 14 ozs. There is no provision for mounting a bayonet.


The XM250 is designed to be used with a suppressor. It feeds from 100-round disintegrating link belts housed in a polymer and canvas pouch that mounts below the receiver.

XM250 Automatic Rifle

SIG’s winning automatic rifle design is based on the company’s MG 338, a belt-fed .338 Norma Mag.-chambered machine gun designed for U.S. Special Operations. The XM250 is an air-cooled, belt-fed design that fires from an open bolt. The action is gas-operated with a short-stroke gas piston system and is capable of both semi-automatic and fully-automatic fire. Its rate of fire is between 650 and 750 rounds per minute, depending on the ammunition used.

While SIG has been tight-lipped about the internal features of the XM250, some design features can be inferred from details found in the company’s machine gun patent applications. The XM250 uses the recoil-mitigation system of its .338 big brother, where the rotating bolt operates within a “barrel extension” that is fixed to the barrel and recoils within the outer receiver, with the bolt and barrel extension using separate recoil springs. SIG claims the XM250’s felt recoil is less than an M4. Although the XM250’s 16″ barrel is quick-change with the rotation of a collar, unlike the M249 it is not designed to be swapped under combat conditions. The XM250’s barrel-retaining system makes it field-adaptable for other cartridges in the 7.62 NATO class.

The XM250 is fed from 100-round disintegrating-link belts. The belts are housed in a polymer and canvas box that attaches below the gun with a “mag well” connection. Belts can be loaded into the gun whether the bolt is forward or back, in either safe or fire mode and with the feed tray open or closed. Unlike the M249, there is no provision that allows for the use of a detachable box magazine. The XM250 uses a left-side charging handle and has bilateral safety selector switches.

On the top of its receiver and handguard, the XM250 has a full-length Picatinny rail. It uses a feed tray cover that opens to the side to allow for mounting of optical systems without interference when the feed tray is open. Designed to be used with optics, the XM250 also has a set of offset back-up iron sights. The handguard features M-Lok slots, and the XM250’s bipod is made out of titanium to further save weight. The buttstock telescopes to multiple positions to adjust length of pull.

The XM250 is designed to use the same suppressor system as the XM5. Despite its visual bulk, the XM250 with bipod and suppressor weighs 3 lbs., 8 ozs., less than the M249 and is 13 lbs. lighter than the 7.62 NATO M240B. The size and weight of the XM250, along with its ability to fire semi-automatically, suggest that it could be used as a “rifle” in close-quarters engagements or, when combined with the new magnified optic, as a more precise “Designated Marksman Rifle” at longer ranges.

XM5 rifle

Shown atop an XM5 rifle at the AUSA expo in October 2022 in Washington, D.C., the XM157 Fire Control System, produced by Vortex, is a 1-8X riflescope with electronics that can take into account factors such as wind, elevation, inclination and range.

XM157 Fire Control System
The competition for an optical sight, or “Fire Control System,” included submissions from Vortex Optics and L3Harris (the former parent company of EOTech). The winner was Vortex’s offering, which was designated as the XM157.

The Fire Control System is the part of the NGSW program that represents the most radical leap forward in technology and capability. At the heart of the XM157 “Smart Optic” is a conventional 1-8X LPVO (low power variable optic) riflescope with a 30 mm objective lens and etched reticle that can operate without battery power. The “smart” side of the XM157 is information that can be projected as a digital Active Reticle onto a see-through display in the scope’s first focal plane. This allows for a customizable display that can include such information as ballistic drop or wind holds. The system has a built-in laser rangefinder and can compute other environmental factors, such as temperature, elevation, inclination and declination. This information is computed in real time by a unit that sits on top of the main scope’s body and adjusts the digital reticle accordingly. In addition to the rangefinder laser, the unit also contains visible and infrared aiming lasers. Again, some hints at the system’s possible capabilities can be gleaned from recent Vortex patents, such as a system that would allow the optic to display the number of rounds remaining in the magazine of the arm to which it is attached or the ability to display a virtual target for dry-fire practice.

While the XM157 sounds complicated, its function is simple and user-friendly, with all functionality displays seen through the scope. The system has passed all mil-standard optics tests of temperature, water immersion, dust, drops, shock, etc., so it’s as rugged as it is high-tech.

The system is powered by two CR123A batteries that will power the unit for “weeks” according to Vortex. While the actual weight of the system has not been revealed, according to Vortex, it is less than the combination of a conventional LPVO and ballistic computing system (presumably less than 30 ozs.). The entire unit is “modular and upgradeable,” meaning that newer capabilities can be added in the future, such as “augmented reality” modes that will allow soldiers to tag target points and share them wirelessly to other soldiers’ optics systems.

The XM157 will be made entirely in America of U.S.-made components, including the lenses. Vortex is scheduled to supply 250,000 systems over the next decade at the cost of up to $2.7 billion. As is apparent from that quantity, the XM157 is intended to be used not only on NGSW weapons but also on “legacy” platforms, such as the M4.

XM5 rifle

The XM5 rifle weighs 9 lbs., 13 ozs. with its suppressor mounted. Though equipped with offset backup iron sights, it is intended to be used with the XM157 optic.

The Reaction
Expectedly, the announcement that the Army was replacing the rifle and cartridge combination that it has used for more than half a century was met with a swift reaction. One of the first criticisms involved weight. When it comes to physics, there’s no free lunch. The Army’s ballistic needs required a cartridge larger than the 5.56 NATO and a weapon larger than an M4 to fire it. A loaded XM5 with the XM157 optic will weigh about 3 lbs., 4 ozs., more than a loaded M4A1 with an M68 optic. With a full combat load, the XM250 outweighs the M249 by about 3 lbs., 8 ozs., while carrying 200 fewer rounds.

This brings up the second criticism of a decreased round count and increased weight for a combat load. The larger diameter of the 6.8 mm cartridge means fewer rounds can be stacked in a magazine of similar size to the current 30-round M4 magazine. According to the Army, the XM5 basic combat load is seven, 20-round magazines, which weighs 9 lbs., 13 ozs., in total. For the XM250, the basic combat load is four 100-round pouches at 27 lbs., 1 oz. For comparison, the M4 carbine combat load, which is seven 30-round magazines, weighs 7 lbs., 6 ozs., and the M249 combat load is three 200-round pouches weighing 20 lbs., 14 ozs., in total. This would result in a real-world total combat weight of 21 lbs. for the XM5 and 43 lbs., 6 ozs., for the XM250, versus 15 lbs., 10 ozs., for the M4 and 39 lbs., 14 ozs., for the M249.

Based on these two points, many critics bring up the specter of the M14, a large and powerful rifle designed for the plains of Germany that found itself in the jungles of Vietnam. But the counterpoint is that the Next Generation Squad Weapons signal a shift in the Army’s small arms doctrine. In a way, the NGSW program is the antithesis of the post-World War II Project SALVO. Increased weight and decreased round count suggests that the Army expects the NGSW weapons and optics system to allow soldiers to eliminate their targets at longer ranges with fewer rounds.

U.S. & Near-Peer Cartridge Comparison chart

Trickle Down
Military innovation eventually trickles down to the civilian world, and, in the case of the NGSW, it has already arrived. The .277 Fury cartridge has been introduced commercially in the SIG Cross bolt-action rifle. A limited-edition, semi-automatic-only version of the XM5, marketed as the MCX-Spear, has also been offered by SIG. In September, the company announced the MCX-Spear LT, a mid-size platform based on the XM5 offered in 5.56 NATO, .300 Blackout and 7.62×39 mm in rifle, short-barreled rifle and pistol configurations.

Innovations that did not win the NGSW competition have also made their way to the civilian world. This spring, SAAMI certified its first composite-case ammunition manufactured by True Velocity. Currently available in .308 Win., there are plans for the company to commercially release 6.5 mm Creedmoor and 5.56 NATO composite-case cartridges in the near future.

Looking Forward
The NGSW weapons are scheduled to complete their operational test by the third quarter of 2023, with the first Army units equipped with the new firearms in the fourth quarter of that same year. The entire roll-out to the “Close Combat Force” (a classification that includes infantrymen, cavalry scouts, combat engineers and forward observers, in addition to special forces) will be dependent on when ammunition production can be ramped up to meet demand. Like the M17 handgun recently adopted, other branches of the U.S. military, such as the Marine Corps, may end up adopting the XM5 and XM250 as well. The M4 and M249 will continue to soldier on with second-line support troops.

The NGSW program marks a radical departure in U.S. small arms doctrine, pushing the envelope of conventional cartridge performance and pairing it with a state-of-the-art optical system that can help soldiers make hits to the limits of their weapons’ potential. In an age of UAVs and precision-guided munitions, the individual combat soldier is expected to become a more precise instrument, and the NGSW program is providing the tools for the job.

It demonstrates that, on an increasingly sophisticated battlefield, the infantryman isn’t being replaced by technology, but adapting to meet new challenges, as no amount of innovation will change the fact that wars are ultimately won by boots on the ground and with rifles that soldiers hold in their hands.

The ultimate judgement about whether the path taken by the NGSW program is correct will come on the battlefield.

U.S. & near-peer small arms comparison
click here for enlargement

Conflicts in the early decades of the 21st century have highlighted deficiencies in U.S. small arms doctrine. To address these shortcomings, the military’s Next Generation Squad Weapons program settled on a new cartridge, rifle and machine gun. This table places current and future U.S. small arms in the larger context of firearms used by other nations.