03 June 2008

The Butter-Cutter On 5.56mm Complaints

I greeted the virtual Butter-Cutter with a hearty, “Good Morning!” Then asked, “Have you heard? Last week, Gen. Casey said that the military is reviewing complaints of soldiers that the 5.56mm bullet isn't powerful enough.” (1)

“Yeah, I heard. It's just more Spear-Chucker shuckin' 'n' jivin'!” 

“Are you saying the most senior officer in the U.S. Army is lying?' I asked.

“I'm sayin' he was caught, like all them Spear-Chuckers in the Pentagon were caught, with his pants down by that AP story on the mouse-gun bullet. So, he said what Spear-Chuckers always say when they haven't been programmed with a good answer by their Spear-Holders, 'the military is reviewing the complaints'. That's SHUCKIN' 'N' JIVIN'!” (2)

'Wait a minute!” I said. “How did you expect him to answer a question when he didn't know what the complaints were?'

“Didn't know the complaints? The 'complaints' have been comin' in fer over 40 years, startin' with Col. Moore's 1965 Report of the Ia Drang Valley Operation where NVA kept comin' after bein' hit in the chest with multiple 5.56mm bullets. Guys in the field have been shootin' this same complaint up the chain for over 40 years and the in-the-rear-with-the-gear Spear-Chuckers have dodged them bullets for over 40 years!” (3)

“Now! Now!” I said. “That was just an anecdotal report . . .”

“Anecdotal!?!” He said in cutting me off. “It was an OFFICIAL After Action Report coverin' his whole freakin' battalion. Besides, why are ya suckin' up ta Gen. Casey? Didn't ya tell the AP that the Army buried test results comparin' 'n' rankin' the 5.56mm against larger bullets?”

“Yes I did. Those were the test results of a ballistics performance study consisting, in major part, of rounds fired into gelatin. They tested 5.56mm bullets against 6.8mm and 7.62mm bullets and in 2004 published that: 'The 6.8mm SPC is far and above, the best performing ammunition . . . The NATO 7.62mm M80 ball . . . had the highest impact energy of those tested . . . [and] came in second only to the 6.8mm SPC system.' Those tests were prompted by soldiers' complaints from our experiences in Somalia and Afghanistan,” I explained. (4)

“Hello!” he shouted. “They got complaints, tested, 'n' did NOTHING!”

“That report was just the INTERIM REPORT of the study. In 2006, the Army published the FINAL REPORT of the study saying: '. . . there is no significant difference between the M855 and other 5.56mm military or commercial 5.56mm rounds when assessed for unprotected frontal target shot lines',” I added. (5)

“What did the FINAL REPORT say about the differences between the 5.56mm 'n' the other two-the 6.8mm 'n' the 7.62mm?”

“That's interesting. The INTERIM REPRORT said that in its tests, 'The individual rounds are directly compared and ranked to each other': 5.56mm, 6.8mm and 7.62mm bullets. The FINAL REPORT changed that study objective by publicizing that this study compared the M855 against other available 5.56mm bullets. Neither the INTERIM REPORT'S stated intent of comparing and ranking the M855 with 6.8mm and 7.62mm bullets nor the resulting rankings appeared in the FINAL REPORT. That's why I told the AP that the Army buried the results. Also, the FINAL REPORT said that the minor differences between various 5.56mm bullets' performance were outweighed by shot placement.”

“Those jive talkin' Spear-Chuckers did it again: BLAMED THE TROOPS! The Marine Corps chose to fix the lack of knockdown power in this bullet by increasin' movin' target marksmanship trainin': Even MY Commandant blames us Marines behind the bullet 'n' not the bullet!” he lamented.

“Well, I'm sure Gen. Casey, the Commandant, and the other Joint Chiefs will look into those complaints and do the right thing,” I assured him.

“Oh, YEAH, 'do the right thing!' Them Joint Spear-Chuckers are goin' to: flop down inta their Barcaloungers; take a big sip o' their Martinis; click their remotes to change channels; 'n' say, 'RIGHT-O! That takes care o' THOSE complaints! Next!' “

Semper . . . Déjà Vu All Over Again,

Anthony F. Milavic

Major USMC (Ret.)

(1) http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2008/05/ap_bullets_reviewed_052908/

(2) http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/05/26/america/NA-FEA-GEN-US-Battling-Over-Bullets.php

(3) Moore, Col. H.G., “After Action Report, Ian Drang Valley Operation 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry 14-16 November 1965,” dtd, 9 Dec 1965, p. 8.

(4) U. S. Army ARDEC, AETC, “Interim Report, Engineering Study ES-1A-9001, Soft Target Terminal Ballistics Evaluation Of The M855 5.56mm Projectile,” dtd Sept. 01, 2004.