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At least it isn't the SA-80....

Afghan troops told to lay down trusty AK47s - Times Online

For a country with a fighting history such as Afghanistan, where invading forces have so often been humbled, there could be no greater indignity than to be told to hand over your guns and fight with the weapon of the infidel.

Yet the new recruits to the Afghan National Army (ANA) are being asked to swap their beloved Kalashnikov AK47, probably the most famous weapon in the world, for the American M16.

The reason for this dramatic change in the fighting culture of the average Afghan soldier is not to boost the coffers of the American manufacturer of the M16 —- although it undoubtedly will.

Rather, it is designed to improve the efficiency of the ANA and teach its soldiers how to preserve ammunition to ensure that, when a battle is fought, the enemy is defeated before the bullets run out.

Traditionally, the Afghan will fire his Kalashnikov from the hip as he advances, spraying the enemy in all directions on automatic mode until every bullet has been expended.

But that is not the way of the British or American soldier who uses his ammunition stocks with greater husbandry and fires to kill, rather than to deluge the enemy with a wall of bullets.

The M16 is fired automatically but in triple bursts, not a constant stream, and never from the hip but with aimed shots from the shoulder. It is against the very nature of warfare as practised by an Afghan soldier, but at Camp Tombstone the first attempts are being made to consign the AK47 to history.....

The reaction of the soldiers of the ANA's No 3 Kandak (battalion) of the Afghan 4th Brigade, normally based in the southern province of Uruzgan and now spearheading the switch to the M16, said it all.

“This is made of plastic, it will break,” one cried. They held up the M16 in ridicule.

“The Kalashnikov is cleaned just by covering it in diesel. It comes out looking spotless,” Major Robert Armstrong, the Royal Irish Regiment officer responsible for training the Afghan soldiers, said.

“But we tell them that the M16 is lighter and more accurate than the AK47 and I think they'll come round. There's no question, though, that the AK47 is a good rifle. You can bury it in the sand for 100 years, dig it out and it'll fire first time.”

Sergeant Rab McEwan, of the 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, had the task of introducing the Afghan soldiers to the M16. “I'm happy with the way it has gone so far but for the Afghans, the Kalashnikov is a cultural thing —- they'll take time to get used to the M16,” he said.

Colonel Neshat had one reservation. “I'm concerned whether there will be enough ammunition with the M16. My soldiers are used to firing hundreds of bullets.”

The British military instructors nodded and smiled.


There's no question, though, that the AK47 is a good rifle. You can bury it in the sand for 100 years, dig it out and it'll fire first time.”

Yes, it's an excellent weapon - good when the heat and dirt are on. The American weapons seize up too easily, made for good clean scenarios. I've fired the Kalashnikov myself over here and it ahs a good feel to it.

Is it wise to teach them to shoot straight?...they will only be firing at us in a year or two.

A former student of mine was in Kabul during the fighting and told me that many of the Afghans working for her charity would say, sotto voce, that the Americans were up in the hills surrounding the city. The Taliban, at this point being very nice to the various NGOs, would officially deny that the Northern Alliance was making any advances nor were the Americans helping the NA to keep aid coming into the city. But then in the next breath would claim that the government had killed all the American soldiers weeks before.

But the Afghan workers told her how to hear the differences. If, as noted above, there were continuous long bursts of firing then it was either Taliban or Northern Alliance. She learned to listen for the distinctive pop-pop-pop of the American and she thinks of allied SOFs. She was told that the Americans could shoot through several of the Taliban at one time and thus didn't need to fire as many bullets. Also from her own observations she came to the conclusion that most Afghans eyesight, to say nothing of their training, was so bad that full auto was probably the only way they could reasonably hope to hit anything. I asked her why didn't the Taliban order their soldiers to stay on semi-auto but she didn't know but was told by some SEALs that came looking for her and other Ameerican aid workers, that the Taliban's training generally was adequate to maintain their weapons but they didn't seem to care about fire discipline.

O/T-She found the whole thing fascinating and could hardly wait to go back!

Surely 5.56x45mm ammo is lighter than 7.62x39mm? They ought to be able to carry more of the former in to battle.
I suppose it might be more expensive, though...

On the subject of sounds, I wonder if simply the sound of the gun has anything to do with it? AK47 = Taliban bad guy; M-16 = good guy.

The AK47 and its descendants are indeed very reliable weapons, but they're damn heavy - almost 3 lbs heavier than an M4. Although I recall the old L1A1 SLR weighed a ton as well.

"You can bury it in the sand for 100 years, dig it out and it'll fire first time.”

How do they know? Has this been tested?

"You can bury it in the sand for 100 years, dig it out and it'll fire first time.”

I would assume until the year 2047, the jury is still out on that one.

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