Reach out and touch
The future of the standard issue infantry rifle used by American troops in Afghanistan is under review amid concerns that it is the wrong weapon for the job.
With its light bullets the M4 rifle lacks sufficient velocity and killing power in long-range firefights, leaving US troops outgunned by the Taleban and their AK47 Kalashnikovs and the old Russian SVD sniper rifle.
The reassessment echoes the shooting lessons that Britain learnt in the 1839-1842 war in Afghanistan, when they discovered that their Brown Bess muskets could not reach sharpshooters firing heavier-calibre Jezzail flintlocks. The Russians, too, had problems when they occupied Afghanistan in the 1980s: their AK47s failed to match the Second World War bolt-action Lee-Enfield and Mauser rifles used by the Mujahidin.
The US experience, in contrast, was gleaned in Vietnam. The early standard rifle was the M14, which fired 7.62mm rounds but was judged to be too heavy in jungle warfare and was replaced by a lighter-firing rifle that became the M4.
British Forces face the same dilemma but the Ministry of Defence said yesterday that there was no plan to review the SA80A2 rifle...
So the M4 is outshot by the AK-47, which was outshot by the Lee Enfield, the solution is obvious. Go back to the Lee Enfield, and no need for any wussy short model either. And don't forget the bayonets...