Army

US Army by the numbers

The U.S. Army will celebrate its 243rd birthday on June 14, the same day as Flag Day. Here are some important figures and dates for the military branch. 1775: The year the Second Continental Congress established a Continental Army. “George Washington was unanimously elected Commander-In-Chief of the fledgling Army, and he would lead the colonies to victory and independence,” the Army says online. 468,579: The total number of “active duty military personnel” in the Army, according to the Defense Manpower Defense Center (DMDC). Of these, there are ten generals, 50 lieutenant generals, 121 major generals, and 133 brigadier generals. 336,619: The size of the Army National Guard. 190,350: The number of people in the Army Reserve. 69,872: The amount of active duty women (including commissioned officers, enlisted ranks and cadets) in the Army. June 14, 1956: The date the U.S. Army flag “was dedicated and unfurled to the general public,” the Army says on its website. November 11, 1956: The date “The Army Goes Rolling Along” was made the Army’s official song. 7: The number of core Army values. They are loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. 1: The Secretary of the Army, Dr. Mark T. Esper.

Happy Birthday, and a big Army HOOAH to all my brothers and sisters who currently serve, and have served in any of the Army components (i.e. active, Guard, and Reserve)!!  I was honored to have served in all three components.   🙂

 

101st Airborne first test Army’s new M17 pistol made by Sig Sauer: ‘An easy, smooth-firing weapon’

Soldiers from the U.S. Army’s iconic 101st Airborne Division out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, were the first to field the new M17 pistol this week. The era of the Beretta-made M9 for Army leaders is over with the introduction of Sig Sauer’s new Modular Handgun System. A select group of soldiers tested M17s on Monday. Roughly 2,000 pistols were inventoried and inspected prior to the demonstration. “This is another 101st first,” Maj. Gen. Andrew P. Poppas, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) commander said Wednesday. “Our 75-year legacy is full of landmark moments like this. […] It is an easy, smooth-firing weapon.” The M17 pistol and the M18 (a compact alternative) are variants of Sig Sauer’s commercially available P320 pistol. The products are the result of the New Hampshire-based company’s $580 million contract with the Army signed in January. “[M9s are] pretty dated technology,” Lt. Col. Steven Power said of Beretta’s pistol, which was an Army standard sidearm since 1986. “The specific performance improvements from MHS over the M9 include better accuracy, tighter dispersion, and better ergonomics, which combined result in a far more lethal pistol.” An official told Stars and Stripes on Thursday that the Modular Handgun System will be issued to 1st Security Forces Assistance Brigade at Fort Benning, Georgia, along with other units, before the end of the year. The decision to issue the sidearm to team leaders is a first for the service, the newspaper reported.

Congrats to Sig Sauer for another big win, and congrats to the Army for finally dumping the M9, which I’ve had the frustration of jamming on me more than once.  Sig Sauer is a HUGE improvement.  That’s why ALL of my personal sidearms are Sig Sauers.  Excellent!!   🙂

M16 being replaced? Army testing new rifles, bigger ammo

Army researchers are testing half a dozen ammunition variants for a new prototype assault rifle that fires a larger round in order to introduce a possible M16/M4 replacement by 2020, according to Army Times. The goal is to create a new light machine gun and inform the next-generation individual assault rifle/round combo, the report says. The weapon designs that are being tested will be “unconventional,” officials said. Intermediate calibers being tested include the .260 Remington, 6.5 Creedmoor, .264 USA as well as other noncommercial intermediate calibers, including cased telescoped ammo, Army officials said. If selected, the weapon could resolve a close-quarters weapons debate about calibers that has influenced military small arms. “There is a long-running debate, going back almost 100 years now, about the optimal, optimum small arm,” said retired Maj. Gen. Robert Scales, author of the 2016 book “Scales on War: The Future of America’s Military at Risk.” If successful, the new rifle and round combination would give troops a weapon they can carry with about the same number of rounds as the current 5.56 mm but with greater range and accuracy in their firepower — with little change in weight. The new rifle would likely replace the M16/M4 platform, which has been in the hands of troops since the 1960s and undergone multiple modifications and upgrades.

Explosion at Army ammunition plant in Independence, Missouri kills at least 1

An explosion Tuesday at a sprawling ammunition plant near Kansas City, Missouri, killed one person and injured three others, the U.S. Army said. The Army Joint Munitions Command said in a statement that the blast happened at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence, just east of Kansas City. A spokeswoman said no other details, including what caused the explosion, were immediately available. Federal workplace safety officials will investigate an explosion that killed one worker and injured four others at an Army ammunition plant near Kansas City, Missouri. Scott Allen with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration says he has few immediate details about Tuesday afternoon’s blast at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence, just east of Kansas City. But he says OSHA investigators are heading to the scene. The 77-year-old plant sits on nearly 4,000 acres and is the first of a dozen Army-run small-arms factories. The plant makes small-caliber ammunition and tests its reliability. It also operates the NATO test center. The property has more than 400 buildings and nine warehouses, and has a storage capacity of more than 700,000 square feet. Its workforce includes 29 Department of Army civilians and a soldier to provide contract oversight. It has a governmental staff payroll of $2.9 million. Mark Carrick, deputy fire chief in Independence, said the plant has its own fire brigade that is working on the explosion.

US Army testing a device that could give soldiers a ‘third arm’

Traditional weaponry has often been a burden to soldiers, placing added weight on their bodies, slowing reaction at times when all of their facilities are needed. Future troops may wind up having a “third arm” to help offset the weight. The Army Research Laboratory is testing a device that attaches to ground troops’ protective vests, potentially letting Soldiers’ hands be freed up for other tasks. “We’re looking at a new way for the Soldier to interface with the weapon,” Zac Wingard, a mechanical engineer for the lab’s Weapons and Materials Research Directorate told the U.S. Army’s website. “It is not a product; it is simply a way to study how far we can push the ballistic performance of future weapons without increasing Soldier burden.” The goal of the device would put all of the weight on a soldier’s body, allowing them to potentially have a more lethal weapon, perhaps adding as much as 20 pounds to their traditional combat load of more than 110 pounds, while not adding any burden. “With this configuration right now, we can go up to 20 pounds and take all of that weight off of the arms,” added Dan Baechle, a mechanical engineer. The device is made out of carbon fiber composite and it can be used in the prone position on either side of a soldier’s body. It could also improve accuracy and potentially help soldiers deal with recoil, but further testing is needed. Currently, researchers are using an M4 carbine to test the device, but other weapons, such as a M249 squad automatic weapon or M240B machine gun may also be tested.

Interesting..  But, this former soldier is not convinced yet.

U.S. Army to get laser that can zap drones

Lockheed Martin said Thursday it has finished a 60-kilowatt laser system for the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) and is preparing to hand it over to the Army for further testing. In initial tests, the company achieved 58 kilowatts of power but expects its laser to reach its full potential by the time of its delivery in the next few months. The laser is what the company calls a “combined fiber” laser beam, bringing together individual lasers to form a single, stronger beam. Lockheed has been testing it at an installation in Bothell, Wash., and plans to ship it to an Army installation in Huntsville, Ala., in the next few months. “We’re really at the dawn of an era of the utility of laser weapons,” said Robert Afzal, senior fellow for laser and sensor systems at Lockheed Martin. The Army’s specialized military vehicles “can now carry something which is small enough and powerful enough for what we believe will be militarily useful.” Multiple military agencies and defense companies have been working on laser weapon capabilities. In 2014, Boeing published a video of its 10-kilowatt laser destroying a mortar in flight. Proponents say lasers could be cheaper than traditional munitions systems because they don’t require expensive projectiles and they don’t need to be reloaded. That could make the system useful in taking down airborne adversaries, such as off-the-shelf drones. The idea of an off-the-shelf drone fleet commanded by a non-state entity presents new challenges for a global military establishment that has focused for centuries on war with other governments. For example, Gen. David Perkins said this week that a U.S. ally had taken down an adversary’s off-the-shelf quad-copter — which can be purchased online for a few hundred dollars — with a multimillion-dollar Patriot missile. Mark Gunzinger, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said: “That’s $3 million to shoot down a three-or-four-hundred-dollar drone. . . . What if you could do that with a beam of light that costs a buck?” More powerful projectiles such as Hellfire missiles are also more likely to cause collateral damage, making them less practical in certain situations. Proponents say laser weaponry could be more precise and ultimately more effective against small airborne targets. Lasers “hit targets at the speed of light, they cost almost nothing per shot, and they have an almost unlimited number of times they can be used,” said Loren Thompson, chief operating officer of the nonprofit Lexington Institute, which receives funding from defense firms including Lockheed Martin and Boeing. “A medium-sized laser should be able to take out any number of drones in a very short period of time because they are so fragile.” The Navy has already deployed a ship-based laser that it says is ready for combat use, but the Army faces a unique set of challenges. To protect American soldiers from low-budget drone fleets, the Army would need a highly mobile laser that can sit on the back of a truck. The agency would have to find a way to carry enough battery power to fire continually without the truck overheating. Such a large power source isn’t a problem if it’s stationary on a ship or military installation, but moving it around the battlefield might be difficult. With the 60-kilowatt laser announced this morning, Lockheed says that it has reached that goal and that the weaponry is ready to be deployed. “In terms of the maturity of this technology to be field-able on an Army vehicle, this technology is ready for that,” Afzal said. The company said its initial testing showed the laser to be near physical limits for accuracy and reasonably energy-efficient, directing 43 percent of electricity used to power it directly into the laser itself, helping it deal with the mobility problem. The system is designed to be a low-weight solution that sits on a ground-based vehicle called a Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT), essentially a truck designed for carrying large artillery. The Army already has laser weapons it is testing, but Lockheed’s laser may have advantages in power and portability. The 60-killowatt laser has its origins in the Defense Department’s Robust electric laser initiative, which started in 2010 and ended when a 15-kilowatt laser was developed. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, has its own initiative to create a turret-based laser that can fire downward from an aircraft.

Very cool!!     🙂

Army picks Sig Sauer’s P320 handgun to replace M9 service pistol

The U.S. Army on Thursday awarded Sig Sauer a contract worth $580 million to make the next service pistol based on the company’s P320 handgun. Sig Sauer beat out Glock Inc., FN America and Beretta USA, the maker of the current M9 9mm service pistol, in the competition for the Modular Handgun System, or MHS, program. “We are both humbled and proud that the P320 was selected by the U.S. Army as its weapon of choice,” Ron Cohen, chief executive officer of Sig Sauer, said in a statement to Military.com here at SHOT Show, the world’s largest gun show, taking place this week in the city. “Securing this contract is a testimony to Sig Sauer employees, their commitment to innovation, quality and manufacturing the most reliable firearms in the world,” Cohen added. The Army launched its long-awaited XM17 MHS competition in late August 2015 to replace its Cold War-era M9 9mm pistol. “By maximizing full and open competition across our industry partners, we have optimized private sector advancements in handguns, ammunition and magazines, and the end result will ensure a decidedly superior weapon system for our warfighters,” Army Acquisition Executive Steffanie Easter said in a press release. One of the major goals of the effort was to adopt a pistol chambered for a more potent round than the current 9mm. The U.S. military replaced the .45 caliber 1911 pistol with the M9 in 1985 and began using the 9mm NATO round at that time. In their statements, Army and Sig officials didn’t specify what caliber the new Sig Sauer pistol will be. Sig touts the P320 model product as “modular” and “adaptable,” with interchangeable grips, multiple sizes and calibers that can be converted between 9mm, .357SIG and .40SGW. “From calibers, to pistol size, to the grip fit best suited for the shooter, the P320 is the most adaptable pistol available today,” the company says in promotional materials. Two sources confirmed to Military.com that Sig submitted to the Army .40-caliber and 9mm pistols for consideration. One source said the Army ultimately selected the 9mm version. Shortly after the contract announcement, Sig officials celebrated here at the show. Staff at the Sig Sauer booth set out champagne flutes for a celebratory toast. The Army in December down-selected to two finalists for the competition: Sig and Glock, which had submitted its Glock 17 and Glock 19 models for consideration. Given the size of the contract, Glock is widely expected to protest the decision. Brandie Collins, communications manager for Glock, said she had not been briefed on the contract award but wished the winners well. Army officials informed Beretta USA and FN America at the show that they had been dropped from the competition in the recent down-select decision, according to a service source who is not authorized to speak to the press. But confusion reigned as reporters informed company officials of the Army’s announcement. The decision formally ends the Beretta’s 30-year hold on the Army’s sidearm market.

Thank God!  The M9 is an awful weapon.  But, it was cheap.  So, Beretta was awarded that contract back in the ’80s because, well, it was cheap.  As someone who has been a “field grade” Army officer, and fired the M9 both on the range here in the states, and “downrange” in Afghanistan, I’m glad to see that piece of garbage retired.  The M9 jammed up on me more than once.  That’s why all of my personal sidearms (including my conceal carry firearm) are Sig Sauer weapons.  Sig is the Cadillac of firearms, and the Army is making a wise choice moving forward with this selection, and awarding the contract to Sig for this far superior sidearm.  Our troops deserve to have the best.  And, this is a step in the right direction.  Outstanding!!   🙂