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New Soldier Weapons

In reference to the January 2013 article, “Army, Marine Corps Succeed in Rapidly Fielding Specialized Individual Weapons” (p.28), your reporter has been doubly snookered.

The Army’s M26 Modular Accessory Shotgun System (MASS) might have been “rapidly fielded” in the sense that once delivered to the Army the weapons were soon issued to troops. However, its actual development and procurement date back at least a decade.

Until I retired in early 2003, I was a combat development analyst at the Army Maneuver Support Center at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. I was the engineer school project officer dealing with “non-lethal weapons” and attended various conferences and working group meetings. The M26, — though under some other name that escapes me today — was among the weapons being demonstrated back then.

The Marine Corps’ M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle (IAR) is not a machine gun and does not “replace” the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) at all. One should recall that before the SAW, the squad was uniformly armed with M16A1 rifles. “Riflemen” were supposed to keep them set on “semi” while the designated “automatic riflemen” carried the same weapons but had them set on “full auto.”

Well, now the Marines have decided to reduce the number of SAWs in the rifle squad and to simply replace them with automatic rifles. Desperately wanting something new, yet obviously unable to justify two distinct rifles with essentially identical characteristics, the Marines began deliberate obfuscation by comparing the M27 IAR against the M249 SAW when in fact it should be compared against the current M16A4, also an IAR by definition if not official title.

Chester A. Kojro
Rolla, MO

Historical Accuracy

In reference to the STEM news article which appeared in January 2013 (p.38), the piece quotes from an October 2012 report, “Assuring the U.S. Department of Defense a Strong Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Workforce.” The writer comments: “Throughout history, conflict has come at often surprising times. … The report cited the murder of Archduke Ferdinand and the attack on Pearl Harbor as two unpredictable events that started World War I and World War II respectively.”

World War II did not start with the attack on Pearl Harbor. World War II began Sept. 1, 1939, when German military forces attacked Poland. By the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, continental Europe was either under German rule or “neutrals” supporting Germany, the Battle of Britain had been fought and won, and war had moved back and forth across North Africa. Russia was subjected to an attack, which led to it fighting on a 2,000-mile front.

Anyone who thinks World War II started with the attack of Pearl Harbor has no business writing anything involving military history.

Leonard E. Capon
Sent via email

The More Things Change

Just finished reading the excellent article from August 2012, “Security Firms Divided Over How to Succeed in the Anti-Piracy Business,” (p.20). Interestingly, most of the solutions mentioned in the article are essentially those used in the 17th and early 19th centuries to counter piracy. Technology seems to be largely absent from anti-piracy systems with the exception of individual items requiring a human operator. Further, the essence of the problem — identifying potential pirates among the normal traffic ­— has been neglected.

Working with the Applied Research Laboratory at Pennsylvania State University, my company WatchStander LLC has developed an automatic system to detect, identify and apply countermeasures to pirate craft. We have conducted a successful trial on the water and are in the process of a full-up at-sea demo.

David Rigsby
President
WatchStander LLC

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