New USMC doctrine? The Coffee Break: 20 August 2014.
Let us talk military today folks;
Earlier in the week I was playing Battlefield 4 with the U-100 MK5 light machine gun (LMG), and I started to think: “what if I used a rifle-like LMG in Battlefield 3, will my play style translate over?” After finishing the round I decided to hop on over to BF 3 and test out this theory. Initially I was disappointed by the results: no bi-pods meant that I was at a disadvantage, and without forward grips it was near impossible to fight per se. However when I re-attached the bi-pods to all my unlocked LMGs things started to get interesting.
Now one weapon I ran into in my travels is the default gun for the US side in BF 3 under the support tab called the M27 IAR – Infantry Automatic Rifle for short. “Wait, writer!” some of you may yell, “doesn’t the M16A4 or M4A1 count as an ‘automatic rifle’ according to the definition of assault rifles?” Well here is the interesting part with the M27; it “looks” like an M16/M4 family member, but it is really based off the HK 416 and it is intended to fulfill the automatic rifleman’s role by giving him/her better maneuverability. The gun weighs in at 9 lbs fully loaded, compared to the familiar M249 at 22 lbs fully loaded. The idea with the M27 is through a high capacity magazine the gun fulfills the automatic rifleman’s role by giving the shooter that amount of ammo and rate of fire while retaining a degree of accuracy to an extent that it can behave like a DMR (designated Marksman’s Rifle) – in short it fulfills the “support role proper” if you wish to call it that for both in-game and real life.
Now according to the wiki page the M27 is only in use with the Marine Corps (USMC), and it is following a new doctrine in that rather than having the sound of the machine gun keep the enemy’s heads down, it instead will rely on both rate of fire and accuracy to keep the enemy’s heads down. Noted in the article is the enemy’s slowly developing sense of safety regarding the M249 in that since the weapon is less accurate the enemy forces tend to ignore the suppression given by the M249 and are more willing (I use this with a massive pile of salt so please take it in a similar manner) to engage the soldiers given the suppressive fire is less hazardous per se. The M27 – due to its accuracy and high capacity magazines – can send rounds down range in a more accurate manner, thereby reinstalling the sense of fear – if you will – in the enemy, and forcing their heads down and keeping them down as the soldiers move to secure the area and kill the enemy soldiers who have taken cover and are still pinned and unable to return fire.
Other reasons are that the weapon is easier to clean, less cumbersome and heavy (as noted above), and similar to the M16 rifle thereby making training for the new weapon system less difficult for the unit; all of which add up to make this weapon more attractive in a time when budgets are shrinking but operational demands are expanding. Another – though less noticeable – reason is the shift from open battlefields and into urban environments. The M27 being more controllable will give the soldiers less headaches when they open fire as the weapon will not utterly damage the drywall of some poor fellow’s dwelling: something the Marines seem to take into consideration when procuring this weapon for their units.
All in all I have started to have a renewed interest in these rifle-like LMGs which up until now have been largely ignored. Coming from Battlefield Bad Company 2, I was initially annoyed by the developers taking the ammunition resupply from the assault and giving it to a new “support class.” Yet it slowly grew on me, and soon I found myself constantly looking to get into the prone position to deploy the bi-pod so I could support my teammates with cover fire and ammunition packs. Say what you will, but playing support this way have given me a mountain’s worth of ribbons, and makes the game have that extra degree of longevity.
Now coming back quickly to the whole doctrine thing, to summarize it would appear that the USMC is taking the concept of “Automatic Rifleman” to a whole new level and no longer relying on sheer firepower to support an advancing group of infantry. The M27 seems to be the weapon of the future, and indeed with warfare moving into built up urban areas it would be wise to limit collateral damage in order to build good relations with the civilian populace – especially in counter-insurgency warfare. That and it is a heck of a lot cheaper to use standard 5.56mm NATO for ALL guns, and not have to manufacture new bullets for this weapon or new shells for that gun and so on. Allied armies can also share in the ammunition stockpile which helps a lot in larger campaigns where multinational forces are involved, rather than a single nation. Finally the M27 is not replacing the M249, but rather the M249 seems to be going into reserve and remain in service at the company level where commanders can utilize the weapon if they feel it is necessary for the mission.
Maybe I will speak more on the M27 and the U-100 MK 5 later on in time, but until then folks keep up that rate of fire, and I shall see you next time.