This article enraged me. Entitled, "US uses bullets ill-suited for new ways of war," the article revealed that the M16--the main automatic rifle of US Armed Forces since 1964 (photo at R)--remains often inferior in performance to the M14. Note I wrote "remains" inferior, and therein is a hint as to why I'm so angry.
As a child in growing up in Iowa, I had the leisure time to pursue an interest that I can no longer indulge as an adult (in part because of projects such as--oh....maintaining a blog!), which is military arms and armaments. As far back at the1980's, I remember not only first-hand accounts of Vietnam veterans but numerous articles written in various firearms-related publications, that in Vietnam the M16 often seemed ill-suited for the tasks at hand: close-range firefights against relatively smaller and lightly armored human targets usually in jungle environments. Specifically, M16's were easily broken (they had plastic stocks), jammed a lot, and--more importantly--fired the 5.56mm standard US/NATO rounds that had no stopping power. The rounds would often slice right through their human target, failing to inflict fatal damage (at least not quickly) or immediately arrest the activity of an enemy combatant.
I made a mistake in the intervening years: I gave the Pentagon the benefit of the doubt. Because our Armed Forces were still using the M16 and the 5.56mm round so extensively, I assumed that they'd found good reasons to do so. In a sense, they had: after Vietnam, the attention of the US military switched back to the threat supposedly posed by the Soviet Union. Also, to switch to a new type of bullet would have meant a very expensive NATO-wide replacement. But now, the same problems plaguing our troops during Vietnam--those of the 5.56mm round and to some extent the M16 itself--are now evident in Iraq (and Afghanistan, I assume).
Now as then, the solution seems to be placing more M14's in the hands of the troops. The M14 (at R) is a rifle dating from the 1950's, but the prototypes and ancestors of it date back into the 1940's. It fires a 7.62mm round--as a joint US and NATO standard caliber--that has a fair amount more powder in the cartridge than the standard US/NATO 5.56mm round does. This means it has punching power: not only does it do a better job of stopping an enemy combatant, but it can do more damage to (and thus more easily pass through) light cover, such as wood, plaster, and thin metal.
Don't get me wrong: the M14 has its problems, too. For starters, it's longer and heavier than the M16. In full-automatic mode it is for all intents and purposes uncontrollable. So it requires the firer to be a good shot with 2 rounds, each fired manually. (It has a fast second-round capability.) But most US soldiers aren't that great of shots, actually. (I think that new variants of the M14, such as the M21, have 3-round burst features. Three-round bursts are much more controllable than fully automatic fire.) Thus, the rapid fire, shorter barrel, and lighter weight of the M16 can be advantageous in many--perhaps most--infantry-intensive firefights. But not in all such situations. I think the US Armed Forces should make M14 variants more widely available to our troops, or at least set up careful field tests.
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Christian fundamentalism has well and truly arrived in the UK. And it is rapidly reaching the upper echelons of the Conservative party. ..... The human fertilisation and embryology controversy and the argument over hybrid embryos, abortion and gay rights is merely the start of a larger cultural battle that they will want to wage across Britain for years to come. ..... [T]he first tactic of fundamentalists is to deny their links to each other until they're confident that coming out more openly won't jeopardise their agenda.
Hundal's diary is in part a response to the Channel 4 documentary of the current Dispatches series, "In God's Name."
TMurray on Talk To Action also provides an update on Conservatives' attempt, funded and coached by the D.C.-based Alliance Defense Fund, to proposed a bill in Parliament intended to restrict abortion.
(The documentary "In God's Name," is available in its entirety on the sanctioned torrenting site--a "P2P," meaning "peer-to-peer," file-sharing website for large files--for UK-produced programs, UKNova.com. Search for "Dispatches: In God's Name." UKNova is available for a limited number of members, but memberships expire frequently--probably several a day--as users fail to maintain activity on the site. So, if you can't successfully register at first, keep trying periodically; a new membership slot will open up eventually. Programming on UKNova is available for only a limited time, and no programs are allowed to be shared that are commercially available; so if you'd like to see the documentary, don't dally!)
In October 2007, he became the highest point-scorer in the history of the World Cup; during a 2008 Six Nations match against Italy he became the first English player to score 1,000 test points; in March 2008, he became the international rugby record points scorer. He is the world record drop goal scorer in international rugby (a total of 29).
Photos: (L) Jonny doing what he does a lot--even on Christmas morning--heading out to practice...in this case during the World Cup in France, 2007. (UR) Jonny in the English countryside. (LR) Jonny doing what he does best: launching into a successful drop goal.
One Iowa is the Hawkeye State's largest LGBT advocacy organization. It is dedicated to supporting--through grassroots efforts and education--full equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals living in Iowa.
If you're in Des Moines on May 28, consider attending this special breakfast, "Putting Policy into Practice: Gay and Lesbian Employees and Customers," with Special Guest Joe Solmonese, President, Human Rights Campaign
Wednesday, May 28, 2008 7:30 - 9:00 AM Greater Des Moines Partnership Building 700 Locust St. Downtown, Arthur Davis Conference Room (Street Level) Click here to RSVP
I was born and raised in Iowa. The state's collective temperment is, in my opinion, quietly conservative. It's politics--on average--is fairly balanced, basically centerist, conservative in style--but with a pragmatic populism ever-ready beneath the surface. Its registered voters are equally split: 1/3 Republican, 1/3 Democrat, 1/3 Independent. Iowa went for Al Gore in 2000 by a very small majority. It went for G. W. Bush in 2004 by a majority not much larger, and neither close vote was marred by the slightest whiff of inefficiency, scandal, dirty dealings, or shenanigans. I don't think there was even a recount deemed anywhere.
It's Republican leaders during much of the 20th-century and this one have been the fair-minded, small-government types: Republicans like Sen. Grassely and the former Congressmen Fred Grandy and Jim Leach. It's Democratic senators have been the big-hearted types: Democrats like Sen. Tom Harkin. Whenever some part of the Iowa collective culture goes seemingly extreme, that part always proves over the longhaul to be an ugly aberration: see Pat Robertson's 1988 strong caucus finish; see the embarrassment that is today's Rep. Steve King. For evidence of both populism and the Religious Right's pull of the state toward the rightwing, see Mike Huckabee's strong 2008 caucuses finish. (To go way back: see the America First Committee speech by Charles Lindbergh in Des Moines, concerning in part "Jewish groups," on 9/11, 1941.)
Iowa's culture when at its best still reflects the pragmatic "live and let live" attitude of the days of the early prairie when farms were distant from one another and settlers by necessity looked past any slights by or eccentricities among neighbors and come together for mutual protection. This same spirit even welcomed the stranger and European immigrant time and again. Iowans generally do the right thing. In the Civil War, the state contributed more soldiers per capita than any other state North or South. The first mosque in the U.S. was established in Iowa. And for many years now, Iowa has had the highest literacy rate in the nation because of a long tradition of quality public education.
The work of One Iowa reflects the best of Iowan culture as described above. I contend that the lack of basic equality for LGBT Iowans is un-Iowan. Iowans who are gay are not calling for some special day in the sun, state subsidies, a license plate motto, or a rewrite inserting gay characters into The Music Man.
But they'd like to see some commonsense displayed by voters and their legislature.