America’s Pit Bull

The  United States Marine Corps has always done things a little differently than the other branches of the service, and that’s a good thing. You want to have various tools in your toolbox to successfully tackle any problem that may arise. The problem is, that the Marine Corps is a part of the Navy, does not get to establish its own spending priorities. As a result, it tends to be the Hand Me Down branch of the military, taking what it can get.

One of my favorite short series in recent years is HBO’s Generation Kill. It is based on real-life stories from the early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom and was written by Rolling Stone reporter Evan Wright, who was embedded with Recon Marines. I highly recommend watching it, because it is equal parts funny and moving. My favorite Marine depicted here is Corporal Ray Person. He explained the Marine Corps in the following way to Wright,

“We’re like America’s little pit bull. They beat us, starve us, mistreat us, and once in a while, they let us out to attack somebody.” – Cpl. Ray Person, USMC

In the scene shown above, Cpl. Person uses his dark humor to convey the fragility of life in a war zone. Video from YouTube, courtesy of HBO and Karolina.

Why start off a weapons piece with a clip from Generation Kill? Because SOFREP’s the best at combining entertainment and military information, and we can do that.

Replacing the SAW

According to the official website of the United States Marine Corps, they got their first chance to try out the H&K M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle (IAR) back in 2010. It was Marines with the 2nd  Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, who got the first shot (excuse the pun) at the testing. It was intended to replace the venerable M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, better known to grunts as the SAW. Soldiers and Marines tend to develop a fondness for the weapon systems they have initially trained on and employed, so any government-imposed chance is typically viewed with skepticism.

For those of you who may not be total gun nuts, I should take a second and note that the M27 is a version of Heckler & Koch (H&K) 416, which is available to civilians in a semi-automatic version.