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Army snipers getting some new gear

A few interesting contracts have come through the DOD in the past couple months which could mean some big news for the Army’s 3,500 snipers across active, guard and reserve units as well as those in the U.S. Special Operations Command.

The first involves the a kind of under the radar (less than $3 million) contract to Tennessee-based Barrett Firearms or an undisclosed number of MRAD rifle systems chambered in .300 PRC, but the company said “MRAD’s robust design, user modularity and unfailing accuracy combined with the new cartridge designed by Hornady, offer an unbeatable system for long-range effectiveness.”

Barrett currently lists the bolt-action MRAD precision rifle in six calibers from .260 Remington to .338 Lapua Magnum, only recently adding the option for barrel conversion kits for the new Hornady round.

The 300 PRC, along with Hornady’s 6.5 Precision Rifle Cartridge, earlier this year earned the approval of the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute. Described as the “6.5 Creedmoor’s big brother,” the 300 PRC gives precision rifle shooters a flat-shooting, heavy bullet that still brings 2,000 foot-pounds of energy at 500-yards, while still having a manageable recoil.

The second development is the first round of testing on the Army’s next generation of sniper camouflage began its first round of testing in Florida last month.

Termed the Improved Ghillie System, or IGS, contenders for the new lightweight system designed to break up the outline of a sniper’s figure while in a shooting position or stalk was put through several days of visual tests at Eglin Air Force Base in Western Florida by snipers drawn from across the Army. The system is intended to be the service’s first new ghillie suit in a decade, replacing the legacy Flame Resistant Ghillie System first fielded in 2008.

“The current kit is thick and heavy and comes with a lot of pieces that aren’t used,” said Maj. WaiWah Ellison, with the Army’s Program Executive Office Soldier, tasked with the update. “Soldiers are creating ghillie suits with their own materials to match their personal preference. We want to make the IGS simpler and modular so the snipers will use what is issued to them instead of relying on outside resources.”

An Army sniper scans for a fellow sniper wearing a proposed new Improved Ghillie System in visual testing at Eglin AFB in November

The more things change…

These two images, of U.S. infantrymen some 100 years apart, show just how much the basic job of a foot soldier endures throughout time. You still feel exposed no matter what the cover is. You are still there for the Joe next to you. Your uncomfortable equipment is still made by the lowest bidder. You still just want to get through the day.

A soldier with 30th DIV sniping from a trench in Belgium on July 9, 1918. Note his Springfield M1903 rather than the more commonly-issued M1917 Enfield. Signal Corps image 18708

10th Mountain troops working the trench complex at Fort Drum, New York, Nov. 2018. For those who have experienced upstate NY this time of year, the pain is real.

Estonia to smooth out the hodgepodge

The Estonian Army numbers some 6,000 active and 35,000 reservists, fielding two infantry brigades, a legit operations task group, and a number of smaller units. The country also fields a large and organized unpaid militia.

The force, however, is armed with a wide array of small arms to include 7.62mm Swedish-made AK4 rifles (licensed copies of the HK G3A3) and 5.56mm Israeli Galils alongside German HK G36s. Most were well-used surplus rifles even before they were passed on to Estonia.

That’s a lot of different rifles for an army that, when everyone is counted, still weighs in at less than a Corps-sized element.

To homogenize the Baltic state’s arsenal, LMT was selected this week as the winner of a $25 million tender to provide Estonia with 16,000 5.56mm M4 and 7.62mm AR-10 style weapons, beating out competitive designs submitted by Heckler & Koch, Sig Sauer, and Patriot Ordnance Factory.

More in my column at Guns.com

Meanwhile, on Cape Hatteras

From the National Park Service:

On the morning of Sunday, November 25, a training mine containing no ordnance was discovered south of Salvo, near off-road vehicle ramp 23. The training mine was anchored in place by National Park Service Rangers until a U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal team from Norfolk, Virginia arrived for retrieval. The training mine was safely removed from the beach shortly after 2:00 pm.

The echos of the old Republic

Senegal– a traditional French ally who provided the Republic the use of the famed Tirailleurs Sénégalais for twin World Wars as well as Algeria and Vietnam Indochina– produced some of the most reliable of French colonial troops for generations. These hardy Senegalese riflemen were stationed throughout overseas France to include North Africa, where their descendants endure in their own unique enclaves.

Here’s a look at one such group in Lebanon today, where the riflemen landed in 1919 in the aftermath of the Ottoman Empire’s implosion, and a century later their legacy remains.

Small Wars, Big Data

Small Wars, Big Data: The Information Revolution in Modern Conflict, Eli Berman, Jacob N. Shapiro, and Joseph H. Felter, presented by Shapiro during a noontime lecture at the Army War College. Oct. 2. Pretty interesting. Pack a lunch and take notes.

The 44 brave submariners aboard San Juan have been located

Just over a year after the German-made Type TR-1700 SSK ARA San Juan (S-42) went missing with 44 souls aboard, she has been found.

The sad news from Ocean Infinity:

Ocean Infinity, the seabed exploration company, confirms that it has found ARA San Juan, the Argentine Navy submarine which was lost on 15 November 2017.

In the early hours of 17 November, after two months of seabed search, Ocean Infinity located what has now been confirmed as the wreckage of the ARA San Juan. The submarine was found in a ravine in 920m of water, approximately 600 km east of Comodoro Rivadavia in the Atlantic Ocean.

Oliver Plunkett, Ocean Infinity’s CEO, said:

“Our thoughts are with the many families affected by this terrible tragedy. We sincerely hope that locating the resting place of the ARA San Juan will be of some comfort to them at what must be a profoundly difficult time. Furthermore, we hope our work will lead to their questions being answered and lessons learned which help to prevent anything similar from happening again.

We have received a huge amount of help from many parties who we would like to thank. We are particularly grateful to the Argentinian Navy whose constant support and encouragement was invaluable. In addition, the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy, via the UK Ambassador in Buenos Aires, made a very significant contribution. Numerous others, including the US Navy’s Supervisor of Salvage and Diving, have supported us with expert opinion and analysis. Finally, I would like to extend a special thank you to the whole Ocean Infinity team, especially those offshore as well as our project leaders Andy Sherrell and Nick Lambert, who have all worked tirelessly for this result.”

Ocean Infinity used five Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) to carry out the search, which was conducted by a team of approximately 60 crew members on board Seabed Constructor. In addition, three officers of the Argentine Navy and four family members of the crew of the ARA San Juan joined Seabed Constructor to observe the search operation

For the San Juan: Eternal Father, Strong to Save, as performed by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and chorus.

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