to phase out M-16
wants more bang for its buck
A month ago,
in an Associated Press story, the Israeli military announced that
it would begin phasing out its famous Uzi submachine gun. While
the Israeli defense industry will continue to manufacture the gun
for export, the Israeli defense force spokespeople described the
weapon as antiquated. In the United States, a similar
news story also appeared several months ago about our well-known
In the October 11, 2003, issue of Army Times, the U.S. Army announced
that it was testing the Heckler and Koch XM8 as a possible replacement
for the M-16 assault rifle. While the XM8 is still in the testing
phase, Army Times writers speculate that it might replace the M-16
before the end of the decade. While the M-16 is a satisfactory weapon,
I personally would not be sad if the U.S. Army chooses to replace
Dont get me wrong; the M-16 assault rifle does have several
noble qualities. It is lighter in weight compared to some assault
rifles, which reduces the physical burden of our servicemen and
women. It has less recoil, which makes shooting easier for our military
personnel. It has better long-range accuracy than other weapons,
which helps our armed forces if they fight terrorists from afar.
But while many people respect the M-16, some critics of the weapon
Retired Army Col. David Hackworth, Americas most decorated
living military veteran, has little respect for the M-16 assault
rifle. On his Web site and in his books, he has criticized the American
assault rifle. Of all things, he actually favors the AK-47 over
the M-16. While I dont propose that the American military
start using the weapon of many terrorist groups, the M-16 does have
some significant shortcomings.
Though some people cite Pfc. Jessica Lynchs gender as a reason
for her capture, they sometimes overlook the fact that her M-16
rifle jammed in combat. In extremely dirty conditions, the M-16
can easily jam, making it unable to fire. The M-4, a variant of
the M-16, is more expensive than the proposed XM8. According to
the Heckler and Koch website, one M-4 costs over $900, while one
XM8 is projected to cost less than $600. According their Web site,
Heckler and Koch also claim their XM8 has the good qualities of
the M-16 without its drawbacks. A more effective but less expensive
weapon could save lives as well as taxpayer dollars.
The Uzi submachine gun has served Israeli forces well. Despite this,
Israel has decided to consider potentially better weapons. The M-16
also has had a dignified term of service. The United States, though,
is considering potentially better weapons, as well. Besides the
still-experimental XM8, other useful weapons are becoming available.
While I respect what the M-16 has done for America, I personally
would not mind giving it a gold watch and letting it retire.
is a senior political science major from Arlington.