In the first part of the series, I quoted from the study on infantry weapons in the Korean war and some of the lessons learned and other points of interest. Leaving off at the point of the rifleman holding his fire until the enemy was within a range the rifleman felt he could hit the target due to either lack of confidence in his marksmanship skills, enemy exposure or weapons type. This will pick up from there.
“this; the one point which seems deserving of particular emphasis is that the BAR greatly compounds the stopping effect of rifle fire at ranges considerably in excess of those at which unaided rifle fire is potent. It has long been prized as a mop-up agent, for depressing final resistance in a conquered area, or liquidating tenacious elements infesting the rear. There is perhaps need to emphasize that it adds body to the rifle volume at any range”
“What is said here is meant to reflect in no degree whatever on the accuracy of the standard rifle; the men who use it in battle swear by it. Junior officers frequently said that they had seen it do decisive work in excess of 250 yards range. When the question was raised whether this was in combination with heavier fires from other weapons, the answer was invariably yes”.
“Rifle practice at the longer ranges is still desirable. But the rifleman needs about five times the amount of practice now given him with live ammunition if the weapon’s potential is to be fully exploited in combat.”
Once again the Army was told the more training for longer ranges by rifleman was needed with more time devoted to it. It seems the average unit may have felt that longer range shooting at the enemy was to be left to the heavy and light LMGs with them adding their rifle fire, either from lack of confidence in themselves of the rifle. Though officers noted that the rifle was effective at longer ranges but seemed to not have given it much thought.
“The Korean experience proves substantially that the fighting posture of the line is most sound when automatic fire is combined with slow fire in its weapons complex.This subject will be treated more extensively in the data bearing on evaluation of the various weapons. Suffice to say now that any trend toward eliminating the semi-automatic, hand-carried weapons in favor of full-automatic weapons in the hands of all infantrymen should be vigorously combated. In perimeter defense, the time almost invariably comes when the automatic weapons run short of ammunition, with the local issue still to be decided. This is the crisis of the contest, when decision may swing either way, depending on which side is most capable of delivering the last few volleys”
Once again we see this debate pop up in history. It is interesting to see the military go from the M1 to the M14 on full auto, learning it was ineffective, then going to the controllable M16, then the pointless 3 round burst, and now back around to the general issue of the M4A1. It seems the military can not get a handle on full auto weapons for the rifleman, No doubt because of the fear of the cost of training a man to use.
“In the infantry company data from Korean operations there are numerous examples wherein the retention of the position depended finally on fire from the M1, and rifle fire finally decided the issue. The troops who carry the weapon almost unanimously recognize the vital importance of this factor. On the basis of their experience, they would not concur in any suggestion that the line could be strengthened by fitting it exclusively with full-automatic power.”
The effectiveness of accurate, effective semi auto fire by a rifleman has been proven over and over. In a time when it is so popular to place so much importance on the hyper violent rapid firing and weapons manipulation for close range because it is so sexy, it is always worth pointing out the past experiences learned that the individual marksman who can make effective hits at long range will always be able to make a difference. The skill should constantly be kept up for the serious shooter and rifleman.
“the rate of ammunition expenditure in night engagement will be from two to four times as rapid as during day-light fighting, depending upon the extent of battle seasoning of the ranks and other variable factors such as the degree of control exercised by junior leaders. There area number of reasons for this, most of which are rooted in psychological rather than material factors. When men see targets in the clear light of day, or at least sense the general area from which they are drawing enemy fire, they tend to be more conservative of ammunition than when, under darkness, they are brought under a general fire but cannot identify its source. In daytime, the men who are carrying flat trajectory weapons,and are on ground where they cannot bring the enemy within line of sight, will not spend their ammunition uselessly; moreover, unless they are urged and commanded,in the majority they will not advance or shift to ground which will give them a more favorable target opportunity. By the same token, in night fighting, there is an excess of firing through the access of fear. Men in night engagement do not suffer the same cramping and instinctive feeling that any act of firing will increase personal jeopardy through greater exposure.”
“This sense of relative freedom, combined with fear reaction to the sudden attack, builds up the fire volume. There will be a greater number of willing participants in the fire contest; also, on the average, these participants will shoot off more stuff than in daytime engagement.”
The development in night vision devices and the military’s ability to operate in darkness to a level probably equal to their abilities during the day time is widely know and no doubt feared by hostile forces in modern times. I found the above information fascinating and would be very interested to see how this compared to modern tactics.