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Dear Honorable Congresspersons:
One of your vital tasks is to ensure that our warriors who hang it all out on the killing field are equipped with the right stuff.
I don’t see that happening anytime soon unless you get enough straight skinny to counteract lobbyist propaganda and other military-industrial-congressional-complex spin. So to help provide more fair and balanced input, I plan to occasionally pass along some of the most commonly recurring bitches that come my way weekly in e-mails, letters, phone calls, etc., from our warriors.
Let’s begin with the M-9, the 9 mm Beretta pistol – which our combat troops say is the first item that should be tossed into the junk pile!
“They’re constantly breaking,” reports a warrior from Afghanistan. “To make matters worse, the 9 mm round is like firing paint balls. I had to pump four rounds into an al-Qaida who was coming at me before he dropped. We’re dealing with fanatical crazies out here who won’t quit until they die for Allah.”
The Beretta can only be used bone-dry. Even then, it jams repeatedly if sand or grit gets into moving parts. Its ball round has proven to be worse than the .38 Colt pistol slug used by the U.S. Army in the Philippines until it was retired almost a century ago in favor of the .45 ACP M-1911 pistol – fielded to stop the Moros, who ironically were also Islamic fanatics.
Now Special Forces and Light Infantry soldiers in Afghanistan want to bring back the century-old .45, and some elite Marine units already have. A Special Forces sergeant says, “The large-caliber, slow-moving .45 bullet puts the bad guys on the ground. Lighter stuff like the Beretta’s 9 mm will, too – eventually – but on the battlefield you almost always have to double tap, and in close combat a gunfighter hasn’t the time or the ammo to lose firing two rounds.”
Rangers, Marines and most Special Ops troops are some of the other elite warriors in the U.S. military who carry personal firearms in combat while the brass look the other way. Quite a few choose to pack two purchased handguns. But the only Rangers who use the Beretta – even as backup – are those who can’t afford to buy their own firearms, and they and the rest of these elite fighters unanimously agree that they “can’t trust this fragile, unreliable sidearm.”
Almost all the Rangers engaged in hand-to-hand combat during Op Anaconda packed their own personal sidearms. “When I ran out of ammo with my rifle, I pulled my pistol,” a Ranger sergeant says. “It saved my life. I hit a number of enemy 30-40 yards away who went down immediately from my .45 rounds. With a Beretta, I wouldn’t have made it because of the far-too-light 9 mm bullet, play in the action and its limited range.”
In another fight, a Ranger fired several torso shots with a .45 pistol before his foe fell. “When we looked at the corpses, we found their mouths full of khat,” he says. “It was like these guys were pumped up on PCP. With the Beretta, I’d have had to fire all 15 rounds and then thrown the pistol at this wild-eyed dude.”
We went into Vietnam with a bad weapon, the M-16 rifle, which was responsible for killing thousands of our soldiers. It was a jammer, and if you have a jammed rifle in a firefight, you’re dead. The M-16 was such a loser that some jungle-smart grunts refused to carry it and packed captured Soviet AK-47s instead.
What the M-16 was to Vietnam, the Beretta is to Afghanistan. And a soldier with no confidence in his weapon isn’t the most motivated fighter in Death Valley.
“We’re frustrated here that no one in Washington seems to have the slightest concern for our survival,” writes a sergeant from Afghanistan. “It’s a damn good thing that we have air superiority and so far haven’t had many heavy fights.”
Perhaps you congressional folks can figure out how to recycle some of the bucks we’ll save from the Pentagon-zapped Crusader and get our combat troops a decent sidearm. This would surely relieve some of that frustration and, just by the way, keep our warriors alive.