In response to the Jan. 2 article “Pension cuts anger young vets”: I do not have a problem with the cuts because something has to be done about the economic crisis our country is in. And it is not as if military retirees/veterans are the only group giving up something.

Yes, I am a retiree (23 years, retired in 2011), so this new law will affect me and my family. Congress forgot to exempt medical retirees from the new law and members have vowed to fix it before the law becomes effective, but I think they should also exempt retirees who are having a hard time making ends meet even though they are of working age.

During my 22 years as a soldier, I made many personal sacrifices for the Army and our country and it is evident that the country needs everyone to make sacrifices and veterans (past or future) should not be exempt. Currently, I work as a Defense Department contractor and I earn several hundred thousand dollars a year (not including my retirement and Department of Veterans Affairs compensation), which is made possible by Jesus Christ, my formal education (a master’s in homeland security, a bachelor’s in legal studies, and an associate degree in paralegal studies paid for with my military tuition assistance), my experience, and my military training.

I am tired of hearing senior retired veterans complain peevishly about our benefits being attacked when it is clear that the country is struggling financially. It makes me wonder what type of leaders they were, because it appears it is all about them; I guess selfless service went out the window when they retired.

If a veteran is struggling to make ends meet, then he or she should be exempt from the law because of the financial hardship; but if you are a veteran like myself and can afford to pay a little extra for Tricare Prime and forgo the cost-of-living adjustment increase while we are working age, then stop “whining” and contact your congressional representatives and let them know the law should be adjusted to exempt veterans who can prove that the law would cause a financial hardship for them and their families.

I know we are not in uniform any longer, but that does not mean we should stop being leaders!

Sgt. 1st Class Robert Harris (retired)

Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan

Russian adapted German rifle

The Sept. 24 article “AK-47 inventor dead at 94” deserves comment.

Mikhail Kalashnikov was not so much an inventor as he was an adaptor. His AK-47 was inspired by the world’s first assault rifle, the German Sturmgewehr-44 (STG-44).

Prior to World War II all armies equipped their troops with long-range field rifles, usually bolt-action, which fired large cartridges, 60 millimeters or more in length. They were intended for well-aimed shots, but their recoil was so great that they couldn’t be modified for full automatic fire.

For full auto, some troops were armed with submachine guns, but these weapons used pistol ammunition, which was not accurate over long distances and did not have much stopping power.

During World War II, the Germans perceived the need for a weapon that could fire copiously, like a submachine gun, but could have at least intermediate range and sufficient stopping power, like a rifle. Accordingly, the German Hugo Schmeisser invented the assault rifle STG-44, which used an intermediate cartridge (33 mm in length), a 30-round detachable box magazine and an overhead gas system. The Soviets captured some of these German assault rifles and appreciated their novel design. Kalashnikov copied the German assault rifle features.

The AK-47 is a second-generation assault rifle. The first one was the STG-44.

Maj. Ralph Groves (retired)

RAF Alconbury, United Kingdom

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