CAMP CASEY, South Korea — Many 2nd Infantry Division soldiers will swap their M-16 rifles for new M-4 rifles this week, military officials said Monday.
Many of the division’s first brigade soldiers at camps Casey and Hovey will receive the lighter, more compact infantry rifles as part of an Army-wide transformation and modernization process, brigade spokesman Maj. Mike Nicholson said.
"We have received M-4s in the past and are looking forward to increasing the number of M-4s we have in our small-arms arsenal," said 1st Brigade spokesman Maj. Mike Nicholson.
The 2nd Infantry Division’s headquarters company and Special Troops Battalion, based at Camp Red Cloud, also began receiving M-4s recently, along with more machine guns, mounts, scopes and other accessories.
The weaponry is being furnished by Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier, which will also begin distributing new cold weather equipment to 2nd ID soldiers soon.
Throughout the Army, the M-4 is replacing the M-16, the M-3 submachine gun and the M-9 pistol in select cases for unit leaders, crew-served gunners, vehicle crews, radio operators, infantry and combat engineers, a PEO Soldier spokeswoman said.
It’s a welcome move for many 2nd ID soldiers, who will be carrying a weapon with a less obtrusive frame and weighing one pound less on those long rucksack marches.
However, it’s also a smart tactical move, say soldiers who have used both weapons and experienced combat.
Staff Sgt. Keith Chambers — who works in psychological operations for 1st Brigade and deployed with the 5th and 10th Special Forces Group to Iraq’s volatile Diyala province in 2006 and 2007 — called the M-4 his primary weapon of choice in Iraq.
"Some of the buildings and stairwells they have in Iraq are generally smaller than Americans would be used to," Chambers said.
"Having the M-4 around in those areas made it easier to bring the weapon in on the target."
Units within 2nd ID will get a taste of that in their training; during the past three years, they have made increasing use of mock urban training villages, including the relatively new village on Camp Hovey and a larger one at Rodriguez Range.
Some proponents of the M-16 argue that the longer barrel provides for better accuracy when aiming at targets beyond 300 meters, meaning the weapon won’t disappear from unit armories anytime soon.
But a soldier who is well-trained trained on the M-16 shouldn’t have any problems with the M-4, Chambers said.
"As far as accuracy, there’s not much difference whatsoever," Chambers said. "Little to none, if any."