The official Sebastian Junger community
I can't sit still and not say something about the M-16 rifle since Mr. Junger has brought it up (I didn't think anyone cared!).
In the "Old Army" the enlisted man had control over nothing. He was reliant upon the wisdom of the Pentagon for his wellbeing. One would assume that officers who had risen to a rank and position that would put them in the Pentagon would have some real knowledge about weaponry and combat. So when troopers of the 173d Airborne in Vietnam were found dead beside their M-16s which had failed them in combat it raised questions among those of us who were still alive and carring the M-16s.
Officials told us that our dead brothers were dead because they had failed to clean their weapons properly. Yet any infantryman will tell you that when one is trained on a weapon, the one thing that is drumed into your head is that your life depends upon that weapon being clean. Do you remember the Full Metal Jacket mantra "This is my rifle. There are many like it but this one is mine..." Your rifle would keep you alive if you took care of it. So I know that those weapons didn't fail because the troopers were too lazy to clean them.
The M-16s that we were issued looked and felt like a toy. Yes, it was light - too light. One of the ugly things about infantry combat is that there are times when you may have to use your weapon as a club to crush your enemies skull.
I was trained on the M-14. I felt good about that weapon. It gave me confidence that I had a weapon that was going to save my life when the time came. I have humped the boonies in Vietnam and I know what is to carry weight in the jungle. But, I would have traded that M-16 for a real rifle any day.
To knowingly put troops into combat with an inferior weapon is criminal. And the thing that has bothered me all these years is why no one in the command structure was prosicuted. What would be a suitable penalty? Well, our guys paid with they're lives.
Sorry for ranting. Just had to do it.