However, it is imperative to remember that at the time of the attack, the 507th had spent more than two days on the move, with little rest and time to conduct vehicle repair and recovery operations.” Even without those extenuating circumstances, however, there have been problems.A December 2006 survey, conducted on behalf of the Army by CNA Corp., conducted over 2,600 interviews with Soldiers returning from combat duty.Worse, the 4th place M4 had over 3.5x more jams than the 3rd place finisher. The Army moved forward with an “Individual Carbine” competition, but as the results started to show the M4 again lagging – even with ammunition changed to a round specially formulated to make the M4 shine – the Army abruptly stopped the process once again, stating that the performance superiority of the competing gun was not better to a degree making it worthwhile.The Army stated after the tests that only a result that was twice as good as the existing gun’s performance would signify an actionable performance difference.The M4 received a number of strong requests from M-16 users, who liked its smaller profile.Among M4 users, however, 19% of said they experienced stoppages in combat – and almost 20% of those said they were “unable to engage the target with that weapon during a significant portion of or the entire firefight after performing immediate or remedial action to clear the stoppage.” The report adds that “Those who attached accessories to their weapon were more likely to experience stoppages, regardless of how the accessories were attached [including via official means like rail mounts].” Since “accessories” can include items like night sights, flashlights, etc., their use is not expected to go away any time soon. Nate Self, whose M4 jammed into uselessness during a 2002 firefight after their MH-47 Chinook was shot down in Afghanistan’s Shah-i-kot Mountains, offers another case.
The post-incident report released by the US Army had this to say: “Dusty, desert conditions do require vigilance in weapons maintenance…
The carbine’s reputation for fast-point close-quarters fire remains its most prominent feature, however.
After Action Reviews done by the Marines after the early phases of Operation Iraqi Freedom revealed that urban warfare scenarios made employment of the M16A2 difficult in some situations; Marines were picking up short AK-47s with folding butt-stocks, or scrounging pistols for use inside buildings.
More recently, the Marines have considered adding various after-market upgrades to the platform in order to increase accuracy, learning from the private sector and competitive shooting circuit what appears to be providing the best bang. Order more M4 carbines for US forces in the FY 2007 supplemental, FY 2008 budget, and FY 2008 supplemental funding bills.
It has turned into anything but a routine exercise, however – with serving soldiers, journalists, and Senators casting a very critical eye on the effort and the rifle, and demanding open competition.
It achieves approximately 85% commonality with the M16, and has become a popular weapon.