03 December 2010

I hate to rain on the XM-25's parade, but...

While I'm certain the Army's new XM-25 grenade launcher is excellent, I disagree with the enthusiastic claims of its developer, Colonel Doug Tamilio.  Let's see if you catch it:

"This significantly changes the art of warfare for a soldier.  He no longer has to worry about maneuvering on an enemy position..."

Sir, I beg to differ.

Maneuvering on the battlefield has been central to land warfare from ancient times to the "Thunder Run" of 2003.  Since then, we've seen the implementation of chariots, arrows, crossbows, gunpowder, cannons, muskets, breech-loading rifles, artillery, machine guns, tanks, air power, nuclear weapons, and network-centric warfare.  And yet, we are to believe that a "smart" grenade launcher will completely eliminate the need to maneuver on the battlefield?

I hate to sound like a broken record, but I'm going to invoke the quintessential Elkus-Burke argument, as best summed up by Joseph Fouche:
Here is a major theme of the Elkus-Burke ouvre that I sum up as “Hey numbnut, have you ever considered the possibility that your big rock pointy stick armed mob chariot calvary phalanx legion cannon musket rifle needle gun machine gun artillery trenches bomber tank indirect approach special ops nuclear weapon network global guerrilla Twitter decline of the nation-state operational design giant anime robots super-empowered individual does not represent a complete sea change in the historic course of war, strategy, politics, culture, or apple pie?” While this appeal to a moderation contrary to the whirlygig obsessed mindset of most Americans is not as strong as Oliver Cromwell’s “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken?”, it certainly rubs all those who come a peddling their one magic bullet to resolve all political or strategic or military questions the wrong way...
...[Adam Elkus and Crispin Burke embark upon their usual] routine of destroying the dreams of cranks, sci-fi enthusiasts, and procurement officers everywhere. Can the romance of technological miracles survive such a cold shower?
Seriously, the claim that maneuver on the battlefield is obsolete is as facepalmingly full of hubris as the belief that air to air missiles would make dogfighting obsolete.

Nevertheless, I eagerly await feedback from the field.  Anyone in Afghanistan care to weigh in?  Does this weapon live up to the hype?  


FaST Surgeon said...

What color is the sky in this guy's world? This Jack Wagon should be summarily dismissed from any command. The remarkably doltish statement "that a soldier will no longer need to maneuver..." is not the only idiotic thing he said. At the end of the interview that he claimed to be unconcerned with the potential that our enemies may get their hands on this technology because "we will always stay one step ahead of them."


Diana said...

Oh, but it's totally okay if our enemies get the weapon itself, because the ammo will be expensive and hard to come by!

Y'know, for a few months, anyway.

Starbuck said...

Captain J:

You have to admit, though, the question was really bad. I can't think of a way to answer it without sounding like a smartass.

"The enemy always seems to wind up with knock-off US technology? Damn, we'd better stop inventing stuff, period".

Anonymous said...

I'm sure, if pressed, Col. Tamilio will fall on the defense of all magic bullet pushers: "But...But...But, it's BENDY!!!

Josh Kennedy said...

Don't go off too bad on the COL, he's a got a job to do: bring that weapon system to the field, period. And to do it, he's got to impress members of congress and their staffs to gain the right appropriations. Though you might not like "the politics", this is part of how Army Acq Corps officers have to play the game, bringing everything from clothing to rifles to tanks to freakin' $18M (per copy) helicopters that we all love. Sure, some of the statements are a bit over the top; and he handled the last question with little finesse. But his job is to run a large organization (gov't and contractors) necessary to bring that sucker off PowerPoint slide and into the hands of smart E-4s that will figure out the best ways to kill people with it.

Chris Cox said...

The question by the newscaster was pretty much the worst part of this. Insurgents have been using the AK47 since Vietnam and before, its not like they're suddenly going to start using laser pistols. They're going to keep going with the cheap effective man killer they already have lots of.

Clever tech is interesting, and its not like the military don't have a million 'game changing' programs (if you listen to the people promoting them).

Its a shame his question was so dumb as it was close to an important one, which is what do we do when the enemy changes their tactics to deal with this new weapon? I'd like to see the spokesman give an answer to that question

J. said...

"Don't go off too bad on the COL, he's a got a job to do: bring that weapon system to the field, period. And to do it, he's got to impress members of congress and their staffs to gain the right appropriations."

Yeah, so what if it doesn't do anything that he claims it will. Certainly it's worth $25K per unit and all of the special ammo and maintenance demands that it will require. WRONG.

BTW this is a year-old video. Surprised to see Rick "You're a Dirty Jew" Sanchez as the narrator.

sheerahkahn said...

The Pashtun's are renown for their ability to dismantle/reverse-engineer weapon systems, even complex ones like auto cannons, heavy machine guns, and RPG's.

As for this system...it will never overcome a horde of irate field workers armed with AK's...though I'm sure it will certainly impress the congress critters trying to milk the tit of the government for jobs in their area with this thing.

btw, blame ArmChair_Generalist, he linked your site which drew me to here.