The term ‘assault rifle’ has been a politically loaded term right from the start – as the origins of the German military designation “Sturmgewehr” (assault rifle) shows.
Although its commonly repeated that the term was made up by Hitler, Peter G. Kokalis actually did thorough first-hand, primary research into it and determined that in fact the term was made up by the Officers or General in charge of the German Army’s small arms development and procurement division in order to persuade Hitler to approve the production order for the StG-44. This explains why the MP-43 was called “MP” (Maschinen Pistole – submachine gun) and even the 44 was initially called an “MP” as well, before being reclassified as the StG-44.
(As a quick reminder, per its original specification, an ‘assault rifle’ is a carbine-sized, military rifle that fires an intermediate-sized cartridge from a detachable magazine, AND which is capable of full-automatic fire on demand. By this definition then, the German paratroops rifle, the FG-42, has become known as a ‘battle rifle’ rather than an ‘assault rifle’ becuase it fired the full-power 7.92mm Mauser cartridge. With the benefit of hindsight, the “Maschinenkarabiner” – Mkb – ‘machine carbine’ designation given to the prototype Mkb-42 would have been a more sensible term to stick with for the -44, or maybe something like ‘light automatic rifle’ for the -44 and ‘automatic battle rifle’ for full-power weapons like the FG-42. Interestingly though, the StG-44 was actually physically heavier than the FG-42.)
At any rate, Hitler had allegedly refused to authorize the production of the new MP-44 submachine-gun model becuase he saw the SMG as a defensive weapon and he believed that the Army should be focussed on attacking, not defending. So, the araments board came back with a revised production request for a new ‘assualt rifle’ that would help the German Army go back on the offensive again with greater firepower and Hitler signed off the production order for the ‘StG-44’ without any further quibbling – and the rest is history. Sort of….
Hot on the heels of our last article about Natick Labs came this online article from ‘The National Geographic’ about a new book by renowned author Mary Roach:
Mary Roach, a self-confessed “goober with a flashlight,” has created a niche for books with one-word titles—Gulp (on the digestive system); Bonk (on the science of sex)—that take a funny, and informed, look at the scientific secrets of everyday things. In her latest book, Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, she goes behind the scenes of modern warfare to celebrate the unsung heroes of military science, who do everything from design high-tech clothing for the battlefield to perform penis transplants—all in the name of keeping soldiers “alive and comfortable.”
Read the full interview here: nationalgeographic.com
Located in Natick, Massachusetts, and officially known as the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC), the installation is often referred to by its common nickname of ‘Natick Labs’.
Whatever you call it though, there’s no doubt that these folks do some very important work – even if you don’t hear of it very often. One part of that important work is in developing new gear to meet the ever evolving challenges of modern-day combat and stabilization missions. Long gone are the days of lowest-common-denominator and one-size-fits-all – the modern American soldier is equipped with some of the most specially-designed and high-performance gear on the battlefield.
In the photo above, a squad from the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) visit the equipment lab to discuss load carriage with NSRDEC’s individual equipment designer, Rich Landry. Their visit was part of the Science & Technology Project Integration Pilot, a collaborative program that pairs Natick scientists and engineers with paratroopers from the 82nd’s 504th PIR. Within an hour of the meeting, Landry had already begun developing the prototype for a performance enhancing rucksack based on their feedback.
Landry is also no stranger to carrying heavy loads in the field – he was once a Pathfinder in the 82nd Airborne Division himself. In the video below, he talks about that experience and how it has helped him in his work at Natick.
US Army light infantry units are to be equipped with the Saab 84 mm Carl Gustaf M3 Multi-role Anti-Armor Anti-Personnel Weapon System (MAAWS) as a standard issue tactical support weapon by late 2016.
The M3 is now officially an organic weapon system within each army combat platoon, and will initially be fielded within selected Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs), which will now train, maintain, and sustain the M3 as part of the IBCT organisational structure. Going forward, all brigade combat teams will receive 27 Carl Gustaf launchers, about one per platoon.