CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Marines with Task Force Al-Taqaddum 18.1 Rotation 6 participated in a foreign weapons demonstration at Camp Pendleton, California, Jan. 16-17, 2018. The Marines attended the demonstration to familiarize themselves with the AK-47 fully automatic rifle, a weapon they may encounter while deployed overseas.
While every Marine is considered a basic rifleman, many are only exposed to the M16A4 rifle. The Marines of Task Force Al-Taqaddum need to have a working knowledge of not only their own weapons but also those of partner nations. The most prominent of such weapons being the AK-47.
“This weapon system is very different from what Marines are used to,” said 1st Lt. Joseph Riley, instructor officer in charge, I Marine Expeditionary Force Advisor Training Branch. “It has a different kick to it, and it uses a different round. It’s overall a less accurate weapon than the M16.”
The AK-47 makes up for its reduced accuracy by being a fully automatic weapon capable of firing 600 rounds per minute, explained Riley.
“The AK-47 has its drawbacks, but it also has its benefits,” said Riley. “This type of training is very good for the task force.”
Task Force Al-Taqaddum will be in Iraq during their deployment and will be advising members of the Iraqi Armed Forces, which primarily uses the AK-47. The Marines will need to be able to effectively employ this weapon system in order to help complete the mission of training and advising members of the Iraqi military.
Knowing and understanding the Iraqi weapon systems helps us train with them more efficiently, said Riley.
Effectively employing a weapon system at the tactical level is a necessity for Marines, but it does not stop there. The Marines of Task Force Al-Taqaddum took a course on the various functions and differences of the AK-47 before putting a single round down range.
One of the largest differences between the M16 and the AK-47 is the size of the round, said Sgt. Dalton Bauer, a tactics instructor with I MEF ATB. The M16 uses a 5.56 x 45 mm NATO round, while the AK-47 uses a 7.62 x 39 mm round. It uses a gas-operated, long-stroke piston as opposed to the M16, which uses direct gas. The AK-47 is also slightly heavier, weighing 9.5 pounds, compared to the 7.18-pound M16.
The physical differences between the two weapons systems are well pronounced, but familiarity with the weapon can help offset this. One way the Marines did this was by firing the AK-47 from 50 meters beyond its max effective range.
It is always important to be hands-on with new weapon systems, said Riley.
“A weapon system is a weapon system. They all have moving parts, and you have to learn about [them],” said Riley. “Marines need to know how to fire them, they need to know how to conduct remedial action, and they have to know how to employ these weapons safely.”
This training will help Marines and members of the Iraqi military come together to increase overall proficiency and tactical knowledge during Task Force Al-Taqaddum’s upcoming deployment.