The NATO Standard vs Warsaw Pact in the Afghan Gun Locker

Kit Up! friend and grizzled war correspondent for the New York Times Chris Chivers has a new entry in the paper’s “At War” blog looking at the melange of weaponry being used by Afghan government forces.

Chivers took a look at the Taliban gun locker a couple weeks ago and now turns his attention to the rifles and machine guns being fielded to the Afghan army, border police and uniformed police.

In the early years of the war, the Pentagon bought and issued former Eastern bloc weapons to the Afghan army. These included Kalashnikov assault rifles and machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and 82-millimeter mortars, among others. In the last few years, however, Pentagon has been converting the Afghan army to NATO firearms, including the M-16 assault rifle, the M203 grenade launcher and the M240 machine gun.

Afghan police units, meanwhile, with a very few exceptions, continue to use Eastern bloc arms, most notably the AMD-65 assault rifle — a shortened, folding-stock Hungarian variant of the Kalashnikov that was distributed by the United States to police forces in 2007. It has been the Afghan police force’s official standard arm since then.

I’ve always been dubious about the logic of fielding the M16 and its variants to arguably third world allies. We did the same thing in Iraq to some extent, but it’s still hard to find any evidence that the IA prefer the M16 over the AK-47. I do see the argument that if you field your weapon to your friends, it will make them feel more appreciated and superior to their foe who use a more pedestrian weapon. The training and focus that it takes to maintain an M16 platform go far deeper than just the rifle — it transcends all operations and esprit.

But still, these are Afghans we’re talking about…

Be sure to read Chivers’ entire post. It’s interesting to see that the Afghan police don’t like their Hungarian AK knockoffs and prefer their Bulgarian AK clones.

PS — I’m still plowing through Chivers’ new book, “The Gun,” and will have a review and (hopefully) interview with the man himself in the coming weeks.

  • Bob

    Well the AK and its clones were designed with peasant armies in mind. I don’t think anyone is claiming that the average Afgani represents an advance technilogical society, The only reason I can see to supply them with M16 or M4 would be to: 1 get rid of excess stocks; 2 more profit for Colt or whichever manufacter was making the M16s.

  • jik

    Its all about keeping weapons and ammunition getting into the hands of the enemy.

  • Mike

    Looking at that picture…does it really matter what type of weapons given to them?

  • Mike P

    I think a key motivating factor at NATO arms there is for replacement parts, ammo and future weapon sales. It keeps them looking more westward to stay armed as opposed to looking to Russia and middle east countries.

  • Bob

    Note how clean shaven they are. In a strict muslim country that is a sign of a girly boy. Real warriors have beards and are proud of their unshaven faces. These guys will not garner respect from other Afgans.

    For Americans its a different story.

  • cortsdad95

    Do these guys even have a clue?

    • jw lane

      they are so dam stupid , no they have no clue, and this is what we are fighting for. give me a break.

  • Infidel4LIFE

    Its a stupid move if ur gonna give the ANP M-16’s those guys cannot shoot. Let them keep their AK’s, its easier to maintain, it is simple.

  • Hkmd

    How the hell would you know about that? The ANA are trained by NATO officers and NCO’s. That means, if by a snowballs chance that u’re right, the American, british, danish, norwegian ++ MOT-units that are training them can’t shoot either.

    This is reality not som ******** 80’s Hollywood movie where the lone Uber American supersoldier stands around spraying rounds on full auto at an enemy force of 200 men and not one of them have the descensy to actually put a round in him.
    Stop watching Rambo, playing MW2 and educate yourself on the matter before making dumbass comments like that.
    Rant ends.

    Regards, M

  • DonM

    M43 rounds don’t stop someone in their tracks. The bullet is slow (less than 2500 fps), so doesn’t fragment, turns to tail first, and exits. Russians fielded their copy of the M-193 round because of its light weight and higher lethality.
    Most AK type weapons have chromed barrels.

    Afghans were amazing shots for many years. No reason why they can’t shoot, so long as they can see.

    It is important to tell friend from enemy in a fight. One way to do that is to listen to the rounds. AKs sound different than M-16s.