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.