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Nov-16-2010 23:46printcomments

AK-47 and the M-16

Peasants and villagers fighting in Vietnam in 1967, according to tactics articulated by Mao, were killing eight hundred Americans a month. How?

M-16  and AK-47 rifles
M-16 in Afghanistan at top left, M-16 in Iraq at bottom left.
AK-47 in Afghanistan at top right, AK-47 in Iraq at bottom right. Photos by Tim King

(CLEVELAND) - When the M-16 was introduced to the war effort in Vietnam, it largely failed. What fired well in the Southern California desert did not endure the tropics of Vietnam.

An AK-47 can be immersed in water and it will still fire.

An M-16 has extremely precision parts and I have been told by more than one reliable source, that it is very easy to lose one of those parts when you are trying to make the weapon fire in combat. Why would you repair or clean the rifle in combat in the first place? Because they jam too much. They misfire, they jam the shells.

This killed many Americans in Vietnam, and one particular friend of mine who today lives somewhere on the other side of the world, was among the Marines who had to pick up dead comrades during the Vietnam War because their M-16's jammed.

To say the least, it never sat well with him. I don't think he and his friends felt very supported by the people back home and we hear this often about the Vietnam War.

Hippies and anti-war protesters take the brunt of the credit for affecting the war's lack of popularity, change of course and eventual end. Many were completely unsupportive of the combat soldier's plight and some harassed men returning home from combat. But, with the exception of Jane Fonda, I have never heard a story about a war protester getting an American killed in combat.

Conversely, corporate America was able to do it decades ago.

- forward from Editor Tim King's story, American Military Ego Will Lead to Problems As We Replace Iraq and Afghanistan's Army's AK-47 with the M-16.


AK-47 and the M-16

This poem is courtesy of an article found in, “Esquire Magazine,”
On the effectiveness of an AK-47 & ineffectiveness of the M-16,
Exactly who lost Vietnam? This rhyme will attempt to shed light,
On all parties involved and what each did whether wrong or right.

And certainly all sides in any battle will state their ethical claim,
For their side of justice as many will use every profound name,
Who should have or have not, ain’t your land, Yankee go home,
As in this conflict they had many warriors and we fought alone.

Well, surely we had help from others fighting for the same cause,
But was it with restricted limitations except for battlefield gauze?
Because the strongest nation in the free world was undermanned,
Not by military personnel but by weaponry unable to do all it can.

“The Gun” is a piece, penned by C.J. Chivers and what he found,
Was not necessarily hidden as to be uncovered by a bloodhound,
A poorly trained army defeated the mightiest power on this earth,
And for the first time in history money didn’t show all it’s worth.

The author gives readers a frightening and factual in depth look,
Contained inside the workings of this masterpiece, aka, a book,
Plenty of soldiers lost lives and limbs surely in a war many die,
However, this novel is not so much a, “how” as it is a, “why?”

Historians will debate & argue many factors why it was not won,
While true reality is that is comes down to a single factor, “Gun!”
The, “enemy” from our perspective had a destructive power. Yes!
By all wartime facts it was far superior to what we called our best.

The White House, The President, The Pentagon, Washington, DC,
America! So beautiful, proud, home of the brave, land of the free,
Yet home to corruption, scandals of a sexual nature, mucho bribes,
Their never ending battle of it’s own civil war surrounded by lies.

Vietnam! Peasants, farmers, not seeds but what is in your hands?
Maybe just maybe because we’re foreigners and it’s not our land?
Whatever, it should not matter, we are staffed and highly trained,
Nothings like you must run and hide at the mention of our name.

Get back to, “The Gun” where’d you get that weapon of choice?
Far as firearms go do you know you are carrying a Rolls Royce?
Well, that is compared to the jamming, rusting crap issued to us,
Hey! A gun is a gun, death, bullets, bang-bang, why all the fuss?

U.S. Marines, H-Company, 1st Platoon, spread out as they walked,
Spit & polished, disciplined from boot camp, minimal was the talk,
Shin high grass, buildings, paddies, dykes, village of Ap Sieu Quan,
Slightly south of the DMZ, things were about to go terribly wrong.

Marines were exposed, the only approach passed over open ground,
Staff Sergeant Claude Elrod is on edge, eagle eyed he looks around,
Usually the platoon commander’s a lieutenant, too many were shot,
They don’t have a lot of officers but sergeants, yeah, there are a lot.

Walking near the front of the formation Elrod sensed trouble ahead,
Strategically positioned he knew the drill as months before be bled,
Being shot, patched up several weeks ago Claude was keenly aware,
Experience knew hell was about to break loose right then and there.

U.S.M.C. Spit and polished, disciplined, battle ready if not tested,
Boot camp and advanced infantry training a lot had been invested,
This July 21, 1967, marked the beginning of Operation Bear Chain,
Mission to place food, ammo, along the road to Hue city, Da Nang.

Their ranks had been thinned, survivors were tied, no jack, it’s war,
Little know country half way around the world, no pogey bait store,
Vietcong, marginally educated, minimally trained, lightly equipped,
These guerrillas and North Vietnamese were also very tight lipped.

More than half of the army, less than six years education in school,
And few of them had undergone any exercises with live rounds too,
Peasants, villagers, fighting according to tactics articulated by Mao,
By 1967 they were killing eight hundred Americans a month. How?

No real need to go into detail about the firefight, blood, guts & glory,
Besides, there’s so much more to write about this unbelievable story,
So, the AK-47 or Kalashnikov appears, our military labeled it cheap,
Intelligence thinking? It belongs buried at the bottom of a trash heap.

Soon this Eastern Bloc assault rifle captured the Pentagon’s attention,
Crackling bursts of deadly projectiles, more than honorable mention,
But the real, “killer” was American gun manufactures’ dollar $ signs,
The, “rush” was now on to put our soldiers in front instead of behind.

The AR-15, was lightweight but the barrel cooked, it jammed, rusted,
Hurried improvements were made same results troops were disgusted,
Was the US Government really doing all that is could, the best it can?
Better weapons were owned by Black Panthers & The Klu Klux Klan.

Not into books see, Esquire online November 2010, read the excerpt,
Vietnam became less about war, more about political favors & perks,
What am I talking about, how dare I say this, exactly what do I mean?
I justify it by the by the difference between the, “AK-47 & The M-16.”

By Luke Easter

To learn more about the history of the M-16 and the AK-47: Apr-25-2007: American Military Ego Will Lead to Problems As We Replace Iraq and Afghanistan's Army's AK-47 with the M-16 - Tim King


Luke Easter is a poet who writes about things that are very close to the heart of Another former U.S. Marine, Luke heals the world with an approach that reaches people on a different level, one known for centuries, yet too often forgotten in the one we live in.

We live in a world of social & economic injustice. The main reason for founding America in the first place was to relieve the oppression of the King of England. Patrick Henry said it best, “give me liberty or give me death.” And yet, all too often death seems to be the only way out. Why is there such a high suicide rate especially among teens, in the land of the free & the home of the brave? What makes headlines? Good news? Ha! More depressing stories than anything else. I feel poetry takes an edge off the hurt of bad news while still delivering it but in a, “glitzy” sort of way. Giving a different perspective. Kind of like slap in the face as opposed to a knife in the back. At least with the slap you’ll live to see another day and you will know whom it’s from. I wasn’t here for the beginning of the world but at 59, I just might be here for the end.

Even though it’s still a knife, rhyme poetry helps to dull the blade. And that’s my job. You can write to Luke Easter at:

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Jay November 17, 2010 6:21 pm (Pacific time)

I was originally trained with the M-14, a very heavy weapon for the kind of operations we ran in Vietnam. When we started to receive the M-16 we had some problems right away. The first modification was replacing the buffer assembly which kept the jamming down considerably. No doubt there was a rush to get these weapons mass produced and distributed before they were field ready. LBJ caused so many needless deaths because of his corruption and his incompetence in so many areas. I fear the same thing is happening today, but in a more sneaky (policy) way. Though I must admit I never had any significant problems with mine, except for "cook-offs" during the longer firefights. I did observe a few times when others were picking up the rifles of wounded and dead when their's were malfunctioning. It was a real slog at times.

Tim King: Jay, thank you for dropping by and sharing this.

Joe November 17, 2010 5:46 pm (Pacific time)

1. M16: First, it’s the most modular, versatile, user-friendly weapon system ever fielded by a major military force. Second, as a Marine, I had it ingrained in my very soul that the M16A2 service rifle was critical to my well being, and that of my fellow Marines. Until my eyes close for the final time, I will look upon the M16 as the enduring symbol of American might and freedom.

2. AK-47: The numbers don’t lie. The AK-47, designed for the peasant army, arguably has had more social and political impact than any firearm in world history. If the M16 is the symbol of freedom, then in my eyes, the AK will forever be a symbol of the Soviet Union’s oppression. It’s rugged and reliable, but then again, 100 plus million Chauchats (French piece of crap)might have made an impact, too.

Tim King: Thanks for your comment Marine.  The weapon Joe refers to having used was the M-16 used in the first Gulf War.  The M-16 I was issued in the 1980's was the M-16 A1.  Each model brought new answers to existing problems.  The current weapon carried by US forces overseas is known as the M4 and it is by far the most advanced M-16 design widely used, and it has a scope.  But all of this has nothing to do with the fact that this weapon, initially issued without a forward assist to unjam rounds,  got a lot of Marines and soldiers in Vietnam killed.  Until it was improved, they were a complete and utter failure coming into the war.  We didn't just design the OV22 Osprey and snd it to war; they killed a lot of Marines testing and getting it right, then it went to war.  I have flown in one into Fallujah and I don't think they have lost any in the current war theaters.  My point is that the M-16 was rushed into Vietnam before it was ready.  That is a hell of a thing to hang on guys fighting an active war.  There is no question that the good safe feelings that weapon gave you Joe, are not share by many who came before you.  Study the issue, learn who was on the Colt board of directors, find out how there were several superior weapons in the running, but it was all politics, and had nothing to do with simply getting the best weapon for our men at war.  Yes, the M-16 is a symbol of America; it puts the fear of God into the hearts of children in the occupied Middle east every day.  To me that is not positive, yet I still appreciate your point Joe, hopefully you receive mine well also, thanks and Semper Fi.  

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