It’s been widely reported that U.S. Troops in Afghanistan are now carrying loaded weapons on base in response to the mounting threat of lethal attacks by ostensibly “friendly” troops (30 this year). Here’s the fine print via sofrep.com: “Nato Commander, U.S. Marine General John R. Allen has ordered all 90,000 troops at NATO headquarters and all bases across Afghanistan now to carry ‘loaded’ weapons around the clock. Nothing in the chamber, but they can carry a magazine in their gun now.” Not so locked and loaded now, eh Mr. Bond? Why didn’t soldiers carry loaded guns on base before? “We were more afraid of accidents than the enemy.” Now where have I heard that kind of thinking before? And how many lives will be lost before the Army directs its soldiers to carry one in the pipe?

42 Responses to U.S. Troops in Afghanistan Now Locked and Loaded. Almost.

  1. Having served in the military, I would be more nervous about ADs than the occasional indig going postal. Having a mag inserted on an empty chamber seems like a good compromise.

    • Sorry son, we would rock locked and loaded all the time. One guy had an AD, so we banished him to S3, where the people who can’t handle a gun work. That’s how you do it, not lower your readiness because Private Snuffy is twitchy.

    • Agree completely. Keep ’em ready to go but an empty chamber is appropriate to prevent negligent discharge. A lot of these kids aren’t up to the strain of trigger discipline when their attention is elsewhere.

      • The old axiom still holds true, “Never give a private a loaded .45, and never give a 2nd Lt. a compass and a map.” The reason neither are ready for that type of responsibilty. The main problem is that the military has never treated it’s personel as responsible adults.

        Enlisted personel get treated as over aged deliquents, that must be controlled by threats and coercion. Once trained the military plays stupid games that are resented by all members. It is no wonder that the officers don’t trust the lower ranks. Most of the officers that I had dealings with, were far worse than the enlisted men.
        As for senior NCO’s many stay in because of the power that they can have over troopy. If they pulled the kind of crap in civilian life that gets pulled in the military, they would have their asses handed to them. This is not true for all, but many it holds true for.
        Instead of being allowed to get the job done, half measures are initiated, and then those are pulled, with blame going out for every one.
        Another problem I ran into was no “Esprit de Corps”. Many of these “kids” went into the military just to get the bennies. To hell with the country if war was declared. I was told by one young bitch MP, that she didn’t join for love of country, and she sure as hell wasn’t going to war. She would desert before shipping out. All she wanted was to get out and live on the school ticket. She was also working on ways to get a medical discharge, in order to obtain permanent disability rating.

        • “Never give a 2nd Lt. a compass and a map.” That’s odd. As a 2Lt, I could read a map and use a compass better than anyone in my Company. Credit goes to JROTC and our orienteering team.

      • So, your saying the troops are responsible enough to protect the country, but only without guns. Hmmm Not ready…OOOOK. What is wrong with this picture? What the hell kid, your not worth the ammo to train. Nice.

  2. when we were told to carry in the same manner we put the hammer down on an empty chamber,switched the selector to fa. all you needed was a quick pull on the charging handle and you were ready. if you needed the weapon under those circumstances it was going to be in close and fa was the way to go. a very lot of us also aquired pistols that were not on the inventory. never completely trust your life only to a generic low bid weapon, always have a plan b. and there were times when we chambered regardless of the rules, our own version of carried by six or judged by 12.

  3. Off-duty, teenage IDF troops carry their loaded M16 everywhere they go (including bars and houses of worship).

    Why did/do US troops and their direct commanders tolerate such nonsense?

    • Loaded, but not chambered. Where do you think the term “Isreali carry” comes from? It’s almost as easy to chamber a round as to flick off the safaty swith on an M-16-type weapon. For the fobbits on a major base or in an HQ this is a reasonable compromise. At a forward base, they would, I hope, have more aggressive rules.

      • In fact, it’s easier (and faster) to chamber a round than it is to fiddle with the safety. Hence the chamber empty selector on fire method.

        I suspect that this would mostly apply to sidearms, though, in which case it would be a significant improvement to have one in the chamber, decocked, safety on.

        Either way, it’s an improvement and will likely act as a deterrent.

    • Lack of respect and trust in their own American troops, and concern for their lives. The concern that an American would over-react causing public relations headaches for the generals and politicians, and possibly cause a political setback in the foreign country and region. The results of such American thinking are the Beirut Bombing of the US Marine Corp Barracks and the USN Cole Bombing.

    • I can attest to this. We always and I mean always carried with magazine in place, but nothing in the chamber. AD rarely happened except on patrol where you go with everything loaded safety on, ready to go.
      If I were in Afghanistan I would not walk around with anything less than that.

    • In the 80’s Army(SF included) most were as they are today about ‘ready to fire’. Our solution was: M1911a1, chambered, decocked, full mag; Rifle, chambered, full mag, safety on. If questioned we stated, “Working. If you have questions see my CO.” If we continued to act as above ‘they’ eventually came to see our side and let us be(except those who just liked to control).

      Everyone then and today seems scared of firearms, and forgets the job being done is inherently dangerous and requires ready-to-be-dangerous tools, everywhere. If your interested in unrealistic protection and fail to utilize your best protection to full advantage, you have made it easier to loose the fight.

      Nous Defions

  4. All I can say is, any soldier who turns his back to a local without backup security staring down the barrel of a 240B is fucking asking for it. The first thing we learned in country is to never, ever take your eyes off your interpreter and your “allies”. Riding in convoy, we’d have two machine guns on exterior security and our third trained on the IP vehicle. The officers and civilians can whinge, but if Joe wants to come back in one piece, you watch the locals like your life depends on it, because guess what? It does.

  5. I remember after the Beirut bombing, Al Gray, commandant of the Marine Corps, decreed that no Marine was to stand post with a weapon again if it wasn’t loaded.

    The M1911 was to have an empty chamber because its safety was unreliable, but the M9 and M16 were to be loaded with one in the chamber. Somehow, that has been forgotten.

    • it goes in cycles skyler, each generation has to relearn the lessons of the last. the same mistakes happen over and over through out history.

    • That’s standing guard – in that case I completely agree, and in a place like Beruit, I might even want the safety off. For the guy making copies in the S-4 shop? Empty chamber, please.

  6. I can guarantee what the response would have been when I served in the Army: “Yes sir! Wilco!” And as soon as the brass left, rack one into the chamber. If you need a gun to protect yourself (which our troops apparently need to do, against our Afghan “allies”), then you want it ready to go with a flick of the safety. If you are found to have it loaded by the brass, you can say “oops, my bad, sir!”

    • The MP’s will sniff you out. And since you have to prove your weapon is clear before you go to the chow hall at these large bases, then you really can’t get away with it too easily.

      At the smaller bases weapons are kept loaded. But Camp Leatherneck had 20,000 people on it. It is a small city. The risk of getting over run is quite small. I used to tell my family that they were safer at home than when I was at Leatherneck because the only risk I had was spraining an ankle on the fist sized gravel they strew everywhere for dust abatement.

      I don’t agree with the policy, but it’s not as crazy as it might sound here.

      And remember, this is a military that has about as many or more suicides per year than combat deaths, so they’re doing something right.

      • Or maybe a better answer is to get more people off of the big bases and risk losing more people and start winning that war.

      • Skyler: I just want to point out that, while you’re not wrong, your comment doesn’t address the point of the post. I’m referring to, “The risk of getting over run is quite small.”

        The actions of now carrying locked and loaded are not in response to the threat of being overrun or invaded, they’re in response to the one or two guys who purport to be friendly right up until they start putting lead into our guys. Those guys are a threat anywhere they happen to be, whether it’s a tiny outpost or FOB or a massive mini-city like Leatherneck.

  7. Indeed,… Sir, yes sir!…. (Quietly rack a round in).. All well and good untill some overzealous lieutenant busts ya.. Why I never made sgt.. Oh well

  8. We only have mags in the well, not a round in the chamber. The if we had rounds in the chamber the number a ND’s would increase significantly.

  9. I don’t see any reason why the 2nd Amendment wouldn’t apply to military service men and women. A foreign or domestic enemy could attack members at any military base at any time.

    And I don’t see any safety issues with proper equipment. The ideal sidearm would have a grip safety, a hammer with de-cock position, and single/double action trigger. (Hmm … sounds oddly similar to a 1911 style pistol.) The “safety requirement” could be that personnel keep one in the chamber, the hammer in de-cock, the manual safety off (the grip safety would always be on), and the pistol in a holster that covers the trigger. That configuration means the gun is not going to go bang unless the operator is being incredibly stupid. And yet all the operator has to do to operate the pistol is to draw (deactivate grip safety), point, and shoot (initially double action — all follow-up shots single action).

    And even then personnel should have rifles in close proximity. Thus they can “use their pistol to fight their way to their rifle” during an attack.

  10. The problem is simple:Money and Careerism.

    The difference between Special Forces and the line troops is that SF actually shoots and practices using their hardware. Thus, they don’t need such silly rules like “Chamber Empty” and so forth. A logical man might ask why the DoD doesn’t train non front-line troops well enough to ensure trigger discipline, and the answer is $$.

    Ammunition isn’t cheap, and unit commanders in the military would rather spend appropriated funds on stupid sh-t like more LCD TVs for the squadron waiting room or some feel-good base community project.Why so?

    Because an 0-6 unit commander knows their odds of promotion increase with every “community project” and “morale enhancement program” listed on their paperwork. By comparison, an O-6 who spends his units’ funds on ammunition training better not plan on making General anytime soon, unless he’s in the Marine Corps.

    In my Air Force support unit, I kid you not the pre-deployment powerpoints about law of armed conflict and sexual harassment training took priority over weapons familiarization. If the checklist had M9 quals done but no SARC breifing, woe betide the warrior. Got all the breifings done but no time for pistol quals before departure? No big deal, squadron policy was to have the member qualify on arrival at the war zone,all of 100 rounds of it.

    This sorry state of affairs is why the rules are what they are.Take a CCW training course and you’ll have more gun knowledge than 80% of support units deployed overseas. Its part of the reason I got involved in the shooting sports, since it was loud and clear that I was on my own to develop any actual pistol skills.

    • If one of the criteria for promotion is lots of “morale enhancement programs”, I can think of two reasons that arming most everyone would enhance morale. First, lots of people enjoy shooting and practicing simply from a recreational perspective. Provide 100 rounds per month per person and some range time on base. (Cost would be all of something like $20 for 100 rounds of 9mm ball ammo.) That would be great recreation for many and provide a chance to enhance skills — both safety and defensive. Second, many personnel would be much happier knowing they have a sidearm if something ugly happens. After all, those personnel are in the military … you know, that organization that is frequently involved in COMBAT.

      If our military is balking at the idea that they cannot afford $20 per month for ammunition for training and range time, something is seriously wrong. Even then, offer to cover 50% of the cost or make ammunition available on the cheap at the PX. If I were at a base, I would make sure I had $10 or $20 every month for 100 rounds of ammunition.

      So is this the problem in the U.S.? People with upper management responsibilities — in the military, government, and private sector business — are almost universally morons?

      • There are many, many people in the military who will never be involved in combat.

        It’s hard to comprehend, but the military is actually capable of making shooting at the range un-fun. It’s usually raining and cold, too much time sitting and waiting and not enough shooting, scurrying around to pick up spent brass, etc.

  11. This statment isn’t completly true. I am currently at FOB Salerno, and here, we stay in “amber” status. Meaning, magazine inserted, no round in the chamber, and weapon on safe. This practice gives the Soldiers ammo if the FOB gets attacked, which happened to Salerno on 1 June.

  12. I got back as an 0311 in December of 2011, on the huge bases such as Leatherneck, its always been the policy of a mag not inserted but every other base down, it didn’t matter. Such as Camp Dywer or Fob Geronimo, both of these bases Marines could have condition one weapons. On the PBs it was up the Marines there, most of which did have Condition one weapons. This new order only applies to the larger bases so nobody think that we are walking around out there without magazines in.

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