Per this article at Military.com News, Our troops in Afghanistan have got a new machine gun, the MK 48, made by (who else?) Fabrique Nationale. In use by Navy SEALs since 2000, this bad motor scooter fires the 7.62x51mm cartridge at a rate of up to 700 rounds per minute but weighs in at just 18.5 pounds!This comes about because our troops are finding the standard M240B to be too heavy to lug around the mountains at 27.5 pounds. And in a region where firepower counts, the need for a lighter gun capable of laying it down is only self-evident. The best gun in the world isn't any good if it gets left behind because it weighs too much to carry.
And yes, I'm jealous. Much as I love The Beast here, this World War Two-era Browning 1919A4 weighs in at 28 pounds for the gun alone, and that jumps to about forty-two pounds when you factor in the required tripod, pintle and T&E mechanism.
Hell, I get tired just pulling it out of the safe. And then there's the added weight of the ammo belts, spare barrels, and basic tools needed to keep any machine gun running...it's no wonder that the quest for ever-lighter guns goes on.
However, as much as I'd love to be able to trade the old Browning in on a newer, lighter FN gun just to reduce the weight penalty, I realize that our troops' needs come first, and getting them as many guns as possible is a priority. Unfortunately, we have a handful of jerks in the Senate who apparently don't agree. According to this article in the Washington Times, a band of senators both Democrat and Republican have just diverted 2.6 BILLION dollars out of the current defense spending appropriation--specifically from an appropriation intended to buy new guns and ammo for our troops. They've steered this money away from our men and women on the battlefield and into their own pet pork projects.
Stolen from our troops was $20 million that was requested by Sen. John Kerry for a new library in Massachusetts to be named for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. This of course has nothing to do with the military, won't help troop one, and the Kennedy family has more than enough money to pay for this out of their own pockets so it's particularly upsetting to see money taken from our troops for this monument to a dead Democrat.
$25 million more was siphoned off by Louisiana's two senators, Mary Landrieu(D) and David Vitter(R) for another World War two museum in New Orleans. Hel-lo! There's already one there. Why the hell do our soldiers have to go without in order to build a second one, and why do we have to loot our military budget during a war to pay for it?
And then there's the $20 million for Humvee maintenance at an Army National Guard installation in Maine, sponsored by Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe, the two turncoat Republicans who have been voting with the Dems on just about everything. Apparently their reward is not the traditional thirty pieces of silver that one pays a Judas but a whole steamer trunk full of cash, ostensibly to keep a vehicle maintenance facility going way the hell up in one of the most remote parts of our country, about as far away from most of our nation's Humvees as it could possibly be. But what is efficiency and combat readiness compared to being able to brag to Maine voters that their two RINO senators have the Dem leadership's favor?
It goes on and gets worse. Hell, with the bunch of self-serving thieves that we have in Congress today, it's a wonder that our troops aren't still expected to do the job with ancient Browning MG's like mine. But elections are coming around in 13 months, people...I say that we toss every one of these jerks out. 535 homeless chosen at random from inner-city shelters could hardly do worse, so let's replace the current crop, starting with the leadership--Sen. Harry Reid(D)--Nevada and Rep. Nancy Pelosi(D)--California.
And just maybe the new batch will consider lifting the 1986 ban on civilian purchases of new machine guns so that I actually can replace The Beast with something a little newer. Now that's change we can hope for!