The Marine Corps is considering suppressing all small arms. Military organizations have historically been slow to adopt new technologies. They have been slow to adopt optical sights, which were overwhelmingly adopted by sportsmen long before they become common for ordinary soldiers. In the U.S. that was during the first Gulf War.
Suppressors have been commonly used by sportsmen around the world for decades long before widespread adoption by any military. The United States is the exception, due to irrational regulation.
The Marine Corp is in the process of equipping an entire battalion with suppressed small arms. From ameriforce.net:
In a series of experiments this year, units from 2nd Marine Division will be silencing every element of an infantry battalion — from M4 rifles to .50 caliber machine guns.
The commanding general of 2nd Marine Division, Maj. Gen. John Love, described these plans during a speech to Marines at the Marine Corps Association Ground Dinner this month near Washington, D.C.
The proof-of-concept tests, he said, included Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, which began an Integrated Training Exercise pre-deployment last month at Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms.
“What we’ve found so far is it revolutionizes the way we fight,” Love told Military.com. “It used to be a squad would be dispersed out over maybe 100 yards, so the squad leader couldn’t really communicate with the members at the far end because of all the noise of the weapons. Now they can actually just communicate, and be able to command and control and effectively direct those fires.”
I have often thought that widespread suppressor use would be positive for the military. A common reason for not having suppressors has been the idea of suppressive fire. Suppressive fire is not guns using suppressors. It is the idea that if people are shooting at you, you will keep your head down and not shoot back. If the people shooting at you are using suppressors, you will not be as aware that they are shooting at you, or so goes the argument.
The theory of suppressive fire as a doctrine never appealed to me. It seemed too much based on psychology, and not enough on deadly force. Wouldn't it be better to conserve ammunition, and actually hit what you were aiming at? Wouldn't it be better to have the enemy unable to locate your positions, and be unaware of your presence, until they were hit? The Marines are considering these possibilities.
A bonus is the reduction of hearing loss and the increase in communication effectiveness.
The silencers/suppressors or gun mufflers to be installed were first used by the Marine Corps Special Operations Group. SOF operators have long used suppressors. The cost is expected to be $700,000 for an infantry battalion. A fully staffed infantry battalion is close to 1,000 people.
Suppressors are reported common use in the Chinese and Russian militaries. I believe they are particularly well suited to insurgencies and low level warfare.
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