The Army has stripped the Asymmetric Warfare Group of its weapon of choice — the Heckler & Koch 416 — saying that its mission requires the unique outfit to carry the standard issue M4 carbine.
The decision reverses a policy that allowed the AWG to buy 416s instead of carrying M4s when it was established three years ago to help senior Army leaders find new tactics and technologies to make soldiers more lethal in combat.
Members of the AWG have declined to comment on the issue, but sources in the community told Army Times that the unit fought to keep its several hundred 416s, arguing that they outperform the Army’s M4 and require far less maintenance.
In a response to a March 6 Army Times query, the Army acknowledged initial approval of the AWG’s move to the 416.
“The AWG is empowered to procure, on a limited basis, select non-standard equipment to assist in identifying capability gaps and advise on the development of future requirements. To this end, the Asymmetric Warfare Group did purchase H&K 416 rifles,” said Army spokesman Lt. Col. Martin Downie.
“The AWG also advises units on training, tactics and procedures. In this capacity, the use of the standard issue M4 is required. In support of this mission set, the decision was made to transition to the M4 and the AWG is now turning in its H&K rifles.”
This is the latest round of controversy surrounding the M4 since late November, when the weapon finished last in an Army reliability test against several other carbines.
The M4 suffered more stoppages than the combined number of jams by the three other competitors — the Heckler & Koch XM8, FNH USA’s Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle (SCAR) and the H&K 416.