With a 1.8 billion price tag, the Pentagon’s Inspector General is considering whether it is really worth replacing the long-serving M4 Carbine with a new weapon.
As part of the Defense Department’s bid to improve efficiency and reduce waste, their watchdog released a testimony on March 19 before the Oversight and Government Reform.
“We are auditing the Army’s acquisition of the individual carbine program, which is an acquisition the department may want to re-evaluate,” said principal deputy inspector general for DoD’s IG, Lynne Halbrooks, “We expect to report concerns that DoD may not have an established need for this weapon nor developed performance requirements for the $1.8 billion acquisition.”
M4 Carbine Weapon
However, program experts and army officials assert that the testimony has misunderstood basic facts about the carbine improvement initiative.
The testimony follows the recently introduced sequestration law that could slash $46 billion over the next six months from the Defense Department’s budget.
Back in 2007, the Army’s senior leadership promised to hunt the small arms sector for a weapon that exceeded performance of the current M4 carbine. Four years on, in 2011, the Improved Carbine Competition was launched, and now the Army is in the second phase.
The effort’s purpose was to identify a commercially available carbine that could provide major value over the existing M4, explained Matthew Bourke, Army spokesman.
Meanwhile, the army is working to improve the M4’s current design, which was originally implemented in the mid 1990s, as an alternative if the competition doesn’t yield major improvements.
According to Halbrooks, the Army is also seeking to develop a new rifle, which is where DoD IG officials seem to be confused. Requirements for the improved carbine initiative, established three years ago, include a longer-lasting barrel, serviceability and reliability.
But the IG questions why the Army is pursuing more rifles at a time when the structure of their total force will be reduced. Indeed, they maintain that is unclear as to what additional capacity the new weapon will offer over the improved M4.
Within the next two months, the IG is due to release their draft report, elaborating on their concerns and giving recommendations to the Department.