Category Archive 'FN M249 SAW'

06 May 2006

Times Defends Zarqawi

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A lot of people (this blog included) laughed at poor little Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, just because he didn’t know how to work the FN M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) machinegun, and C.J. Chivers at the New York Times thinks we were being unfair. He’s even found some experts he can quote defending Zarqawi.

(You know how it is: Whenever any enemy of the United States is under attack, you can count on the New York Times to come bustling to his defense.)

An effort by the American military to discredit the terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi by showing video outtakes of him fumbling with a machine gun — suggesting that he lacks real fighting skill — was questioned yesterday by retired and active American military officers…

But several veterans of wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, as well as active-duty officers, said in telephone interviews yesterday that the clips of Mr. Zarqawi’s supposed martial incompetence were unconvincing.

The weapon in question is complicated to master, and American soldiers and marines undergo many days of training to achieve the most basic competence with it. Moreover, the weapon in Mr. Zarqawi’s hands was an older variant, which makes its malfunctioning unsurprising. The veterans said Mr. Zarqawi, who had spent his years as a terrorist surrounded by simpler weapons of Soviet design, could hardly have been expected to know how to handle it…

An active-duty Special Forces colonel who served in Iraq also said that what the video showed actually had little relationship to Mr. Zarqawi’s level of terrorist skill. “Looking at the video, I enjoy it; I like that he looks kind of goofy,” said the Special Forces officer, who was granted anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on military matters. “But as a military guy, I shrug my shoulders and say: ‘Of course he doesn’t know how to use it. It’s our gun.’ He doesn’t look as stupid as they said he looks.”

Oh, is that so, now?

Well, even Zarqawi’s defenders in the Times admit that he looked awkward handling the M249 SAW, and was unfamiliar with its mechanism.

Experienced shooters undoubtedly also noticed that Zarqawi is holding that machinegun tucked under his arm, Hollywood gangster fashion, and is making no effort actually to use the gun’s sights.

“Many days of training” may be required to teach soldiers how to disassemble and reassemble such a weapon by feel in the dark, how to maintain it, repair it, and to inculcate intimate familiarity with its shooting characteristics and capabilities; but, on the other hand, all semi-automatic and full automatic weapons have in common the same kind of operating lever, used to pull back the bolt and chamber the first round, or to clear a misfed cartridge.

An “older variant” might have a greater tendency to jam, but there is no difference whatsoever in the way you clear the jam between that M248 SAW and the AK-47 or the M16, or even the Remington 1100 semi-auto shotgun you use for pheasant hunting or to shoot trap for that matter. You just do what Zarqawi’s jihadi helper did: you pull back the lever, ejecting the misfed round, and then release it to go forward and chamber another one. That is not a complicated procedure, and it works essentially identically on all semi- and full-auto weapons. Anyone basically familiar with guns could do it without assistance.

Zarqawi looked and behaved exactly like somebody who had never shot a gun in his life.

And Times’ Reporter Quivers even finds another expert to make yet another point defending Zarqawi’s honor, and to warn us to watch out about whom we speak disrespectfully.

But the retired and active officers said the public presentation of the tape did not address elements that were disturbing, rather than amusing: the weapon was probably captured from American soldiers, indicating a tactical victory for the insurgents. And Mr. Zarqawi looked clean and plump.

“I see a guy who is getting a lot of groceries and local support,” said Nick Pratt, a Marine Corps veteran and professor of terrorism studies at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Germany. “You cannot say he is a bad operator.” He added, “People should be careful who they poke fun at.”

Captured in combat? Right! Zarqawi won how many engagements against American forces? That SAW was either pre-war Iraqi army stock, looted from some military arsenal, or it just “fell off the truck” in the course of being delivered to Iraqi army or police units.



Patricia, in a comment at Tim Bair:

Can you imagine the effort it took for reporters to locate and call sympathetic ex-military and solicit quotes about what a he-man Zarqawi is? Stunning, especially for a paper that is supposedly the gold standard of world news.

That sound you hear is their stock price hitting bottom…

Sister Toldjah: Zarqawi looks like a fool on camera, and MSM utilizes its excuse-making machine.

Confederate Yankee asks: Who do you choose to believe?

Jason at COUNTERCOLUMN goes into CNN’s echo of the Times story in detail.

04 May 2006

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Comedian

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Big bad Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is a tough guy when it comes to cutting off the heads of hog-tied and defenseless prisoners, but Al Qaeda’s leader in Iraq clearly doesn’t do all that much fighting against armed American crusaders personally.

A captured video, released by US Centcom, shows poor Zarqawi fumbling cluelessly with a Model 249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) Light Machine Gun.

Muttering in Arabic, Zarqawi hefts the M 249’s unfamiliar (over 20 lbs. — 9.07 kg.) loaded weight. Zarqawi is trying to blast away at full-auto, but is only able to squeeze off tentative single shots, and promptly jams up the machine gun’s action. We then discover that the brave Islamic warrior doesn’t have a clue as to how to pull back the operating lever, clear the breech, and restore operating ability.

Zarqawi looks helpless, as an obsequious (fully hooded) jihadi materializes from stage-left, to pull the handle for him, and make the gun operable. Zarqawi by now just wants to get it over with, so he simply holds down the trigger, until he’s emptied the entire magazine. Boy, I bet that barrel was hot.

Major General Rick Lynch also had a laugh at Zarqawi’s expense at the press briefing covered by AP:

“It’s supposed to be automatic fire, he’s shooting single shots. Something is wrong with his machine gun, he looks down, can’t figure out, calls his friend to come unblock the stoppage and get the weapon firing again,” Lynch said.

“This piece you all see as he walks away, he’s wearing his black uniform and his New Balance tennis shoes as he moves to this white pickup. And, his close associates around him … do things like grab the hot barrel of the machine gun and burn themselves,” the military spokesman added.

Personally, I think Zarqawi is looking a bit like the late John Belushi.



Confederate Yankee gives us another choice detail:

Just seconds after Zarqawi fired dozens of rounds through the gun, he puts one of his men at extreme risk as he sweeps the machine gun’s barrel around, momentarily pointing at the terrorist’s chest without apparently activating the weapon’s safety, or even taking his finger off the trigger. Shortly after that display of stupidity, another terrorist is shown grabbing the machine gun by the still-smoking barrel, burning his hand.

Spook86 thinks Zarqawi’s incompetence may explain why the insurgents in Iraq rely so heavily on roadside bombs to attack U.S. forces.

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