Marines could ditch ammo cans in push to get lighter
QUANTICO–In the Marine Corps’ rush to drop weight, one of the most beloved and storied pieces of gear could be left behind. At the service’s first Equipping the Infantry Challenge here Sept. 27, program managers said they’re looking for a lighter, more practical alternative to the iconic ammunition can.
Scott Rideout, program manager for ammunition at Marine Corps Systems Command, told industry leaders that the rectangular can, which today looks much the same as it did during World War II and Vietnam, may be overdue for an upgrade.
Marine Corps ammo comes to the warfighter, he said, “in the same metal can that it’s come in for 100 years. That metal can is one of those things that when the ammunition is brought to Marines, they take the ammunition out, distribute it however they’re going to distribute it, then throw [the can] away. The ammo can itself provides no value added to the Marine, except to help get the ammunition there.”
Some may disagree. The blog Shooter’s Log in 2013 listed 50 possible uses for the ammo can that range from improvised washing machine to anchor. Another website, Survival List Daily, topped that with 74 uses, including field toilet and cook pot.
The gear is even more central to Marine Corps identity: one of the elements of the Combat Fitness Test that all Marines must pass once a year is the ammunition can lift, in which troops are tested on the number of times they can lift a 30-pound can above their head and shoulders within two minutes.
But the calculus is simple, Rideout said: “Ounces equal pounds, and pounds equal pain.”
Emerging technology, such as logistics drones that might be able to carry resupply items to troops in the field, may also put limits on how much a new delivery of ammunition can weigh.
The cans, which weigh anywhere between three and seven pounds depending on their make and the caliber of ammunition, can amount to a quarter of the ammo weight that Marines are carrying, Rideout said.
“If we can get that weight out of the system, that’s more ammunition that can be resupplied to Marines to allow them to do their jobs,” he said. “So we need lighter-weight packaging. Ammo is what ammo is, but there are a couple areas out there where we can reduce weight to enable Marines to do their jobs better, especially against a near-peer type competitor or distributed ops.”
Ammo cans aren’t the only area getting a look.
Rideout and Mary Flower LeMaster, chief engineer for ammunition at SYSCOM, said the brass casing that houses bullets may also be ripe for improvement.
“The brass provides no value added to the weapons system; it’s just to enable the round and the propellant to interface with the weapon to provide effect downrange,” Rideout said. “That’s where we need to attack that weight. And there is technology out there that can do that and so we’re looking for industry to help us there.”
Rideout and LeMaster provided no alternatives to these key ammunition items, and it’s unclear how the Marine Corps might move forward with service-specific improvements to items used by multiple service branches, like ammo cans and brass. But this call-out to industry is in keeping with a broader service effort to solicit revolutionary ideas to improve the way Marines fight on the battlefield. During the same Infantry Equipping Challenge event, SYSCOM Commander Brig. Gen. Joseph Shrader said he wanted ideas for a meal, ready-to-eat optimized for Marine infantrymen in the field, with more efficient and practical packaging.
Currently, the ammunition managers said, they’re looking for ideas to improve five different calibers of ammo, as well as the cans: 9mm, 5.56, .762, .50-caliber, and .300 Winchester Magnum.
- 'Drunk On Power': Did Marine Drill Instructor Torment Muslim Recruits?
- Navy Sailor Charged with Second-Degree Murder in Norfolk
- Pilot Who Ejected in April Hornet Mishap Was Senior Navy Officer
- Air Force: Racial Slurs Written by Black Cadet Candidate
- General Mistreated Congressional Staffer, Army Finds
- Bin Laden Files Back Up US Claims on Iran Ties to Al-Qaida
Follow @Militarydotcom on Twitter .
Why marijuana's potential benefits for vets outweigh the risks
Marijuana may get more use as a treatment for PTSD and other medical issues as more than 90 percent of veterans support marjuana use and development.
7 holiday classics you should send to deployed troops
The next time you visit a department store that sells DVDs, toss these films into your cart and send them to your favorite troop serving overseas.
A Boeing 757 was hacked and the Department of Homeland Security is concerned
In 2016 the Department of Homeland Security hacked a 757 remotely, using only objects that would normally pass through security without an issue.
Why Ranger Up needs to be under your tree this Christmas
The Holidays, like a hyped-up drill sergeant, are upon you. Don't you wish you had a 12-day guide to the best vet-made gifts around? Ho! Ho! Hoorah!
How dead civilians were listed as 'ISIS fighters' in Iraq
A year and a half long investigation by the New York Times revealed that the US had reported civilian casualties in combat as enemy combatant casualties.
The Marines are training an F-35 squadron to fight in nuclear war
The Marines are training on how to fight through a nuclear war and under the strains of nuclear, biological, chemical, and radiological hazards.
Why a drunk traffic fatality was the last straw for US troops in Japan
Early in the morning, a Marine drove while impaired, ran a red light, and drove into oncoming traffic. He struck another truck, killing its driver.
History's 7 outstanding military leaders, according to Napoleon
Napoleon Bonaparte, considered one of the most memorable military leaders of all time, held these 7 military predecessors in great esteem.
6 ways Austin Powers is way more operator than you
In 1997, Britain's biggest playboy and best special agent Austin Powers rocked movie-goers with his bad teeth, groovy personality, and judo chop.