July 7, 1962 - United States military advisors in South Vietnam are learning some hard but useful lessons about U.S. weapons of war. The 105- and 155-mm. howitzers American forces used in the Korean War and World War II are of limited use because of the lack of roads in South Vietnam. Tactical air support is used extensively, but it often is difficult to ascertain whether the people killed by napalm or fragmentation bombs were guerrillas or farmers. One of the biggest shocks to Americans is the failure of the M113 armored personnel carrier to give Government troops the upper hand. The amphibious M113’s on two occasions failed to navigate rivers. The vaunted M1 rifle has also come under close scrutiny. When range is needed, the advisors say, there is nothing like an M1. In the jungle, with visibility often limited to a few yards, a rapid-fire, shorter weapon is needed. The most sought-after rifle is the relatively new AR15 (pictured), or Armalite, which many regular Army men disdain because of its small caliber, .233. They call it a “varmint rifle,” and say regular units should be equipped with nothing less than a .30-caliber rifle. However, the Vietnamese find the Armalite’s muzzle velocity, extremely rapid rate of fire, and light weight a distinct advantage.
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