Small Arms and Asymmetric Threats   [open pdf - 982KB]

"The US response to an asymmetric threat must be an improvement over what has historically been the case. It is arguable that at least three small arms developmental strategies should be adopted. These strategies would permit flexible small arms applications and make the force adaptable in combat at distances from arms-length to roughly 300 meters. First, small arms must overmatch the threat's lethality in close quarters battle while minimizing collateral damage. Second, small arms must continue to overmatch the threat in conventional battle. Third, small arms must be effective against nonparadigmatic shadow threats such as terrorists, drug cartel operatives and transnational criminals. Should US small arms overmatch the threat at long range, the threat will likely seek combat in an urban or heavily wooded area to negate that advantage. The threat could also attempt to erode confidence in weapon systems with the goal of compromising faith in those who manufacture them, the government who supplies them, those who use them and the purpose for which they are employed. Today's pursuit of offensive and defensive technologies--and the under- or over-reliance on them by either the threat or the United States--may well determine whether the US military can successfully deter or defeat future threats. The article also presents likely technological trends that might produce significant improvements in threat small arms from now until the year 2020."

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Media Type:
Military Review (November-December 2000), p.33-41
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