t’s a time of transition for the U.S. military. Tens of thousands of troops at a time have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan for years, but that is giving way to reductions in the size of the Army and Marine Corps and tough fights over where dwindling defense dollars will be spent. As retired Army Lt. Gen. David Barno suggested in a new piece for The Washington Post, the Army is “moving from 13 straight years of playing in the Super Bowl to an indefinite number of seasons scrimmaging with itself.”
That doesn’t mean the Army isn’t getting ready for the next war, though. In fact, it’s pushing through a variety of new acquisition projects, even as budgets get cut and Congress scrutinizes the numbers. And while it’s mostly multi-billion dollar contract competitions like the search for a new Armored Multi-purpose Vehicle that gets attention in Washington, the service is pursuing a number of cheaper efforts to upgrade the weapons soldiers carry with them on the battlefield.
Perhaps the most high-profile right now is the hunt for a new pistol to replace the 9mm M9, which is used by hundreds of thousands of troops across the military. Army officials say they want a new “Modular Handgun System” with more stopping power, accuracy and reliability than the M9 offers, but it isn’t clear they’ll swap to a larger handgun, either. Critics question whether swapping to a larger caliber, would make the weapon more difficult to use for the average soldier because of the increased recoil.