I began to think about the geography associated with the M4 training while I was lying in the mud waiting for the all clear to be given. The two main thoughts bouncing in my head were how the M4 and AK-47 respectively represent the United States and insurgencies; and how the military cosmos is still in Iraq-mode.
M4 and the AK-47
The M4 is the 1997-born edition of the carbine rifle made most famous by the 1960s M-16 rifle. It is a weapon that requires each individual part to be clean and tight fighting. When it does work it is a high-tech, long-range, customizable killing machine. When a piece is loose, not in its proper place, or dirty it will jam.
The AK-47 is the ugly yet surprisingly versatile 1947-made Soviet assault rifle. Its pieces are loose and knowledge on how to clean it is not required. In fact knowledge besides how to load and shoot are not really needed. It is the perfect weapon to give to leftist college kids and angry peasants. It can get dirty and still fire. The downside is that its looseness makes it less accurate at long range.
To me the M4 represents the United States' military effort in the War on Terrorism: high-tech, long reaching war effort that can pick off enemies from afar with ease. However, the moment it gets involved in the muck of large operations it jams up and needs multiple fixings and cleanings. The AK-47 meanwhile is the local, accidental guerrilla. Inaccurate but easy to make and use while also able to cause damage. Pieces can be remade by hand, like how the tribal weaponsmiths in Pakistan do, if a part breaks. The AK-47 and insurgencies can get dirty and still work. Everything is replaceable. The AK-47 and a successful insurgency are truly products of the land.
Shooting at Iraqis, I think
After a day of weapons training and stories about fighting in Afghanistan it was time to qualify. Instead of shooting at a silhouette or some Taliban or al Qaeda-like figure our targets looked like an effeminate Turkish coffee house owner.
|Preppy from Baghdad U or the local Istanbul manager of a Starbucks. From Targets.net|
Later I asked about where the contracting agency acquired the targets. I was told that the targets were bought in bulk by many contracting companies in the mid-2000s during the massive military-related business buildup due to the Iraq War. The Iraq War had such a buildup that there is still a massive surplus of Iraq and Arab-themed supplies. Very few businesses have produced Afghanistan-related supplies so those training for Afghanistan are still stuck in Iraq-mode.