Magazine article National Defense

Readers Forum

Magazine article National Defense

Readers Forum

Article excerpt

The Skinny on Picatinny

I would like to take this opportunity to highlight several inaccuracies and omissions from the article by Brian McKeon of DynMeridian (p.23, April 1999).

While it is true that the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate (JNLWD) has the Defense Department task to manage the non-lethal programs, most of the development work is being managed or performed at U.S. Army TACOM-ARDEC at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey.

In particular, the modular crowd-control munition (MCCM) is not being developed by researchers at Quantico. The MCCM was conceptualized, developed, tested, and the initial quantities were manufactured at TACOM-ARDEC. Likewise the development of the canister launched area denial system (CLADS) and the portable vehicle immobilization system (PVIS) are being managed at Picatinny through the auspices of the Non-Lethal Program Office and the project manager for Mines, Countermine, and Demolitions.

Terence Ringwood

Picatinny, New Jersey

Reason for Gun Control-A Rebuttal

Mr. Jack Sawicki states in last month's Reader's Forum (May/June 1999), "Wait a minute do we really want to be selling .50 caliber Browning sniper rifles to the 'civilian ... lower end long-range shooting market'?" as stated by Virginia Hart-Ezell in her column. And he further proclaims, "I .. generally support 'the right to bear arms,' but I can think of no useful ourpose for a weapon of this type to be in U.S. civilian hands. If there was ever a reason for gun control, this is surely it!"

First of all, the .50 BMG long-range rifle, in any form whether available to civilians or military is not purchased at a "low-end" level. The least expensive of these runs several thousands of dollars. Only someone serious about long-range accuracy will make that kind of investment. Optics that can withstand the severe recoil of the .50 cost over $1,000.

Also being ignored in these statements is the inestimable value that the military-industrial complex receives gratis for work done by those who have experience with these rifles. The Fifty Caliber Shooter's Association (FCSA) provides expertise to both police and military personnel, which has contributed greatly to the tactical success that has been enjoyed employing these weapons. The Navy/Marine long-range precision shooting program would be nowhere near what it is today had it not benefited from this vital input.

As a note on the "lower end civilian" comment, more than 90 percent of the FCSA membership has degrees-many are advanced. As Al Paulson points out in his excellent work: "Silencers: History and Performance," senseless restrictive legislation has caused the United States to lag behind in this important technology, and as a result, the United States has been playing "catch-up" in the field of suppressor technology.

In contrast, due to a lack of such legislation, this country has enjoyed an uncontested supremacy in the development of long-range precision shoulder arms. Apparently, Ms. Hart-Ezell and Mr. Sawicki would prefer that some other country reap the benefits of this development.

John Whitworth Engel

Smithville, Texas

Funds or Fiction?

Your report on the Defense Department's research and development labs (p.4, April 1999) was well-written. Critical mass is of vital importance for good research. But the services and Congress resist meaningful consolidations. For example, Redstone and China Lake could be combined, as well as Picatinny and Indian Head. It is most troubling to see so many vacancies in the offices as I visit these facilities. Some of my friends say they're basically keeping the lights on, but don't have funds for much research.

I found Government Policy Notes IP 41, April 1999) wimpish. For example: "... some congressional budget experts say that, of the president's proposed increase of $12.6 billion, only $4.1 billion is new spending. …

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