The Army has canceled current efforts to find a temporary commercial replacement for the M4 carbine chambered in 7.62 mm instead of 5.56 mm.
But, officials at the Army’s lethality branch at Fort Benning, Georgia, clarified on Friday that the replacement, called the Interim Combat Service Rifle, was not an official program but an evaluation of what was available if the Army decided to move small arms in that direction.
Matt Walker, a retired command sergeant major who now works as deputy director of the lethality branch at the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence, said the idea of outfitting all soldiers in the squad with a 7.62 mm weapon was an idea that “has kind of run its course.”
“We’re not going to burden the soldier with a larger weapon,” Walker said.
Officials had requested industry samples for the potential of supplying up to 50,000 of the rifles as recently as early August.
But that was a query, not an official program.
“The ICSR was an idea in someone’s mind, kicking it around for some unfunded request,” Walker said. “Everybody kind of jumped the gun.”
Walker clarified that previous reports that the program had been cancelled may have been misleading since there was no program for the ICSR.
Walker said the current focus for small arms is on the existing program for the Interim Capability Squad Designated Marksman rifle, which is in 7.62 mm.
Experts are also evaluating an intermediate caliber round and rifle combination that falls between 5.56 mm and 7.62 mm as part of their overall development of a new infantry rifle to eventually replace the M4, said Col. Travis Thompson, director of the Soldier Requirements Division that is part of Training and Doctrine Command Capability Manager–Soldier.
Thompson said much of the innovation in rifle design will be first put into work on the replacement for the squad automatic weapon, the weapon that accounts for the most casualties among the small arms.
The Army is looking for a replacement for its Squad Automatic Weapon.