December 2008: Small Arms for Iraq
In March 2008, “Iraq’s military requested $1.39B in weapons, vehicles, and equipmentin a decisive shift to the M-16/M4 family of weapons for its soldiers. Previous DSCA purchase requests in October 2007 and September 2006 has also included the rifles, but by February 2008, it became clear that this was a full replacement program for the AK-derivative 7.62mm designs that had become so ubiquitous in that part of the world.
The latest official purchase request announced [PDF] by the US DSCA continues this trend, ans Iraq orders up to $148 million worth of small arms to equip its growing forces. Iraq’s request includes 80,000 M16A4 5.56mm Rifles, 25,000 of the more compact M4 5.56mm Carbines, and 2,550 M203 40mm Grenade Launchers that mount under the rifle’s barrel. The usual spare and repair parts, support equipment, and other forms of support are included, and some US government representatives will be required in theater. Exactly how many and for how long will be determined during contract negotiations, but the aim will be to make maximum use of existing US and Iraqi personnel. The principal contractors are Colt Manufacturing Company in Hartford, CT, who still has an exclusive license for the M4, and and FN Manufacturing Group Herstal, S.A. in Herstal, Belgium.