Russia has escalated the riots-turning-revolution in Ukraine with armed forces taking control of the Crimean peninsula. The 76th Chernihov (Pskov) storm troops division, an airborne element of the Russian military, have taken control of Simferopol and the airports. This further chokes the peninsula by Russian forces, with the Black Sea Fleet’s dominance of the seas bordering offshore.
These highly skilled paratroopers were the same division supposedly involved (or prepared to be involved) in Syria in 2012. This direct invasion of Crimea is a contradiction to Putin’s very words assuring to the west that Russia would not begin any military action in Ukraine.
At the root of all this pandemonium was a corrupt president too loyal to the Kremlin instead of the betterment of his country. Now, with thousands injured, more than a hundred dead, and hundreds imprisoned or arrested, the people of Ukraine are still fighting for change in a state unable to thaw itself from the Cold War and its Soviet past. Russia too, cannot comprehend limits on its action and its brazen force. This invasion, after Syria, after Georgia, all this quasi-tyrannical influence.
Perhaps it was after what happened in Beslan, when hundreds of hostages were killed (more than half were children) in a school in North Ossetia. After that horrific massacre, the Russian government consolidated the Russian president’s direct power and strengthened the Kremlin’s control on direct military action.
The M249 SAW, (now known as the M249 LMG), originated from FN Herstal’s MINIMI, the company’s next big release since the FAL and FNC. Since 1982, the M249 has had its handguard assembly filled with dust and mud throughout American theatres of war. It’s had its imperfections, such as overheating and jamming and troubles using STANAG magazines that could not feed its hasty fire rate.
The M249 was the answer to a lack of sustained suppression individual squads delivered on the battlefield. The American soldier needed a lightweight, powerful light machine gun a single man could carry, use, and use well. When the Belgian company sent their regards with the original weapon, the US modified if considerably to make it a weapon fit for American wartime. But now, this weapon is beginning to show its age and that its shortcomings are beginning to grow deep like wrinkles or worn metal receivers.
Yet the workhorse has throttled on for more than three decades now. Like Halvard Solness, youthful usurpers are knocking at its door, the LSAT LMG and the M27 IAR are intended to eventually replace it. Its firepower will still be heard in the battlefield for years to come, though, and its blinking amber muzzle flash will be seen in the nights of combat as well. The piglet charges on!
This is a photograph of the Battle of Loos, the first mass engagement of Kitchener’s British, all-volunteer army in 1915, in the commune of Loos-en-Gohelle. Coal mines and factories that processed the black rocks, rusted since the turn of century, were the backdrop of this forgotten area when the British army used, for the first time on such an industrial scale, chemical weapons.
You are seeing young, British volunteers as nothing but silhouettes limping through a massive cloud of chemical gas. The lights in the air are flares and artillery fire, though their sizzles and their glaring blasts were muffled underneath the gas masks fogged with fearful breath. The massive slag heaps of Loos kept watch as judges, though. The extensive mining operations left enormous pyramids of dross and excess from refining the coal that still cast their putrid smell today.
Though on that day, as it seemed every sense was consumed by ugly, horrifying, harbingers of death, it might have comforted the assaulting men. It might have let them grip their corroding rifles a bit tighter, with the watch of great pyramids feasting upon the battlefield.
The AKS-74U, or “Krinkov”, bridged the gap between a submachine gun and an assault rifle for the Soviets. It has been a cultural phenomenon alongside its progenitor and its origin, the Kalashnikov. It has been used by Special Forces during their invasion in Afghanistan, then used by Mujahideen fighters during the last years of the war, and when the Taliban came and corrupted the country they adopted those weapons too.
The Galil was always something of an odd child. It was the descendant of the Finnish RK 62, an alteration of the Kalashnikov design, yet chambered in 5.56 to keep the US happy. Israel was looking for a replacement of the effective yet cumbersome FN FAL. The IDF was offered the M16 from the United States, the Kalashnikov from the Soviet Union, and Heckler & Koch’s HK33. Even the mastermind behind the Uzi, Uziel Gal, offered his own design. But it would be Yisrael Galili’s modified Kalashnikov-model that would prove the best choice.
Since its gestation in 1972, the Galil and its variants have seen blood throughout Eastern Asia and Africa. It has seen rebirth in the brush of South Africa and modernization in the jungles of Colombia; it has proven itself in heavy urban warfare from the Golan Heights’ settlements to Mexico’s suburbs to Iraq’s sanded villages. Now, it’s still the weapon used against insurgents in the Philippines’ islands and you can still hear its roar and its powerful cycling echoing on the faces of Afghanistan’s mountains.
The Galil is a gorgeous weapon and it honors its duty. It was born in the house of major religions to do unholy jobs. It was tested in a place born by war, beaten into shape by war, molded by history to only know war. It might not be as prolific as the FN FAL, the G3, the Kalashnikov, or the AR, but it’s the damnedest of them all; an amalgamation of many into one beautiful, rocking, rugged gun.
The HK416 from Heckler & Koch, with its infamy and legendary status, is still an attractive AR design. How far does its effectiveness go beyond the other ARs is up to the operator, but for now, it can go unattested its tapered looks, ergonomic beauty, and design modularity will allow it a place in the hearts of many firearm-lovers.