The state that the Nation is in right now with its deep-seated government corruption, immigration and economic problems, threats of terrorist attacks; both foreign and domestic along with the ever-present possibility of war with Iran, China, Korea, Russia and probably a half dozen others, has had me thinking about the following topic quite a bit lately. I talked about it extensively on my radio show a few days ago so I thought I'd share my thoughts with you here as well.
Let's talk about something I like to call "Riflemanship". Its hard to find a good definition for the word and some say there's no such thing. Isn't it the same as marksmanship? Well, no, no its not. Not at all. Riflemanship entails much, much more than marksmanship. Marksmanship really doesn't mean much more than you're a pretty good shot and generally under fairly favorable conditions. Let's get into this a little deeper...
The Marines Corps was on to something when they came up with the saying, "Every Marine a rifleman". Along the same lines, the United States Army likes to say that everyone's primary MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) is 11B, infantry, regardless of what your actual MOS is. In a nutshell they are both referring to the fact that first and foremost, the fighting men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces are Ground Pounders. When/if all else fails, we must be prepared to grab our rifles and gear and defend life and liberty as riflemen. Regardless of the advances in modern technology, the rifleman/infantryman will always be the backbone of any fighting force.
So what is a rifleman, exactly?
By military standards, it simply means an individual that can take their personal weapon and perform the very most basic of tasks like loading, unloading, clearing malfunctions and cleaning and be qualified to hit a man-sized target a certain number of times at designated distances. The Army usually qualifies with iron sights out to 300 meters, the Marines do the same thing at 500. (Rumor has it that the Air Force still uses paintball guns at the length of the NCO club.) So let's say we accept the military's version of "Rifleman" as the first level. The lowest and most basic level. A level which most high school kids and conscripts can achieve through the cheapest, fastest and most minimal amount of training.
Is that good enough?
It may be good enough when you have a company or battalion sized unit out on a battlefield squared off against an equal or smaller sized unit and probably good enough for personal defense scenarios in most cases. But what if you have a platoon against a company or a company against a battalion? Can the smaller unit still prevail? Yes, they can and they have. But generally not if the smaller units are cooks, mechanics or truck drivers. Not to disparage cooks, mechanics and truck drivers but generally speaking, their rifle and tactics training ended with boot camp and the field exercises and qualifications that they do a couple of times a year don't really keep them tuned up. Maybe not even if they are 11 Bang-Bangs. But if the smaller force is dedicated, determined and well-trained they have a chance. They have a much better chance if the riflemen are at the next level up from the most basic. Those that have spent more time with their weapon in varied terrains and environments. Those that can quickly and instinctively perform an emergency reload or clear a malfunction and engage that target at unknown distances out to at least the same ranges that they qualified at.
But what about a squad or just a handful of soldiers, just a few, against a much larger force, say, platoon or company size, maybe even larger? They may call the warfighters in that smaller force guerrillas or even militia in some places. Unconventional warfare. This is where the Rangers, Green Beanies, SEALS, Force Recon, et al really shine. This is their territory and no one else wants it.
Now, we are stepping up to the ultimate and final level of "Riflemanship" as it pertains to engaging other human beings in mortal combat. These men are intimately familiar with a host of weapons, not just their own. Weapons not just from their country but from others. They can push that weapon platform to it's very limit as far as range goes with virtually any sighting system. They understand the concept and the internal workings of weapons in general and make impromptu repairs in the field. They, too, can perform reloads and clear malfs quickly and instinctively but they can do it just as fast and surely in the dark, in the mud and maybe while wounded. They understand the Art of the Rifle, as Jeff Cooper called it. Yes, they are certainly marksmen in their own right but they are riflemen to the Nth degree.
It takes years to achieve this level of proficiency and much dedication is required but considering the shaky future that many of us see right now, I think that's a goal that we should all work towards. We won't have anybody to call for help. There won't be any reinforcements coming from the rear. If we can't do what needs done, it simply won't get done...and it MUST!
I think we should all ponder on this long and hard while we still have time!