Adoption of the M16

Chris Byrne asks, “Who’s at Fault for the M16?

Actually, much of why McNamara made the decision, was because he was supremely pissed off at the Army Ordnance board at their deception (and they were continuing to insist the trials were legitimate even after the report came out). McNamara felt that he needed to force the board to heel.

Initially the AOB absolutely refused McNamaras order that the M16 be adopted. McNamara forced the AOB by direct order to retry the weapon, with ARPA as an overeseeing agency. The board dickered so much, and insisted on so many changes to the rifle; in fact saying that even with the changes it was unsuitable; that McNamara ordered that they adopt the M16 as is, with no changes, anyway.

Those changes were actually rather important; including the chrome bore, the forward assist, and a different twist rate for the rifling. They would later be implemented in the M16A1 (and later revisions); but because of the boards hostility with McNamara, they were not put into the intial production models as issued.

After McNamara overruled the board completely, they went about deliberately making sure the M16 would fail; because they wanted it to be a spectacular disaster, so they could go back to the M14 and give McNamara a black eye.

Great post!  Be sure to go read the whole thing.

3 Responses to “Adoption of the M16”

  1. straightarrow says:

    Sure, why not cause the deaths of our own men carrying unreliable weapons, if it makes our political point here at home? Sound familiar?

  2. Sebastian says:

    That whole thing is unconscionable. The men responsible for putting a deliberately faulty weapon in the hands of soldiers to win out in a political fight betrayed their country. I don’t totally relieve McNamara of fault like Chris does. There were legitimate objections to the M16 that simply weren’t listened to by him and his “wiz kids”.

  3. A few days ago, there was a WaPo story about officers with Ph.D.s advising General Petraeus. I came across the term “brain trust” and it gave me the creeps, remembering McNamara’s “Whiz Kids”.