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Friday, July 9, 2010     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Iraqis prefer AK-47 over M-16 for performance in desert heat

BAGHDAD — The U.S. military has supplied about 10,000 M-16s to the Iraq Army. But officials acknowledged that the Iraqis have decided to maintain the AK-47 as the lead assault rifle.


The Iraq Army has determined that the M-16 was more accurate than the Kalashnikov. But officials said the Army concluded that the AK-47 was more reliable in the searing Iraqi summers.

U.S. Army advisers have completed a course on the M-16 assault rifle for Iraqi soldiers at Camp Taji, Middle East Newsline reported. The two-week course, which took place in mid-June, was meant to help the Iraq Army introduce the M-16 and, in some units, replace the Soviet-origin AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifle.

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"For their first time, they shot very well — even compared to some U.S. soldiers," Sgt. Kevin Averre, in charge of the training, said.

Officials said the U.S. military has imposed restrictions on the use of the M-16 to the Iraq Army. They said the Iraqis were required to register each M-16 to ensure that they are not sold or given to Al Qaida or other insurgency groups.

The U.S. Army, amid an accelerated troop withdrawal, has maintained its assault rifle training course in Iraq.

"Many Iraqi soldiers on Camp Taji do not use M-16s, and as the weapons continue to arrive, U.S. units will remain actively engaged in the training of the Iraqi Army," the U.S. Army said on June 21.

"The new M-16s will also update the Iraqi Army's arsenal, as many of their AK-47s are in varying states of disrepair," the U.S. Army said.

In the latest course, Iraqi cadets were taught how to adjust the target sights of the M-16. Other elements in the course included weapons maintenance, something seldom necessary with the AK-47.

"While the Iraqi army has already received thousands of weapons in accordance with the proposed one-for-one swap of AK-47 for M-16, receipt of the weapons is prioritized by necessity," the U.S. Army said.

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