WASHINGTON, D.C. –  U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a combat veteran and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today led Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and David Perdue (R-GA) in a letter to the United States Army Chief of Staff, General Mark Milley, asking him why polymer ammunition magazines were not approved for United States Army rifles in combat or in training.

Unlike the U.S. Marine Corps, who recently approved polymer magazines for use in combat and in training, the Army has yet to do so. Senator Ernst’s question to General Milley is part of her effort to ensure our warfighters have the best equipment possible. This letter follows her recent questions raised with General Mattis at his confirmation hearing, in which she stressed the need to ensure our military doesn’t fall behind countries like Russia in providing modern and lethal equipment, specifically as it relates to our rifles and handguns.

In their letter to General Milley, the senators wrote, “The Army and Marine Corps simultaneously issued orders stating that polymer magazines were not authorized for use in 2012. This month, five years later, the Marine Corps approved the use of an upgraded version of these polymer magazines. It is my hope that the Army considers them as well, or is able to disclose what issues they’ve found with polymer magazines so that we can make the other service branches aware.”

The senators added: “Reports state that the polymer magazines approved for use by the Marine Corps had zero magazine related stoppages through all of the tests carried out by the Marine Corps when combined with any ammunition tested. Additionally, reports state they also reduce damage to the chamber face and feed ramps when using M855A1 ammunition. As our national debt approaches $20 billion, ensuring the longevity of these rifles is important.”

The senators requested a response from the Army as to why they have not approved the polymer magazine, noting, “After years of technology advancement for our soldiers, and your fellow service branches testing and approving this technology, it is my hope that the Army is also working to ensure its warfighters have the best equipment possible.”

This letter follows the inclusion of Senator Ernst’s provision in the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act signed into law that provides funds for the Army and Marine Corps to enhance the small arms and ammunition capabilities of our soldiers and marines.

Click here or see below to read the full letter.

 

January 27, 2017

 

General Mark Milley

Army Chief of Staff

200 Army Pentagon

Washington, DC 20310-0200

 

General Milley:

We write to you today to question why polymer ammunition magazines for United States Army rifles are not authorized for use in combat or in training. The Army and Marine Corps simultaneously issued orders stating that polymer magazines were not authorized for use in 2012. This month, five years later, the Marine Corps approved the use of an upgraded version of these polymer magazines. It is our hope that the Army considers them as well, or is able to disclose what issues they’ve found with polymer magazines so that we can make the other service branches aware.

As you may know, the Marine Corps issued guidance against the use of polymer magazines in 2012 due to their inability to function with new automatic rifles. To our understanding, the Marine Corps did this following issues with their operation in the new M-27 Infantry Automatic Rifle. However, the Army never fielded the M-27 rifle, and it is not clear what specifications the previous polymer magazines failed to meet in order to be authorized for Army weapon systems. Regardless, the Marine Corps has now identified polymer magazines that are approved for their M-27 rifles, and the same M-4 carbines and M-16s the Army carries.

Reports state that the polymer magazines approved for use by the Marine Corps had zero magazine related stoppages through all of the tests carried out by the Marine Corps when combined with any ammunition tested. Additionally, reports state they also reduce damage to the chamber face and feed ramps when using M855A1 ammunition. As our national debt approaches $20 billion, ensuring the longevity of these rifles is important.

We request a response as to why the Army has not approved any polymer magazines for use in combat, or in training, and an update on if the Army is considering approving them now. After years of technology advancement for our soldiers, and your fellow service branches testing and approving this technology, it is our hope that the Army is also working to ensure its warfighters have the best equipment possible. 

 

Sincerely,

Joni K. Ernst 

Tom Cotton

Jim Inhofe

Johnny Isakson

David Perdue