On March 15, 2012, Secretary of the Navy Raymond E. Mabus Jr. stated, “The Marine Corps will also return to its maritime roots and resume its traditional role as the nation’s expeditionary force in readiness. Our Marines will retain the lessons of a decade of hard and effective fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan as they transition back to a middleweight amphibious force optimized for forward presence, engagement and rapid crisis response.”

Speaking before the 2012 National Defense Industrial Association’s Joint Munitions conference, symposium and live-fire event in Seattle, Washington, Sal Fanelli, assistant program manager and system engineering supervisor in the office of the Marine Corps Program Manager, Infantry Weapons, at Quantico, Virginia, provided status updates on several near- and far-term service efforts involving Marines small arms.

M27 IAR Game Changer
One of the first weapon systems highlighted was Heckler & Koch’s M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle (IAR) in 5.56mm NATO, which received a full-rate production decision in 2011. The full fielding decision came earlier this year. Characterizing it as a “great program,” Fanelli noted, “Guns are being manufactured and shipped actually way above our schedule. So we’ve got guns sitting in Albany [Georgia], waiting for our NET [New Equipment Training] teams to get them out there, into the hands of our Marines.”

Optics play a key role in Marine Corps small-arms planning. A USMC scout sniper sights in his M40A5 rifle during training earlier this year.

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On March 15, 2012, Secretary of the Navy Raymond E. Mabus Jr. stated, “The…