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In a break with previous policy, U.S. Army squad and team leaders will dual-carry the new M17 MHS and M4 carbine.

Junior leaders aren’t usually required to carry a sidearm, but The Drive says the decision came about after the Army mulled over how to divvy up the new pistols over the course of the MHS program. With a nod to special operations units like the 75th Ranger Regiment, the service even considered arming every infantry soldier with an M17 regardless of rank or role before deciding against that idea.

“We did not want to dual-arm the entire Army,” said Daryl Eastlick, the deputy of the Lethality Branch at the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Ga., according to Military.com. “We looked at those forces that close with and destroy the enemy in close combat as their primary function.

“We did some basis of issue drills where we looked at dual-arming the entire infantry, particularly dismounted infantry soldiers, engineers, scouts, and what we concluded was the 75th Ranger Regiment — being the premiere infantry regiment in the world — they also have a different training regimen than the big Army infantry battalions do.”

Speaking with reporters via conference call, First Lt. Andrew Borer of 101st Airborne’s C Company, 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment said dual-arming every soldier wasn’t necessary.

“There is no real need for us to dual-arm the basic rifleman, but having our team leaders armed with both the XM17 and the M4 allows them to better control their teams … where ever the fight takes them,” Borer said.

“When I need to go into a confined space, negotiate some battlefield task where one of my hands is busy, I need something I can engage the enemy with one hand,” Eastlick added.

Cpl. Jory Herrmann, a team leader in C Company, 1st battalion, 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, gave the thumbs up to the Army’s decision.

“It’s more useful to have a handgun on your side than a rifle trying to low crawl under tight quarters,” Herrmann said. “I think it is going to add a whole new dynamic to close quarters combat.”

Both the full-size M17 and compact M18 are based on the Sig Sauer P320. Sig won the Army’s Modular Handgun System competition back in January, beating out the likes of Glock, FN and Beretta for the $580 million contract. In November, the 101st Airborne Division became the first unit to field the new 9mm handguns.

 

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