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Weapon modification another ‘BRO’ first

By Jessica Healey | 1ST INF. DIV. POST | June 19, 2014

The primary weapon of each Soldier across the 1st Infantry Division received some new modifications recently.

In addition to a heavier barrel and an ambidextrous fire control, the M-4 carbine, is being modified from single shot and burst mode to single shot and fully automatic.

A team of armorers from Aniston Army Depot in Alabama, and mission leads from the Product Improvement Program out of Detroit came to Fort Riley to perform the modification to each of the division’s M-4’s.

“The improvements are a direct result of feedback from the battlefield,” said Brig. Gen. Frank Muth, 1st Inf. Div. deputy commanding general for support. “Soldiers and leaders wanted the increased lethality a fully automatic weapon affords, and now they, now we, the 1st Inf. Div., have it.”

The 1st Inf. Div. is the first division in the Army to receive the new upgrades, which convert the M-4 to the M4A1. The entire Army will eventually receive the upgraded weapon.

“It seems fitting that the ‘Big Red One’ be the first division in the Army to receive the upgraded M4A1 carbine,” Muth said. “It continues a proud legacy of famous firsts for the division that include being the first to storm the beaches of Normandy on D-Day and being the first to lead Regionally Aligned Forces.”

The modification process requires each company in the division to bring their weapons to the armorers from Aniston, who then disassemble the weapon and modify it.

In the process, the weapons are actually engraved with the new M4A1 model number.

“We engrave them with a different model number because they are now a different weapon; we are actually changing the weapon itself,” said Brian Tremblay, mission lead, M-4 Product Improvement Program.

About 300 weapons were modified each day, and about 8,000 weapons will be modified when the process is complete at Fort Riley.

“It’s a big, big program,” Tremblay said. “This is truly a team effort. The way it’s being done here is the way it’s supposed to be, with everyone working together.”

The 407th Army Field Support Battalion has handled the coordination of the different organizations to update the weapons.

“This is really part of our normal mission, and this is significant in that it’s the first division to get the modification across the entire division. Up until now, only special operations and some small portions of brigades have gotten it,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Duncan, commander, 407th AFSB.

The AFSB is part of the Army Materiel Command and handles much of the logistical demands of the 1st Inf. Div., like left behind equipment and reset.

“It’s a good example of the fusion that takes place on a AFSB mission because Army Materiel Command has separate commands underneath it, but they really come together on a tactical level at the AFSB,” Duncan said.

The small team of mostly Army civilians coordinates not only with the units within the division, but also with the Logistical Readiness Command, contractors and outside organizations, like Aniston Army Depot.

The effort and coordination between the AFSB, LRC, the division, Aniston Army Depot and the mission leads have set the standard for the process, Duncan said.

“The modification effort has been a very smooth operation between everyone involved,” he added.

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