Defense Media Network

Individual Carbine Program Is Dead

Service says all eight M4 carbine replacement contenders failed to progress to phase three of program

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U.S. Army representatives have recently announced that the service will not continue into the third phase of its Individual Carbine (IC) program. The termination of the IC effort eliminates half of the Army’s “dual path” carbine strategy that had continued multiple component upgrades to the M4 carbine while simultaneously exploring a potential replacement system.

The Army IC had been crafted as a three-phase effort that would have led to the procurement of 178,890 carbines over a seven-year period. However, service representatives were always clear that any selected system would have to demonstrate significant advantages over the Army’s current M4/M4A1 carbine. There are currently more than 483,000 M4/M4A1 carbines in the Army inventory, with deliveries rapidly approaching the total authorized acquisition level of approximately 503,000 weapons.

“None of the vendors were able to meet the requirements to pass into phase three,” Ostrowski said. “I want to be very clear – none of the vendors met the minimum requirements to allow them to phase three. The Army is not canceling the Individual Carbine competition. The Army is in a position where it must conclude the Individual Carbine competition, because none of the competitors met the minimum requirement to pass into the next phase.”

During a Pentagon briefing on June 14, 2013, Brig. Gen. Paul A. Ostrowski, U.S. Army Program Executive Officer – Soldier (PEO Soldier), announced that none of the eight competitors in the Individual Carbine competition had been able to progress beyond phase two of the competition and, as a result, the Army would not proceed any further with selecting a follow-on weapon for the M4/M4A1.

M4M4A1 magazines Individual Carbine program

A stack of M4 magazines loaded with 5.56 mm rounds await use at the 89th Sustainment Brigade’s 2013 Best Warrior Competition. DoD photo

The eight competitors in the IC competition had included Adcor Defense, Beretta, Colt, Fabrique Nationale, Heckler & Koch, Lewis Machine & Tool, Remington and Troy.

“None of the vendors were able to meet the requirements to pass into phase three,” Ostrowski said. “I want to be very clear – none of the vendors met the minimum requirements to allow them to phase three. The Army is not canceling the Individual Carbine competition. The Army is in a position where it must conclude the Individual Carbine competition, because none of the competitors met the minimum requirement to pass into the next phase.”

Ostrowski said that each weapon had a reason it failed to progress, but the Army has not yet done the forensics on the results to determine why each weapon did not progress to phase three. He said the Army will work with those competitors to find out what happened.

The PEO said surveys from soldiers returning from combat have shown that soldiers are happy with the current weapon, offering, “We do extensive post-combat surveys after every unit redeploys from theater. Over the past four years, the survey results have revealed that in compilation, over 80 percent of soldiers are completely satisfied with the M4 coming out of theater. And that trend is moving upward. Over the last two years, it’s actually been 86 percent soldier acceptability for the M4. It’s battle proven. It’s lethal. It’s accurate.”

He added that soldiers are happy with the new M855A1 round the Army first issued in 2010.

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Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...