U.S. Marine providing covering fire with an M249

In a series of experiments being conducted, units from 2nd Marine Division will be placing silencers on every element of an infantry battalion, from their M4 rifles to .50 calibre machine guns!

Major General John Love, the commanding general of 2nd Marine Division has described the plans during a speech to Marines at the Marine Corps Association Ground Dinner earlier this month.

Early tests of the plan have been conducted by a number of units, and the general response seems positive so far. Speaking in an interview with Military.com, Love had the following to say of the early results:

"What we've found so far is it revolutionises the way we fight. It used to be that a squad would be dispersed out over maybe 100 yards, so the squad leader couldn't really communicate with the members at the far end because of all the noise of the weapons. Now they can actually just communicate, and be able to command and control and effectively direct those fires."

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Christian Wade, a weapons officer in Lima company has noted that two other battalions now had silencers, or suppressors, on all of their rifles, including the M27 infantry automatic rifles.

All units are set to deploy in the coming months, and even the combat engineer platoons attached to the units will deploy carrying suppressed weapons.

How do suppressors work?

Suppressors work the same on live-firing guns as they do on air rifles, where the escape of propellant gases are slowed when the gun is fired, which reduces the sound signature. It is used by special operation troops and scout snipers to preserve their stealth, but is also excellent at minimising the chaos of battle, by not only allowing better communication but also improved accuracy and situational awareness.

The noise of gunfire can create an artificial stimulus which gives an illusion of effectiveness, but when that’s taken away, the Marines pay more attention to their shooting and targets.

Suppression objectives

Work is now being done to put suppressors on the Marines’ M249 light machine gun and M240G medium machine gun using equipment from Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command. The third and final objective, and probably the toughest of them all, will be the suppression of the .50 calibre heavy machine gun.

As the units conduct training and exercises with suppressors, 2nd Marine Division is working closely with the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab to collect and aggregate data to help better identify how efficient the suppressors are, if at all!

However, weapons with suppressors require additional maintenance and cleaning to prevent them from damage and misfiring, but with a cost at nearly $700,000 (£565,129) to outfit a battalion, it might cause planners to think twice about rolling it out. But data will continue to be gathered for the next year-and-a-half, and Wade is confident that the results will go his way.

"When I show how much overmatch we gain … it will have sold itself," he said. Whether that is the case or not is yet to be seen…