A soldier’s lifeline in a combat environment is his weapon. Without his weapon he is unable to complete a mission or protect his battle buddies and/or others in the way of harm. He is, in a way, unfit for battle if he does not have a properly functional weapon. With this in mind, it is a part of a soldier’s duty in the military to properly maintain his weapon, keeping it clean, well lubricated, and ready for battle at any given moment. He should always have his weapon as if he were to use it at any moment.
If he were to enter a building and clear a room with a fireteam and his weapon was dirty or not lubricated, the risk of the weapon jamming in the middle of the drill is high, and his battle buddies cannot rely on him to cover them. He would let his teammates down, or worse, get them injured or killed, and that is not acceptable under any circumstance. Therefore, making sure a soldier’s weapon is lubricated and well maintained, as well as making sure his ammo is properly loaded is extremely important.
The importance of cleaning your gun can easily be compared to that of the importance of maintaining your car. Much like any vehicle will require regularly maintenance in order to stay in good condition, so will your weapon. Some say the golden rule of lubricating is you can keep your weapon wet and dirty but not dry and dirty. That said, weapons can be forgiving about carbon build up as long as they are well lubricated. So, why lubricate the weapon?
The soldier must clean and lubricate his weapon, firstly, to prevent wear and secondly, to promote a certain level of performance. Lubricating the weapon ensures that your weapon is reliable in the field of combat. The bottom line is a weapon a firearm is a machine. It is a mechanical device with moving parts that performs a function. The primary purpose of lubricant in a machine is to reduce friction between moving parts and thereby improve function and reduce wear.
Many weapon systems will not tolerate lack of lubrication and continue to function for any length of time. The US military M16/M4 series rifles and M249/M240 series machine guns are perfect examples of two classes of weapons that do not work well or for very long without lubricant. Simply put, these weapons and others issued to soldiers in the Army require plenty of lubricant to be able to function reliably and effectively on the battlefield, no way around it. The weapon you are issued is vital to you in ombat. Every soldier knows this. If you take care of it, then it will do the same for you. It’s a pretty cut and dry rule to keep it well maintained and clean then. However, apparently most soldier’s do not understand the importance of maintaining their weapons, as many have received many malfunctions in combat. Multiple reports have popped up throughout the past few wars on many separate occasions, revealing that faulty weapons training and maintenance were the main causes of US casualties and captures.
Most of the weapons malfunctions might have possibly, and are usually expected to have resulted from inadequate individual maintenance in country and the environment in which the weapon was being used. Soldiers had trouble firing their personal and crewserved weapons, and their senior NCOs have determined form these cases that the problem was poor maintenance of the weapon. Few things have been proven to end a firefight faster and more badly than a weapon that will not or cannot properly function.
This being said, it is as much a soldier’s duty and responsibility to maintain his weapon as it is to maintain himself. In today’s age, for a soldier, their rifle means life or death, so it’s the number one concern for soldiers serving in Iraq, Iran, or Afghanistan today. For a soldier, cleaning and maintaining their issued weapon is always priority, because an unclean rifle can resort in jams, misfires, and other malfunctions, which can lead to harmful and tragic consequences such as the injury or death of either themselves or their own brothers on the battle field.
From basic training to the desert, soldiers are taught that their weapon is their only means of survival, and it will remain by your side even after your fellow soldiers are dead and gone. In basic, they teach you the components and how to disassemble and reassemble your rifle. Then, they show you the fundamentals to cleaning, but it isn’t until you graduate and arrive at your first unit that you really understand how to clean your weapon. You learn the finer points to rifle cleaning from your command and teammates.
They show you their tips and tricks from past personal experience, and they show you how to detail it for inspections. Yet, you can’t fully comprehend the importance of cleaning your weapon until you’re in a war zone. In the states, you only clean it when your command demands it. Besides that, you hardly ever see your issued rifle, and for the most part, you’re glad because you think it’s just a mindless chore they have you do primarily make sure your weapon is clean after going to the field but sometimes it’s a chore given to pass the time during the day; sometimes it is even as a sort of punishment.
On tour in Iraq or Afghanistan though, that’s a whole different story. When on deployment in Afghanistan you will encounter a metric ton more problems and complications than you would just going to the range when in garrison. When you’re in garrison you go to the range from a day to a couple weeks, come back home and clean the carbon and grit off of your weapon and turn it in. Out in the deserts of Afghanistan though it is damn near impossible to keep youre weapon G. I. cleaned all the time, as you go everywhere with it.
You eat, sleep, shit, and of course patrol and go on missions with it. It is always by your side, as opposed to being locked up in an armory. This makes it more susceptible to being dirty and getting malfunctions as you not only have to worry about the carbon but also the sand and other grit that gets into the weapon as well. One soldier wrote that, “The M4 Weapon in the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan was quick to malfunction when a little sand got in the weapon. Trying to keep it clean and sand-free was impossible while on patrols or firefights.
Sometimes we spend more time cleaning the weapon than firing it. ” But nevertheless, whenever you find the time to perform a full disassembly and cleaning, you need to do it to the max, as much as possible, to get rid of every little grain of sand. Eventually, cleaning your weapon will get to the point of relaxation. It will calm you, help keep you peaceful, keeping you busy and forgetting where you are. Sooner or later, you’ll start to enjoy it. It is very important for a soldier to keep his weapon maintained and cleaned to the best of his ability.
He should always treat his weapon as he would treat himself, as his weapon is his lifeline, his tool, and at times his and his brother’s soul reason for survival on the battlefield. All issued weapons in the military from the M4 to the 50cal. should always be kept clean and well lubricated to the best of their ability at all times. Nothing is scarier than a weapon that will not fire in the middle of a firefight. So, in an effort to prevent such an incident from ever occurring, it is the soldier’s soul duty and responsibility to clean his weapon and make sure it is mission capable every chance he gets.
In garrison a soldier should clean his weapon at least once a week, depending on how often it is used during that week, to keep in functioning flawlessly. When in country, deployed in Afghanistan or Iraq or any other area, the soldier should clean and lubricate his weapon at least once a day to keep it well maintained, especially after every foot patrol, regardless of whether or not he was in combat. A weapon is not only the soldier’s lifeline and protection, but also the protection of his team mates and his leadership, and he should always remember this.