US Army Evaluates Next Generation Squad Weapon at Fort Campbell

The US Army has completed training and validation of its Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW) 6.8-millimeter rifles, automatic variants, and associated fire control systems at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

The tests were carried out by warfighters from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Alpha Company and the 75th Ranger Regiment’s 1st Battalion.

The corresponding training focused on the unique advantages of the new rifle compared to the legacy 5.56-millimeter M4A1 Carbine and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon Systems.

Enhanced Lethality

Automatic Rifleman Spec. Maximiliano Arguindegui from the 75th Ranger Regiment described his experiences while training on the new equipment.

“Overall, I feel faster with the M249, but I prefer the NGSW [assault rifle] because it makes me more lethal,” the officer said.

Two infantrymen with 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment (Strike Force), 2nd Brigade (Strike), 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) (Screaming Eagles), receive instruction on the Next Generation Squad Weapon-Rifle Fire Control system during New Equipment Training while operationally testing at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. (U.S. Army photo by Mark Scovell,)
Soldiers testing Next Generation Squad Weapon optical equipment. Photo: Mark Scovell/US Army

Alpha Company Team Leader Infantryman Sgt. Jack Scott shared additional information from lessons learned during the evaluation.

“Stopping power with the 6.8 round is a big improvement compared to the M4 and M249 and having the ability to use with or without the suppressor is a huge feature for the support by fire element,” Scott explained.

Learning the NGSW

Soldiers assessed the NGSW in a Limited User Test (LUT), which involved a crawl-walk-run simulation to collect realistic operational data in various environmental conditions.

“I’m used to the M4 – it’s lighter – I’m used to the recoil, the engagements, everything the M4 has to offer,” Alpha Company Squad Leader Staff Sgt. Ivan Alvarez stated.

“But, as we went through the LUT with the NGSW, I can see the capabilities that it brings to an infantryman, especially at a longer distance.”

Infantrymen with 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment (Strike Force), 2nd Brigade (Strike), 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) (Screaming Eagles), executes squad live fire, while operationally testing at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. (Mr. Mark Scovell, Visual Information Specialist, U.S. Army Operational Test Command)
Soldiers execute squad live fire of Next Generation Squad Weapons (NGSWs). Photo: Mark Scovell/US Army

Additional qualifications were also held between the new and legacy weapon systems to differentiate supporting performance data and enable NGSW repetitions and familiarity among the soldiers.

“We were able to get reps in on a new weapon system as well as our legacy equipment,” Ranger Squad Leader Sgt. Joseph Martin noted.

“We were able to train on many basic things that we want to train on every year, but condensed to get more repetitions, as well as live fire iterations for our younger, inexperienced Soldiers.”

Advantage in Feedback

Alpha Company 1st Sgt. Justin Babb highlighted the value of warfighter insights collected at Fort Campbell.

“The candid feedback that the Soldiers and [non-commissioned officers] provided during focus groups and surveys will provide the Army with perspective from the lowest level of user that will actually use the system,” Babb said.

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