The M2 .50 cal machine gun is used by many 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Soldiers during convoy operations in Iraq today.
When properly maintained, this machine gun can serve as a formidable asset to many units throughout Iraq. When the machine gun is neglected or improperly maintained however, stoppages, damage to the weapon system or injury to the operator can occur.
During the Korean War, for instance, quad .50 cal anti-aircraft guns were used against massed Korean and Chinese infantry attacks. And during the Vietnam War, Marine sniper Carlos Norman Hathcock was known to have used the M2 mounted with a scope for long-distance kills.
Recently, an upgrade system known as the M2E2 was made available. This upgraded version includes such enhancements as a quick change barrel system, an improved flash suppressor and a manual safety.
Improperly set headspace and timing can result in damage to the weapon system or injury to the operator. Detailed instructions for properly setting headspace and timing can be found in Field Manual 3-22.65 or Technical Manual 9-1005-213-10.
Perhaps the greatest safety concern, however, is proper training. So says Cpl. Jacob S. Floyd, the company armorer for Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment from Spokane, Wash.
“The individuals behind the weapon have to be dedicated and know how to operate that weapon properly and succeed in that mission with it.”
Floyd, who is from Moses Lake, Wash., said in his 12 years in the military he’s only seen two M2s go down due to human error, and both instances were related to improper headspace and timing.
“It’s a very important weapon when you are out on missions,” Geesey said, noting how the basic information about the weapon can be found in the Warrior Skills Level One book.
Geesey, who is from Tacoma, Wash., said he appreciates the manual safety that’s installed on his current weapon – not like the one he used when he was in Afghanistan in 2006 which had none at all.
“It’s a very reliable weapon.” Geesey said, noting how on a recent mission, after spending all day in the rain, the weapon functioned perfectly.And as for reliability’
“The M2 has been around for years,” Floyd said, “It will probably outlive me and everything in this room. It is an awesome weapon system.”