Unless you can actually verify the identity of the author of the “Firearms, Gear, and Tactics in Iraq” e-mail, then it is bogus. I’ve seen it running around the net in several incarnations with different authors attributed to it for some time now. Some reasons to believe it’s bogus without any authentication: The part about the M249 being a POS  comes from an early AAR  about the invasion. Some USMC units had weapons that were VERY well-used and I know a Marine that went in with his M249 held together with zip ties. The Army, with newer weapons, report no failures. The USMC has replaced the worn out POSs that should have been condemned years ago. The M249 in Marine service now works great. Go figure how a new gun will work better than one that’s deadlined. Since this gripe in the e-mail is almost a copy-paste from the original Marine AAR that I’ve read (from the USMC itself and not 18th hand in a chain e-mail) it raises a stink right off the bat on this e-mail.
The son is supposed to be in the USMC. The USMC doesn’t use the M24 sniper system. They use the M40A3. The M24 is based on a long action so it can
take the .300 WM, but the Army (which is the only service using the M24) isn’t using any in that caliber.
The new body armor isn’t six pounds. It’s more like 15–or20 if you add all the c**p. I’ve also noticed that your version has several differences than the couple that I’ve seen. Caliber and enemy weapons are referred to exactly the same, but with different calibers and even different weapons. That alone brings it’s validity into question. If it’s a real e-mail from a Marine,why has it been altered from version to version? Especially when these alterations were made to correct glaring faults in previous versions. There’s an almost endless supply of reasons to call “Bulls**t!” on this e-mail. Like most good lies, it has many truths in there to make it more believable. You can explain some of the inconsistencies with reality as the “straw view”
that a rifleman may have, or possibly seeing Army units with M14s and M24s. But when you see parts that have been obviously lifted from other sources, and seen the same basic e-mail for a couple times, with things changed, it becomes an internet urban myth. It may make for good reading if you simply WANT to believe truths/lies that support an opinion that someone might hold, but if you’re looking for truth it’s not in this e-mail. It’s like any useful observation. Once people start changing things to make it more dramatic, correct glaring flaws that
have been brought up with it in the past, or somehow show support for a particular position they have it’s worthless. Not to bust your chops, but information is useless if it’s coming from a
worthless source. Even if some of that information is good, there’s no way to trust it. – Doug Carlton
JWR Replies: Your points are well taken. I should have vetted the letter before posting it. I’ll leave your letter up for a couple of days as a teaching tool, along with the original post, so that readers will have a point of reference for your comments. Then I’ll zap them so that the original letter doesn’t get taken out of context and re-posted by someone else. OBTW, I would greatly appreciate a first hand honest-to-goodness “I seen it with my own two eyes” weapons/tactics AAR from someone who is either currently in-theater, or who has recently returned.