031018-N-4055P-008 Aboard USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) Oct. 18, 2003 -- Lance Cpl. Denis Andersen attached to, 2nd FAST Co., 7th Platoon 1st squad, provides cover for his team during a vessel boarding search and seizure (VBSS) training scenario aboard USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19). Blue Ridge is currently underway for a regularly scheduled deployment. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 1st Class Winston C. Pitman. (RELEASED)

In the waning hours of the departing administration and just hours before the inauguration the Army announced their selection for the replacement of their M9 Beretta sidearm. The suspicious timing of an end-of-the-week, I-hope-nobody-sees-this press release told that the army had selected its choice by breaking from some pretty tried and true methods they have followed throughout many programs, mostly omitting AN ACTUAL EXTENSIVE LIVE-FIRE SHOOTOFF. You know the ONLY thing that really matters for a duty firearm – IS THAT IT IS PROVEN TO WORK WELL ALL THE TIME WITHOUT BREAKING. Well, for the duty sidearm to replace the M9 that replaced the 1911, we don’t know.

Several Senators have stepped forward and others in Congress are criticizing the procurement process as the selection was made without completing a single phase of extensive reliability testing, extensive environmental performance testing or maintenance cost modeling. Even by non-military and non-governmental standards the level of testing that was done to get to the decision falls far short of the real-world evaluation normally used find the best of ANY competing products and especially for weapons systems for that matter.

The oddity is that the Army invested over 10 years in the procurement process with little to show for it to date, but then cut short the most important phase of the process…the testing of the pistol candidates? THAT NEVER SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED!

It is true that the military pistol is not a primary combat tool, but as a sidearm and personal defense weapon for millions of warfighters that when it is used – by definition – it will be in a life or death situation. So why in the Hell did not the Army ensure with extensive testing (God knows they had enough time) that when it is used – IT WILL WORK EVERY TIME! Are America’s sons and daughters who are serving or will serve in harm’s way not getting the best weapons they deserve? Since the testing of their personal defense weapon was not done – WHO KNOWS!

Why was this selection fore-shortened? Why was this pushed through at the last second? Why was operational testing not fully accomplished? Why was more extensive testing, with the models that met the requirements not done after a DECADE of procurement evaluation?

I know that there are choices overlooked that include the world’s most proven striker-fired pistol design with almost thirty years of successful use by world-wide military and two thirds of American law enforcement – the Glock – that was inexplicably deselected in an eleventh-hour pre-inauguration press release. Our warfighters deserve the best we can give them to protect themselves, to protect us. Did they get it? Who knows?

This just smells of politics and needs to be re-evaluated in the light of day. You feel me?

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