I note that one of our generals feels that the Army is trying to teach too much in too little time during basic training these days. So, something must go. Such as bayonet training. After all, as he puts it:
In today's wars, there's no reason for Soldiers to learn how to fix bayonets to their rifles and disembowel an enemy combatant, Hertling said. Besides, bayonets don't fit rifles Soldiers carry today, he added.
Let's address a few things here. First, the man is an armor officer. How much time has he spent with troops whose main defense against attack is a rifle and a hole or some sandbags, rather than self-propelled steel and composite armor? Second, if there's a greater need to teach troops hand to hand combat techniques (literally use only their hands, per his comments) what basis is there to take a weapon that permits a soldier to keep an enemy at a little more distance? In the upcoming deployment, if I'm in a direct support position, you may be damn sure I WILL NOT have complete and utter faith in my rifle. ALL rifles can fail, or need a reload at the worst possible time. Because of this, I WILL carry a knife suitable for punching a nice, deep hole in someone's viscera. Most likely, it'll be the same surplus Viet Nam era M7 bayonet I carried that last time I had to tote a rifle everywhere. And because I believe two is one, and one is none, I'll have a back-up beyond that. Entrenching tools can hold a hell of a sharp edge. Enough said. Hands are a the last option. They're soft, easily injured, and don't punch through a skull or lacerate major arteries with the authority I'm looking for.
Now, he says that bayonets don't fit the current rifle. My current rifle is an A2. It still fits. I'm told I'll be getting an M4 once deployed. Haven't played with one yet. From what I've read, the M7 fits it also. If anyone knows the answer to that, I'd like to hear it. But either this General doesn't know what he's talking about, or we have what I believe is the first widely, although not standard issue, Army rifle without bayonet capability. And that's foolish, for a number of reasons.
As noted previously, rifles do fail, especially dirty M4s using a high rate of fire, from some reports I've read. And something sharp, pointy, and a couple feet long is better than a Mark One Rock or fingers. But there's other uses. Bayonets also work well for display of force purposes in crowd or prisoner control. They are suitable for poking about in spaces you'd rather not put a hand into. Properly designed, they are fine fighting knives. Apparently, that's not good enough anymore. There's just not enough time for something so unimportant as a combat skill.
Somehow, I'm guessing there's some Equal Opportunity lectures that could be delayed until after basic. Unless sensitivity training is one of those vital skills for fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.