This writting may be a tad Army-speak/technical for all you non-military types, but I will explain it Barney-style.
This month I was re-assigned from a normal rifleman who carries a standard M4 Carbine (here) to a Automatic Rifleman who carries a M249 SAW (here). Technicly speaking that means I have a larger weapon with a much, much higher rate of fire. And that means I have a greater potential to kill motherfuckers, which is cool. But it is also fucking heavy and unweildy. Now it doesn't take a genius to look at a picture of a SAW and realize that it is heavy and unweildy, but unless one has hefted an M4, M16 or similar weapon the distintion may be lost between them. What I mean is that being used to an M4 and switching to a SAW is like going from the cell phone you have today to a cell phone used in the mid-90's. You know, like the one Zach Morris had on Saved By The Bell. You will find it big and cumbersome, but also you will want to use it like you used your iPhone or Razr, only to find that it is impossible. Anyone following me? In any case I am learning a whole new way to conduct myself in combat operations and while I curse the monumental pain in my ass that my SAW is, there is a silver lining on this cloud.
To be a SAW gunner a person must be able to use the weapon effectively. They must also be trusted to have to common sense that being an Automatic Rifleman is intrensic to. Therefore to be assigned as a SAW gunner the person that made me such must have at least nominal trust in my abilities and strength. This is an ego boost. I mean someone thinks I am capable enough to use the most causulty producing weapon avalible to an Infanty Fire Team, that makes me feel all warm in a Born-Trained-Killer type of way.
The final point I want to make about my SAW is true of all weapons: Once they become yours they are truely and utterly yours. I mean it. It is not a complete invention of the media that soldiers name their weapons, some of us do. I would venture to say all of us do, only some admit to it. I have named all 3 of the weapons assigned to me, and I think that in part it reflects the relationship between me and that weapon and me and that female. The M16 I was issued in Basic was the first weapon I could ever call mine. My M4 I was given here is always there for me, even though I don't see her often. And my SAW is a pain in my ass and to be honest, unreliable, yet for all the trouble she has got me into I love her for showing me how fun shit can be. Because there is nothing more fun/recklessly dangerous than a M249 on full automatic or drunk driving around Vienna on summer afternoons for no reason.
Thank you for opening up my eyes.