Is the bayonet an obsolete weapon?
At the third and final presidential debate Monday night, Mitt Romney accused Barack Obama of reducing the number of ships in the U.S. Navy. President Obama responded, "Well, governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets." Does the U.S. military still use bayonets much?
Yes. All Marines learn to use bayonets during their basic martial arts training. Some of this training takes place on the Bayonet Assault Course, upon which Marines are unleashed to bayonet everything in sight. Learning proficiency in basic bayoneting techniques is part of qualifying for a tan belt, which is required of every recruit. Marines are expected to learn to attach and remove the bayonets from their rifles quickly, so that they might swiftly initiate a charge.
While the bayonet dates to the 17th century, it has evolved through technological innovations over the years. In 2003, the Marine Corps replaced its standard-issue bayonet with a longer, sharper model, the OKC-3S. The new model, designed by New York's Ontario Knife Co., was also more effective when brandished as a hand knife - not to mention more ergonomically correct. Perhaps more vitally, the blades were also better able to pierce body armor, a concern particular to modern warriors. More than 120,000 bayonets were commissioned to supply one to each Marine, at an estimated price of $36.35 each, or $4,362,000 total. In addition to potential use in hand-to-hand combat, bayonets are said to be useful for keeping prisoners under control and for "poking an enemy to see whether he is dead."
The Marines aren't the only branch of the military to equip its soldiers with bayonets. The Army issues the M9 bayonet knife, which has been in use since the 1980s, but troops have moved away from the detachable knives in recent years. In 2010, the Army began to scale back on bayonet drills in favor of calisthenics, perhaps a wise move given that the soldiers rarely carry bayonets on their rifles, and since the last U.S. bayonet charge was in 1951. Others, however, have still found use for the bayonet charge in recent years. Just last month a British soldier was honored for a bayonet charge on the Taliban that he led in 2011. This charge was reminiscent of another British bayonet charge in Basra, Iraq, in 2004. In 2011, Col. Moammar Gadhafi was also reportedly killed by a bayonet stab to the rear.
While the use of the bayonet is rare, the use of horses is even rarer. The military still maintains the historic 1st Cavalry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas, and the division's horse detachment still sometimes mounts up for the occasional charge - but these charges tend to take place only as part of parades, historical ceremonies, and fairs.
Is the bayonet an obsolete weapon?
- Top Stories
Deputies discover active meth lab near Jeff State with two children in adjacent mobile home
A man has been arrested at a home near Jefferson State Community College, after sheriff's deputies found a working methamphetamine lab there.
North Jefferson woman says mining operations damaged her house; state agency to hold hearing
Peggy Harris has had enough.
NJN/am for Wednesday, April 16
It's Wednesday, halfway through the work week...
Police Blotter for March 31-April 6, 2014
Incident and arrest reports were provided by north Jefferson County police agencies for March 31 to April 6.
Gardendale council continues discussion of Lexington Park dam breach
Gardendale City Council members further discussed a flooding problem Monday during a work session.
NJN/am for Tuesday, April 15
Welcome to Tuesday, and break out the coats again – but don't forget to file your tax return...
Nearly two dozen local sophomores make JefCoEd Super Scholars list
The Jefferson County School System has released their 2014 list of “Super Scholars,” the top-scoring sophomores taking the PLAN preparatory test, and almost two dozen students from four local high schools are being honored.
Warrior woman arrested at meth-lab bust in Sayre community
A Warrior woman has been arrested by Jefferson County Sheriff's deputies as they discovered a methamphetamine operation early Sunday morning.
NJN/am for Monday, April 14
It's Monday, and a yucky one at that...
Gardendale community trash pick-up set for Saturday morning
As the city prepares for the Magnolia Festival next week, Gardendale officials have scheduled a city-wide trash pickup for Saturday morning.
- More Top Stories Headlines
- Deputies discover active meth lab near Jeff State with two children in adjacent mobile home