The following “Law” discussion began with the following article,
“Marine Corps Brings Back Old Weapon”
By Pfc. Christopher J. Ohmen
Marine Corps News
February 09, 2005
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – With urban terrain as the battlefield in Iraq, weapons and tactics have changed to suit the infantrymen’s needs. The Marines are taking an old weapon out of storage with improvements that make it more lethal and better suited for the job.
Tally Industries originally developed the M-72 Light Anti-tank Weapon (LAW) in the 1960’s, which at that time was a revolutionary concept. A rocket that came prepackaged in a launcher that could be disposed of after use.
The reason this weapon was phased out was Cold War experts thought a larger shoulder fired rocket would be necessary for infantry in a tank war. The AT-4 was the answer to that problem. It has a larger rocket with an extended distance that gave the Corps the punch it needed.
“The AT-4 is too large for an urban environment,” said Chief Warrant Officer-5 Patrick J. Woellhof, a gunner with The Basic School, Quantico, Va. “With the AT-4’s size and weight it is too cumbersome for an infantryman to carry more than one. A Marine can carry one or more of the M-72 LAW with little or no trouble.”
Having to fire from concealed positions inside buildings is almost impossible with the AT-4, according to Woellhof. With technology advancing since the LAW was last used the new propellants have a smaller back blast area, which allows them to be fired from windows.
Also, with improved rocket payloads their lethality has been enhanced to meet current battlefield needs.
A family of new warheads is being created for the weapons system to include; high-heat and high-pressure warheads for destroying bunkers, an antipersonnel warhead designed to hit the enemy with shrapnel and the traditional anti-tank warhead.
“The LAW is not meant to replace the AT-4, but to augment it for light skinned vehicles like technical Toyota (pickup truck),” explained Woellhof.
Fighting in urban terrain makes movement with larger weapons almost impossible. The LAW’s approximate two-foot length collapsed and less than three feet extended makes it a versatile weapon for the battlefield. There is a lightened trigger pull on the weapon making it comparable to the pull of an M-16 rifle.
“With the older model you would have to sit there for a while pressing as hard as you could and then you were lucky if it fired then,” said Woellhof.
With enemy tactics changing every day, the Marines needed a weapon system that is easy to use and portable. With all of the improvements made and the LAW’s portable size, it has proven itself in the past and should again.
I once had an incident with a LAW that seems funny now but wasn’t at the time. During the winter of 1970, 2nd Platoon of A Co. was in Nuoc Ngot Vil, Thu Thien Province. The Monsoon was still going hot and heavy, I’m thinking this was sometime in February. My squad (2nd) was on a night ambush with the two fire teams in mutual supporting positions. I was with the point team and SSGT Marley our platoon SGT was also with us that night. We were near the edge of the Vil set up where two trails came into the village and immediately to our front was a small Buddhist temple. Not long after we set up we began to hear voices coming from inside the temple and glimpses of light from what was a poorly concealed flashlight. SSG Marley and I powwowed and decided He, I and another trooper with the radio would move to within 20 feet of the building. Once there we would call for an illum shot from the SP 155s on FSB T’Hawk. I was supposed to fire a LAW into the building when I heard the shot out from the 155. When the LAW hit, the rest of the point team would move up to our position and join us in firing up anyone fleeing. Our Gun Team would remain in their position and act as a blocking force for anyone that escaped or anyone coming to assist the NVA in the building. A perfect plan was about to go haywire. We moved into position and SSG Marley called for the flare, when I heard the shot I pressed the firing button down just as the ground collapsed underneath me. The LAW fired as I fell until trapped at the waste in a tunnel. The only thing is as I was falling I pointed the weapon nearly vertical and it looped off to who knows where like a mortar round. I guess for a few moments I was bewildered not knowing what had happened and like a cartoon character I was running without my feet touching the ground, stuck at the waist in the tunnel. I wanted out, hoping that no one was trying to use the tunnel as an escape exit as they might think about shooting or sticking me with something. The remainder of the point team moved up and two troopers pulled me out of the hole. The NVA, well I don’t know where they went. We didn’t see them, neither did our gun team but they did leave some cooked rice behind in the temple when they left.
It was the only time I fired a LAW in combat and if all had gone as planned it would have been effective I’m sure. I think it’s a great weapon, but I still feel a better choice would be for us to deploy the RPG with our troops.
NS/ATR & SF!
WHISKEY FOR ME, FRESH LAWS FOR MY MEN!!!
I HAVE A FUNNY STORY CONCERNING THE LAW..DURING THE MONSOONS OF 66 WE WERE HUMPING AND HUMPING PROTECTING THE RICE HARVEST FROM THE V.C. …DAY AFTER DAY…WE WERE OUT FOR WHAT SEEMED FOREVER COMPLETLY SOAKED…
MY BUDDY CONFIDED HE WAS AFRAID IF ASKED TO FIRE THE LAW HE CARRIED IT WOULD MALFUNCTION FROM BEING SO WET HE WOULD MEET HIS DEMISE…
THE VERY NEXT DAY ON HIS BIRTHDAY WE WERE IN A RICE PADDY PINNED DOWN BY A HEAVY MACHINE GUN…
THE SERGEANT YELLED “WHO HAS A LAW”, SOMEONE RESPONDED, PERRY DOES SERGEANT, (IT WASN’T ME BELIEVE ME) SO WHILE PINNED DOWN IN THE MUCK LAYING DOWN SURPRESSING FIRE, STAN PERRY CRAWLED UP TO FIRE HIS SOAKED LAW!!!
NOT TO MISS THE OPPORTUNITY TO WISH OUR HERO A HAPPY BIRTHDAY, I STARTED SINGING HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, OVER AND OVER. SOON OTHER GUYS WERE SINGING, STAN WAS CUSSING HIS HEAD OFF!!! SO MUCH SO HE MISSED THE TARGET…THE LAW HADN’T MIS FIRED, THE SERGEANT HAD A FEW THINGS TO SAY ABOUT STANS MARKMANSHIP, HAD ANOTHER LAW BROUGHT UP HIT THE POSITION..IT SEEMED LIKE GALLOWS HUMOR WOULD ALIEVE A SITUATION FROM TIME TO TIME..
The LAW was loud to put it mildly when fired in the open. I fired one on point after a Scout Dog alerted in close, dense, triple canopy, only to have it detonate about twenty-five feet to my front as I was firing uphill. It was almost like firing and detonating the weapon inside a building. The noise was deafening to say the least. Moving forward to see the results of my attack, I felt somewhat helpless with one of my four senses 99% impaired. On that same hill, Ted McCormick was called upon to fire five of them consecutively, only to have to run up to the gun position and take over as Machine Gunner. Deal is, the darn things worked. Golly Gee, ain’t war fun?