Written by Sgt. Joe Padula
2nd Brigade Combat Team PAO
Fort Campbell, KY – It weighs 3.5 pounds, has a barrel length of 7.75 inches, fires 12-gauge shells and can be mounted on the M4 carbine or act as a stand alone firearm; it is the M26 Modular Accessory Shotgun System and the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) is the first unit in the Army to be issued the combat enhancer.
“This is a new capability that is now in your hands for you to conduct your mission downrange,” said Col. Scott C. Armstrong, with Project Manager Soldier Weapons, during a presentation ceremony held at Fort Campbell’s Strike Academy, February 7th. “This is a big day, not just for the 2nd Brigade, but for the Army.”
Picatinny Arsenal-based PMSW is a group that supports Soldiers through the development, production, fielding and sustainment of current and future weapons systems. PMSW fielded the M26 MASS to the 2nd BCT, also known as the Strike Brigade due to the unit’s profile and future deployment schedule.
“We’re glad to be the first unit to put this weapon to work and there is an appreciation for all that goes into this,” said Col. Dan Walrath, the Strike commander, while holding the new Strike Shotgun.
After the ‘hand-over’ ceremony, the weapons were issued to Strike’s engineer company, Company A, 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion and Strike’s military police with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd BSTB. For three days, under the guidance of PMSW, the Strike Soldiers learned how to assemble, maintain, repair and effectively fire their new weapons.
“From the classroom instruction to employing the techniques taught at the M26 live-fire range, I was very impressed with the professionalism, motivation and skill of the Soldiers present,” said Maj. Vinson Morris, assistant product manager. “I have no doubt the 2nd Brigade Soldiers will seamlessly incorporate this new weapon into their current missions while benefiting from the weapon’s light weight and exceptional reliability.”
The Strike Soldiers who received and shot the weapons are welcoming to the new firearm into their arsenal, and see how its capabilities will help their missions.
“I can see this being very effective with the engineers for breaching and with the military police, especially since you can shoot ammunition that is non lethal,” said Sgt. Rhys McMahon, a combat engineer with Company A. “So far this is an amazing weapon; I’ve shot about 75 rounds and it works magnificently. This would have helped us out quite a few times when we were in Afghanistan.”
“Since I have the brigade MP platoon in my company, I feel the initial deployment of these weapons to Strike is a testament to the service the Strike Soldiers have always exemplified, but most specifically in our last deployment into Afghanistan,” said Ward, talking about the brigade’s engineers and MPs. “Both of these elements of the brigade did some outstanding work in Afghanistan and it is nice to see them be the first to field the latest and greatest systems.”
PMSW has invested much time, money and manpower getting the future weapon into the hands of today’s Soldiers and can rest easy knowing those hands belong to Strike.