The Army has officially canceled its search for an off-the-shelf 7.62mm Interim Combat Service Rifle (ICSR) meant to replace the standard-issue M4 carbine — a major setback in the branch’s search for a new infantry rifle to augment soldier lethality.
Army Contracting Command announced the cancellation of the ICSR program on Nov. 28, citing a “reprioritization” of funding for the commercially made service rifle to the Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW) as a replacement for both the M4 and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon and “a long-term solution to meet the identified capability gap instead of the ICSR, which was an interim solution.” The announcement did not disclose the scope of the funds involved, and PEO Soldier and U.S. Army Contracting Command did not immediately respond to inquiries from Task & Purpose.
The saga of the ICSR has been a turbulent one. In May, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told lawmakers that the current 5.56 mm rounds chambered in the M4 and M16 assault rifles ubiquitous among infantry troops (namely the M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round) cannot penetrate modern enemy body armor; the same month, he told Senate Armed Services Committee members that Maneuver Center of Excellence officials at Fort Benning, Georgia, had engineered a new 7.62mm round capable of defeating plates similar to U.S. military-issue Enhanced Small Arms Protective Inserts.
The ICSR was always meant to be and interim solution. In an Oct. 3 update on the Army’s Modular Handgun System, PEO soldier program executive officer Army Brig. Gen. Brian Cummings noted that the “long-term way ahead” for the branch’s focus on lethality was always the NGSW. And Cummings hinted that if any program would get the axe, it would be the ICSR: of the two Army programs focused on “[getting] a 7.62 inside the squad,” he said, the squad-designated marksman role addressed by the Army’s 7.62mm M110A1 Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System (CSASS) sniper rifle trumps program the ICSR as an equipping priority.