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1997 Army Law. 16 (1997)
Joint Service Combat Shotgun Program

handle is hein.journals/armylaw1997 and id is 813 raw text is: Joint Service Combat Shotgun Program
W. Hays Parks
Special Assistant for Law of War Matters,
Qffice of The Judge Advocate General, U.S. Army
Washington, D.C.

There is a long history of the use of shotguns in combat. But
in the closing days of World War 1, Germany objected to the
U.S. use of shotguns, claiming their use violated the law of war.
Although the German claim was promptly rejected by the
United States, questions about the legality of shotguns per-
sisted. This article1 sets forth the history of the combat use of
shotguns, the 1918 German protest and U.S. response, and an
analysis of the issue in contemporary terms. The memorandum
of law upon which this article is based was coordinated with the
other services, Army and DOD General Counsel, and the
Department of State, and it reaffirms the legality of the shotgun
for combat use.
The Requirement for a Legal Review
Various regulations require a legal review for all weapons
which will be procured to meet a military requirement of the
armed forces of the United States.2 The purpose of the legal
review is to ensure that the intended use of each weapon,
weapon system, or munition is consistent with customary inter-
national law and the international law obligations of the United
States, including law of war treaties and arms control agree-
ments to which the United States is a party. Accordingly, the
commander of the United States Marine Corps Systems Com-
mand requested ajoint legal review of the Joint Service Combat
Shotgun program by the Offices of the Judge Advocate Gener-
als of the Army, Navy, and Air Force.
The Program
The Joint Service Combat Shotgun (Combat Shotgun) is a
joint program to select and field a lightweight, semiautomatic,
12-gauge shotgun to replace pump action shotguns currently in
use by each of the military services. The Marine Corps is acting

as the lead service for the program, and the U.S. Army, Navy,
Air Force, and Coast Guard are the participating services. The
Joint Service Small Arms Program office conducts general
oversight of the program and provides research, development,
testing, and evaluation funding to support the procurement
effort. The commander of the Marine Corps Systems Com-
mand has been designated as the Milestone Decision Authority
for the program.
The Combat Shotgun to be procured and fielded will be
required to satisfy the following operational and physical
requirements described in the Joint Operational Requirement
Document and further amplified in the contract Purchase
(1) Capable of semiautomatic operation.
(2) Capable of firing both standard Depart-
ment of Defense (DOD) 2.75-inch, 12-gauge
No. 00 buckshot, No. 7 1/2 shot, No. 9 shot,
and slug ammunition,3 and 3.0-inch 12-
gauge commercial ammunition conforming
to Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufac-
turers' Institute (SAAMI) standards without
adjustment to the operating system. The
Marine Corps Systems Command is unaware
of any DOD acquisition programs to procure
and type classify 3.0-inch, 12-gauge ammu-
nition for use by DOD components.4
(3) Have a maximum effective range of forty
meters (fifty meters desired) with the DOD
standard 2.75-inch No. 00 buckshot ammuni-
tion, and 100 meters (125 meters desired)
with slug ammunition.
(4) Have a length of 41.75 inches or less and
be capable of being reconfigured to, and be
operated at a length of, 36 inches or less.
(5) Weigh no more than 8.5 pounds (six
pounds desired) unloaded.

1. This article is derived from the author's legal review, dated 24 January 1997, of the Joint Service Combat Shotgun Program, which he wrote for The Judge Advo-
cate General, U.S. Army.
2. U.S. DEP'T OF DEFENSE, DIR. 5000.1, DEFENSE ACQUISITION (15 Mar. 1996) [hereinafter DOD DIR. 5000.1 ]; U.S. DEP'T OF ARMY, REG. 27-53, REVIEW OF LEGALITY
TIONAL LAW (29 Jan. 1988); U.S. DEP'T OF AIR FORCE, INSTR. 51-402, WEAPONS REVIEW (13 May 1994).
3. The 12-guage door-breaching cartridge was the subject of a coordinated review that approved that round. Shotgun slug ammunition, an antimateriel munition,
will be the subject of a separate review.
4. Memorandum, Commander, Marine Corps Systems Command, subject: Joint Service Combat Shotgun Program, Request for Legal Review (13 Sept. 1996).


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