Coalition forces fire a Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle during a training exercise in Afghanistan's Helmand province in 2013. Spc. Justin Young/U.S. Department of Defense/DVIDS
NPR: Do U.S. Troops Risk Brain Injury When They Fire Heavy Weapons?
The U.S. military is trying to figure out whether certain heavy weapons are putting U.S. troops in danger.
The concern centers on the possibility of brain injuries from shoulder-fired weapons like the Carl Gustaf, a recoilless rifle that resembles a bazooka and is powerful enough to blow up a tank.
A single round for the Carl Gustaf can weigh nearly 10 pounds. The shell leaves the gun's barrel at more than 500 miles per hour. And as the weapon fires, it directs an explosive burst of hot gases out of the back of the barrel.
For safety reasons, troops are trained to take positions to the side of weapons like this. Even so, they get hit by powerful blast waves coming from both the muzzle and breech.
"It feels like you get punched in your whole body," is the way one Army gunner described the experience in a military video made in Afghanistan. "The blast bounces off the ground and it overwhelms you."
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WNU Editor: My gut tells me that the answer will be yes.