No and no.
-I've wondered if one joins the military, if they can use their own personal arms rather than using the military's. If one has, say, an HK USP they'd rather carry during battle over the M9, is this an option or is it not allowed due to interchangeability? Or, similarly, if one wants to use their own Bushmaster or RRA over the supplied Colt M4's?
-Also, are you give the option to buy the firearm you used? We'll say the issued M9 for example, is that something the troop can opt to buy from the government when his or her duty is over? Some may not care, but if I saw action with a given firearm, I would want to keep it and give it to my grandkids as an heirloom.
What if you wanted to carry a personally owned M9 instead of the issued M9? Not really sure why'd you want to, but it's a curiousity.
Also, what about personally owned accessories/optics? I remember you saying some of the guys in your battalion had personally owned EoTechs they had on their M4s.
No personally-owned firearms are permitted in theater. This includes civilian copies of military weapons. Some secret squirrel units may have received exemptions from CENTCOM, but I never saw any.
Lots of guys bring privately-owned optics, weaponlights, lasers, etc. This is generally not a problem, as long as the soldier isn't making major modifications to a weapons system.
Is it a problem for guys to order stuff for their weapons while they're deployed?
Mike, I read somewhere that a lot of guys were buying their own body armor because they didn't feel the issued stuff was adequate; but the Army is now saying that if they get injured wearing their own stuff they may not be entitled to benefits. Do you know if there's any truth to that?
Most likely not while on duty. You are issued weapons as needed by the supply sergeant or armorer.
Now, that does not mean you cannot OWN your own guns while in the military, and those weapons CAN be carried by off-duty officers stateside (especially now that concealed carry by military, police and retired servicemen/officers is allowed at the federal level). But, like Mike said, no personally-owned weapons in-theater. Mother Green provides everything her killing machine needs to do the job.
Our supply room had boxes full of Second Chance Hardcorps armor just gathering dust. We only issued it to Afghan interpreters.
I suspect that the Army made the threats about the use of privately-owned armor to scare guys into wearing their issued armor. I doubt benefits would actually be denied, though they could be. But since suicides are often covered up as negligent discharges or combat deaths so that families still receive benefits, I am pretty sure "someone" would make sure that the Big Army's beancounters didn't know about a KIA wearing privately-owned armor.