Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Basic Training - Gear (cont.)

2005 version. Plus ca change...

Picking up where we left off yesterday, we'll move to your third-line gear, your Sustainment Load. If you flip to the very next page (pg. 75, i.e 3-2) of that manual on  FM 21-18 Foot Marches April 2017 , you'll find another breakdown for what's not a bad idea at all for what to carry in your pack, if you were going on a walkabout.

And note that it comes to another 30 pounds or so.

Depending on whether you plan on wearing SAPI plate armor or the equivalent, you're now at between about 80-100+ pounds of gear, on your back, whenever the mission set is no more complicated than "Go from Point A to Point B".

Getting the point of why everyone from your h.s. phys ed. teacher to your old drill sergeant/instructor to every last single serious blog on preparedness on the web keeps chanting "PT! PT! PT! ?"
We yell, because we care.

Ten, and nearly fifteen (Wow! That long?) years ago, I was routinely toting mil-spec Level One and Two gear loadouts, and an 80-100# ruck on the border. Much more than I ever had to carry in the .mil. (Artillery: "If you can't truck it, f**k it"). I am no JSOC/Ranger animal. And we were only humping it 3-6 miles in and back out, not doing 20-mile daily yomps. But to get the gear to defend ourselves, get photo and video evidence of what was going on, not die of heat stroke or freeze in temps annually that ranged from 120° to 5°, at 4-6K' of altitude, and move into position on the military crest of local highpoints, with enough water and batteries and food and batteries and commo and batteries to be able to sit in place from a Friday night to a pre-dawn Monday or same thing from Tuesday to Thursday, with only everything we absolutely needed, record what was going on, call in groups to civil authorities, and apprehend such groups when they trespassed, and bring our hides safely back to wherever home was, took that much crap, times 3-6 guys, all the time. What we saved on cold weather gear in the summer was made up by needing 3X the water supply, so the loads were virtually the same weight year around. We were not LRRPs, we were SRRPs: Short-Range Reconnaissance Patrollers. Because if we'd had to cover 20 miles/day with that much stuff, it'd probably have killed us. 

If you expect to be able to go out for a couple of days, and see what's going on in your area, which thing you WILL need to do unless you think getting in a furball on your front doorstep is a good thing, because you didn't know what was going on anywhere from 4-20 klicks (kilometers) away from you, that's probably a pretty good taste of what you're going to have to be prepared to do, on a regular basis.

If you're lucky, you may be able to use vehicles or other pack conveyances part or all the way to where you need to get, but that just adds convoy ops or pack animal skills to your necessary skillset.
Oh, and BTW, vehicles break down, usually the farthest point away from anything or anywhere you'd like to be. BTDT, got the T-shirt.

So, looking at the Big Green list, it summarizes the Sustainment Load as

1) Food for 1-3 days, depending on how hungry you are, and/or how well your resupply plan works.

2) A day's water, per man, i.e. 1 gallon@.

3) Wet/colder weather gear, and bare minimum sleeping arrangements (poncho+poncho liner "woobie").

4) A minimal amount of spare clothes.

5) Tools. In this case, just a 1# weapons cleaning kit for the exact same AR-series rifle you should probably have (or one for whatever you are carrying), and a military entrenching tool, i.e. small folding shovel, with case.

Note the list doesn't include a few nifty things.
Individual and/or group radios.
Batteries for same.
GPS (though a compass is included for every Swinging Richard, as it should be).
Anything to heat meals/boil water. Or even make a fire.
Any sort of group medical kit.
Any sort of litter for transporting the sick/injured.
"Pioneer" gear: hatchet, machete, hand saw, etc., of which any notional group should have at least 1@ of.
Rope (climbing or otherwise) or wire.
Maps, signal operating instructions, etc.
Signaling devices, pyrotechnics (panels, flares, smoke, etc.)
Or anything else.

Those are team- and mission-essential gear, and somebody's carrying some of all of that.

And we're civilians, so I've helpfully left out any discussion of things you won't have, like grenades (yeah, there's two frags in the basic soldier loadout, but that just equals another quart of water or another full mag pouch instead, so whatever), explosives, crew-served weapons, ad infinitum. Be happy for small mercies.

So now we're at or over 100#/person, even for any little stretch of the legs where you don't anticipate curling up warm and snug in your actual bed that night, which de facto means additional food and water for the day coming back. The only good news is that you'll drink and eat 8-10#/day of water and food, but some percentage of the time, you may be packing your poop back out for OPSEC reasons. And any additional day means you need to carry or find another 8-10 pounds of water and food per man to make it through, so that's really a wash except on an out and back two-day trip.

Welcome to "light" infantry.

Now you might also understand why Big Green is really rather fond of things like Bradleys and Strykers, rather than just boots. It means they only have to gear up in the 70# "fighting" load, and everything else stays on the vehicle.

It's also why if you shoot one of our guys in the leg, you've taken out one guy, but if you cripple or mobility-kill their AFV/IFV, you've pinned down an entire squad.

"But Aesop, we're not worried about head-to-head conflict with Mutant Biker Zombies in the Zombpocalypse, we're just worried about after a tornado, flood, or hurricane."

Okay, so you're still potentially going to deal with looters, so you're rocking a pistol, maybe a shotgun, and you'll still have the AR if you're any kind of smart, but even if we drop all that but the CCW pistol, you still need your food and water, tomorrow's food and water, chainsaws, axes, and such to get people out from under collapsed houses, or chop through a roof to get them out of the attic of a flooded house, and oh BTW, another metric buttload of medical and/or bare basic relief supplies, like litters/stretchers, blankets, water and food, and maybe tarps and tents. And comms. And go-to-hell waterproof bombproof maps and nav. Even the Cajun Navy, God bless 'em,  needs gas for the boats, batteries for the cell phones and radios, generators to charge them up, plus mountains of food, water, and bandaids.

(This is why generally, both your neighbors and TPTB prefer prepared folks: you're one less cluster of helpless refugees that have to be saved, sheltered, fed and watered, times forever.)

"Intelligence drives the fight."

Once you figure out what you're preparing to do, based on what you probably will face, you can plan for what you'll need for you, your group, and your mission.

Then look at what that looks like for one day.
Multiply that times the number of people in your group.
Multiply that times 30 for a month.
And so on, for how long this has typically/will probably/may possibly last.

You may be getting an inkling that "Sustainment" is part of the Great Chain Of Being for any purpose-driven, task-oriented group, military or otherwise, and therefore start looking at this as much more of an S-1/S-2/S-3/S-4/S-5/S-Whatever problem than a "what do I put in my pack for today" problem.

That would be wise.

You thought you were just working on being a good little foot soldier in a neighborhood defense group, and now you find out you're going to have to run a battalion. True fact: the persons in every military unit with both the best and worst grasp of what's going on are the lowest private, and the battalion commander. Now you know why.

Almost like I, let alone the entire military, had thought about this stuff before burping it all out on you. Trust me, they're not all about $600 hammers, sailors that can't steer a ship, and airplanes that don't fly.

A 5-year-old worries about what's in his lunchbox today.
Mom and dad worry about how to keep filling it up for 18 or so years.

Fieldcraft is therefore basically about "adulting".


Ed Gage said...


I'm having trouble accessing your link to "FM 21-18 Foot Marches April 2017".

A quick StartPage search bought up

1) essentially the same link, with the same 'server not found' outcome.

2) the 1990 version (at http://www.enlistment.us/field-manuals/fm-21-18-procedures-and-techniques-of-foot-marches.shtml)

Just fyi.

Thanks again for this series, a good reality check.

Aesop said...

The link works fine. It's an official US Army website.
Being the Army, they don't update their security certificates, because dicks.
Continue to the link, and it loads the pdf.

Anonymous said...

Had the thought about the 8-20 click stroll around the grounds a few weeks ago and so with "light marching order"; sidearm, binos, carbine, mags and small camelback pack ran (walked actually) a course of fire I intend to introduce to the tribe. I'll qualify first to say I'm old, carry more weight than I should still (but NOT as much as I was carrying) and have a couple of old owies. It was a good lesson for me and has and will inform some gear choices and carriage options. The thing I did NOT (but will) do was to weigh the load. I found that I can move and shoot and had no trouble doing either with a LIGHT burden - NOT planning on overnight and equipped to do so only on a survival basis. Got a LOT of work yet to do but your series is assisting, informing and (dare I say it) inspiring me.