"The gods of the valley are not the gods of the hills, and you shall understand it"...Ethan Allen
"We in this room are all men who believe that actions speak louder then words. If I can impart anything from my life as a soldier it is this: There are only two types of warrior in this world. Those that serve tyrants and those that serve free men. I have chosen to serve free men, and if we as warriors serve free men, we must love freedom more than we love our own lives. It is a simple philosophy but one that has served me well in life."
--SFC Stefan Mazak, KIA 18 April 1968, Long Khanh Province, RSV
Two load out lists...
from NousDefions-We Defy!
Some Notes on Current Load-Outs and Gear
(This is not an article I want to write regularly. I personally believe it places far too much emphasis on the cool-guy CDI gear, rather than on the individual and team tactical expertise we all need to be developing. Nevertheless, since I've been asked about it in classes/clinics, and via email, I wrote it.
I'm currently working on an article, per request, on caches and establishing a cache network for logistics support. Following that, I will write one on the development on Escape-and-Evasion networks, also per request, as well as one on the OODA loop developed by Boyd.
I received a request to write an article on developing intelligence networks, but I've got to tell you, I really don't feel qualified to do so. If any readers are former intel guys or cops and feel up to it, I'd be happy to edit and publish it, attributing it however they would like. Otherwise, when I get an opportunity, I will do my best to cover the subject, at least in how I've personally gone about developing my networks. --J.M.)
My personal survival and fighting load-outs have changed recently (within the last couple of months). One rather expensive aspect of what I do, as a "journalist" and a trainer, is to constantly test new concepts in gear. A lot of stuff i can look at and instantly see that the practical drawbacks outweigh any purported theoretical benefits (butt packs on the LBE being a classic one. They're a great idea...unless you have to hump a real ruck too!). On the other hand, some stuff that's coming out, as I look at it more and more, or hear first-hand reports from friends who are still wreaking hatred and discontent in foreign lands, I have to step back and take another look at.
Additionally, as I get older, and as I consider the options and obligations of the Resistance more, my thoughts and theories change and alter. These two issues combined mean that my load-outs and my load-bearing gear change pretty regularly. Granted, a lot of stuff gets tried out for a couple of weeks or a month, then ends up on a gun show table or traded off (or even just ends up tossed in the "I might need to outfit somebody else someday" boxes. Yes, boxes!)
I've been wearing the same basic load-out, with minor variations, for a couple of months now and have pretty much fallen in love with it. I'm actually at the point of considering setting up a second set, simply for R&D purposes, so I can keep this one the way it is, as my "go-to-war" kit, unless something jumps out at me during research trials and makes me scream "Oh my God! This piece of kit is better than sex! I've got to adopt this!" The following notes include and itemized description of what I use, as well as the reasoning behind it. As some who have been in recent classes with me can attest (not that I expect them to sacrifice their anonymity to do so), these reasons are all demonstrated and proven in classes/clinics regularly.
Basic Level One Survival Gear
Glock 19 9mm, carried Appendix-Inside-the Waistband (A-IWB), with a dedicated Streamlight TLR-1 mounted. Yes, I conceal carry a weapon-mounted light. It's not that hard and it's not that uncomfortable (not that it's comfortable either, but it's tolerable anyway). I've beaten this equine carcass repeatedly, but I've never shot anyone with 9mm or 5.56mm and failed to have the rounds do their jobs, as long as I did my job. End of argument/debate/discussion/lecture/proselytizing. If you want to carry a tricked out, custom 1911A1, because it's what LTC Cooper carried, and you believe you should never carry a pistol whose cartridge doesn't start with point-four, then knock yourself out. I don't give two shits.
A Streamlight TL2 tactical light, clipped in my left front pocket (although I am having serious issues with the fact that the light keeps getting turned on in my pocket. 120 lumen, confined within a trouser pocket, gets hot in a hurry!). I'm not going to use a weapon-mounted light (WML) on my sidearm to conduct a house search. Remember, although she's not ambulatory, I DO have a child in the house. I'd feel like a dick if I inadvertently pointed a weapon at her because I was looking for the source of a strange bump in the night.
A Benchmade folding knife clipped in the right front pocket. I've owned a plethora of folding knives, from every major production company: Gerber, Kershaw, Cold Steel, CRKT, etc. While all of them have performed more than adequately, I will never own a folder by any company other than Benchmade again. On the one hand, the Benchmade knives I've owned always seem slightly more finished, and more importantly, their customer service and warranty simply cannot be beat. I own a Benchmade that I've had for almost twenty years now. I carried it in a lot of ugly places, full of ugly people, doing ugly things, After about ten years, the clip fell off (never mind all the other cosmetic wear it had suffered). I tossed it in a gear box and forgot about it. A couple of years ago, while living in Oregon, I found it. I brought it into the factory store in Tualatin one day, to try and purchase a new set of clip-mounting screws. The customer service rep asked me if I could leave it with them overnight, and they could simply install the new screws. The next day, when I returned to pick up the knife, the only original part left was the blade. They had replaced the scales, liners, screws, clip; everything except the blade itself, and that had a factory edge put back on it! That's the kind of service that will guarantee my return business, as long as they still function as a corporate entity.
A Bic lighter, wrapped in Ranger bands. For the un-initiated, Ranger bands are simply rubber bands cut out of bicycle tire inner tube. An average-sized one will burn, hot, for a minute or two, more than long enough to ignite kindling if you know what you are doing. I also carry a flint-and-steel kit, in my ruck, as well as a modern flint-rod striker on my key chain, but for ease and convenience, the Bic and Ranger band combination is handy, light, and small enough to shove into my pocket and forget about.
A spare Glock 17 magazine, for the G19. The chances of needing a reload in day-to-day are slim. The G19 after all, has 16 rounds on tap, and it is a Glock. Nevertheless, if I'm going to carry a spare, the extra two rounds sure can't hurt. I vary between carrying it on my belt in a kydex pouch, and simply shoving it in my left rear pocket, next to my can of Copenhagen. Doctrinally speaking of course, it should always be in the exact same spot, but convenience sometimes wins out.
Every pair of lace-up boots that I won has had the laces replaced with 550 cord, ensuring that I ALWAYS have cordage with me, for shelter construction, equipment repair, snare manufacture, etc.
Finally, a new addition to my every-day carry (EDC) survival load, acquired this weekend, through trade, is a brand-spanking new Smith and Wesson Bodyguard .380 pocket pistol as a back-up gun (BUG). I've wanted a little pocket gun for a long time now, and never seem to find one for sale private party. A friend had one and was willing to trade it to me, so I've not got it riding in my trouser pocket, in a little ballistic nylon holster, until I can fabricate a kydex rig for it.
The Fighting Load-Out
For most people in the resistance, whether urban guerrilla, subversive underground operative, or auxiliary member, the kind of fighting load-out I carry will not be particularly useful. It was developed and is idealized for operations conducted from rural alpine bases in my specific operational environment. Nevertheless, it does have value as a conceptual framework from which any paramilitary can adapt and develop a suitable load-out.
I've finally bitten the bullet (or been bitten by the bug), and converted to the war-belt/battle-belt concept. The only issue I have with it is, why the fuck didn't I see the brilliance of this long before now? Some of the gear on my fighting load-out replicates or replaces my survival load-out (like carrying my G19 in a drop-leg holster on my war-belt, instead of A-IWB), but for the most part, it's a completely separate echelon that builds on the basic survival load, rather than replacing it.
I started out with an ATS Gear MOLLE war-belt in coyote brown (for whatever reason, mostly because I live in the desert, all of my LBE in coyote brown). I tried ruck it buckle-in-the-back, like the old RACK (Ranger Assault Carrying Kit) set-up, but it really just didn't work for me, so I went back to buckling it in the front and have had no issues with it.
On the right side of the buckle, I've got a Tactical Tailor grenade pouch that holds a USGI tritium-illuminated compass, a signal mirror, another Bic lighter with Ranger bands, and camouflage face-paint (a brief aside: if you're decked out in head-to-toe camouflage, but don't have camouflage for your face...well, you know what I'm going to say...it starts with a "G" and rhymes with day). I like the GI compass, because so much of my movement is at night. I know a lot of guys, even some high-speed JSOC ninjas, who prefer a sport orienteering compass, and that's cool. I just like the GI model and always have.
Next to the grenade pouch is a CAT-T tourniquet, attached to the PALS webbing of the belt itself. I've looked at a lot of the different tourniquet options available, and like most of what I see. The only reason I stay with the CAT-T is because I have a buddy that gets them for me for free (he's not a GI anymore, and they're not stolen U.S.G. property). Otherwise, I'd probably go with the TK-4, since the last time I checked, Chinook Medical had them for around $5.00 each, versus $25.00+ for the CAT-T (at a gun show last weekend, I saw CAT-Ts going for $40/each. That's fucking ridiculous!)
I was using an Eagle Industries external medical pouch from my medic ruck for my IFAK/BOK, but it was too big and got in the way whenever I dove to the ground. I switched it out for a single-stack rifle magazine pouch instead. It holds a large Israeli Battle Dressing, a Nasopharyngeal Airway device, a chest punch needle and chest seal (needle thoracostomy, for reduction of pneumothorax issues), and a pair of nitrile gloves. It wouldn't hurt my feelings to add a package of compressed gauze, but I'm not overly concerned about lacking it either. This set-up provides me with enough gear to provide basic self-aid for most battlefield injuries that I'm likely to sustain and still be able to treat (to reiterate, since the question came up in a class/clinic recently, your IFAK/BOK is there to treat YOU. It's NOT for your buddy. If he doesn't have one, make him build one, build one for him, or improvise when the time comes to patch holes in him. DO NOT USE YOUR PERSONAL IFAK/BOK to treat ANYONE else. In addition to her personal IFAK/BOK, HH6 even had me mount on on the morale officer's diaper bag!)
The final item on the right side of my belt is my holster. I'm currently running a Blackhawk Industries Omega VI drop-leg holster. I like it, although I'm not in love with it. I'm still considering switching to the SafariLand, as soon as I can cook the books enough to hide the cost from HH6, since the Omega VI was a birthday gift from her a while ago. One of my spare pistol magazines is stowed on the holster, in an integral magazine pouch.
On the left side of the buckle, I've got a HSGI Taco magazine pouch in the "kangaroo" , configuration. I really, REALLY, REALLY like this piece of kit! I wish I was smart enough to develop a piece of gear this fucking cool, and while I haven't yet, I will probably be switching all the magazine pouches on both my war-belt and HH6's war-belt to the Tacos.
Immediately behind the HSGI pouch is a Gen 1 FastMag magazine pouch. I really, really like this piece of kit too, although not as much as I like the Taco pouches. I came across it in the possession of a buddy who was selling a couple of them and bought both. It is an extremely secure pouch, but SMOKING fast to reload from as well. I'd certainly recommend them, if you can find them, since they've been discontinued. I can't speak for the Gen 2 upgrades, but if they are an actual upgrade from the Gen 1, they must be the cat's meow.
I run two magazines on my war-belt solely for speed reloads. Any "tactical reloads" come off my chest carrier or plate carrier. Despite the nay-saying of some supposed "guerrilla gurus" and "Tactical Timmy's, there are at least three times in a fight when a speed reload is absolutely critical, and not simply a "gamer's gimmick." One is the first mag-change in a fight (I'm talking light infantry fights here, not home defense, just to clarify). Once you've gained fire superiority with your first burst of fire, you need to maintain it, even if not at the same rate-of-fire. Keep your gun in the fight until the rest of your element is keeping up as well. After that, you can worry about magazine retention. The second is when you are providing suppressive support-by-fire for your Ranger buddy, If your weapon goes down while he is exposed, for ANY reason, you need to get it back into the fight before he is killed, and fuck a lost magazine! Finally, any time you need to reload whole you are moving in the open (if you're in the open, not shooting, and not moving, you should be focused more on basic tactical skills than on speed-reloads), whether due to running it dry (whoops! You fucked up! It happens--get over it!), or a malfunction, you need to get your gun back into the fight, not worry about losing a god-damned magazine. If you win the fight, you can go look for the lost magazine, or take replacements from the dead bad guys. If you lose the fight, you're going to have bigger concerns than a lost magazine. Things like, "I wonder what St. Pete made for supper tonight?" and "I DID go to confession last weekend, right?" (for the record, I am neither Catholic, nor anti-Papist. The joke just worked well.)
I am currently in the process of transitioning from aluminum GI magazines for the M4s to Magpul PMags. It's been a struggle to convince myself. While I've heard very few negative reports from the field about PMags, and lots of positive reports, I still remember the old days of testing polymer mags and them being total pieces of shit. Now that I've got several months of running the PMags, in both winter and spring conditions here in the mountains, I'm starting to trust them thoroughly. While I've still got no issues whatsoever with GI mags, the PMags have won me over finally. All my GI mags will end up stored away or placed in caches in the area, as well as any stockpiled PMags, after I've replaced all my basic load magazines. Take it for what it's worth.
In addition to the war-belt, I'm still carrying an additional eight magazines of ammunition. As I told an acquaintance at a tactical shoot/training day recently, if I could carry 1000 rounds into a fight, I would. Realistically though, I'm restricted to the 11 I run now (one in the gun, two on the belt, and eight on my chest), although I've contemplated adding three more magazines on my chest. I currently transition between a Blackhawk Industries Rhodesian-style chest carrier and an Eagle plate carrier with Level III+ plates, depending on the METT-TC considerations of the training I am conducting/participating in. I don't carry anything else on my chest however.
I've considered changing out the chest carrier for something with a quicker method of removal if I need to. I'm leaning strongly towards the Tactical Tailor MAV or Mini-MAV, based on stellar reports from friends and former associates. I've also been eye-balling a simple Eagle set-up that a friend is currently running. Basically, all it needs to have is real estate for four double-stack rifle magazine pouches.
As I've mentioned previously on this blog, I've pretty much moved completely away from using the plate carrier as a load-bearing platform for most guerrilla functions, at least conceptually (affording to do in actuality is a whole other issue). I am convinced of the greater utility for the resistance fighter, of a separate systems that is a concealable, low-profile, plate carrier with stand-alone Level III+ ceramic plates, under a hoodie sweatshirt or jacket, with the chest carrier thrown over the top when needed. I've not decided on a plate carrier for this application yet though.
I've got four or five basic, USGI 100 oz Camelback bladders around the house that I've cached away at different times. I keep one in the normal carrier (for use when I'm running the chest carrier), one in my plate carrier, and one in my ruck. While I've heard rumors of Camelbacks exploding and sending water down some forlorn GIs back, I've never experienced or witnessed it (although, I have seen lesser brands suffer from this). I've been carrying a Camelback since the mid-1990s, even before they were officially authorized for use in the Ranger Regiment. I've jumped them during airborne operations, fast-roped out of helicopters with them, and thrown them out of the backs of trucks and Humvees. I've NEVER seen one burst (the sad reality is, the only drawback I've ever suffered with Camelbacks is my propensity to fill the bladder with Kool-Aid or Gatorade, and forget about it so long the shit goes bad, and I play hell getting them clean on the inside of the tube).
One frighteningly critical, but too often overlooked aspect of the fighting load-out is personal protective equipment (PPE), which goes beyond just ballistic protection. This includes eye protection.
I pimp the Wiley X or Oakley sunglasses pretty much every waking minute of daylight that I'm not indoors (and I've pretty much gone to Wiley X only within the last year). It doesn't matter if it's sunny, overcast and raining, snowing, or anything else. The only time I don't wear them is in the dark, and even then I've got them on my head, with the clear lenses close by. I'm only getting one set of eyes in this life, and I've come close to losing one or both of them on several occasions. I will not risk them because I'm too cheap to buy, or too lazy to wear, quality eye protection.
Additionally, I am a dyed-in-the-wool fan of electronic hearing protection, such as Peltors. As a young Ranger, I categorically refused to wear hearing protection, except when I was specifically instructed to do so, because "I won't have earplugs in during combat, so I need to get accustomed to the noise now!" (Yeah, can you spell dumb ass? In this case, it's spelled "Ranger Mosby!") As a result, when I ETS'd in 2003, my exit physical determined that I had 40% hearing in my right hear and 65% in my left. Today, I still occasionally pull a stupid and have my Peltors up on top of my head as I instruct someone in something, as another person is running a drill nearby. Nevertheless, I am religious about having hearing protection on anytime unsuppressed gunfire occurs in my immediate vicinity.
I am also adamant that people should move to electronic hearing protection, if just for better communications. In a class last year, I had a shooter running a protection drill who ended up pushing the principal down behind cover, and then looked up to locate the bad guys. He was pointing his muzzle at the principal's lower back the entire time...with his finger on the trigger. Since he had non-electronic hearing protection on his head, he couldn't hear me yelling at him to wake the fuck up...until I hit him with a flying body tackle at a dead run and buried his face in the gravel of the range, and jerked the muffs off long enough to tell him to get the fuck off my range.
One aspect of my PPE that some of the older attendees at recent classes have commented on is my practice of wearing high-quality knee pads when I am going to do anything even remotely physically demanding in training (for me, this means even square range work, since it will invariably end up including something like the "D Drill" or some "run-and-gun" work, where I invariably end up diving onto my knees). I have knees as bad as anyone's, and far more damaged than most people's. I've torn both ACLs, as well as the meniscus, patellar tendon, and MCL in my right knee, and fractured the patella in my left. I cannot afford further injury in either knee if it can be avoided, if I intend to remain physically active and pull my own weight in the coming struggles. If you have knee problems (or even if you don't and want to avoid them), invest in high-quality knee pads and wear them when you train!
Finally, wear gloves anytime you will be utilizing large volumes of rapid-fire rifle fire, as part of your fighting load-out. From inadvertently grabbing a smoking hot rifle barrel (been there, done that) on accident, to diving into a pile of rocks for cover (or landing on a cactus!), there are countless ways in a gunfight to tear your hands up, bad enough to make you combat-ineffective. Even expensive gloves are a cheap insurance policy, with the added bonus that you don't have to worry about adding camouflage face-paint to your hands. While there are myriad high-end tactical cool-guy gloves out there with high-impact polymer knuckles and kevlar reinforced palms, among other features, I still wear the old-school cool-guy Nomex aviator's gloves, regardless of the weather (if it's really cold, I wear them as liners under heavy winter gloves. I can jerk the outer glove off if I need to). One of my associates still stands by his choice of the well-made mechanic-style gloves that you can pick up at the auto parts store for around $15-20 per pair.
The Rucksack Sustainment Load
The concept of small, lightweight "assault" packs, in the form of one-day or three-day packs, are not new to light-infantry forces. From the haversacks of pre-industrial armies that lived largely off of pack trains, to the ALICE LCE buttpack (as previously mentioned, as dismal failure of a concept, if you ever have to hump a real ruck as well), the concept has a great deal of historical precedent. Unfortunately, for the future resistance guerrilla light-infantryman, outside of urban enclave-based elements, it's a largely over-rated concept for carriage of the sustainment load.
The contemporary re-birth of the assault pack in the enduring fight with the Caliphate is due, almost totally a result of the vehicle-based operations, even for "light" infantry (as I've mentioned repeatedly, calling a fighting force that travels to within two kilometers of the objective in motorized vehicles and then walks the last little bit "light infantry" is ridiculous). When you expect to perform a mission after a one-mile jaunt, then return just as quickly to the trucks, only to be returned to the FOB in time for a meal and bedtime, there's little reason to carry more than a simple day-pack. When a guerrilla fighter has to literally live out of his ruck, with his entire sustenance and shelter only what he can carry for the duration of an operation, an assault pack will only suffice if your missions will be raids on the next door neighbors.
For the future resistance guerrilla fighter, operating in a jungle/swamp environment, alpine environment, or other non-urban area, a return to the traditional rucksack will be called for, regardless of how well supplied your element is via well-planned and placed caches, and logistics networks. The simple amount of equipment necessary for successful long-term operations in these non-urban environments is great enough to require a full-size rucksack, despite the best efforts of tactical experts throughout the military to reduce the basic payload of gear to the smallest amount possible. Even with a basic payload nearing the minimal 20-25 pounds, the requirement to add extra ammunition, bolt cutters and entry tools, extra food, and other mission-essential equipment, mandates a load-bearing system larger than the typical assault ruck.
The sad reality is, the assault pack concept only works for modern conventional infantry forces because a) they are getting resupplied on an average of every 48-72 hours, and b) the trucks are generally less than two hours of walking away if they do run out of something. While we SHOULD have re-supply caches and well-developed logistics networks in place throughout our projected area of operations, the reality is that any number of things, from observers in the area to being on the run for escape-and-evade requirements, could preclude our ability to access either of these resources (I keep my "go-to-war" ruck equipped with enough to sustain me, in the field, for two weeks or more at a time).
I've gone through a wide range of rucksack options over nearly two decades. I started with the ALICE large ruck and frame, as a young Ranger, moved on to a civilian mountaineering rucksack courtesy of Dana Designs, as a SF NCO, then tried a couple of different high-end military rucksack systems from the commercial market before reverting to the "big green tick" of my youth. The ALICE pack is not ideal for anyone, and is simply unbearable for most. I accept that reality, and seldom, if ever, recommend it, unless someone is on a budget (and often not even then. Kelty makes some extremely durable, large-capacity internal frame packs that are not much more expensive than a surplus ALICE ruck, while being far more comfortable for most people to carry). Nevertheless, my body long ago developed the necessary contortions to carry an extremely heavy ALICE ruck and still remain tolerably comfortable doing so (at least as "comfortable" as a "gut-check" can ever be). It works for ME.
(I should point out that I DO own an assault pack/3-day pack that I generally carry when I'm teaching classes/clinics, simply for convenience. The class load-out is similar to my "go-to-war" ruck, except for the exclusion of specialized "mission-essential" gear that I simply don't need when teaching a class. This pack also serves as my 24/7, everywhere I go, "go-bag/get-home bag/bug-out bag." Unfortunately, since I traded it from a buddy who didn't remember where he got it, and it doesn't have the manufacturer's labels anymore, I can't tell you what brand it is, or where to get one from...)
One issue I've always had, is my well-developed ability to move quickly, cross-country, with inordinate amounts of weight on my back (I once jumped into a three-week training mission with a ten-pound, cast-iron dutch oven in my ruck, just for the ability to cook peach cobbler for my ODA...), without complaint. This was beneficial when I was a young Ranger, packing a M249 SAW, and a basic load and a half of ammunition for it, as well as when I was a junior SF weapons sergeant, and had a senior Bravo who insisted I needed to pack a mortar, base-plate, and a half-dozen rounds for it, as well as my personal gear. It has been a drawback in recent years however, as I still tend to over pack my ruck, burdening myself with gear that is "nice-to-have" but not "need-to-have." Even here in the Northern Rockies, in the depths of winter, if I am packing a rucksack, fighting load, and a weapon, I do not need four fleece jackets, and three pairs of long underwear in my ruck. This re-awakening of the fundamentals has led to drastic reductions in my basic payload weight, as I deliberately and mercilessly cull my gear on a regular basis. I'm currently down to two sets of base layer long underwear (one silk weight, the other medium weight polypropylene), a single medium weight fleece jacket (in the winter, this is augmented by an old-style quilted M65 field jacket liner), and an ultra-light wind- and water-proof outer shell for cold-weather "snivel" gear, supplemented by a fleece cap, polypropylene neck gaiter, balaclava, and a shemagh, as well as heavier, winter-weight gloves. If I'm moving through the timber, across the desert, the heater on my back (the rucksack) keeps me creating body heat. If I stop, I'm generally going into a hide-site, which means I'm either moving into my sleep system/shelter (see below), have the ability to use a small warming fire to create heat, or need to stay cool (but not hypothermic) enough to stay awake for a surveillance mission, or other essential tasks.
One area I suffered through as a young Ranger that I now refuse to scrimp on is my sleeping comfort. I recognize the importance of being able to function for lengthy periods of time without adequate sleep, have done so, and can still do so. Nevertheless, when the opportunity arises to sleep, especially under tactical conditions, it is imperative to get the highest quality sleep/rest you are capable of, under the circumstances. In the summer months, this means I use the standard "Ranger Taco" bivy system. It is a quilted poncho liner and a poncho, folded and snapped together into an sort of "pseudo" sleeping bag, with a heavy-duty casualty/space blanket in the inside. This will keep the average person comfortably warm in temperatures well down into the single digits, if he/she possesses even a moderately normal metabolism. In a snow cave or snow trench, this system has kept me on the edge of sweating, even when the outside temperature was in the negative double-digits. Outside of the summer months however, these days, I generally pack a sleeping bag system in my rucksack. Again, minimalism is my goal, so rather than a complete GI sleep system, I pack the Gore-Tex bivy sack, and the black, intermediate-weight bag. If the temperatures in my area are going to reach -30F or colder, it means there is at least a couple of feet of snow already on the ground. It doesn't take that much effort or time to build an expedient shelter that, combined with this sleeping bag system, will keep me cozily warm, even in these extreme cold conditions.
In lieu of a tent, which is just an absurd liability in a light-infantry tactical environment, and recognizing the drawbacks of the bivy sack as the sole shelter for extended stays in the outdoors, I still keep a "Ranger Hooch" system in my ruck. While the basic "Ranger Hooch" involves simply stringing up your poncho to provide a roof to keep precipitation off your head, I once had a squad leader who had developed the concept into a highly refined architectural marvel. His system, which I blatantly and unabashedly stole, allowed for the hooch to be pitched anywhere, under any conditions, and protect the individual from the vagaries of almost any imaginable ill weather conditions, from snow and rain, to high winds, and any combination of the above. The "Ranger Hooch" that SSG P used (I've always assumed he got the idea from somewhere else, rather than developing it, whole cloth, himself) I chose to modify, as I gained more experience. Mine includes a basic USGI rip-stop nylon poncho (I still use the old woodland BDU pattern type, because let's face it, ACU sucks for a camouflage pattern), with a loop of approximately eight inches of 550 cord tied to every eyelet around the perimeter, and a 12-inch loop tied off to the inside where the waist-band strings were originally. In addition, the hood is cinched as tightly closed as possible, tied off with 550 cord, and has a six foot long length of 550 cord extending from the noose. This allows for a great deal of tie-off real estate for constructing shelters in the field. I include 8-10 stainless steel tent pins (tent pegs are too space-consuming, as well as harder to drive into the ground in most terrain), 6-12 one-foot long bungee cords, and three sections of the old USGI shelter half poles, allowing me a great deal of flexibility in creating elevated corners and sides of the shelter. Combined with the Ranger Taco, or a sleeping bag with Gore-Tex bivy, this provides me a wide range of shelter options for "protection" from the elements when in a lay-up position or hide site.
I have, in the past, carried a small multi-fuel individual camp stove in the field. When I was serving in SF, I swapped back and forth between the Whisperlight 600 Internationale and the Dragonfly, both from Mountain Safety Research (MSR), because of their ability to run on pretty much any sort of fuel, including aviation fuel and kerosene (both can be much easier to find in many parts of the world than white gas). I've also gone to the field, cooked field rations in a tactical environment, and not had a stove to use. A properly constructed cook fire for an individual or small-unit element does not need to produce a large visual or even thermal signature. I can build a fire that I can cook a one-quart meal on, warm myself, dry clothes, and it will not be visible, even in the dark, at distances greater than 50 feet (that's handgun range for the range-estimation challenged...if a security forces fighter is that close, I have bigger concerns than whether they can see my fire). While I still retain the option of adding a cooking stove to my load-out, I don't generally bother unless I am camping/training in an area with a high fire hazard (that whole volunteer firefighter thing). For those who find a stove more emotionally comfortable to cook on that a fire, but refuse to pay $75.00 or more for one, look into designs for the various "hobo stoves" that are simply variations on a homemade stove, constructed from an old tin can.
For sustenance, I don't carry MREs as a primary meal option. I do have a half-dozen stripped MRE entrees and sides in my ruck as a lightweight emergency back-up, but would have to be pretty well into starvation to lower myself to eating them. My personal foodstuffs in the field range from whatever junk food I can find on the grocery store shelves as I'm on my way to teach a class (several participants in recent classes have commented that apparently my diet consists entirely of Coca-Cola, Kool-Aid, Copenhagen, and various types of candy, since that's all they ever saw me consuming. Unfortunately, HH6 would concur with that assessment, even if only half in jest), to various vacuum-sealed and dehydrated foods, as well as basic staples such as bannock bread/biscuit mix and rice. I can function effectively for several days, even in highly active tactical environments, with nothing but water, so the trash calories in sugar-laden junk food, while certainly not healthy, are not really cutting me short either.
I've used everything from one-quart, locking-lid MSR stainless steel and/or titanium pots, to large-capacity metal enamelware mugs and old tin cans to cook in. Today, for my "go-to-war" kit, I've limited it to a large stainless steel mug. It cooks up just enough to keep me well-fueled for moving cross-country in alpine terrain, regardless of weather conditions, and it weighs less than half of what a one-quart MSR pot does.
In addition to the 100oz Camelback I wear on my plate carrier, which can be worn under my rucksack, I also keep one tucked inside my assault pack. For my primary ruck, I fall back on the old mid-1990s Ranger Regiment RSOP, and keep a USGI two-quart collapsible canteen strapped to the side of my ruck. Unlike the RSOP though, in lieu of an e-tool on the other side, I have an additional two-quart there as well (the whole "I live in the desert" thing). Basically, despite the weight, I carry a LOT of fluids (it's seldom pure water. Usually it will be Kool-Aid with half the prescribed sugar. I refer to it as combat Gatorade).
Besides these survival essentials, and mission-essential gear that changes, depending on what particular training I am doing, my ruck contains various sundries. Of important note, everything in the main compartment is contained in a USGI rubberized-interior waterproof sack. The items in the three large external pockets are contained in one-gallon Zip-Lock bags. In the left side pocket (facing the back of the ruck), I've got the aforementioned stripped MRE components. In the central pocket are the components of the Ranger hooch, minus the bungees, which are strapped across the frame as additional back support. In the right side pocket are three pairs of wool socks (I wear wool socks year round).
Additional items in the main pocket waterproof sack include a small hand towel and a personal hygiene kit (basically, a hand mirror, razor, toothbrush, foot powder, and Doctor Bronner's Organic soap, which is really rather "hippy-dippy" of me, but I like the soap, and it can fill the role of soap, dentrifice, and shaving lotion, all in one), two rolls of toilet paper, a sewing/repair kit (assorted fabric and glover's needles, dental floss and fishing line, and flat-packed 100 mph tape, plus a small tube of Shoe-Goo), a couple extra fire-starting devices and tinder, a dozen pre-fabricated wire snares, and whatever luxury items I decide to throw in as I'm doing my pre-combat inspections to make sure nothing is missing.
The small upper external pockets hold a variety of waterproofed batteries, including AA, AAA, and CR123s for flashlights, headlamps, and optics, plus a Petzl-brand LED headlamp, assorted spare chemlights, a container of ionization water purification drops (I cannot think of the name off hand, and am too lazy to go dig through my ruck to look. I order them from Peggy Layton's website out of Utah. They are inarguably, the single best water purification method I've come across, bar none), and three or four emergency candles.
Attached to the side of the ruck, above my canteen and e-tool, I have an Eagle pouch on either side. One is a clearly marked IFAK/BOK, with more components than my fighting load IFAK, including two CAT-T tourniquets, three packages of H&H compressed gauze, a chest-punch kit, a nasopharyngeal airway device, a surgical chric kit, two large Israeli Battlefield dressings, and two packages of Quick-Clot combat gauze. The opposite side has the same pouch, not marked, for general purpose miscellany, ranging from a pair of small field binoculars, to whatever other gear I decide to stuff in there on any given day.
That's it. I've pared the basic payload down as far as I feel comfortable paring it. I can run with this load on, still manage a 12-mile movement in two hours (for conditioning purposes, obviously, not tactically), and live out of the pack, as long as necessary, supplementing whatever rations I am carrying, with whatever I can gather, hunt, snare, or procure from caches. With this load, supplemented by whatever supplies HH6 mandates I add for the morale officer (notably, diapers, wipes, extra clothes, blankets, and formula/food), I would feel as confident as possible performing an escape-and-evasion in a grid-down collapse. As a fighting/combat sustainment load, with the addition of mission-essential gear, ranging from the aforementioned entry tools, to specialized optics such as my spotting scope and/or NODs, I feel as well equipped as I need to be for a resistance guerrilla fighter.
Hopefully, this will help someone trying to figure out what is essential and what is not, and get their own payload developed, while avoiding the trial-and-error method of acquisition. For the guys in the class a couple of weeks ago, it should answer their request for a list of what I carry and why, to help them overcome their perceived shortcomings. Never make the mistake however, of substituting cool-guy, CDI (Chicks Dig It) gear for knowledge, ability, and skill-at-arms.
Somewhere in the Mountains
I was asked, in the comments of my recent TC3 article, what I carry in my IFAK/BOK....Because I started out with basic Ranger Regiment "Combat Lifesaver" training before the advent of TC3, and because I no longer count on the logistics train and medical professional support I had as a serving SOF soldier, my views on medical care are not 100% in line with current TC3 guidelines, even though I believe they are near perfect. So, I don't use a standard issue IFAK. My IFAK/BOK is actually two parts (not counting my medic's aid bag, which is FAR more comprehensive...).
On my war belt, I have a double-mag pouch for an M4, with a flap, marked with a red paint pen as my IFAK. It contains nitrile surgical gloves, a 6" Israeli Battlefield Dressing, a 3.25-inch 14-gauge needle catheter (for needle decompression), a #28 nasopharyngeal airway, and a package of H&H compressed gauze. That's it. Next to the pouch, I keep a CAT-T tourniquet laced through the PALs webbing of my belt (I also have one 100-mph taped to the stock of my M4--If I need a tourniquet, I don't ever want to have to dig for it!).
On my ruck, I keep a small utility pouch (6"x6") off an Eagle Industries Medical rucksack, also marked with red paint pen. It contains two 6-inch IBDs, two packages of H&H compressed gauze, two packets of QuickClot Combat Gauze, another pair if nitrile surgical gloves, a vacuum-sealed packet with a "homemade" "combat pill pack" for analgesia and antibiotics, and a SAM splint. On the outside of my ruck, I keep a casualty blanket. Inside the top of my ruck, easily accessible, are two 500mL bags of Ringer's Lactate with "starter kits" (18gauge needle catheters, flowlines, rubber tourniquet, etc).
As far as the question of expiration dates, I suggest common sense...I'm not going to use a combat pill pack that's expired, unless I personally packed it from my own household medications. If Combat Gauze has the package perfectly intact, with no visible punctures of the outer package, I don't sweat it (I'm far more likely to use compressed gauze than QC anyway). Bandages and other dry goods in an IFAK/BOK only have expiration dates because the medical profession demands them. I'd LIKE them to remain sealed and sterile, but as long as they stay dry, I don't sweat it too much (I've got a couple of IBDs in my medic bag that have been opened. I use them for demonstrations and practical exercises in classes, then make sure they stay clean and they get re-wrapped in plastic to keep them useful. The important thing, in my mind, is to remember, sterility is the medical professional's friend, but nothing you are going to expose the casualty to is going to be more contaminated than the bullet that caused the injury...
A quick and simple IFAK/BOK lay-out. I would like to point out however, whether you do it with me, SFMedics, or someone else...do NOT expect to be able to use these tools properly unless you've actually had some training in TC3.
from Lizard Farmer
A Little Weight List
There’s been a lotta talk about load weights lately (pic stolen from CA @ WRSA by the way). Years back there was a soldier loads study done in Afghanistan by the folks at the Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL). For the unaware the CALL guys try and capture tips and info that will benefit the military as a whole. I dug a copy I had out and pulled the weight list they came up with and cleaned a lot of the stuff that you wouldn’t normally carry (anyone out there got a CLU or MWTS?). Anyway I’m putting this up for posterity and maybe you’ll find it useful.
Advanced Combat Helmet 3.25
ALICE Ruck w/frame (empty -Large) 6.00
Aviator Gloves 0.81
Battery, AA 0.81
Battery, AAA 0.94
Battery, D 0.31
Battery, 9V 0.375
Bayonet M9 w/Scabbard 1.62
Belt, Rigger Rescue 0.1875
Bivy Sack (MOLLE) 1.31
Bivy Sack Cover (MOLLE) 2.25
Black Gloves 0.1875
Black Heavy Sleeping Bag 4
Black Silk Underwear Bottoms 0.31
Black Silk Underwear Tops 0.44
Bolt Cutters 18″ Commercial Issue 3.31
Boots, Desert Camouflage-Altama Brand 3
Boots, Desert Camouflage-Belville Brand 3.75
Boots, Combat Black 4.0625
Boots, Winter w/Inserts 4.9375
Boots, Rubber Overboots 2
Butt Pack, MOLLE 0.50
Canteen Cup 0.50
Canteen, Plastic 1 QT w/Water 2.50
Chemical Light (ChemLite) 0.125
Close Combat Optics (Aimpoint) M-68 0.375
ACOG (TA01) 10 oz.
Cold Weather Fleece Bibb Overalls 1.25
Cold Weather Fleece Top 2.31
Cold Weather Gloves 0.25
Cold Weather Glove Liners 0.125
Combat Life Saver Bag 6.75
Compass, Lensatic 0.25
Cover, Field Pack 0.81
Boonie Cap 0.1875
Camouflage Uniform Bottom (BDU) 1.5625
Camouflage Uniform Top (BDU) 1.50
Patrol Cap 0.1875
Drawers, Cotton 0.1875
Elbow Pads 0.0625
Entrenching Tool 2.50
Entrenching Tool Carrier 0.50
Expandable Baton (Large) 1.25
Expandable Baton (Small) 0.75
Field Dressing, Israeli 0.1875
Field Dressing, Standard 0.25
Field Dressing Pouch 0.25
Flashlight, weapon mounted 0.25
Foot Powder 0.1875
Global Positioning System (Civilian) 0.3125
Gloves, Intermediate Cold Weather 0.25
Gloves, Intermediate Cold Weather (Flyers) 0.375
Sun, Sand, and Dust type Wiley-X Goggles 0.1875
Gortex, Cold Weather Bottom 3.4375
Gortex, Cold Weather Top 4.0625
Gortex, Light Weather Bottom (Wet Weather pants)1.25
Gortex, Light Weather Top (Wet weather jacket) 2.5625
Grenade, Smoke 1.1875
Holster, Weapon M9 1.50
Identification Tags 0.3125
Interceptor Body Armor with SAPI plates (2) and no neck guard and no crotch guard 17.50
Intravenous Therapy Kit 1.50
Kevlar Ballistic PASGT Helmet 3.35
Knee Pads 0.9375
Laundry Bag 0.75
Magazine M9 0.25
Magazine M4/M16 w/ 30 Rounds 1.375
Magazine, M4/M16 w/30 Rounds (Canadian Thermold) 1
Meal, Long Range Patrol 1
Meal, Ready To Eat 1.50
Medic Bag 19.50
MOLLE, Ammunition Pouch 5.56MM 0.1875
MOLLE, Assault Pack 3.0625
MOLLE, Bandoleer 0.375
MOLLE, Canteen Pouch 0.375
MOLLE, Grenade Pouch 0.0625
MOLLE, Rucksack 8.25
MOLLE, Side Pouches 0.50
MOLLE, Sleeping Bag Carrier 1.0625
Multi-Tool (e.g., Leatherman) 0.50
Neck Gator 0.0625
Night Vision Goggle, PVS-7D 1
On-The-Move Hydration System (MOLLE camelback) 0.75
Pace Cord 0.0625
Pad, Sleeping, Self-Inflating 1.3125
Patrol, Sleeping Bag 2.4375
Pistol, M9, 9MM 2.50
Pocket Knife, Personal 0.25
Poly Pro Bottom 0.5625
Poly Pro Top 0.6875
Poncho Liner 1.875
Rifle, M4, 5.56MM 4.24
Rifle, M14, 7.62MM 12
Scope, Spotter M144 2.75
Sewing Kit 0.0625
12 Gauge Shotgun Round 0.0625
Skedco Litter 17.50
Sling Rope 0.75
Sling, Weapons 0.375
Small Arms Protective Insert Plates (SAPI), each 4.50
Snap Link 0.25
Socks, Wool, Pr. 0.1875
Socks, Various Fabric, Pr. 0.3125
Stuff Sack 0.8125
Toilet Articles 2.50
Undershirt, Brown 0.375
Weapons Cleaning Kit, M16 0.3125
Watch Cap 0.125
Waterproof Bag 0.1875
Wrist Watch 0.1875
The bottom line is that’s a lotta shit. Too much shit. I’ve carried most of that crap (along with a lot of other stuff) during both training and deployments and hated it. The jist of what I’m trying to get to is the study found that soldiers approach loads typically were over 75% of their body weight. That’s way too much weight for the average person that isn’t conditioned to carry that kind of load. Hell given the wrong conditions (110 degree heat) and it’s too much load for a lot of guys that carry it. Years ago when I was a young skeeter wing DICK we did a squad live fire at the end of a 10k (just over six miles) approach march carrying everything we owned and were going to use in some good old North Cackilacky heat. As soon as we dumped our packs and staged for the assault I watched my Team Leader flop over and start doing the shake rattle and roll – heat stroke. Needless to say we were down one because bouncing back from heat stroke ain’t exactly something you can do one the spot. I’ll add this – my TL was one of those guys that was tougher than anyone (“I don’t need to drink water” types). Kiddos water is life. Ammo is life. First aid is a lifesaver. Focus on those 3 Fs: Food (incl. water), Firecrackers (ammo) and First aid. Unless you’re operating in constant sub freezing temps and need protective gear the majority of rest of that crap is weight (not all of it but really an e-tool? Would a garden trowel work as well?). And there’s an old saying: “Ounces are pounds, pounds are pain”.
Here’s an online copy of the weight study for those interested souls.
(I will add this source to read also)