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Thread: Weight of Combat Gear Is Taking Toll

  1. #41
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Thumbs up My offer still stands

    Great choice of words...

  2. #42
    Council Member ODB's Avatar
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    Default But why?

    Do most of these threads keep coming back to that word? How many times will I have to shout it from the top of my lungs until they get it?

    Maybe can work with you on the age thing, but rich is non-wavierable
    ODB

    Exchange with an Iraqi soldier during FID:

    Why did you not clear your corner?

    Because we are on a base and it is secure.

  3. #43
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Dense? Training is not sexy? Training

    tends to benefit only a few congressional districts while hardware with multiple sub contractors benefit many. Good trainers are hard to find. Hard to do it well. Too much early attrition to invest too much in it. High 'no-Go' rates don't make the School / TC look good. Lot of reasons -- none good in my opinion but there sure are a bunch of excuses....

    Be careful with those lungs; 'bout ruined mine screaming it.

    Hang tight, I'm buying Lottery tickets.

  4. #44
    Council Member Kiwigrunt's Avatar
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    Default

    I came across this:

    http://defenceoftherealm.blogspot.co...seriously.html

    Reported recently by Popular Mechanics (a surprisingly good source of reliable military information) is a new technique introduced by the US forces in Afghanistan. This is the GPS-guided or "smart" parachute known as the Joint Precision Airdrop System (JPADS).

    It can be used by high-flying transport aircraft to make precision drops of supplies to isolated outposts, reducing the need to use ambush-prone vehicle convoys and avoiding the hazards involved in helicopter re-supply. So successful has been the technique that the USAF delivered 313,824 pounds of supplies between August 2006, when the programme began, to September 2007 keeping an estimated 500+ convoys off the roads.
    First time I've heard of it but as it is a few years old I assume most of you will know about it?! It mentions here the supply of outposts but would this system work for supplying small patrols? Even from helicopters at altitude. What say you......
    Nothing that results in human progress is achieved with unanimous consent. (Christopher Columbus)

    All great truth passes through three stages: first it is ridiculed, second it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
    (Arthur Schopenhauer)

    ONWARD

  5. #45
    Council Member RTK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ODB View Post
    Training!
    So I see after a week and a half off the net that I haven't missed much.
    Example is better than precept.

  6. #46
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    "What unit was that!! I weighed between 120 and 145 while in service and I was a mortarman or RTO on active and both a 240B and and SAW gunner in the guard. I remember one night patrol when I had both the SAW and the singars and my SL saw an Iraqi out past curfew and yelled for me to chase him. I was like "yeah right" but I did anyway."
    Reed 11B

    My Marine Battalion (3/5) seemed to lean towards Machine gunners who were short and wiry and strong or short and built like fire plugs. Stocky and strong! i commented on the height issue to a Gunnery Sgt. and he said that the shorter the gunner, the less there is for the enemy to hit.
    As good a theory as any, I guess.

    I saw a gunner running across a rice paddy dike slip and fall into a freshly manured paddy. As his body arched out, off the dike, he pushed the gun off his shoulders and rotate his body to hit the water on his back. The picture of his wrists and forearms holding the gun out of the water was the most impressive thing I ever saw. We applauded him when his A/Gunner pulled him above the funky water.

    Guns Up!

    The "MG" in those days was the LMG 30.

  7. #47
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Just don't drink and drive...

    Quote Originally Posted by RTK View Post
    So I see after a week and a half off the net that I haven't missed much.
    Hey -- we're consistent.

    Hard not to be when confronted with such a massive long standing error.

  8. #48
    Council Member ODB's Avatar
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    Default Not a pancea

    Quote Originally Posted by RTK View Post
    So I see after a week and a half off the net that I haven't missed much.
    But it does cover a lot (might be an understatement) of the issues discussed. I will have to go back an consult my post where I used the thesaurus so I can use different words to say the same thing.
    ODB

    Exchange with an Iraqi soldier during FID:

    Why did you not clear your corner?

    Because we are on a base and it is secure.

  9. #49
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    Are we saying that more/proper training...
    a) will reduce the need for so much gear because we won't need it to be effective
    b) better physically condition Soldiers so that the weight is not an issue
    c) both
    d) neither

    This is one of those occasions where the connection between the problem identified and the solution suggested isn't completely obvious to me.

  10. #50
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiwigrunt View Post
    I came across this:



    First time I've heard of it but as it is a few years old I assume most of you will know about it?! It mentions here the supply of outposts but would this system work for supplying small patrols? Even from helicopters at altitude. What say you......
    In the Corps, we call them Sherpa drops. Witnessed three of them used to resupply us near the Syrian border in 2004. The require a logistics tail though to retrieve the equipment and parachutes after the drop is done (at least in a semi-permissive environment). They could absolutely be utilized for in-extremis resupply and left behind as required.

    We have utilized helicpopters to deliver fuel, food, and water to forces in the battlespace during this rotation, but aerial resupply is dicey when you add up weather, limited visibility flight qualifications, etc.

  11. #51
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    Are we saying that more/proper training...
    a) will reduce the need for so much gear because we won't need it to be effective
    as well what little must be taken * and what should be left behind -- and more importantly, decent training will also develop leaders that can and will conduct risk assessments and who will allow (and take) responsibility for tactical decisions that may lessen 'necessary equipment' carried, 'force protection' or 'safety' restrictions to provide better conditions for mission accomplishment.
    This is one of those occasions where the connection between the problem identified and the solution suggested isn't completely obvious to me.
    Unfortunately, it is also not obvious to many in high places.

    I fully understand the political and media pressures on several levels that preclude better training, inhibit the ability of willing commanders to take risks and cause excessive emphasis on force protection.

    I also understand that the American people -- as opposed to the political and chattering classes -- are able to discern what's important and make sensible decisions. It is my belief that we can train and operate a great deal more effectively if we stop trying to placate Congress and the media (which we will never really manage to do), stop trying to tap dance on the head of a pin (to convince people how special we are) and just concentrate on doing the job right...


    * How much of what now 'must' be taken is a technological substitute for poor training?

  12. #52
    Council Member ODB's Avatar
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    Default c) both

    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    Are we saying that more/proper training...
    a) will reduce the need for so much gear because we won't need it to be effective
    b) better physically condition Soldiers so that the weight is not an issue
    c) both
    d) neither

    This is one of those occasions where the connection between the problem identified and the solution suggested isn't completely obvious to me.
    a) Ken hit some key points on this. Additionally through training we learn how to work those assets available for resupplies. Caches IMO are a lost art in the military today. Do operations for the sole purpose of caching supplies for future operations. There are a multitude of things that can be learned by training. Why carry 5 pound bolt cutters when I can carry .25 pound dikes? One has to train with the equipment to know what works, what can be utilized for multiple purposes, when and where something does or doesn't work.

    b) This is a big one. The human body IMO is amazing with it's ability to adapt. We all know we are going to wear body armour, but how many PT in body armour? Weekly runs in body armour make a difference. To add to this, sorry the alotted PT time is not enough, individuals need to take there own time to condition themselves. How many times do leaders check soldier loads when conducting training marches? Sorry but a PT score does not tell me a single thing about a soldiers conditioning. So because a guy can score 300 he is a stud? Not at all, he knows how to pass a test. Pushing soldiers physically with heavy loads, physically demanding training will prepare them for the rigors they will face. Run those same "studs" through a 4 mile litter run in body armour, rope climbs, log drills, the list goes on......point is one has to train accordingly to the demands they will face. They have to train harder than those demands so when they face them they can reflect back on harder times and realize this is nothing compared to the time when we did this....

    Finally I'll add that we need to get out of the risk averison mode we have entered. We are the business of accepting risks, but we must not continue to avoid risks. Yes, risk mitigation is a must. How do we learn to mitigate those risks, through training.

    Yes, IMO most of this whinning can be avoided through proper training.

    Anyone know why the Army stopped doing top down building clearing? If you do then you'll know how we have ended up where we are today.
    ODB

    Exchange with an Iraqi soldier during FID:

    Why did you not clear your corner?

    Because we are on a base and it is secure.

  13. #53
    Council Member reed11b's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ODB View Post
    a) b) This is a big one. The human body IMO is amazing with it's ability to adapt. We all know we are going to wear body armour, but how many PT in body armour? Weekly runs in body armour make a difference. To add to this, sorry the alotted PT time is not enough, individuals need to take there own time to condition themselves. How many times do leaders check soldier loads when conducting training marches? Sorry but a PT score does not tell me a single thing about a soldiers conditioning. So because a guy can score 300 he is a stud? Not at all, he knows how to pass a test. Pushing soldiers physically with heavy loads, physically demanding training will prepare them for the rigors they will face. Run those same "studs" through a 4 mile litter run in body armour, rope climbs, log drills, the list goes on......point is one has to train accordingly to the demands they will face. They have to train harder than those demands so when they face them they can reflect back on harder times and realize this is nothing compared to the time when we did this....
    I would disagree w/ you on the APFT (it is a fairly good indicator of overall fitness) except for the 2 mile run. 2 mile run is more of a skill then a fitness test. You do learn how to run the 2 mile. The rest of your post rings true with me however.
    Reed
    Quote Originally Posted by sapperfitz82 View Post
    This truly is the bike helmet generation.

  14. #54
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    This thread seems to get more generalized with every post.

    Humping 140 pounds everyday up 15,000-foot peaks for 12 months? I'd say something is wrong. And I think that was the issue that began this thread. If physical training is the solution to that, then my credulity is strained more than those Soldiers' ligaments. If better training on Soldier skills is the solution, in order to remove the necessity of carrying all that gear and in order to give leaders a better sense of what they really need to bring - okay, got it. Agree on the latter.

    I think that is the full scope of the problem - crazy big loads in rough terrain. But it is tough to distinguish whether some of the comments are referring to Iraq, Afghanistan, or both. I don't think there is a problem with the weight of our gear in Iraq. I say, if patrolling relatively flat terrain in Iraq in 85 pounds of gear is too much weight, then you need to see the gynecologist. If the concern is not that it's too much weight, but rather that "it could be less"... well, that's nice. I suppose that my teeth could be whiter, too. If the stuff that we're carrying gives us a significant edge and our Soldiers have the strength and conditioning to shoulder it and still operate effectively, then I want to know a good reason for leaving it behind - something better than just a general preference for being lighter.

  15. #55
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Smile On spot

    Quote Originally Posted by ODB View Post
    a) Caches IMO are a lost art in the military today. Do operations for the sole purpose of caching supplies for future operations. There are a multitude of things that can be learned by training. Why carry 5 pound bolt cutters when I can carry .25 pound dikes? One has to train with the equipment to know what works, what can be utilized for multiple purposes, when and where something does or doesn't work.
    I'm always amazed at how you often don't hear talk about how much the history of large forces involves "livin off the land" stuff for exactly the reasons that we work so hard to overcome.

    Guess it's cause it takes ????????? to know how to do it
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

    Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur

  16. #56
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    I am deeply skeptical that any amount of physical conditioning will allow a 160 pound soldier carrying 85 pounds of equipment to catch or even keep up with a Taliban fighter carrying an AK and a blanket roll; especially if the race continues for several days. I also think it important that we be able to at least keep up with the Taliban in that race.

    So this interested civilian doesn't see any alternative to shedding some of the weight. Also, as Ken said, if we ever get back into the tropics that weight will have to come off, so might as well get started now.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  17. #57
    Council Member ODB's Avatar
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    Default Close with and destroy the enemy

    One should not have to chase the Taliban for days if one utilizes our doctrine and assets available.

    1. Find them
    2. Fix them
    3. Finish them

    So with that in mind I do not see an issue of trying to run down the Taliban for days on end. Worse case everything falls off with a pull of a few tabs if it truely comes down to that.

    As I shake the cobwebs from the memory of Afghanistan in 02'. I have commented before about my load and lessons learned from that time. We wore IBA with mag pouches and one utility pouch. We carried 3 day assault packs with food (a lot of power bars and for myself milkbone dog biscuits and peanut butter), water, and ammo (cross loaded for the mortars or machine guns). In the mountains you threw in some snivel gear and a sleep system (usually bivy sack and patrol bag). Not a heavy load, very easily managable. We utilized UH-60s for resupply, mainly water. Was this the exception because I had decent leadership? To this day I question our lack of use of filteration pumps, chlorine tablets, etc..... Understand the focus not being on Afghanistan the past years and can see if there is a lack of assets in country to conduct resupplies, but also do not see how proper planning and coordination can't make it happen. Then do all resupplies need to be done by air?

    Are we allowing technological advances to dictact what we carry, IMO the short answer = yes. Basically it comes down to the fact that we have forgotten basic skills that have worked for centuries, because we think technology is the answer. We have become soft and forgotten how to survive on what is available.

    Wanted to stay generalized vs getting into "war stories" but do have specific examples of both ends of the spectrum from both theaters of operation.
    ODB

    Exchange with an Iraqi soldier during FID:

    Why did you not clear your corner?

    Because we are on a base and it is secure.

  18. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by ODB View Post
    To this day I question our lack of use of filteration pumps, chlorine tablets, etc..... Are we allowing technological advances to dictact what we carry, IMO the short answer = yes. Basically it comes down to the fact that we have forgotten basic skills that have worked for centuries, because we think technology is the answer. We have become soft and forgotten how to survive on what is available.
    I don't think it's a matter of "getting soft" or forgetting anything. What takes more time?
    a) Locating, procuring, filtering, and chlorinating water
    b) Bringing water with you
    Answer: depends on the mission. I would argue that for the overwhelming majority of missions - your specific cases perhaps being the exception - the answer is (b). That's not "getting soft" or forgetting. That's doing what makes more sense.

    I remember retired Soldiers complaining about us having bottled water in Iraq when I got back from my first deployment. I guess they thought that we were drinking Evian water and munching on caviar or something. I tried explaining to them that it simplified logistics and field sanitation, thus freeing up time for other stuff. Their response was, "back in my day, we drank water from our canteens and we filled our helmets with water to shave." That's nice. And that was better for what reason? I respect their nostalgia. I don't understand how it makes us more effective.

    Regarding the earlier note about caching - same issue. For situations such as your anecdotal experiences, perhaps it makes sense. For most, if not all, operations in Iraq and probably many in Afghanistan, it seems like an unnecessary time killer. I don't know if you've deployed in a conventional unit since 9/11, but their responsibilities are significantly different than those of an AOB operating in the same AOR. In OIF III, my Infantry Company's tasks, just off the top of my head, included route security, fixed site security, OPs, training IA, IP, MoD (all at once - in different locations), securing new IA and IP sites as they are being built, flooding the AOR with small teams to eliminate IED emplacers in the act and maintain a state of paranoia amongst the insurgency (helping to make area more permissive for the ODAs to move about it), providing QRF and/or outer cordons for ODA missions, and providing QRF for MiTTs. Those are just off the top of my head. I could brainstorm dozens more. Those tasks are extremely time and manpower intensive - especially when you throw in the logistics and life support and the fact that we're operating from a patrol base where we provide our own security (couldn't hire Peshmerga guards like the ODAs could). Add to that mix specific missions to go out and cache supplies? Time and troops available are already tapped out. Joe is going to need to carry his ammo and water.

  19. #59
    Council Member ODB's Avatar
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    Default Conventional

    Did OEF 02' and OIF 03' with 101st. Went SF in 04.
    ODB

    Exchange with an Iraqi soldier during FID:

    Why did you not clear your corner?

    Because we are on a base and it is secure.

  20. #60
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default METT the enemy and he was us...

    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    I don't think it's a matter of "getting soft" or forgetting anything.
    Wrong issue, I think -- soft isn't the question. The issue should be what works best for that AO and that mission. One does not have to practice to be miserable -- but one, if a soldier, should be prepared to do what it takes to get the job done. I'm sure you always did and always would. Most guys and gals do. Only a few will try to sluff for various reasons. Today, many are not inclined to take risks or to commit people to the boonies without eleventy gallons of water each even if that makes mission sense. Each theater, each AO, each individual mission deserves a clean sheet look. Preconcieved ideas of what's needed or best get people killed. Every situation differs.
    What takes more time?
    a) Locating, procuring, filtering, and chlorinating water
    b) Bringing water with you
    Answer: depends on the mission. I would argue that for the overwhelming majority of missions - your specific cases perhaps being the exception - the answer is (b). That's not "getting soft" or forgetting. That's doing what makes more sense.
    True -- based on your experience in Iraq. What is the mission of the average rifle company in Afghanistan? How many Platoons are out there, scuffling around away from the Flag Pole. How many even smaller elements are out there. Different AO, different everything. Carrying water may be necessary, may not be.
    ...Their response was, "back in my day, we drank water from our canteens and we filled our helmets with water to shave." That's nice. And that was better for what reason? I respect their nostalgia. I don't understand how it makes us more effective.
    It wasn't better, it was the best that could be done at the time -- the point is not that it's better, it obviously is not -- point is simply it was done when it was necessary and could be again; METT dependent. Lacking a steel helmet to shave in, why not just go a couple of weeks without shaving? Quelle Horreur...

    My personal best is 94 days without a shower and fourteen days on the button without shaving or brushing my teeth. That was then, this is now -- but I have no doubt that any number of troops today can do that without falling apart. I also have no doubt that whole units can do that and still be combat effective. The body will take a lot of abuse -- it'll pay you back later but why worry...
    ...Add to that mix specific missions to go out and cache supplies? Time and troops available are already tapped out. Joe is going to need to carry his ammo and water.
    Make no sense in Iraq or for some in Afghanistan, it all depends, as you said, on the mission. For SF and for light infantry distributed patrols in Platoon or smaller size, caches can makes sense or not -- it all depends on the mission, routes, time, intel -- all those things. Caches can also be planted by Unit A in January for Unit E to use a year later. I don't think he means it should always be done, just citing it as a technique. So is a rendezvous with a wheeled or tracked resupply effort or routing a patrol to a friendly outpost for resupply. All sorts of options.

    My point and that of ODB (I think. He can speak for himself but I think I know where he's coming from...) and those old dudes is just that you do what needs to be done and preconceived notions about what is good may need to be relooked. Proper training would enable more people to do that, partly by letting them know what's possible and how to do some things if they become necessary, partly by letting them know it's not only alright to think differently, it is in fact, in combat a really good idea to do so. Such training would also teach people that they could shave with less than a Porta Cabin sink or an electric razor, that you can find and drink local water and get by on a canteen a day for a week or two with no great harm if that enhances mission accomplishment and that you don't need ten magazines and any more clothing changes than three pair of socks fo a couple of weeks or month on extended operations.

    Soldiering is not as nice as life can be elsewhere, discomfort is not really necessary in many cases but where it is probably necessary to do some things like that, one should be able to order it done or to do it knowing that it's temporary and it can be done.

    It's a lot easier to do -- and to order it done -- if folks know how to do it and the one ordering it knows they know how. That's where we've erred...

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