If you can see it, you can kill it. Don’t be seen.
Last week Mike V. posted a gentle reminder that your Load Bearing Equipment is too heavy, and that you needed to re-weigh it and cut the fat. One point he made while captioning a picture of the M1956 web gear was this:
Lose the E-Tool, it only slows a maneuver warfare militiaman down. If you REALLY think you’ll need to dig in, permit no more than one E-Tool per two-man buddy team.
I agree in part, and disagree in part. The principle is correct, but the utility of a shovel when constructing fighting positions should not be disregarded.
Consider this little lesson from a group unaffiliated with the 2-5 Marines (lots of interesting reading material, bookmark that one if you haven’t run across it before). The basic idea: carry 7 sandbags and a shovel. Fill the bags when you need to construct your defensive position. Arrange 3 bags in a triangle pointed towards you, then stack 2 bags on each side at an angle so that the sides of the bags are on a line that delineates your sector of fire.
Seven sandbags should not weigh down your gear, unless you forgot to empty them (in which case I can’t help you). But what about that shovel? Every folding shovel I’ve seen weighs several pounds, and no one wants to carry around one that heavy. The solution can be found in your neighborhood backpacking store – a simple, small plastic shovel that weighs (usually) less than 8 ounces and doesn’t even need its own carrying case. Yes, it is usually made of plastic, and yes, it is not usable as a club or as durable as the standard folding shovel, but it will get the job of filling sandbags done. There’s one available on Amazon as I write this for $2.98, plus shipping.
But why carry shovel and sandbags in the first place? They are flat-out perfect for setting up a defensive position, but useless for offensive operations (unless you have a heavy machine gunner somewhere that you’ve decided to make stationary). Anyone who has been under hostile fire knows they’re worth their weight in gold when the lead starts flying. Fortunately you don’t need to have that experience to learn their use. Next time you go to the range, fill and shoot some bags with various calibers and at various ranges. This will give you an idea of what they can and cannot do to protect you, and what it takes to defeat them.
That’s just my $1.98, for those tracking recent developments and propagating likely enemy vectors.
Does anyone have any good recommendations for gas masks? I’m looking for something that would be cheap, easy to maintain, have abundant cartridges available on the surplus market, and sufficient to repel CS gas. Email me or comment below.
If you’ve hiked or marched with an ALICE pack before, you know just how thin the regulation shoulder straps are, and how sharply they bite the shoulders. The hip belt isn’t much better.
If you read AR15.com you might recognize the ALLE Pack or “Hellcat”, but those who haven’t seen it before may benefit from the experience of another. Basically, it combines an ALICE pack and frame with a MOLLE sleep system carrier, belt, and shoulder strap set.
I’ve assembled one of these, and added a few pouches. So far, it has held up, but I have yet to take it out on a full field exercise. I like that it has some of the modularity of the MOLLE system, but retains the low price of ALICE components – sure beats the $370 you’ll pay for a MALICE 3 pack from Tactical Tailor, and for about the same cargo space.
(Follow-up to my post yesterday)
Did you do your homework? To recap,
… consider what you would carry into combat if you had thirty seconds to get out the door of your house with your rifle and an effective combat load to do battle with an enemy. Write it all down and collect it. Lay it out in front of you and figure out a way to carry it in one simple bag.
Now, here’s how I look at the problem.
You need to be able to shoot, stay hydrated, and fix yourself if you get wounded. That means you would need to carry ammo, water, and a first aid kit. Ideally, you would carry all these items in a single bag, but if they were all in the same pocket it would get cumbersome. You might reach for a spare mag and grab a water bottle first – not good.
Now we have a more clearly defined problem: how do you carry a set of magazines, a canteen, and a first aid kit in one package with partitions to separate each item? Oh, and do it cheaply. I’m all about cheap (price, not quality).
Well, thank the US Armed Forces for ALICE and MOLLE. The military spent a lot of time dating ALICE, but when it was evident that she wasn’t pulling her weight, they ditched her and started dating MOLLE. Both girls have their problems though – ALICE tries to make one set of outfits fit every situation, and MOLLE has way too many accessories for her own good. Both end up needing help, but together they can bet quite the twosome.
Please refrain from the crude sexual jokes at this time.
What I’m talking about is this:
I call this a Speed Bag, and it holds the following:
- 6 M16 magazines (4 if equipped with 7.62mm magazines
- 1L Camelbak Better Bottle or commercial water bottle
- 1 energy food bar
- 1 IFAK blowout kit
- sling, bag and case carrying, qty 1
The heart of the package is the ModGear water bottle pouch (Cheaper Than Dirt item MOLLE-010). It has a big padded pocket to hold your water bottle and a pouch on the front to hold your energy food bar. The sides and front have a MOLLE-style PALS grid to hold all those other accessories you’ll need.
To each side is attached an ALICE-style magazine pouch. This can clip on to the PALS grid using the ALICE clips, or you can buy the PALS adapter doohickeys. They hold 3 M16 magazines each, or if you cut out the little separator ribbons (some pouches don’t have them) you can put in two M14 or similar shaped magazines. Other pouches can be attached as well, custom made for your magazines.
On the front I place the first aid kit. Note that this is not a boo-boo kit for fixing cuts; the one I am building up (and recommending to new militiamen) is the one that’s useful in treating gunshots. The only thing I’d add to it is a pair of Trauma shears, the same kind EMTs carry around in their pants legs for cutting clothing off accident victims.
The bottle pouch has 2 d-rings near the top for attaching straps, which is what I’ve done here. This allows me to grab it quickly and carry it without my hands. The pouch also has PALS straps on the back, so if you wanted you could hang it over your shoulder and attach it to your belt. To the strap I would lash my bayonet, if I had one for my AR (a M7 is in the mail from CTD, it was a Christmas gift to myself).
Once it is all assembled, it does weigh a noticeable bit, but it is significantly less than a full ALICE belt and suspenders or MOLLE vest, and I can keep it with my battle rifle at all times. The total cost for this little project is approximately $30 (probably less if you have some of the ubiquitous ALICE pouches lying around), plus the medical kit (which can run into the $80 range, but can probably be assembled for less if you shop around carefully).
Consider this piece of kit as a useful thing for deploying at a minute’s notice, or for keeping in your car.