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.
It was no accident that throughout my travels, officers and NCOs, who inhabited a tactical universe rather than a strategic one, told me that they found more benefit in studying the 19th century Indian Wars in North America than the two World Wars combined. For the former had featured mobile attack sequences, quick strikes, and ambushes and skirmishes, where combat was a matter of surprise more than of large scale maneuver – small unit combat, again a world of junior officers and NCOs. – Robert Kaplan, Hog Pilots, Blue Water Grunts: The American Military in the Air, at Sea, and on the Ground, 2007
- Historical Sketches of the Army branches, its regiments, and its Commanders, through the 1880’s
- Darkness and Light: The Interwar Years,1865-1898
- Winning the West: The Army in the Indian Wars, 1865-1890
Here in the early 21st Century, we are blessed with a library of information that is instantly accessible from almost anywhere, broader in scope than anything the world has ever conceived, and growing at a rate unheard of in all of human history. That being the case, we as the modern American militia must learn to discern between wheat and chaff when it comes to useful information. I know this is a difficult task; heck, the economic postings over at Zero Hedge and Market Ticker alone make my head hurt. But we cannot close off our minds to information that can be useful now or later.
So how do we cut this Gordian knot/split the infant before Solomon/[insert your favorite metaphor here]?
I dunno. But I do know that when I see a professional doing something, and I want to act like that professional in some manner, I should do what he does, trying to understand the why as I emulate the what.