M1956 Load Bearing Equipment with four cotton duck canvas Universal Small Arms Ammunition Pouches (designed to accommodate various ammo loads, such as a folded bandoleer containing six 8-round clips of M1 .30-06 ammunition or two BAR magazines or four 30 round M-2 Carbine magazines or two M14 20 round magazines or four 20 round M16 magazines), two canteens (with cup) and buttpack.
Before Motaain, I carried typical Infantry commander's webbing -- lots of navigational equipment, maps, and orders and plans kit, as well as minimal ammunition, water, and first aid equipment. I wore issue belt webbing but supplemented this with British-issue Northern Ireland chest webbing when on patrol, with extra water and ammunition. Many people who wore chest or vest webbing in firefights, including Motaain, came away wanting to ditch it and revert to the issue belt webbing. This was because the chest webbing, by placing the pouches directly below your chest, lifts you an extra ten centimeters or so off the ground. This sounds like a miniscule amount, but with someone shooting at you, it feels enormous. With belt webbing, it is the pouches that are lifted off the ground, while you can hug the earth to your heart's content. After Motaain, I wore the lightest possible belt kit, with ammunition, water, and large amounts of medical kit only. My commander's kit and minimal survival equipment I stuffed into my pockets. I slept out many nights in the jungle with only this equipment, suffering no significant inconvenience. The lesson here, again, is that we are killing ourselves with comfort and convenience -- a little more austerity and a willingness to suffer discomfort in order to better kill the enemy would be well worthwhile. -- From Counterinsurgency by David Kilcullen, Australian Army.
Ran into a member of a local community defense unit yesterday at the hospital. He recognized me from the gun shows and started up a conversation about preps and equipment. He has a couple of guys who are into "do it like Uncle Sam does it" and asked for my advice on how to cure the gear disease. Difficult, I said, but not impossible. First, I told this promising young unit leader to look up this video:
Next, I asked him a bit about his AO, the likely threats he was preparing his unit for, how they intended to shoot, move and communicate, and the ages and physical fitness of his guys. On the last count his unit is better than most, but still the tendency to acquire every bit of gear and prepare for every contingency has turned some of his guys into slowly moving forts, also known as easy targets.
Their AO is relatively large for their unit size and exigencies may require moving across it through woods at best speed by shank's mare -- that's on foot to those who don't understand old codgerese.
M1956 web gear from the front. (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.)
Being he is in the deep South, with summer conditions of temperature and humidity that can be brutal, I pointed out that he could do worse than the old (and very cheap) M1956 or even ALICE web gear. They are both open to allow body heat and perspiration to escape and it is a simple matter to add two canteens to the rig -- an absolute must down here. The canvas M1956 is heavier than the nylon ALICE and absorbs moisture but is quieter in the bush. Yes, indeed, he told me, he used an ALICE with Y suspenders, modified to use some MOLLE pouches. I told him he would probably like the "H" harness better because it distributes the weight more evenly.
Old style canvas M1956 buttpack. Heavier and smaller than current nylon versions, but canvas is quieter in the brush than nylon.
Then came the "yeah, buts." But, I pointed out, most of his guys' "yeah, buts" could fit into a standard buttpack, if they cut down to absolute essentials. Anything else mission specific -- extra ammo was a big "yeah, but" -- could be carried in slung cloth bandoleers or bags with shoulder straps. Most logistics in any militia AO, I pointed out, ought to be handled with pre-sited caches.
Nylon butt pack: Roomier and lighter than the old version.
There is some good discussion of what is, and is not, required for effective field gear at CombatReform.org.
CombatReform.org's "buttpack environmental field living module."
Unfortunately the site is a bit dated and several of the links no longer work, but it is still full of useful suggestions including the "buttpack environmental field living module," containing:
a. Army standard NSN 8405-01-416-6216 Eco-Tat Lightweight Sleeping Bag Multi-Purpose LWSB-MP (3.0 lbs)
b. Army standard NSN 8405-00-290-0550 Poncho with 550 cords to be a poncho-tent, hood tied into a knot (1.3 lbs)
c. Army standard NSN 7210-00-935-6665 OD Green space casualty blanket (0.6 lbs)
d. Army standard NSN 8415-01-228-1312 ECWCS Gore-Tex jacket (1.5 lbs)
6.4 pounds TOTAL
As the light infantry veterans at CL explain:
This is all you need to survive from the elements from freezing to 100+ degrees. Items b-d fit inside your buttpack or inside the Ecotat LWSB Multi-Purpose's stuff sack. Item a, the LWSB-MP straps on top of the buttpack or directly to your LBE rear and acts as a kidney pad or stuffs inside it. The weight you save by not carrying even the empty ALICE rucksack (6 pounds) essentially "pays for" the Live Light Package at your buttpack. Why carry 6 pounds of volume when you can carry instead 6 pounds THAT DOES SOMETHING FOR YOU; ie, allows you to live comfortably (YES!) in the field?
Live "Combat Light" in Closed terrains
If you are moving and it begins to rain, you put on your waterproof, but breathable GT jacket, otherwise you sweat in your brush-breaking BDUs and hopefully dry out by night's end. GT jacket also acts as windbreak, but must be treated with McNett.com water repellency Revivex treatments to remain effective. The GT jacket extends down far enough so that only a small part of your legs are uncovered but while you are moving these large muscles are getting hot so they will dry off any rain/dew on vegetation contacted so the GT pants are not needed.
How can you compress the GT ECWCS jacket so it can fit with the other Combat Light items?
Compress the GT jacket with a clear plastic vacuum bag from www.spacebag.com so it takes only a small part of the space inside your buttpack.
At night's end and you become stationary; you find two trees or bushes and tie your long poncho-tent cords to stretch them out. Cut branches to act as tent stakes and mash down into the ground. You now have a rain and wind break; 15 degrees of warmth gained. Unfold mylar blanket shiny side up to reflect your heat back to you (about 15 degrees F) so its not lost to the ground via conductivity and stretch out inside your poncho-tent as a floor.
I suggested to my young friend that he schedule an FTX for the soonest, hottest day he could find on private property guaranteeing discretion and insist on having his guys turn out with all their "essential" equipment and have them carry out shooting and moving drills thus burdened. Then he would have them divest themselves of their gear, and switch over to some ALICE harnesses with canteens and buttpacks that I would provide out of stores (thank the Lord for thrift stores and five gallon plastic buckets). He could then have them run the same drills and see which they liked better. More importantly, they could discover in which rig could they move fastest, hug the ground tightest, etc.
Thus do we hope to make the point about the necessity of fighting light for a maneuver warfare light infantry militiaman.