Bob Wright and I have been doing some leveling between our respective logistical supplies. He sends me excess LC-1 Y harnesses he picked up for cheap and I send him LC-2 belts that I, likewise, picked up for a song. Right now, I'm looking for some cheap ALICE clips that he needs without beggaring my own stock. Be that as it may, we were talking canteens the other day (he has covers but no ALICE clips, I have covers but no canteens) and I am looking for some cheap canteens for some folks. (By cheap I mean about a buck apiece for good used but serviceable GI 1 quarts and $1.80 for new Chinese 1 quart knock-offs.)
Anyway, the subject of the best way to clean canteens came up. Here is Bob's method for cleaning canteens:
I have always had excellent results in washing canteens using hot water and some version of effervescent denture cleaner. I also clean my thermos bottles this way. Just put the hot water in the canteen then break up one of the dental cleansing tablets up where it will fit in the mouth of the canteen. Allow the tablet to work until there ate no more bubbles visible at the mouth of the canteen. Rinse with hot water and allow to dry. I do this after every mission.
If we have purchased used canteen we use the same procedure with the exception of a weak bleach rinse as the final step. Hot water so the canteen will dry quickly leave the lid open and seal in a plastic bag marking the date of the sterilization and store in accordance with your units policies and it should be ready to issue safely at whatever date that becomes necessary.
We also chatted about our Minuteman days on the border and logistical support of outlying positions, observation posts and the like. I told him I had been picking up these as I encountered them at local thrift stores:
The stainless steel thermos of the type pictured above can be had in thrift stores around here for between a buck and three bucks each. Why am I spending my slender resources on these? Because I have been in an overwatch position on a trail before and know that, after you've been there a while, a thermos of hot coffee, soup, or tea is a Godsend. Sometimes just having hot water delivered to you so that you can wash your face and your balls, or just shave, seems like Heaven on earth.
Fires in OPs are verboten, of course, and MRE heaters and Trioxane tabs are fine, as far as they go, for as long as the supply holds out. But a thermos full of hot water in a sturdy, reusable container is a cheap alternative.
1: frame, framework
2: a nucleus or core group especially of trained personnel able to assume control and to train others.
3: a cell of indoctrinated leaders active in promoting the interests of a revolutionary party
4: a member of a cadre
-- Merriam Webster Dictionary.
Which led us, as old grizzled militia leaders often are, to the general subject of militia logistics and how most small unit leaders think -- and more importantly, prepare -- far too little about this vital subject.
In an emergency, all militia unit members at the outbreak are -- or had better be -- cadre. That is, they know, or are supposed to know, what they are doing and be able to a. transmit that knowledge quickly to unprepared and untutored volunteers and b. lead them in the expanded framework of the unit in the common purpose. In the event, folks who before were individual fire team members are now leading fire teams, or even squads, and squad leaders are commanding platoons. Everyone -- and I mean everyone -- had better be prepared to lead and teach as an NCO, for that is what they will be required to do when the volunteers show up.
They also had better have thought ahead about how they are going to arm and equip these newbies.
Often, I ran across guys in the 90s who, when SKS's were $69 a pop, would put back a case of rifles and a case or two of ammunition for the newbies in the event of if, as and when. When I did, I would always first complement them on their foresight and then ask: how are your volunteers going to carry your ammo? Is it in bandoleers and stripper clips? No? Isn't that problematic? Loose rounds tinkling in pockets are not very useful, in a whole lot of bad ways. Got extra cleaning fluid, patches, cleaning kits, spare parts? Do the weapons all have slings?
Uniforms? Identification friend or foe? Even ball caps of the same type and color will suffice in a pinch, IF you have thought it through and provided for the necessity. Water? Canteens? Plastic water bottles? How will they carry them? Load bearing equipment? Oh, you have SKS gunner's aprons (also known as "bras" to the uninitiated)?
Yeah, great. They're cheap and will hold stripper clipped 7.62x39 quite nicely. They're made for little Asian bodies, you know. Have you lengthened the straps so they will fit American bodies, provided Fastex buckles on those straps for quick in and out unassisted? Also, have you replaced the clumsy wooden toggle flap catches with fast and silent Fastex buckles as well? Have you matched up the number of gunner's aprons to rifles? Put some extras back for those neighbors you know who have SKS rifles but little else?
All these things a small unit leader must take into account. Bob and I know this because we've run FTXs where willing newbies show up. In fact, there are many things you'll never find out until you actually do field training exercises, but the most important of these is logistics. What works? What doesn't? If you don't work these things out now, ahead of time, they can bite you in the ass hard when the curtain rises.
Thus endeth the lesson.
Comments are invited.