Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Tacticool Tuesday - “Use your gear, but rely on your skills.”

This is a bit of a rehash from last week, but stick around and you might learn something.

I have been a bit of a podcast junkie for over a year now.  My work permits me to just run through hours of this stuff.  Usually, I will listen to business start up and tech podcasts but I have a few guilty pleasures.  Becoming bored with my normal repertoire, I ran into the Prepper Podcast and decided to take in a few episodes.  I cannot speak for the bulk of the 100 plus episodes but it is shaping up to be time well spent. Especially in times like we are in, you will want to maximize your time into useful pursuits while you can.  More sweat in peacetime means less blood in battle, after all.

I would invite you to listen to the interview with Brian Adey from the bushcrafter perspective on how the individual can be enhanced by the gear but also become a slave to it.

The Interview

Over and over, they repeat the phrase, “Use your gear, but rely on your skills”. This is a very simple equation that I had been unfamiliar with but works on so many different levels.  It is not binary.  It does not take the purist extreme of using as little gear as possible whatever masochistic pursuit.  It does not, as they so succinctly put it, claim that you can buy your way out of a skill.  

Yes, being able to start a fire with a dead battery and a bubble gum wrapper is a cool parlor trick for the kids, but it is a whole lot easier just to carry a Bic lighter and a fire steel.  What they offer is that if you have the knowledge, you do not need the stuff.  Can you make a proper small fire on the fly?  Guess what?  You can ditch the $100+ Jetboil and the fuel canisters and opt for an ultralight canteen cup setup or firebox with your own fuel.  Know how to pick a few common locks?  Great!  Toss that crowbar or chisel in your urban pack.  Know how to reload?  You already know the cost advantages in the long term.

Knots.  They touched very briefly on knots.  For the urban or rural group, learning a few simple knots can save you grief and lives. The military is not overly concerned with knots other than, as I understand it, in Ranger School and SERE.  It is a crime it is not being pushed more but then we have gotten pretty far away from teaching any fieldcraft.  In Air Assault School we had to be able to tie a swiss seat.  Given some time, I could probably muddle my way through tying one again. Knots, like most everything else, is a perishable skill.  

Knowledge weighs considerably less than stuff and it can only be taken away from you if you let it.  I encourage you again to re-evaluate the piles of gear you accumulate and see what crutches you can eliminate through proper instruction and a few nights under the stars.


Fred said...

I like to watch the hippie bush craft guys. In general they go very light on equipment and heavy on knowledge. It is instructive to seek ideas and methods outside of ones training and background. Interesting post.

Dutchman6 said...

Note from Mike: I second these observations with the following addendum. Gear needs change with tactical and strategic realities. If your AO is dominated by the enemy then the only gear needed will be minimal -- rifle, slung bandoleer, maybe a 2-quart canteen or just a water bottle so you can dump arms in a hurry. Battle dress is whatever civvies are appropriate. If you transportation needs dictate vehicles and CQB then current open top mag pouches and vests that have been perfected 0ver the past 15 yrs are certainly desirable. But if your AO dictates foot movement in sand or swamp, covered mag pouches and open strap harnesses like the ALICE or M1956 are called for. Your logistics and training should include all scenarios AND should be cached in different places.

Anonymous said...

There was a video online about the time of the Ukraine problems which showed a guy wearing a tattered suit and caring what looked like a non scoped hunting rifle maneuvering past a checkpoint with a couple of people in tow. The camera was behind the 10 or so guys in the checkpoint who were armed with belt feds along with other rifles. The guy was trying to sneak from cover to cover when the guys in the check point opened fired on him. Every time you saw the guys head pop up one of the guys in the checkpoint got shot and went down. The whole thing took about 45 seconds and 4 guys in the checkpoint went down and the guy made it across the field of vision of the camera. Luck or skill, who knows but the guy in the suit won that battle an didnt need anything fancy to do it.

Anonymous said...

Sgt Matt, thanks for another great timely and useful article.

Sign me, Neal Jensen

Born Free, Die Free said...

"Great minds think alike".... Former USMC Partyzantski has been preaching this forever, and serendipity! his book review this week is "Soldier's Load" by Col Marshall. Take-away: "worn out men cannot think or fight". I wish more people would take this to heart, instead of spending $$$ on complete crap that just loads you down and most of them have no idea how they would use in the field. Link to PZ's review & comments: http://tinyurl.com/ha62kxc

Chiu ChunLing said...

Figure 8 knot (oddly captioned as a double-half hitch in the article) is my personal favorite.

You shouldn't chuck your crowbar/chisel just because you can pick locks, but you can consider something lighter and more versatile. Picking locks isn't necessarily quick, if you can prise a lock open faster than you can pick it, you should have that option. And sometimes there's no lock as such anyway. But picking locks is often a lot more discrete.

A useful thing to do is look at your gear (or gear that appeals to you) and think of how you would accomplish the same task without that particular item, using expedient (or cheap) materials. Then try it a few times. That gives you a good feel for what any piece of gear is worth (in time and effort as well). Good gear saves you lots of sweat and tears (and the occasional drop of blood). Pointless gear is harder to use effectively than some spit and baling wire (para cord, duct tape, empty cans, rags, etc.). What it takes for you to use/improvise a piece of gear is what matters. Something that is almost pointless to you might be a great value for someone else, and vice versa, not only because of different skills but because of different physical abilities.

And of course knowing what you'd have to do without each piece of gear also ensures that you're never left helpless simply because of lacking equipment.