Thursday, November 27, 2008

Praxis: Small Unit Logistics

One of the spin-offs of my post on the Allegory of Will Shipman's boxcar, was some email questions regarding small unit logistics. I went through some of my old posts to A Well Regulated Militia and other sites and have thrown this scrapbook of logistics info together. If this is not the sort of political polemic you have come to expect from me, it is nonetheless necessary information for reflection -- and action -- while we still have time.

I begin with an exchange of logistics posts between "Tails" and myself, Dutchman6, on AWRM from back in 2004.

Fielding a Sixteen Man Platoon:
In the time period of 84 days;f=28;t=000758
First posted on by "Tails"

Fighting a war is fairly costly. There are instances where a military is politically defeated because a conflict was too expensive to afford, while pound for pound they were the superior force to be reckoned with.

You folks are faced with a problem as backyard brewed guerilla ragtags. And that is if World War III were to be fought in the North American theater, you aren’t going to fit a year’s worth of logistics in your rucksack. What needs to be created is an elaborate system of base camps and supply dumps that you could access, to assure you and your buddies can be sustained and combat effective. Maybe I’m not as hardcore as some folks, but I can’t live off of tree bark in the middle of the woods. And so we must take heart to the old adage: Plan ahead; it wasn’t raining while Noah built the ark.

I present this model of doing just that for a 16 man light platoon. You have two squads of eight men. You’ve got an elaborate system of supply dumps / base camps. Each site should that will sustain this platoon for 84 days.

One squad is busy conducting missions while another squad stays at base camp. The squad left at base camp is as important as the one doing missions. They are in charge of defending the base from intruders, taking care of the sick and injured, upkeeping the camoflauge of the site, and acting as relief to the unit out doing missions if they are in danger of being overran among many other tasks. After twelve days of operating, the squad in the field, returns to base camp and has two days of recovery. At the end of two weeks the squad that was conducting operations, fills base camp maintence details and the squad that was filling the details is now the one doing operations. In eighty-four days (12 weeks) the two squad rotation should look like this:

1ST Squad: 12 days active, 2 recovery days
2ND Squad: 14 days of BC details

1ST Squad: 14 days of BC details
2ND Squad: 12 days active, 2 recovery days

1ST Squad: 12 days active, 2 recovery days
2ND Squad: 14 days of BC details

1ST Squad: 14 days of BC details
2ND Squad: 12 days active, 2 recovery days

… and so on until week 9 and 10 when you are on the last of your supplies for that particular supply dump. On week 10 when the squad that is out on operations is finishing up, they are NOT to return to the supply dump that it’s sibbling squad is quartered in, but to move on to the next rally point that holds supplies for that platoon for another period of time. And then when Week 11 starts they’re on BC details at that supply dump and the other squad moves out of the expended supply dump and do their twelve days of bush time, and to link up with the other squad and start the cycle over again.

This is what a supply dump should look like:

Weapons Related Logistics
12,000 rifle rounds
300 sidearm rounds
300 sniper rifle rounds
3 large bottles of CLP (military rifle oil and cleaner)
2 packages of 1,000 cloth square patches
4 packages of Q-tips
4 packages of pipe cleaners

Health and Hygine Related Logistics
16 tubes of toothpaste
16 cakes of soap
4 bottles of shampoo
16 canisters of travel shaving cream
8 canisters of regular sized shaving cream
32 disposable razors
96 rolls of toilet paper
4 cans of Tanactin or foot powder
4 tubes of first aid cream
2 rolls of athletic tape
16 gauze rolls
2 large bottles of hydrogen peroxide
4 boxes of asprin
4 big bags of cough drops
4 bottles of cold medicine

2 5 quart pots
1 cheap propane burner
Uncertain supply of propane
1 large bottle of dish soap
4 wash rags
32 boxes of 1 quart sized ziplock bags
4 rolls of subdued duct tape
2 rolls of 550 cord
2 tubes of plumber’s glue
8 boxes of 1 gallon sized ziplock bags
16 cans of boot polish
4 boxes of laundry detergent
1 washboard
Uncertain supply of batteries
1 cammo tarp

Food and Water
1728 MREs
24 5 gallon buckets of food stockpiles
1,344 to 2,016 gallons of water

12,000 Rounds of Rifle Ammunition

12,000 rounds will theoretically supply a light platoon for twelve weeks. This is 750 rounds per man. Each trip out in the bush, a soldier should bring 250 rounds (the NMS suggests 300). So this could last three missions, or two missions and one emergency evacuation from a base camp.

There’s one big problem in the figure that’s projected: uncertainty. You cannot predict how much ammo you will use on a mission. Sometimes you may need to use all your ammo, and other times, you may not need to use any ammo at all. So it’s tough to say.

It seems overwhelming to buy 12,000 rounds of rifle ammunition. I suggest each man gradually buys his own share for the time period. 750 rounds of 7.62 Soviet (my round of choice) at $3 per box of 20 would equal somewhere in the neighborhood of one hundred and twenty dollars.

Note: I highly suggest that ammo calibers in a unit be uniform so they are inner-changeable among members and you can buy them in bulk. But it may not work out that way. High speed Joe may own an AR15 and someone who just bought an SKS as his first rifle may be in the same platoon. They’ll have to stockpile ammo specifically for the rifle they choose to master.

300 Sidearm Rounds

Much considerations said about rifle rounds are releveant here. A sidearm is like an emergency chute on a parachute. You usually don’t use it because the main chute/MBR usually performs it’s job 99% of the time. But still they’re important to have. I appraise 300 rounds should account for the rare moment a sidearm is in use in 12 weeks but your opinion may vary.

300 Sniper Rifle Rounds

Few people are qualified in precision riflecraft, and those who are true blue snipers in your unit will consume very little ammo.

CLP,Square Cloth Patches, Q-tips, Pipe Cleaners

You need to clean your weapons. It’s that simple. After you use your rifle, you clean your weapon. When you return from the bush, you clean your weapon. On your down time, you need to refill your weapons cleaning kit with CLP in your bottle and patches, Q-tips, and pipe cleaners in your pouch.

Toothpaste, Soap, Shampoo, Shaving Cream

Brush your fangs, take a bird bath, wash your hair, and keep your facial hair under control and you will live a more sanitary life in the field. One unit of each item per man in the unit. Travel size shaving cream is used in the bush, regular size is shared at BC durring your down time.

32 Disposable Razors

Triple blade razors are ideal. Back in my Basic Training days I went through a cycle on two razors.

96 Rolls of Toilet Paper

Again, leaning back on my experiences in Basic, one roll of shit paper lasted me two weeks. However if you get a serious case of the runs, you’re shit outta luck (a big pun intended). It may be hoo of you to pack a few extra rolls just in case.

4 Cans of Tanactin

You need some sort of anti-fungal substance to combat foot funk. Tanactin is a reliable aerosol spray that treats most types of foot conditions.that are caused by sweating in the feet. Other options are foot powder, foot cream, or even medicated dandruff shampoos like Selsen Blue or Denorex. These can also help with cases of jungle rot.

First Aid Cream, Athletic Tape, Gauze, Hydrogen Peroxide

Fix cuts, scrapes, and wounds. I swear by athletic tape.

Asprin, Cough Drops, Cold Medicine

For your headaches sore throats, colds and allergies. It’s not good to sneeze out loud or cough up hairballs just before the opposition walks into your pre-planned ambush.

Pots, Propane Burner, Propane, Dish Soap, Wash Rags, Ziplock Bags

Neccesary for cooking chow in bulk durring a squad’s down time. It’ll be a bitch to buy and store propane and propane accessories for a platoon for three months. I suggest propane because it doesn’t give off a bunch of smoke (which advertises your squad’s location ) So it may be a good investment to look into. To save on propane, I suggest you have whatever you’re trying to cook, soak in water overnight before cooking. It significantly reduces cooking time and saves you propane. 1 quart Ziplock bags, I’ll explain in a few paragraphs.

Subdued Duct Tape, 550 Cord, Plumber’s Glue, 1 Gallon Size Ziplock Bags

Very useful items. Worthy of expounding upon in a thread of it’s own.

16 Cans of Boot Polish

To ensure the long lasting strength of your boot leather.

Laundry Soap and Washboard

Wash your clothes.


You are going to have to take inventory of your platoon’s electronic equipment and determine what batteries will be needed and how many. How many of a certain battery will depend on how often a device is used and how much energy it sucks. Take an inventory of all your radios, night vision devices, flashlights, CCOs or red dot scopes, your gameboys and whatever.

1 Camoflauged Tarp

It’s good to have a little shelter from the elements.

Food and Water (IMPORTANT!!!)

Gathering logistics for your unit will be a long laborious task. But it all starts here on the subject of food and water. A supply depot must start with a food stockpile before anything else. An army marches on it’s stomach.

Let’s talk water first. You can survive without food longer than you can survive without water. Water maintains your core body temperature. Fluids convert into blood. Lack of water can cramp your muscles, make you more vulnerable to illnesses, heatstroke, and hypothermia. DO NOT go too long without water while doing an activity such as waging war.

With that said, my figure of 1,344 to 2,016 gallons of water, winds down to 1 to 1.5 gallons of water per day, per individual. I figure this should cover consumption, laundry, shaving, toothbrushing, cooking, and a bird bath. Just before going to North Africa, Patton’s II Corps trained in the desert near the town of Indio, California (a good Patton Museum stands there today). He issued each soldier one gallon of water per day to survive off of in the desert. I base my figure on this experiment.

Now the question comes: “How in the name of Sam Hell are me and my buddies going to collect and store 2,016 gallons of water?” If your area of operations is in the barren desert, you’re going to have quite a task ahead of you. There are 33 gallon barrels from Major Surplus that one could buy. You would have to buy 62 units to field 16 men for 84 days. An ideal AO would have a large body of freshwater that could sustain your band of merry men. So instead of storing large water containers, you may end up storing water filters and purification kits (or a little of both).

Now on to food. There are two types of foods you want to stock up on: field expedient food and bulk stockpiles.

Bulk stockpiles are staple foods that are stored in five gallon buckets. You could store rice, instant potatoe spuds, beans, lentils, oats, and anything else on these lines you can think of. Get a five gallon bucket. Throw some desiccants on the bottom and fill the bucket to the brim with your favorite foodstuff. I’d place a little three-quarters cup sized serving with in the bucket before sealing it along with an extra pair of silica desiccants on top (and if you feel inspired to do so, throw a few packets of seasoning that goes well with the stockpile). Once the lid has been tightly closed and sealed, duct tape the lid shut for good measure, and label the bucket with it’s contents and the date it was made. If done right, the unit should last a solid decade.

These stockpiles are primarily consumed by the squad who is on base camp details. But here’s where the 1 quart ziplock bags come in handy. To forego the costs of MRE side dishes, you could store a serving of rice or mashed potatoes in a ziplock bag and take it with you when your rotation to do operations comes up.

My figure gives each individual 7.5 gallons of food to live off of in 84 days. I’m not entirely sure if this figure would be adequate for this time period, this is SWAG on my part. I’d love to hear other folks opinions regaurding this.

Field expedient foods are packaged foods that are ready to eat for the soldier who has no time to waste cooking a meal. Namely MREs. My figure on MRE entrees gives each man 3 meals a day for the 36 out of 84 days that he’d be doing operations on my rotation model. The cheapest place I know to get an MRE main entrée is from Major Surplus and Survival. If you buy them in bulk of over 72, you can get them for a dollar a piece.

In my opinion a meal in the field should include an MRE main entrée, maybe an MRE heater, a side dish, a sports bar, and a powdered drink of some sort. I don’t mind eating an MRE cold (they’re sometimes better that way in fact), but an MRE heater is a good investment in an extreme cold environment. A hot meal helps maintain your core body temperature in the cold. A side dish is a must. A sports bar provides a lot of nutritional value and nourishment in a small package that is specially made for the athletically active individual. A meal should either have a hot chocolate mix or a powdered Gatorade package. I recommend hot chocolate, because in cold weather, again, a hot drink maintains your core body temperature, and Gatorade keeps your body’s electrolytes replenished.

Keeping Focus

If you’ve read the list and read through the summaries for each item, you are no doubt probably feeling a bit overwhelmed at the logistics that are involved to supply just a light platoon (platoons are usually twice the size of this one). I find it amazing how expensive it is to sustain troops in the field, and more so sustaining our armed servicemen fighting in far away lands right now.

It is a lot of work, but riddle me this: What is the best way to eat an elephant? … one steak at a time, right?

Firstly, let every man in your unit carry his own weight in bringing this supply dump together. In fact my model may not represent your unit at all, many of you probably are in units with less men than what I’m using for my model. And so your goal is lower than my projections.

Set your priorities straight. Food and water is on top of the list of items to procure. Then it’d probably be followed by ammo, and then you can figure out what’s most important for your survival in your AO.

If 84 days still seems too far out of your reach, shoot for 42 days.

If defending your homes and the American Way is important to you, logistics is something you need to take serious consideration. Be gradual. Add something new to your inventory each week… even if it’s something as small as a can of boot polish. You will achieve your logistics goals in due time. Rome can’t be built in a day… but it can be built.

My reply to "Tails" re: Logistics

Outstanding post, Tails.

There are a couple of issues however that spring to my mind that are not specifically addressed in your otherwise exhaustive post.

First is how you get the supplies there (and how you restock). If your site is remote enough to be secure its going to be hard to get supplies to it. Mostly this means humping it in by packboard. How many of us even stock packboards or ALICE frames with cargo shelves? My unit has twelve, mostly picked up at flea markets, yard sales, and thrift stores for a song. We've even picked up World War II and Korean vintage packboards and rebuilt them with new canvas and ropes. And we're still scrounging for more because twelve just ain't going to cut it.

The "Cortinian Liberation Front" OPFOR guerrillas at the National Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, LA, use 3- and 4-wheelers to supply the caches from which they draw the combat power to defeat the "good guys" rotation after rotation in "Tigerland." (See The Battle for Hunger Hill by BG Daniel P. Bolger.) We also plan to use 4-wheelers (and have used them setting up caches). But in the end it always boils down to someone humping a burden for a long way-- not the most efficient way to go.

Also (and this is a concern about 4-wheelers as well) is the IR signatures that a base camp will inevitably give off: the propane stove idea is a good one, but it gives off almost as much IR signature as a cooking fire. Same for generators. So your camp must be VERY hidden, preferably in a cave (for those of us fortunate enough to have caves in our AOs) with plenty of overhead cover to further dissipate/obscure the heat signature of the cave mouth. Remember in this day and age, they're most likely to find your base camp by UAV-mounted FLIR sensors than by smelling wood smoke from your camp fire on the ground.

And remember that the guys looking for you already understand that the easiest way to beat guerrillas is to locate and destroy their supplies. Reference this excerpt from The Battle for Hunger Hill about the JRTC rotation of the 1st/327 Infantry at Fort Polk:

"Like any real disaster, everything started off very well... By 0840 on the overcast morning of 15 September, all three rifle companies disengaged from their tasks around Jetertown and formed for a parallel advance toward Big Brushy Creek, a tangled morass of the type favored by guerrillas in need of hidden bases. Dirk Blackdeer and his commander agreed that the CLF must have hidden something at the junction of the stream and the dirt road heading southwest from Jetertown. It might be a command post or a supply site, perhaps the main underground storage, the battalion supply point (BSP) for the entire (OPFOR) 91st Assault Battalion. Brigade S2 thought so too. If true, then the entire watery conduit north of that important logistics area might be full of goodies: enemy squad and team campsites, ammunition caches full of 82mm mortar rounds and SA-14 missile reloads, or even one or two of the boxy little three-wheel all-terrain vehicles favored by the rebel supply teams."

"(The battalion commander) reasoned that to beat an OPFOR like the CLF, you had to take away his food and water. The bad guys typically stashed this all down in a deep, dark, stinking swamp, hoping the American infantry lacked the stomach to go hunting in such thick, difficult ground. (A previous unit had tried this approach before and) went right into the muck, overran the CLF supply caches, and slowly starved out the desperate guerrillas. The resulting ambushes and counterambushes resulted in about three US dead and wounded for every CLF casualty, and it all paralyzed the enemy." Thus, Bolger writes, this was considered a US victory even though the casualty rate was lopsided against them.

So just remember that any opposition will be looking for you and looking hard. For that reason, it may be a better solution to cut down on the size of your caches and increase the number, or to put them where they "hide in plain sight" such as a city or town. This will impact the way you fight your unit, as individual fire teams operate out of smaller caches and come together with other teams to carry out ops.

Previously I posted an Infantry magazine article on water resupply using collapsible milk dispensers. This might be a better alternative to large drums.

Finally, I'd like to suggest to the moderators that a Logistics topic should be created on the board. Currently, you have a topic for "gear" but logistics is far more than just gear, as Tails' post outlines so well.


One other point I neglected to mention:

Your ammo should be combat-packed, in divisible and easy to carry bundles. For example, our standard method of cacheing ammo is as follows:

All 7.62x39 ammo is packed in stripper clips and bandoleers (usually we use the 4 or 7 pocket M16 bandoleer, which holds the SKS stripper clips nicely. The clips are bundled and wrapped in acid-free paper and taped or tied with string before inserting into the pocket. The bandoleers are placed in small ("thirty cal") ammo cans and then usually placed back in the wooden or Chicom crates they were purchased in (two cans per crate) to be stored in a "warehouse" type location. If they are to be buried in a cache, we pack the cans in 5 gallon pails and silicone them up when putting the lids in place. (Care must be taken when handling the loaded buckets, because a dropped bucket can easily crack, sometimes without the crack being obvious.)

Shotgun ammo is likewise packed in 5 round boxes, each box filling one pocket of an old-style 7 pocket M16 bandoleer. You can get 70 rounds in a thirty cal can by this method.

We pack 7.62 NATO ammo in 5-round strippers and bandoleers. When we run short, we have had some of our more talented wives crank out duplicates made out of woodland camo cloth (available at your local sewing shop)and 1" nylon webbing for the straps. They have even turned out a durable 4-pocket bandoleer that holds loaded M14 mags using reinforced camo cloth and silent fasteners scrounged from old shopping cart kid seats. (The ladies used a 4-pocket M16 bandoleer as a pattern and beefed it up.)

Always remember to put at least a couple stripper clip guides in each can. We prefer the thirty cal can to the larger cans because of their portability.

This way, your ammo will be ready to issue and easy to carry.


Tails responds.....

Thanks for the replies gentlemen.

Dutchman6, those are some fine observations and considerations you brought up. I've made several ascertainments myself when writting this out.

The transportation of supplies is releveant to the terrain. The best AOs are probably not vehiculary acessable... so one would probably have to carry their logistics to their site by way of the old Boot Leather Express.

I discovered another problem similar to the one you pointed out when writting this. And that is, for a squad going out on opperations for 12 days. Three meals a day times twelve days is 36 meals. That's A LOT of grocceries to hump. Not so much for weight considerations, but the amount of space it would take up in one's rucksack.

(another fault made is that the amount of days one would go out on opperations would be dependant on the mission parameters)

What I was thinking to remedy this problem (and you brought this up too) is to not place all of your field expedient food in the 84D supply dump, but to place small caches inbetween your camp and wherever it may be that you'd go for operations.

So the placement of supplies in an AO may look like this:

Mission Objective
. . . . |
. . . . |
. . . . |
. . . . |
. Fifteen Miles
. . . . |
. . . . |
. . . . |
. . . . |
. . . Cache
. . . . |
. . . . |
. . . . |
. . . . |
. . . . |
. . . . |
. . . . |
Thirty-five Miles
. . . . |
. . . . |
. . . . |
. . . . |
. . . . |
. . . . |
. . . . |
Your Base Camp

So one would not pack twelve days of supplies in his ruck when going out on opperations. If a squad were to, for instance, await in ambush for an enemy supply convoy near a major highway, the squad would pack a third of the supplies he'd need when leaving BC, pick up another couple days worth of chow for operations at a cache that is setup a little further than midpoint, and upon the return trip revisit the cache for supplies for getting back to base camp.

"Don't place all your eggs in one basket" is a good maxim to be familiar with, as you point out Dutchman6. Dispersal of supplies is a good practice, for in case the enemy were to discover some of your booty, only a small portion of your supplies is compromised. Another practice I would employ is to create a fifty mile buffer inbetween where you'd want to set up BC, and where you'd want to conduct opperations. If I were to fight ten miles away from my BC, I would expect my camp to be discovered by the end of three days from my first fire fight. It'd be hoo of you to keep a great length inbetween your sanctuary and where the fighting is taking place.

IR and satalite technology is something that throws a wrench into waging guerilla war. It's been working wonders for our boys, but it'd suck to have such technology used against us. I've read in one of John Poole's books that abundant cover of foilage can thwart a device reading your IR signature. Other than that lead, I'm not sure how one would better combat IR outside of living in a cave.

Very well thought out commentary Dutchman6. I enjoy reading stuff like that, it makes one all the more prepared. I could spend a few more hours pointing out short-commings of this model on logistics. The biggest source of problems with this theory on logistics (as with any other) stems from uncertainty. I wish I could gaze into a crystal ball and see that if a domestic war were to happen, were would be the best place to place one's stashes, what routes of land travel he'd take, would enemy activity be heavy or light in my AO, among a list of many more questions. You could possibly set up your AO along a highway that the enemy will never use, and by that time it'd be nearly impossible to securely relocate supplies to a better site. A plan will never be perfect, but at least one will have a plan.

I'll have more to say on a later post.

"Good generals study tactics. Great generals study logistics."

-Field Marshal Erwin Rommel

MBV continues:

I am a big believer in the multiple, small cache technique of supply. Here is a Special Forces manual on cache techniques: Special Forces Caching Techniques - TC 31-29A. It is found at

Another interesting article is:

Water Resupply in the Light Infantry
by CPT Wm. M. Connor, Jr.
Infantry Magazine, July-December 1997

One of the most difficult logistical missions in light infantry is water resupply. These soldiers must have water to survive, but they must also carry what they drink. In cool weather, six quarts will last 24 hours. In hot weather, soldiers will drink more than eight quarts in 24 hours, which means they will have to be resupplied every twelve hours. From a battalion S-4's perspective, the difficulty is in making sure water gets to every soldier in a usable package.

When I was a battalion S-4 in the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry, during a rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center and all of the training for it, I learned a lot about water resupply.

There are various ways to resupply water in light infantry: One way is to deliver water cans to line companies with the logistical package (LOGPAC). The problem with this method is that platoons and squads are usually spread out and performing missions. There is not time enough to distribute five-gallon cans and collect the empty cans during the short LOGPAC window. Soldiers have to carry them around until the next LOGPAC. Supply sergeants have to bring along at least 80 water cans so they can keep 40 with the company between LOGPACs (not counting the cans that will be lost).

A second method is to use 50-gallon blivets during LOGPAC. But it is unrealistic for the company to use them, because all its soldiers must be brought to one location to fill their canteens.

The solution we came up with was to use six-gallon plastic milk containers, the milk bags used in the mess hall. We bought them empty from a milk company. More than 1000 bags cost lest than $800 in Hawaii and should be even less expensive in other areas. The 1000 bags, which came with a sealed white tube attached, took up the space of a footlocker. To fill a bag with water, a soldier pops the tube off, puts water in, and replaces the tube. To fill a canteen from the bag, he cuts the end of the tube and water streams into the canteen.

We used the water bags for the first time during a brigade field training exercise. The one problem we had to solve was carrying the bags once they were filled. If they were not packaged, they were difficult to carry around and load. We wanted a package that was already part of the supply system and one that could be thrown away.

MRE boxes fit both of these needs. The support platoon put the MREs in trash bags in the brigade support area before bringing them out at LOGPAC, and then they put the full water bags in the MRE boxes. This worked very well. The boxes are easier to load and are intended to be thrown away when they're empty. When the LOGPAC was delivered, all the supply sergeants had to do was kick out the MRE boxes and the trashbags, which reduced our LOGPAC time.

Once the soldiers had been resupplied, they were able to treat everything delivered at LOGPAC like trash. They left it for pickup and moved out.

There are some other benefits to water-bag resupply. The bag's two-ply plastic will not burst unless it is punctured by a sharp object, and it can be reused. A soldier can put any amount he wants in the bag and carry it in his rucksack like a five-quart blivet.

When the bags are in MRE boxes, they can be easily slingloaded. They can also be stacked inside aircraft. (We conducted five battalion air assaults in preparing for and conducting our JRTC rotation. We slingloaded or stacked water boxes with almost every air assault.) The same is not true of water blivets or cans. With water-bag resupply, it is easier to preposition or cache water. When prepositioning cans or blivets, there is always a concern that they will be left behind. A unit can preposition bags in two different sites, knowing that only one of them will be used.

My recommendation is that the Army make water-bag resupply the standard for light units. If water bags were made to fit light infantry unit specifications, the resupply process would be easier for everyone and also save money. Anyone who has been to JRTC knows that many water cans are lost or left behind in the boxes. During unit training, it's the same story. Water bags cost far less and can be reused if necessary, and soldiers can carry empty bags around if they have to. Another saving, both in dollars and in unit effectiveness, is in heat casualties, most of which occur because individual soldiers do not have access to enough water.

Water-bag resupply is the cheapest, most efficient way of getting water to the people who need it most-- the light infantrymen at company level.

MBV continues:

Another article available on the Net is: Unit-Level Water Resupply—It's in the Bag
by Major Robert O. Bosworth found at:

Also, a discussion of present improvisations in supply is found here:

which includes this:

b. Plastic Bags. Units should package supply loads of supplies outside an urban combat area in a safe location. Ideally, these loads should be designed for the individual soldier, including filled magazines, MREs, bottled water, and first aid dressings. If loaded magazines are not available, the soldier kits should include speed loaders for the ammunition. These soldier kits can be grabbed on the run, limiting the time soldiers spend at supply points.

c. Milk Blivets. Plastic milk blivets used in milk dispensers in most military dining facilities are excellent water containers. These blivets hold approximately 5 gallons of water, have a spout for easily filling canteens, and will fit into a rucksack or any other container. These blivets will survive a 60-foot drop from a hovering helicopter when placed inside an empty MRE box.

d. Water Bottles. From the Balkans to Haiti, bottled water has become the preferred method to supply drinking water. In urban operations, this type of water distribution offers particular benefits. Bottled water guarantees disease-free drinking water. It is ideal for getting drinking water to the individual soldier, eliminating resupply from a 5-gallon water cans. Like the plastic bagged soldier kits, the troops can grab a water bottle and go.

MBV continues:

The militia logistics officer should also have these volumes in his rucksack --

Combat Service Support Guide, 2nd Edition, Maj John Edwards, 1993, 292pp

How to Feed an Army: Recipes and Lore from the Front Lines by J.G. Lewin and P.J. Huff, Collins, 2006

FM 21-15 Care and Use of Individual Clothing and Equipment, various dates, including 15 February, 1977 and 22 February, 1985 (I've been searching for a later edition and have been unable to locate same.)

TM 10-8400-201-23 General Repair Procedures for Clothing

Final note on cache buckets. Various grocery bakeries use large quantities of 2, 4 and 5 gallon icing buckets. They are usually free for the begging, although you will likely have to take them still dirty and clean them.

These make excellent cache buckets as they come with a rubber gasketed lid. Use the smaller ones for heavy stuff, ammo, etc., and the larger ones for items of bulk but not great weight. (Sleeping bags, clothing, medical supplies.) You may also mix and match. For example, a five gallon bucket can accomodate two M19A1 GI ammo cans (commonly called "thirty cals") or one M2A1 (commonly called "fifty cals") and then use other material as fillers to cushion them. Ziplock bags are good for sealing up small items incase the integrity of the bucket is compromised by dropping on the trip to the cache. Write a note to self: "Dear Self, don't drop this dummy. Your life may depend upon it."

Procedure for cleaning buckets (even if they've been pre-washed at the bakery):

Take a kitchen knife and remove the black rubber gasket from the lid by slipping the tip under it and prying it out, up the smooth side of the gasket channel. Set these aside and wash them separately. Wash and rewash the buckets with dish-washing detergent, taking care to inspect them before, between and after washings to ensure you got all the remaining icing. Take care to inspect the outside of the bucket at the top to make sure you got all the dried on icing that sometimes accumulates. This is especially hard to spot if the icing is glaze or white. Use the knife to work your washcloth into the inner seam between the sides and bottom of the bucket to get residual icing that may have escaped your handwashing. Do the same with the seal channel in the lid.

Rinse thoroughly and set aside in a dry place, preferably where the sunlight can reach them and dry them over a day or so. Always reinspect them in the daylight to make sure there is no residuum of icing. Place the orings back in lid channels.

Load buckets (throw in desicant if you wish, but it has never been much of a problem for us without it). When you go to seal the buckets back up, put a bead of silicone around the oring and snap the lids back on. Voila. One free cache container, fully loaded.

If anyone has any other logisitics tips, kindly post them below.

Remember, never, ever put all your eggs in one basket. Spread 'em out, now while you've got the time.




Johnny said...

Great stuff. One thing I was concerned about with `Absolved' was that it seemed to be a bit light on logistics and `swimming in the sea.' Truly successful guerrilla operations require the usurpations of the functions of central government: the guerrilla army is dependent on the local population, the guerrilla needs to address the security and welfare needs of the local populations not only vice versa.

Anonymous said...

Isreali armed forces have a rule:

Drink 1 litre of water each hour in combat.

It keeps israeli troops fresh and alert. Dehydration is a major cause of fatigue.