Monday, June 7, 2010

Praxis: Webbing Equipment

From Counterinsurgency by David Kilcullen, Australian Army:

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.

M1956 Gear


Dr.D said...

With belt webbing, it is the pouches that are lifted off the ground, while you can hug the earth to your heart's content.

perhaps an illustration of this would be in order?


Anonymous said...

Pericles said...

At least in my view the real issue is the effect of body armor.

It adds weight (ca. 25 pounds) and that makes the prone to upright movement much more challenging. The LBE system tends to get caught up with the body armor, while the vest rides better and the combined effect is to better distribute the weight.

Without body armor, the LBE style works very well and is the cumulative experience of 100 years of military experience, including two world wars.

Not by chance do I put my MOLLE pouches in the same places I carried stuff with the LBE.

Dakota said...

Point taken. I have a couple of great vests but not the type that are under my nose. I still maintain my "Alice" gear with Vietnam butt pack. It is very good and I prefer it in most situations.

Matt said...

I've recently been carrying around a UTG shoulder bag in MARPAT. It's essentially a clone of the Maxpedition bag, but sells for $25 instead of $80. It's large and roomy, and I can fit all the gear I normally carry in my ALICE rig in it, as well as a 1L Better Bottle. Haven't yet tried it with a full ruck, but for my purposes it seems to work well. It sits on one hip with the strap over the opposite shoulder, which can make for a slightly unbalanced load, but it is easy to move around to the other hip or the back, and has a belt loop to stabilize it wherever it is.

The one disadvantage is that it is right-handed only, so putting it on the left side leaves it in a slightly awkward position. Can't justify paying 3x more, though, just for that convenience.

Anonymous said...

Two points: 1) In warm (or hot) climates, vests trap a lot of heat. Every square inch of torso that is covered creates serious overheating. 2) The more space you have to hang stuff on, the more tendency there is to carry more stuff, the more weight. Lighter is faster.

There is a tendency of new guys to express their apprehension by getting every possible gadget they think they might need and pack it. This is fear driven. When a soldier accepts the fact that he is going to be a casualty, sooner or later, he can shed much of the "stuff".

The Trainer said...

We had a little 3.5 day "soire'" in my neck o' the woods that proved exactly the point of this Praxis:

Too much garbage on one's vest/harness is not a good thing.

Some of my people also learned that the weight of one's gear is exponentially multiplied by a factor of 10 or so with each hour of rainfall, waterresistance notwithstanding.

Keeping the chest and abdomen as clear as possible by removing PPE (personal protective equipment like plates and such), saving room for ammo, magazines, water and IFAK items is essential!

parabarbarian said...

Good advice I am thinking.

Reading it made me recall the Bill Mauldin cartoon where Joe is saying, "I can't git no lower, Willie. Me buttons is in th' way."

monkeyfan said...

+1 on this Praxis Mr. V.
Always good food for thoughts and solutions.

It's so darn muggy hot already (in the low 90's apparent at 5 AM) in my expected AO It has me thinking hard on how to streamline everything. Seems water is going to be more critical than rifle plates or even carry ammo. Re-watering is a potential major weakness unless a cache system can be worked out.

Action in the hot goes a long way toward illuminating to me why the Selous Scouts and Malay era Brits seemed to loved their shorts despite the real potential for their bare legs telegraphing their positions...Nothing that a bit of charcoal and mud can't fix but I always wondered why they took the risk.

Thanks again.

J. Croft said...

I use a rig like this but I strip it down to eight 2 cell 20 rd mag pouches and a rear sack for cleaning kit and whatever. The duffel bag I carry this in as well as my rifle becomes my dump pouch/possibles bag. I'm not in the middle of nowhere so not worried about food or water.

Joel said...

I've tried vests, and everything just seems to get in the way - not to mention being way too hot in a summer desert AO. At the risk of not being tacticool enough, I've pretty much settled back on ALICE gear.

Dennis308 said...

Here in South Texas you NEED WATER,and AMMO. Everything else is I want or I would like to have.


ParaPacem said...

I think anyone who used ALICE will be quick to say that for the type of encounters that most of us consider possible scenarios, it is the best compromise between load bearing and rapid mobility. Not sure who decided that chest rigs were UberTactiCool, and Mike, your son could give us his input since he has worn the chest rig, plates, etc.. I would respect his insight, but for me, I have a simple "hunting' style belt which carries two ammo pouches, two canteens and optional first aid or gun cleaning gear storage... and if I need more, simple Y rig with minimum accouterments will do nicely.

Oh, and to whoever didn't get the reason that wearing six inches of gear on the front of your body would raise you higher from the ground than wearing you gear on the sides and back, well... can only suggest that you might want to go lay down, belly first, on top of a football for a while and then contrast that with laying flat, chest on ground, for a while. You will find that one style is not only more comfy but gives you a lower profile less likely to attract high velocity FMJ sent your way by bad boys.

Pericles said...

Quote I think anyone who used ALICE will be quick to say that for the type of encounters that most of us consider possible scenarios, it is the best compromise between load bearing and rapid mobility. Not sure who decided that chest rigs were UberTactiCool, and Mike, your son could give us his input since he has worn the chest rig, plates, etc..

ALICE tends to get hung up while unassing vehicles, while the vest tend to place the load higher on the chest, which tends to be not so constrained when getting out the vehicle door.

A-stan will be the real test of the vest in infantry action, rather than catching a ride to the fight.

Johnny said...

It seems pretty simple to me: chest rigs are better for mechanised infantry who have to mount and dismount from vehicles alot, and/or situations where you're going in and out of confined spaces like patrolling urban areas where you go in and out buildings; belt order is better for dismounted infantry in the field, allowing you to get closer to the ground. Crawling around, hugging the ground, you don't even want stuff in your breast pockets let alone a chest rig.

IMHO, Threepers should question whether they actually need web equipment at all. Though, bear in mind that carrying heavy metal stuff (like mags an ammo) is going to destroy a jacket pretty quickly if you're crawling about in it, even if the jacket is heavily constructed.

Deadbolt said...

Yep. I wanted to be cool.

So I dropped $130 bucks on a blackhawk chest rig a few years ago and loaded it down with a cleaning kit, 8 ea 30rd 5.56 mags, maps, flashlight, whatever else I could pack into it or on it. It was really cool...yep so cool.

Then I discovered my entire upper body was elevated several inches in the prone position...and the 'bingo' light started going off! I couldn't even crawl.

Needless to say, it's not part of my field kit. It may be a great garrison defense 'grab bag' if the SHTF and you need only ammo, but nothing else.

Thanks for posting this.

Anonymous said...

Chest vests = urban environment (less crawling, more cover)

Alice gear = field environment (less cover, more on-the-deck for concealment)

Different environments = different concealment/carry/tasctical needs

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to toss in my $0.02 worth on this and to preface it by mentioning that this is more for EDC in the vehicle than a preplanned muster. An idea I came across from a couple of different sources is the ‘tactical diaper bag’, something like Mat’s UTG shoulder bag or the old style ‘musset bag’. Not a lot of gear, but if done in a neutral color does not draw attention and will hold a cleaning kit and full mags and work as a dump bag as well.

Won’t hold a rifleman’s load out, but along with my folding stock AK in the tennis racket bag, doesn’t raise an eyebrow on the back seat of the car, and it’s good for a quick grab-and-go in the event of someone having sudden jihad syndrome in my AO.

-Bubba Man

Anonymous said...

Hard to fit AK 20rd mags in the old ALICE LBEs and such... hard to find ALICE gear to accomodate 30rd mags..

Anonymous said...

A TIP from old combat Marine , forget the vest and all except the belt, ammo pouch, and water canteen, look at the old WW2 Pacific films, the Marines carry very little in firefights...