Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Soldier's Load

Tom Kratman writes about weight and mobility at Every Joe. After discussing the weight soldiers in historic armies were expected to carry, he turns to the U.S. soldier and the Taliban fighter. Kratman calculates that a Taliban fighter probably carries no more than 25 lbs., including clothing, food, gear, weapon and ammo. On the other hand:
The American soldier in Afghanistan can’t count on resting before battle if he’s had a long foot march under a heavy load. The enemy attacks when he feels like it. He defends when he feels like it. We may be, and are, bigger, stronger, healthier, better trained, better educated, all too lavishly equipped.

The initiative is still mostly his
[i.e., the Afghan].

And a good chunk of the reason for that – not the totality, no, but a good chunk – is the loads we inflict on our infantry. Here are some figures extracted from a 2003 report for the loads carried by our men in Afghanistan. The percent is the average percent of body weight.
Kratman's table is based on data from 2003, showing that the Emergency Approach Load of an American soldier is between 120 and 140 lbs, depending on his duty position. Even a bare-bones fighting load was 62 to 80 lbs.! Kratman also notes that with newer body armor, the amount of weight is probably 7 pounds more. From Kratman's perspective, our soldiers literally are too laden down to effectively fight.

As preppers, we may face a similar problem of being too laden down to effectively move, whether bugging out on foot, or in a vehicle. (If you haven't been stuck behind a truck hauling a heavy camper on a steep winding mountain pass, you've missed one of the great frustrations in life). Ol' Remus wrote about this issue recently:
Mike Tyson said, "everybody's got a plan until they get punched in the face." So it is with survival gear. Some stuff seems absolutely essential until you schlepp it a couple dozen miles through tough going. The next time it gets demoted it to "nice to have, but." For example, veteran long-distance hikers have often gone from gotta-have rocket stoves to bare bones stoves to no stove at all, perhaps a little grill and maybe not even that. Less gear and more improvising is the "fast packer" way to move further faster. A reasonable goal is 20 pounds or less, including the weight of the pack itself.
He has some thoughts about minimalist hiking/backwoods gear. Read it and ponder.

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