A Closer Look at Our Soldiers’ Preposterous Loads

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Mon, Jun 30 - 9:00 am EDT | 3 years ago by
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    “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else.
    ~ Charles Dickens

    Soldier's Load - Lines of Departure

    I talked last week about the preposterous loads we put on our footsoldiers’ backs in Afghanistan, and how that’s gone a long way toward losing us the war. This week I want to break it down a little, with as recent figures as I’ve been able to find. Note, once again, that the weight has gone up since the 2003 study I mentioned last week.

    Here’s what the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence1 listed, for a rifle platoon leader, a bit over a year ago. Note, here, that this isn’t counting the soldier’s worn uniform, nor his worn boots, underwear, belt, and socks, nor his individual load carrying equipment, the vest that took over from the old harness system. I could quibble, I suppose, over whether the water and food belongs under survivability or under sustainment. I can see reasons for either. Similarly, I’m not sure I agree that the night vision goggles belong under lethality when they’re more about command and control. That said, in conjunction with the laser, they can be used lethally.

    Soldier's Load

    Total weight: 124.05 pounds7, to which I will very arbitrarily add enough for his load bearing vest, uniform, underwear, belt, wallet, dog tags, sunglasses, boots, etc. to bring it up to a round 130 pounds.

    *****

    You don’t really have to be an expert to see the problem. Three things should still jump out at you or, at least, should be revealed by a little thought: 1) it’s just too much damned weight, 2) there is unnecessary – maybe nice to have, but unnecessary – redundancy in there, 3) this is a summer load; how much worse will it get in winter? Or in the mountains?

    *****

    So how do we end up doing this to our troops? There are a few reasons, some of which I’ll explore in more depth in future columns. Some of those reasons are defensible – I won’t admit they’re necessarily right, but they’re defensible. Some are the result of logistic pusillanimity (that means supply cowardice). Some are the result of stupid decisions by higher leadership. Some the result of indiscipline on the part of the lower level leadership and the rank and file. Maybe some is because they’ve gotten a bit spoiled. Some are the result of an ignorant press – but I repeat myself – acting to sway a population with unrealistic expectations, which populace sways politicians, which causes politicians to, in turn, make absurd demands of higher level military leadership. Some is the result of the same mind-bogglingly idiotic, general officer-driven silliness that had special forces troops shaving every day, back in the early days. That’s right; a special forces flag officer demanded that the SF troops in Afghanistan shave, even though they were advising Afghans, and should have been trying to blend in while earning the respect of the people they were advising. Men without beards do not earn a lot of respect in that part of the world.8 One would expect a special forces officer to know that, but nooooo….

    When I say supply cowardice, think back to the old saw, “For want of a nail, the shoe was lost…” all the way to, “the kingdom was lost.” Never happened. “What, never? No, never!” It’s just a silly piece of doggerel, either devoid of value or, because it gives a false idea of the usefulness of “zero defects,” of negative value. It’s a bit like, “The Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton,” generally attributed to Wellington, the victor at Waterloo. The problem is that Wellington never said it and, indeed, could not have said it; Eton didn’t have playing fields until years, more than a decade, after the battle. And yet it’s been used for over a century to justify an overemphasis on competitive sports.

    It’s amazing how often stupid notions coined by amateurs can have so much influence, no?

    Logistic pusillanimity, or supply cowardice, means demanding things be carried that cannot be justified by the risk in not having them to hand or the gain in having them. For example, look at those six MRE meals and the 10 pounds they weigh. That’s food enough for two days, or three if we’re willing to let the troop live off his fat for 24 hours. Has it ever happened in Afghanistan that we had somebody so cut off that they actually couldn’t be resupplied before eating their fourth meal? Unavoidably? I doubt it. Chop the meals in half; save five pounds. Or recognize that the soldier can eat after the nightly resupply, which would allow providing that meal then, and cut his load to two MREs. Save six and two-thirds pounds.

    Spoiled or undisciplined? I don’t lay the charge lightly. Look at three items: the wet weather gear, the sleep system and the poncho with liner. That’s 11 pounds of “nice to have” that’s probably not necessary. I could be convinced otherwise, but it will be a hard sell. This is a summer load, for God’s sake; dump everything but the poncho with liner and add in a light sweater to sleep in if it turns chilly. That should save about eight pounds.

    Then there’s the unnecessary redundancy. Look at that mix of STANO gear (Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Night Observation), at 8.26 pounds. The binos and the rest serve different purposes. The ACOG serves a different purpose from the binoculars. But between the laser PEQ, the night vision goggles and the thermal sight, either the PEQ and NVGs or the thermal can go. Yes, it would be nice if the platoon leader had all that, and a traveling roadshow to entertain the troops, too. But it isn’t generally necessary; it is only nice to have. And it’s a lot less nice when it’s on the boy’s back, weighing him down. I’d say dump the thermal; keep the laser and goggles as they’re more in keeping with his job, which is not direct engagement of targets but leadership and command and control. Save five pounds.

    More redundancy: the IFAK, the first aid kit, doesn’t need to be carried by every man. The combat is just not intense enough for that. One for every third man, and spread out other things to balance it all. Save maybe two-thirds of a pound.

    Toilet kit… two and a half pounds. Dump everything but a bar of soap, a towel and insect repellent (which is probably hiding out there). Save two pounds. “Oh, but what will the men shave with?” “They won’t shave, you idiot. There’s no reason for them to. They can shave when they return from patrol.”

    Maybe we’ve knocked enough weight off to also knock off a liter of water, especially since we’ve gotten rid of the shaving requirement.

    So we’ve cut a grand total of just about 25 pounds. He’s still lugging 105. He’s still going to be outrun by a tuberculoid Pashtun in flip flops with an AK, a water bottle and a bag of almonds.

    It’s still too much. Go on back now and see what has to go if the soldier’s load is to be reduced enough to allow him to find, fix, fight and finish his enemy. Yeah, that, that 31.87-pound mother of a body armor vest. It can’t be supported. The body armor and winning the war are mutually incompatible. If we can’t contemplate giving that up, at least as a day in, day out piece of equipment, then we need to contemplate simply giving up on fighting wars. Of course, ultimately that means our national extinction.

    __________

    1 Fort Benning, GA. I’m not entirely sure why, but every time the Army inserts the phrase, “of excellence,” into something, I can’t help but think of the “Homer Simpson Award for Excellence.” Perhaps I am a cynic. Or perhaps someone with too much rank and too little brains has faith in the magic of words and presumes that the phrase will, or even must, become reality. Or, more probably, both.

    2 Among other things, the VS-17 panel, a bright, foldable plastic sheet, is used to mark landing zones for helicopters or for aerial resupply drops or to keep friendly air from bombing the crap out of you.

    3 The AN/PAS-13 is a thermal imaging weapons sight. It can see not only in the night, but also through smoke, fog, rain, and snow – even dust – with some degradation. There’s a newer version, also lighter, but the manufacturer’s website doesn’t give weight. It might cut 2-3 pounds from the total load. Note, here, that it is possible, at least, that the thermal represents a portion of the lieutenant’s chunk of the platoon’s gear, that it is rotated around among whoever happens to be on watch at night. I don’t think that’s the case, and I’m going with what I think but I could be wrong.

    4 I’m not sure why a platoon leader is carrying a PVS-7, since the PVS-14, a helmet-mounted or hand-held monocular, has become fairly widely available.

    5 This is a laser emitter that attaches to the weapon, useful for either illumination purposes or to aim. It can be seen in the PVS-7 goggles, or the PVS-14 monocular.

    6 Improved Outer Tactical Vest. Body armor, in this case with inserts to defeat bullets, and sundry snap-ons for the groin and neck… It keeps getting heavier.

    7 If you tally up all the weights, there’s a tiny discrepancy in there. It’s probably due to rounding.

    8 I knew the general officer concerned when he was a captain. He was even then very much the anal retentive, salute in the field type. “Sniper check, sir.” He never impressed me at all.

    Tom Kratman is a retired infantry lieutenant colonel, recovering attorney, and science fiction and military fiction writer. His latest novel, The Rods and the Axe, is available from Amazon.com for $9.99 for the Kindle version, or $25 for the hardback. A political refugee and defector from the People’s Republic of Massachusetts, he makes his home in Blacksburg, Virginia. He holds the non-exclusive military and foreign affairs portfolio for EveryJoe. Tom’s books can be ordered through baen.com.

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      • Bronson Justice

        Given that infantry from the Hoplites to the Crusaders have historically worn armor in the 30-50lb range, sometimes even heavier, why do you feel that wearing 40lbs of armor makes fighting a war impossible?

        I can understand the idea that wearing 40lbs of armor while on a patrol might not make sense – in the same way that Auxilia or Velites or Peltasts would be used for a patrol rather than heavy troops – but not every war in America’s future is going to be a war built on patrolling terrain for insurgents.

        • Jamie Robertson

          For light infantry that is supposed to be highly mobile, very heavy body armor doesn’t make sense. It makes sense in heavy urban combat with mechanized infantry, but not for infantry that is supposed to effectively hump themselves (as in, carry themselves, not the sexual term) to battle instead of be carried there by IFV’s.

          The infantry you reference at first fought with blades at blade range. Armor made sense for survivability with constant contact at blade range. Gave the enemy fewer areas in which to strike to kill the disciplined greek or roman.

          If we expect our light infantry to be LIGHT infantry then they give up some protection for the weight saved in order to make them more mobile. In effect, their defense in their mobility. Light infantry isn’t designed to be caught out in the open, and while true, shit does happen, that’s a risk that is taken in war. So, is the risk of ruining the mobility of light infantry (which has to catch the enemy using the two legs God gave them) by loading them down with too much crap worth saving a few lives that were saved by body armor (which they may not have needed if they could move faster into cover, possibly, or have greater per-day range or been in better condition to fight if they had a much lighter load)? It’s a risk, but that’s why we have an all-volunteer force.

          I can see heavy body armor for heavy mechanized infantry that deploys from Bradleys in urban combat. It makes sense there because of the nature of the fight. In the mountains and other areas where non-mechanized mobility is as much of a tactical asset as your gun in some situations, taking that away by loading down the light infantry with too much stuff just doesn’t help.

          It’s like we’re trying to equip our light troops to be both heavy infantry AND LRRPs at the same time. Mutually incompatible mission requirements among all 3 (light infantry, heavy/mechanized infantry, and long range recon).

          Tom, as I am a civilian and thus the epitome of POG, please correct any inaccuracies I’ve made here due to ignorance.

          Though if I have made some accurate observations just by applying what I do know with common sense, then what does that say about leadership in the military when a civilian avionics systems engineer who has only worked in the commercial sector can see problems that generals seem blind to?

        • Tom Kratman

          It’s pretty accurate, with one exception. Ancient battle was largely about morale, which, yes, had a big fatigue component. which had, itself, a big fear factor. Actual casualties, before a rout and pursuit, were usually fairly small. It might be said that the armor’s chief function in protecting the body was more to protect morale, by reducing fear more than it increased fatigue.

        • Tom Kratman

          Were they on foot wearing that or on horseback? Were they carrying at the same time 110 pounds of other crap? Were they trying to hunt people carrying essentially nothing or were they standing in line for a heads-up bloodletting? Did they have slaves and animals to carry the other crap? Do we? And where did I say that we wouldn’t have other wars, of other kinds, in other places, and what does that have to do with this war, in Afghanistan, for the last 12 years?

        • Parmenter

          robots are being tested to function as mules. Whether they make more sense than mules up country, I’m not so sure.

        • Tom Kratman

          We discussed that one last week. Color me skeptical…_really_ skeptical.

          But real mules we could be using about next month sometime.

        • http://www.theannoyeddroid.com Joey Calvey

          If you factor in native handlers. Teaching all these thick city kids how to handle mules would be a nightmare. I’m FROM a farm and I think mules are a pain in the ass… useful pains in the ass.

        • Tom Kratman

          You use a horse, Joey, a mare. For reasons unknown (to me, anyway) mules look up to and follow mares. It’s called a “bell mare” but I understand the bell is a convenience, not a necessity.

        • svartalf

          Yeah, they’re pains in the ass, but there’s tricks (As Tom rightly points out) you can do to lessen their obnoxiousness. You can also get a country boy (That knows how do deal with them…) in the service to be a handler. Make it worth their while and I’m fairly sure they’d do it.

        • akulkis

          Infantry is primarily country boys.

        • Tom Kratman

          Small town or city more than deep country, I think. Farm boys are usually needed by their families on the farm. They’ll go Guard or Reserve, sure, but not so readily regular. There are, of course, exceptions.

        • akulkis

          2/3 of the infantry is in the National Guard. And the guard infantry units are mostly small-town and rural. Most of the city types did at least one hitch as regular army or marines. I grew up in the city, and lived all my life in and around Detroit, other than my college years at Purdue. Started out in the Indiana Guard (1-138th ADA, Lafayette, IN… an overwhelming percentage of the Stinger gunners changed MOS from 11 series… and were almost completely rural. Then moved back to Michigan, 1-125th IN. Did 18 years with them both in headquarter and line companies…. which is 18 years longer than I ever expected to serve in any sort of infantry unit.)

        • svartalf

          Heh… They’re not going to work as well as SSgt Reckless or the mules. >:-D

        • akulkis

          robots with legs are stupid. You’ve got lots of motors and actuators.

          How come we have BILLIONS of wheeled vehicles, and thousands upon thousands of winged vehicles, but the numbers of self-powered legged vehicles is probably countable on your hand…. even if said hand has suffered grievous injury in a stamping-plant accident.

        • svartalf

          As a bit of a student of ancient arms and armor (I’m fascinated by them and spent many a day in the Higgins Armory Museum looking closely at the nearly 3000 pieces of work out of the 5000 piece collection in Worcester, MA) I can do a rough breakdown of the typical Roman foot soldier’s burden.

          The first century AD Roman armor of choice for combat soldiers and not the show-piece stuff the commanders wore that was made out of bronze and the like. And while this estimation, it’s reasonably accurate based of the materials used.

          Lorica Segmentata – 20
          Scutum (Shield) – 12
          Helmet -3
          Greaves – 6

          Armor: ~41 pounds. Thing that you should consider is this- that was 41 pounds of steel and they were actually running lighter than many of the others out there to boot. This doesn’t get into a well-heeled soldier (since they were all required to provide their own armor out of their funds, either subtracted from their pay or bought by the soldier) might be fielding the more difficult to make Roman chainmail that was actually lighter, more agile than the Segmentata. If they were equipped with that type of armor they’d be weighing in at ~25-30# for armor.

          Having said this, with shear thickening materials, super-ceramics, and things like spectraweave and kevlar, you shouldn’t be weighing the same as the steel armor, folks. It doesn’t improve survivability if you’re slowed down by the damned stuff and it’s not any more effective really if you’re piling it on.

          This doesn’t also get into the crap our soldiers are carrying versus what a Roman foot soldier.

          They would typically have one Pugio (dagger), a Gladius or Spatha, and be carrying up to 3 pilum (javelin), arrows and a bow, or something like a half dozen Plumbatata (short, lead weighted throwing darts) clipped behind the Scutum.

          You can expect that they were lugging as much as an additional 15-20# total in weapons, give or take- often with them running in the 10# domain on average. (Weapons aren’t typically as heavy as people imagine them…there’s a reason for it.)

          The rest of the gear varied, but it typically weighed in at about 15# or so with it being as high as 25#. Let’s pick 20.

          So, a well-equipped Roman soldier would weigh in 71# as opposed to ~125#. Yeah, they didn’t have some of the modern gear we’re talking about here- but they basically dominated the entire world picture until the Oikophobia of their Elites combined with the rise of Islam ended that story.

          With modern materials, tech, etc. there is absolutely *NO* excuse for weighing in at 1/2-2/3rds the average soldier’s weight in gear, just in case you need it.

        • Tom Kratman

          I’ve seen higher and lower estimates on what a legionary carried, but 30 to 60 pounds of arms and armor are all within a plausible range. I suspect, though, that they tended toward the lower figures, based mostly on Delbrueck and Marshall.

        • svartalf

          I was trying to stay within the middle of the range because most of the scholars leaned towards the Segmentata being the main armor choice at their peak- mainly because it was blindingly easy to make and very effective, with the type of chainmail they devised being the only thing more effective- with three times the effort to make. Mid to low is my take on that range- and even on the “heavy side, you’re still roughly a third heavier with a US soldier’s loadout- which is ludicrous, if you think about the modern materials, etc.

        • Tom Kratman

          It’s not the materials. We could make everything weight a gram per item…and the mommy factor would still have commanders overloading troops, only with more and different crap.

        • svartalf

          Understood. The thing is, everyone’s going “but it’s only 40#” and “They wore heavier…” (After all, that was ran up the flagpole in this part of the thread)- so you’ve got people piling the armor on, piling the ridiculous un-needed gear, and the like.

          It’s all, really, got to be re-thought- just exactly the way you’re describing it.

        • KenWats

          Kind of wondering about the average size of the soldiers then vs. now. I would imagine the legionary would be a lot shorter and less well fed than the average 11B. Who knows, I guess. They lived in a lot rougher time. As a 5’6″ 160 lb guy, 75 lbs is still a load – but it seemed to slow me down more than the bigger guys.

        • http://www.libertariancomment.com/ Glenn

          And that’s all they carried into battle.

        • akulkis

          A bunch of Hessian soldiers came to fight the Continental Army and militias wearing armor, and not only got their asses handed to them, but many died of heat stroke on marches before ever seeing a single American in combat.

      • Harry_the_Horrible

        Seems to me that a lot of this should be dumped on a vehicle while the troops fight. Or only humped one way to the base camp, while the troops patrol from the base with a much lighter load.
        Or, if you have to bring it on patrol, it should be carried on a mule. Or left on the horse. I see a future for veterinarians with army, at least until roboticists take over.

        • Tom Kratman

          So do I; future coluimns.

        • Harry_the_Horrible

          Well, they sure as heck shouldn’t carry that sort of load to fight!
          A fighting load should top out at about 50 lbs for infantry and about 70-80 pounds for the support guys with MGs and mortars.

        • Tom Kratman

          It takes a while to recover from carrying that kind of load. So if we’re talking about going into a fight from the march, when the enemy is the one who gets to decide if there will be a fight, they cannot be wearing the crap on the march.

      • http://www.libertariancomment.com/ Glenn

        I was a pretty serious backpacker for a while, doing a fair bit of alpine, back country stuff. I regularly went out with a 48-50 ruck and I can tell you that this limits mobility and endurance greatly. In that world, the movement has been back towards ultralite everything and stripping everything possible out. Pack a water filter and half the water. Tiny tent, Trail shoes instead of sturdy boots. Today’s load out for an ultralite hiker can be 25lbs for several days without resupply. These people look so much happier on the trail and can cover 25% more miles per day.

        Of course, I know nothing about combat. That said, the dynamics of the load and the limits it places on you are the same. That kind of load is nothing short of crippling. It’s hard to keep your balance, frequent rest breaks are a must and after a while just the effort of taking off and putting back on that kind of load is torture. I was on a trip once where someone got injured and had to add 25 lbs to my load, didn’t weight it but it was 75 lbs if it was a pound. We were hiking in the mountains and it shattered me. I made it cuz I had to, but the pain alone. And I was not suffering with 50lbs badly at all. 125?

        Of course you can get used to anything but I have to imagine this affects tactics dramatically. I also don’t understand why we don’t have tighter resupply by helicopter? Is that an intelligence thing? The heli gives away position I guess. Like I said, just a hiker, not a soldier. But wow, I simply can’t imagine how carrying this much could ever be a good idea. Under any circumstances.

        • Tom Kratman

          Note, in addtiion, that slow movement frequentr rest breaks and slow movement between them means more time for the enemy to get into position to snipe, more time for a forward observer to get a good location for the mortars, a few klicks away, more time to analyze the likely route and get an IED to it. In short, it hands the initiative to the enemy on a silver platter.

        • TBR

          As a thirteen year old scout I would have carried around 25-30kg all over Scotland if I had not quickly learned to strip the weight down in the preparation weekend march.

          In Basic training we did the “big” march with a total load which was probably around 35kg (ca 77lb). We also carried a lot of unnecessary gear and our G3′s were quite a lot heavier than M4′s. We luckily did not have body armor though.

        • Tom Kratman

          You “sound” like someone who writes sci fi and has a background very similar to what yours sounds like? Is this the case?

      • Greenhair

        I have to say the water is just about right for the conidtions, however thats suposed to be one days supply, so in theory there is a rapid request for resupply or they have a filtration system and if they have a system they need to plan their rout, security and water accordingly to use it.

        That ties into the MREs, if your carrying one day of water why are you carrying 2 days of chow. Especially if your getting a resupply of water daily.

        • Tom Kratman

          Nobody seems to remember the concept anymore, but there used to be this thing called “water discipline.” It was based on the idea that somewhere in between comfort and risk, there’s a level of water usage you can get by with. It’s a concept not without its risks – people will sometimes become heat injuries or even die – but weighing and taking risks is, or ought to be, part of a commander’s job description. And the body can made do with less than an ideal amount.

          I don’t know, and rather doubt, that they do it anymore, but ranger school used to teach water discipline, and it’s plusses and minuses, the hard way. In other words, they only gave you about half of what you might have needed. Nobody in my class checked out of the net over it, but I’d be surrpised if it’s never happened that someone did. One of the interesting effects of the water shortage is headache. I mean a really miserable, pass a kidney stone through your brain, kind of headache. And that makes people bitchy, as in a women’s hockey team with simultaenous periods levels of bitchy. Or a single teenaged girl going through puberty levels of bitchy.

        • Jack Withrow

          I blame NTC and JRTC for the demise of water discipline. When they started having the OC’s enforce hydration to cut down on heat casualties, water discipline went right out the window.

        • Tom Kratman

          And then there was a kid at Fort Jackson some years ago who was hydrated into a morgue.

        • Jack Withrow

          I remember that. You would think that would maybe make the Army take a look at their hydration policies, but to the best of my knowledge it didn’t.

        • Tom Kratman

          No, it did. But the on;y effect that I could see was an admission that it was just barely possible to have too much of a good thing. In practice? Don’t know that it changed anything.

        • akulkis

          Army’s been preaching “hydrate hydrate hydrate” to the point that some privates think that their pee should be absolutely clear, without a hint of yellow in it … which, of course, is a presciption for all sorts of bad things (muscle cramps, heart defibrillation among others due to extremely low electrolyte levels).

        • Tom Kratman

          See below; we’ve killed at least one private with that particular cookie cutter.

      • Scott Klette

        All of this is why im glad i was a tanker when i was in. There is a lot to be said for your weapon system carrying you. With that said, the equipment requirements and loadcweight for those light ingantry who are the ones normally doing the patroling are ridiculous, especially when you start considering weight of the different weapin systems being carried within a platoon and ammunition weight. It’s too bad that common sense is being treated like a disease: frowned upon with disgust and treated as ruthlessly as possible to get rid of it. Excellent article.

        • Tom Kratman

          I was waiting for Joey C to show up but, what the hell, this will do.

          I’m inclined to say that mech, light, air assault, airborne, SF, etc. infantry are distinghuished mostly by the minor detail of how they get to the objective, and occasionally by a degree of selectivity. But the core of the thing is a matter of mind, body, and spirit more than mere technique or technology. In short, there is only one infantry. Moreover, there is only one infantry and it includes tanks, combat engineers, artillery FOs, maybe gun gun crews, and SHORAD too. Why? Because infantry is the place where matters of morale, mind under danger and stress, and spirit begin to assume dominance over merely technical factors and that is generally true for those branches I named.

        • http://www.theannoyeddroid.com Joey Calvey

          Sorry Tom, I live in the energy capital of the world and had a power outage. I was technically SHORAD, although we were only utilized in the ground role. I carried about 60 pounds and no armor for Nijmegan one year, it was more than enough to wear me down.

          I would assume having supported both heavy armor and mech infantry, being attached to 1st AD and 5th mech, that most of the infantry operations I took part in were by heavy infantry/mech, as they typically carried light rucks when doing infantry things, and left the rest of the crap on the tracks. This, however, lacks practicality in mountainous terrain for obvious reasons.

          A friend of mine was a Platoon Sgt. in 10th mtn, and he said a few years ago they were trying to bring the light back to light infantry with no success.

        • TBR

          Nijmegen?

          Military in formation or “civilian”?

          I did the march in one of the last years when you could still do it spontaneously, before they restricted access to keep the numbers down at 47K. Straight from sea duty two buddies and me drove to Nijmegen, registered and did the “civilian” 4x50km. Though you are not required to carry a ruck in that class I did and probably carried more than the 10kg the “military class” 4x40km is required to carry. Still managed to get a sugar flash on the last day and can’t remember kilometers 174 to 194. The last six felt like they took three hours though…

        • http://www.theannoyeddroid.com Joey Calvey

          Military. We carried more than the original required weight. I remember we got a standing ovation as we were doing “metallica” songs as cadences through some of the built up areas. The last day was a BLUR. I think i did it in 90, because 91 was desert storm, or it might ahve been right after i got back from the gulf.

      • Luke Falk

        The one weight that probably won’t decrease much, if at all, is the weight of the weapon, its basic load of ammunition, and its basic sighting system. That weight has been right around 16 lbs since the Civil War. As the weight of the weapon and a round of ammunition has dropped, the number of rounds has increased from the 60 rounds carried by a Union trooper to the 210 carried today.

        • Tom Kratman

          LSAT! LSAT! LSAT! LSAT!
          LoD 2! LoD 2! LoD 2! LoD 2!

          ;)

        • Luke Falk

          When everything gets lighter, they’ll just add more ammo. It will be right back up to 16 pounds.

        • Tom Kratman

          Oh, yeah, it’s not an answer. It is, however, a part of an answer.

        • Jack Withrow

          Luke if you find a rifleman only carrying 210 rds, please take a picture of that. I did not believe such an animal existed today. The troops I saw in Afghanistan were carrying in excess of 400 rds as directed by their chain of command. That did not include the grenades, pyro, extra MG Ammo, and in some cases mortar ammo those guys were humping. I estimate the average rifleman was carrying at least 25 lbs of ammo for the crew served weapons in addition to the ammo for their personal weapon.

        • Luke Falk

          Hey, I agree. Troops today are carrying at least twice the basic load. Which as you say is before all of the squad and platoon common equipment and ammo.

          The weight quoted above for the M4, optic and ammo (15 pounds) is based on that 210 rounds. Somewhere I have the breakdown for the rifleman that breaks down all of the ammo by type, including his share of the squad and platoon ammo.

        • Jack Withrow

          I’m not really sure that 15 lbs figure is that accurate for the M-4, optic and ammo. A lot of riflemen are carrying so many different attachments (folding bipods, additional sighting systems, lasers, handles, etc.) on the M-4 now, that I suspect the M-4 with attachments weighs over 12-14 lbs by itself, not counting ammo. Then every E-5 and above (and a lot of the riflemen) must have a pistol with at least 5 mags, so I suspect the individuals weapons load out is more at the 25 lb mark now if not greater
          And I should say I am not in any way against increasing the basic load, especially with the overall poor emphasis on fire discipline in our training. But there should be some sanity used when increasing the basic load, and that appears to not be the case from what I have seen.

        • Luke Falk

          That 15 pounds is for the basic weapon, optic and ammo. Yes, it all gets heavier when all of the extras get added on, and we’re not helping ourselves.

        • Not a PJ

          Where are you getting the “pistol and at least five mags” figure from?

        • Luke Falk

          Ft Benning want s to give EVERY infantry man a pistol, not just leaders and crew served gunners. The official basic load is three magazines (one in the gun and two reloads) the five magazines comes from doubling up on the reloads.

        • WinterBorn58

          Five fucking mags? Seriously? Two is plenty IMHO. Pistol for oh shit moments, followed by “two is one and one is none”. That two includes the one in the weapon.

          And that’s for people who actually need a pistol in the first place. Jack/Luke, why?

        • Jack Withrow

          I can’t tell you why, it makes little sense to me. All I can tell you is what I saw happening in Afghanistan. I was the only SNCO in my Bde not carrying a pistol. As a 1SG I did not need a pistol and I refused to take one away from someone who might actually need one. My Bde’s policy was to issue pistols to every NCO and Officer and then to issue as many pistols as possible to the Junior EM. I don’t know where they got them, but the Bde easily had 5 times the number of pistols required by the MTOE.

        • Jack Withrow

          From directly observing what soldiers were carrying in Afghanistan. Notice I did not say it was the official basic load for a pistol, but what they were carrying.

        • Softwater

          Canucks had to triple up on their grenade loads due to lack of reliablity of said grenades.

      • James

        Is there any Armor technology that looks good to replace the crap we have got?

        • Tom Kratman

          Spider silk from goats’ milk. (Seriously) Liquid metal.

        • Jonathan LaForce

          Actually being made up at my college campus less than a mile away. This coming semester I’m gonna pester the department about pricing for it and see what I can do to buy some. After that, see what happens.

        • Tom Kratman

          The Thais make a vest from regular silk that’s good for shrapnel and some small arms. Reenforced with liquid metal I could see it amounting to something.

        • KenWats

          I do want to find out more about the liquid metal. I work in metal manufacturing, so this piqued my interest. Any good links on that stuff?

        • Tom Kratman

          Not anymore. They were on my comp at carlisle. But it should show up under a google search for liquid metal or glassy metal.

        • http://www.theannoyeddroid.com Joey Calvey

          Lorica ftw!

        • http://www.theannoyeddroid.com Joey Calvey

          http://science.howstuffworks.com/liquid-body-armor.htm
          Actually a pretty good article about tom’s reply.

        • Tom Kratman

          I got curious about this back when I was at Carlisle, circa 2004, and called the people developing it. I had a couple of questions and a suggestion (why me suggest? I ‘m nobody special but scientists are often _amazingly_ narrow minded and short sighted) which, interestingly, they’d figured out on their own. (Why, for example, different sizes and shapes of particles? That was a suggestion and, yes, there’s a good reason and, yes, it works better). At this point, however, it hasn’t happened. It’s not that high tech a deal, so if it hasn’t happened, I suspect Sheer Thickening Fluid armor is not going to happen.

      • Jack Withrow

        I was trying to pin down just exactly when all this stupidity started about wearing body armor while on patrols and could not come up with a good answer. I suspect this actually started back in Korea but am not sure about it. Having worn that damn IBASS on patrols while carrying all that other crap, I would love for those idiots who made those decisions be required to wear the same things that they mandate the troops wear and carry for the same lengths of time the troops do.
        There is far too much “do as I say, not as I do” in the military today.

        • KenWats

          No body armor when I did Ranger School in ’97. We had Kevlars, but those went on at the ORP right before the raid/ambush, softcap the rest of the time. In the Mech world, where I served, we routinely trained in MOPP-0 with Kevlar and LBE. I think we wore the old frag vests in NTC, but I know we didn’t when we trained at home station.

        • Tom Kratman

          I don’t think they wear it now, unless maybe they’re in one of those abberations where they do an LFX in the course of a patrol. My class only used the helmets for jumps, otherwise it was entirely patrol caps.

        • Tom Kratman

          It did start in Korea, but it made more sense there. I think that’s in the next column or the one after.

        • Jarrad

          Body armor saves lives and is getting lighter. If we didn’t have armor a lot more folks would be dead these days. And what kind of patrols are you talking about? LRPS? Or these patrols through a town or city?

        • Tom Kratman

          Okay, now you’re getting close to the cruz of the question. Note, first, however, that lightened body armor (and that’s highly speculative, since the trends have been heavier for decades now) only means they’ll be carrying more different crap, not that the load will go down.

          Now, does body armor save lives? By that, do we mean fewer people are killed overall? Overal, here, is key. Yes, some guy, Private X, takes a 7.62 on his SAPI, right over his heart, and it is deflected. He has lived. But he and his unit are moving so slowly that a sniper with a Boys Rifle (if I were looking for one, I suppose Afghanistan is as likely a spot to find one as any), has had time to maneuver to a position from which he safely puts a bullet right through the helmet of Spec-4 B. And then, while B was evaced, Taliban T set up an IED along the route of march…

          In short, the calculation is not that direct or obvious, and we cannot really know if we’ve saved lives or not. I am personally inclined to think we’ve saved more than we’ve lost, but it would be impossible to prove.

          But that’s not really the equation anyway, because every man you lose in a losing war is a waste. May as well not even show up. So, all to the horror of mommies throughout the land. what is better, at least as a theoretical and moral matter, to lose X men in a war you lose, or to lose X + 1 in a war you win? Especially when every man lost in the first case is a waste?

        • Ted N

          I flew VIPs in Iraq for a bit. Generals get grumpy when you ask them to put their armor on like every other Joe that flies.

        • akulkis

          Press + soccer-helicoper mom mentality.

      • Jarrad

        Getting rid of the IFAK is not really all that smart. Its saved a few lives and really isn’t that much weight. Its a personal first aid kit and does hold essential kit

        • Tom Kratman

          Didn’t say get rid of it. Said that a 35 man platoon is not going to need 35 of them.

        • Jarrad

          IFAK’s a re getting smaller and its is a part of the FLC/RACK/Chest rig. Usually in a set spot on said rig so if you are wounded they know where to go on you to get to the IFAK

        • Tom Kratman

          When they get it down to under 4 ounces let me know.

        • Not a PJ

          Just so we’re clear, what is your definition of an IFAK? Are you thinking of a treatment kit?
          The general definition of an IFAK in regards to the modern soldier is:

          Tourniquet (for stopping arterial bleeding)
          Pressure Dressing (for stopping moderate bleeding)
          Quick-clot Combat Gauze (heat free hemostatic agent)
          Chest seal (for sucking chest wounds)
          14g Needle (for decompressing a tension pnuemothorax)
          28f Nasopharangeal Airway (for keeping an unconscious patient’s airway open)

          These items can be carried in a pouch no larger than a 100rd SAW pouch directly on a soldier’s kit. They are usually marked with tape and sharpie to identify them as the IFAK. The contents of an IFAK are for self-aid and buddy aid of traumatic combat injuries. They contain the items that somebody will need within the first few minutes of an injury to save the casualty’s life.

        • Tom Kratman

          http://www.usamma.amedd.army.mil/assets/docs/IFAK.pdf

          That’s what AMEDD say is in there.

        • akulkis

          The IFAK carrier has a red tab, so that it’s immediately identifiable as such, and not confused with any similarly-sized pouch. Also, doctrine is to out it on the left side, bottom of the Tac-Vest or Kevlar vest, so that a soldier knows immediately where to find a casualty’s IFAK.

        • Not a PJ

          Also, what makes 4 ounces the magic number? I’m not against lighter medical gear, but why put a weight limit on the items that can stop the two most common PREVENTABLE deaths on the battlefield?

        • Tom Kratman

          Because I don’t see anything It’ll prevent that isn’t covered by four ounces.

        • akulkis

          That’s the one thing I would not get rid of. For example, with the CAT (Combat Application Tourniquet), I can self-treat grievous wounds — such as applying a tourniquet to my right arm while having only the use of my left. All I really have to do is stay conscious enough to wrap it around and then spin the built-in, already hooked up windlass.

        • Tom Kratman

          Now we’re talking; something that weighs under 3 ounces? I could see it, except that I’d still want to see how often it’s been self employed. Once? In 13 years of war? Maybe not. Twice? Maybe not. 1500 times? Oh, yeah. Somewhere between those figures are probably the points at which we say, ” definitely everybody” or “a couple per fire team.”

        • akulkis

          If I need a tourniquet, I want it HERE with me, on my person, not with my fireteam leader who is pinned down 30m away, and who might not be able to get to me until I’ve already died of blood loss.

        • Tom Kratman

          Did you read what I wrote?

        • akulkis

          The Benefit/Cost and Benefit/Weight ratios are far too high to not have at least one CAT in every soldier’s first aid kit. Wound survivability is a key to soldier aggressiveness. The greater confidence that a soldier can sustain a gunshot wound and not die, the greater is his willingness to expose himself to enemy fire.

        • Tom Kratman

          And I repeat the question. And add to that, that until I see figures on the number of troops actually saved by the CAT, I have no idea if that is true, and neither can anyone else. And add to that. HAVE YOU BEEN READING WHAT I WROTE? IF SO, HOW COULD YOU FAIL TO NOTE THAT I DON’T HAVE A NECESSARY PROBLEM WITH EVERY MAN HAVING A CAT. AND IF YOU DID NOTE IT, WHY ARE YOU STILL BEATING A DEAD…CAT?

        • akulkis

          I would venture to say that every soldier in recent years who has suffered areterial bleeding in an extremity. In Vietnam, they learned that if you can get a soldier into an operating theater within 60 minutes of being wounded, the survival rate rate jumps dramatically. And the overwhelming majority of times, the reason is blood loss. The sooner the blood loss is stopped, the gtreater the chance of survival. The CAT provides a means of stopping blood loss within 45 seconds, even by a dazed and confused soldier who had just had half of his arm blown off, without needing to take ANY of his fellow soldiers out of the fight.

          If the soldier’s blood loss is stopped, then he can stay conscious, and if he stays conscious, he can (depending on where the wound is, and whether it’s just arterial damage or a traumatic amputation, or somewhere in between), either man a weapon, run a radio, or at least continue to use his eyes, ears, and mouth.

          I’ll toss by rain gear.. ALL OF IT, to keep my IFAK. In a steady rain, if my wet weather gear is water-impermeable enough to keep me dry, it’s water-impermeable enough to trap my sweat, and so I end up soaked from head to toe with literally not a dry stitch on me anyways.

          I spent a lot of time carrying a PRC-77, and on one occasion, when an M-60 gunner was whining about the weight, I traded him my M16A1 for his M-60, just to set him up for a lot of razzing once we got back in from the training patrol march. I purposely go to the field with a lot of dead weight in my ruck, simply to simulate the weight and the space used by a bunch of ammo and water. Most of my fellow soldiers think I’m nuts for carrying so much weight around…so that I’m always accustomed to it, because as you document above, we don’t go outside the wire with a ruck weighing only 40 lbs.

      • Jarrad

        most of the time you aren’t doing a patrol with all of this. Honestly most of the time we are operating out of a truck. We aren’t carrying 6 meals either. The only IV’s are carried by the medic or guy with the combat lifesaver bag

        • Tom Kratman

          Seems to depend on where and when. Go back to the study I cited to a couple of columns ago. It’s old so look at the newer and smaller list. Most people seem to be carrying most of this most of the time. To the extent they don’t, fine. But, again, too many…

      • Jarrad

        And the Binos well I can say most guys don’t carry them

        • Tom Kratman

          He was a PL; he needs them. But, on the other hand, if the FIST is carrying them, maybe they can share.

      • Jarrad

        And in AFG they mostly use a plate carrier so more weight dropped

        • Tom Kratman

          I very recently was told of a guy who was wearing his plates on a carrier. The bullet _just_missed_ the plate, and passed through his body in a non-fatal way…

          And then it hit the back plate and ricocheted…

          And then it hit the front plate and ricocheted….

          And then it hit the back plate….

          Somewhere in the process, the non-fatal wound became fatal.

        • 11C

          Good thing no one died from a gun shot wound when IOTV’s were the standard issue body armor a few years ago…

        • Tom Kratman

          Isn’t it just?

        • 11C

        • Jarrad

          Well that could happen with any armor honestly

        • Tom Kratman

          Yes, it could., so clearly we should be be covering every soldier completely in ceramic, and having him carry a MASH on his back, too, because, you know, he might get hit anyway and no one else be able to get to him….

      • Not a PJ

        Dump the IFAK? Sir, that point right there detracts from everything else you’ve written in this article. The Individual First Aid Kit is a vital part of every modern soldier’s kit. It carries the bare essentials needed for first line treatment of most gunshot wounds and blast injuries. The days of soldiers having just a field dressing and a cravat in a small pouch died with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Every soldier needs a tourniquet, pressure dressing, and chest seal at a minimum. With these a soldier can self-aid or provide buddy aid (using the injured troop’s kit) until the medic arrives. Do you suggest that the two soldiers not carrying IFAKs wait and bleed while someone who does have an IFAK tries to get to them?
        Also, for you to say that today’s combat injuries are “less intense” is an insult. A gunshot wound suffered in the hills of Afghanistan bleeds the same as a gunshot wound received in the jungles of Vietnam. Simply because soldiers are not killed or wounded at the rates they were in WWII and Korea does not mean the injuries are any less severe. The fact that every soldier carries an IFAK actually speaks for the lower number of soldiers that have been killed in action or died of wounds.
        Thirdly, when you talk of reducing weight and cross-leveling loads you contradict yourself by stating that less IFAKs should be carried. Line medics typically carry the same standard load as an infantryman in addition to their aidbags. When added up, this means the medic is probably carrying a weight similar to (or heavier than) the RTO and machine gunners. Medics typically reduce the weight they carry by relying on a “depth of supply”. If every soldier in the platoon carries an IFAK, the medic does not need to carry as many tourniquets, pressure dressings, and chest seals. The room in their bag and the subsequent weight savings can be used to carry more advanced and specialized medical gear such as advanced airways, cric kits, and IV supplies. By suggesting that only one in three soldiers carries an IFAK in order to save weight you are dumping more weight on your medics.
        All this being said, I do agree with the overall theme of your article. Today’s soldiers are carrying unnecessarily heavy loads into combat and the leadership does need to identify and fix the problem. Body armor needs to get lighter, batteries need to last longer, and pack systems need to be designed to interface with body armor while evenly distributing a load.

        Respectfully,

        SGT Ethan Major

        • Jarrad

          What this guy said

        • Tom Kratman

          What _I_ said.

        • 11C

          So how am I supposed to do self-aid while all my buddies are shooting at the dudes that just shot me or sweeping for IEDs in the IED belt I just got blown up in? Have you ever been in a real mass casualty situation, Tom?

        • Tom Kratman

          Whenever I see something like this I have to wonder if this is checking the block: “Disqualify,” on the left wing internet argument checklist. But let’s play along. No, So the fuck what?

        • 11C

          So how can you say what is or isn’t necessary for the warfighter to carry on the modern battlefield? How do you propose Soldiers do self-aid when the only people with IFAK’s can’t reach him?

        • Tom Kratman

          How can you say what is the sound of purple. Conversely, how can you deny that “a mule may have been on 20 campaigns with Prinz Eugen, and still be just a jackass for all that”?

          See, I can play the disqualify game too. And I’m probably better at it. Juris Doctor, doncha know. Oh, and yes, Infantry, field grade, retired, ranger tab, CIB, and I’ve been a student of war for 54 + years.

          So what are your qualifications? Have you been in a mass casualty? How many casualties.were there?. Where was it? Who with? What were the natures of the injuries? What wasd the nature of your injury? How much of your IFAK did you use? Was anyone actually cut off from aid? Did any of them die?

        • Centurion

          I’m just going to note that in reality if you are trying to self aid it would be more useful for you to have the CAT on your vest, instead of buried somewhere in your IFAK. It’s a lot easier to just rip the damned thing off your shoulder than it is to go hunting for something that might be in an awkward position for you to reach in full armor while being shot at. Just my two cents worth as an USMC Veteran and former Academi contractor.

        • 11C

          I agree completely. I carried a SOF-T tourniquet on my plate carrier, but I still carried an IFAK.

        • Not a PJ

          Truth.

        • Tom Kratman

          Self aid or buddy aid. Tha C-A-T looks to weigh, what, couple of ounces? Again, I’ll go for a couple of ounces without a bitch.

        • akulkis

          When I was in theater, I opened up the plastic package, took out the CAT, took it out of ITS plastic package, and put it along the side of the IFAK, so all I would have to do is squeeze the catch on the IFAK case, then grab the CAT. Fortunately, I never had to actually do such a thing in earnest.

        • 11C

          I have been in one in Afghanistan, unfortunately. As a result, I began carrying more medical equipment and ammo. As someone who also has a CIB, I would ask you to please answer my previous questions about how to address that issue.

        • Tom Kratman

          So you’re finished with the dick measuring disqualification game, are you?

          (Though you didn’t really answer my questions, I’ll go ahead and be polite and answer yours.)

          Looking at what’s in the IFAK (http://www.usamma.amedd.army.mil/assets/docs/IFAK.pdf), most of it can go. The only thing that’s truly lifesaving there are the touniguet.and the breathing tube. You are not going to be administering your own breathing tube. So it’s really down to the tourniquet. You have a belt. If you are worried that you may be too out of it to use your belt, then you are probably relying on someone else. He can get your belt. Or, in the alternative, maybe the reason he’s at your side is that he’s among the one half carrying an IFAK, and has a tourniquet. Or two, because, after all, most of the CLass VIII in the IFAK is not life saving.

        • 11C

          I do not need a link to show me what is in an IFAK. I have carried one the entire time I have been in the Infantry. I do not know if you have read the book The mission, the men and me by LTC Pete Blaber. One of my favorite quotes from that book is “always trust the guy on the ground”. You currently have recent combat veterans from the war that you are talking about telling you that it is silly to ditch the individual first aid kit and you are laughing them off.

        • Tom Kratman

          I’m not laughing anybody off. I don’t laugh a whole lot anyway. But I’ve asked you questions, IIC, on how to justify the IFAK for every man, and I’ve asked you your specific personal qualifications that you alluded to in trying the disqual gambit with me. I am not getting answers that satisfy.

          And it’s a stupid quote, because there are shitheels in every group, to include guys on that ground, that would preclude “Always” trusting them without knowing a little bit more. Some you trust, some you don’t.

          I don’t believe any fair reading of the link was an invitation to you to see anything you didn’t know. Now it _could_ be taken as an invitation to justify everything but the tourniquet and tube, but you haven’t done that.

        • 11C

          I am not going to drop names, specific places or events regarding Soldiers (my friends and platoon mates) being severely WIA. It is silly to ask for such things in an open forum. I did not ask you to tell me the specifics of any mass casualty event you might or might not have been part of. I was merely asking if you had been because that could possibly give credence to your assertion that ditching the IFAK is a good idea.

          Since you are so eager for real world scenarios: What should Soldiers do when their PL needs a needle chest decompression and the medic’s aid bag is blown apart because he is injured too?

        • Tom Kratman

          It’s silly to start the disqual game if you can’t carry through, too.

          But, fine, well let it go. But no more.

          What should soldiers do when the enemy detonates a huge thermobaric bomb and kills them all? You can paint all kind of “Oh, my God, the horror, the horror” scenarios. But what are the odds? Has someone been saved by a needle in an IFAK? I am _absolutely_ sure it’s happened. But because the medic’s aid bag disintegrated? Really? Who applied the needle? Did he have another needle for himself? Was that needed? How many needles weren’t used in that unit that day?

          With the _possible_ exception of Wanat, I just haven’t seen the justification for the existing redundancy in Class VIII. It’s not about not having the stuff, and though someone here made the attempt to claim it, no, I haven’t suggested not having it for the men. I simply don’t want to have more of it weighing them down, even slightly, than probable events suggest would be needed, plus a little for paranoia and to placate Murphy and Mong.

        • akulkis

          Tom, NOBODY in the Army goes into theather without knowing how to start an IV. We don’t wait around for a medic to do that now… that’s buddy aid now.

        • Tom Kratman

          Wrong needle. That one is the 14g pneumothorax jobbie. The point really wasn’t the needle. And it wouldn’t have been if we were talking IVs, either. We were talking about painting fairly unlikely events as reasons to do x or y consistently.

        • akulkis

          That’s all part of Combat Lifesaver Training. NOBODY goes into theater without being CLS qualified. It’s not an option any more. You are just plain old not eligible to deploy until you’re CLS qualified. EVERY MOB site runs CLS classes, and frequently.

        • Tom Kratman

          I’m not sure what this has to do with what I wrote. (That’s a tactful way of saying, “go read what I wrote and then _you_ figure out if there’s any connection between the two.”)

        • J

          I have served with MEDEVAC foe the last two deployments and I’d like to state we rarely saw correct life saving measures employed beyond the CAT.

        • akulkis

          Because the IFAK isn’t the problem. It’s the 35 pounds of mobility-destroying (and spine-destroying) body armor that’s the problem. I’ve lost count of how many Iraq & Afghanistan vets I know who are on total disability from spinal column injuries due to the weight of the damned body armor.

        • akulkis

          Yeah, but you can’t self-apply a tourniquet to your arm using your web-belt. I can literally have a CAT stopping arterial bleeding on one arm (with the injured arm completely unhelpful) in less time than it takes to take off my belt, and then re-loop the thing (remember, gotta do this one-handed), and figure out what the hell I’m going to use for the windlass. Your web-belt is great if you’ve got a buddy around, but doctrine is to defeat the enemy before treating casualties… so anything that improves self-treatment of serious wounds ALSO improves the willingness of a rifleman to expose himselt to hostile fire and defeat the enemy in the first place.

        • akulkis

          I’ll gladly ditch my body armor and helmet before ditching my IFAK.

        • Tom Kratman

          I strongly suspect that a great many people would happily carry 12 pounds worth of IFAKs to get rid of 36 pounds worth of armor and k-pot. Unfortunately…

        • akulkis

          I’ll keep the helmet — it’s not likely to increase my risk of getting wounded by bullets, nor cause me to die of heat stroke. Personally, I think we should go back to the ballistic nylon vest. It stops fragmentation, yet it doesn’t slow down a a soldier in a firefight like the IOTV and SAPI plates do.

        • Tom Kratman

          The binos are actually justifiable, because the wide field of vision does give the leader something a narrowly focused scope won’t, a (stealing a phrase from Napoleon) chance at “coup d’oeil.” the ability to take in a broad situation for the mind to analyze as a totality.

        • akulkis

          I think the ACOG (4x) has a similar field of vision as binos (6x). I haven’t done a side-to-side comparison for field of view,, but finding your target with an ACOG is far easier than finding whatever it is you want to look at with binos. The only think the ACOG really lacks is stadia lines.

        • Tom Kratman

          The field of view for an ACOG in 4×32 is seven degrees. Some versions with similar power to the binos are as narrow as 3.3 degrees. The M24 binos are also seven. Others have had wider FoVs; the M22, for example, is listed at 7.5. But at the range you tend to use binos, with their greater mag, and using both eyes, and, I daresay, both sides of your brain, and seeing in more detail, at the longer ranges, while sweeping more naturally and comfortably, with less unnatural distraction, they do something the ACOG doesn’t.

          I nosed around and found some birdwatching binos with FoVs on the order of 70 to 100 degree, but those strike me as too much information.

          Now, as long as _everything_ is on the table, does that mean we need both binos and ACOG? Maybe not. Useful is not the same as necessary (Which is, btw, the same point I’ve been making baout having an IFAK per man). Can we shitcan the binos, or share them between FIST (forward observer, for the non-cognoscenti) and PL? Maybe. Another option might be a couple of ounces of plastic frame to mount two ACOGs to, but a) that’s way outside my paygrade, b) might not work, or c) might not be worth it.

        • Tom Kratman

          Read more carefully, please. Then tell me how many IFAKs you need for a platoon that has taken 98.6 % casualties, half of them dead. Then tell me who is actually conscious enough to be using the IFAKs in that platoon. Then tell me how many you need for a platoon that has taken one casualty. In short, no every soldier does not need those things. It has never happened, not once in history, that every soldier needed those things.

          And do try to distinguish between the individual combatant and the intensity of the combat. Try this: Omaha Beach, Campany A, 116th Infantry, 120 casualties out of under 200 men. That’s intense. We have seen nothing like that in Afghanistan. If you want to join the grievance and insult mining industry, go ahead, but to compare Afghanistan with Omaha Beach is an insult to the men who landed at Omaha Beach. See, it’s not about the injury to the man who is hit; intensity is about the level of combat for the group. These are different things.

          Wanat seems to be as bad as Afghanistan has ever gotten. How many IFAKs were depleted?

          Try, seriously try, to defend that statement that I am contradicting myself. Then, kindly, show me one action in Afghanistan where 35 tourniquets got used before Dustoff showed up. How about where 17 got used? How about where the medic actually used all of everything he had of any one type? Or would have but for every man having the IFAKs?

        • Not a PJ

          Sir,
          The cross-leveling of medical supplies to save weight for the medic is just one part of the equation. While there is little chance of every IFAK being used in a 35 man platoon, would you volunteer to be one of the soldiers without one? What happens when you are one of the IFAK-less soldiers pinned down in a wadi after sustaining a gunshot wound to the leg and the closest IFAK is 30 feet away?
          In regards to your Omaha Beach comment, I am not detracting from the Veterans of previous wars in any way when I say the injuries sustained are no less severe. A gunshot wound or a traumatic amputation from an explosive bleed the same whether you were shot by a member of the 6th Fallschirmjäger Regiment or an untrained Afghan farmer. I will point out that if, in 1944, each soldier had an IFAK and the proper training the casualty rate may have been less.
          As far as your asking of an example where 35 TQs were used in a single action, I’m sure if I dig deep enough I can find some numbers that will come close to answering your question. Line medics can only carry so much and I know there have been times where they have had shortages on equipment in the middle of an incident. This problem is mostly avoided by using the casualty’s IFAK before treating them with the contents of your aid bag.
          I don’t know a single person who’s left a firefight thinking “shit, I wish I didn’t have a tourniquet”.

        • Tom Kratman

          Yes, I would, provided it were a decent unit, cohesive, where I trusted other men. Do you know what you do if you’re shot and bleeding like a pig and have no tournequet? Belt. Yeah, belt.

          And you are, for reasons perhaps best known to you, continuing to confuse the difference between the trauma of an individual injury and intensity of combat. Perhaps you can explain why this is so. In forming your explanataion, test it againt this: Combat has one meaning. Injury has another. And while combat frequently involes injury, they are not the same things.

          Then dig.

          Do you know any people who say, “Shit, I wish I wasn’t carrying so much”? If you know people who say the one thing, but don’t say the other, maybe, just maybe, it’s because they’re not really thinking about it.

        • Not a PJ

          So you expect me to take off my belt and find an object to use as a windlass all while pinned down and bleeding like a faucet?

          How many times have you had to place a tourniquet on someone, let alone make an improvised tourniquet while a casualty bleeds to death? You seem very set in the Cold War method of thinking when it comes to tactical medicine.

        • 11C

          Well said.

        • Tom Kratman

          No, you can use my belt. Or sling. Or you can be among the half who are carrying an IFAK. Indeed, you might be among the half who are carrying an IFAK that has the non-lifesaving material deleted and perhaps two tourniquets. Or you could be carrying a pack of clotting agent.

          Know what you use for a windlass in a place with no trees? A pen? A rifle or carbine? Bayonet if he’s carrying one? Though with a belt, you don’t necessarily use a windlass. You will need one if you use the rifle sling, though, which is often easier to get at.

          How many times have you put a tourniquet on someone? Can I have his name and rank? Again, as I suggested to 11C, please stop trying to check the block – “Disqualify” – on the internet argument checklist.

        • Not a PJ

          So instead of carrying a 2.7oz TQ that is purpose built to stop bleeding, you expect me to take off my belt and use my rifle barrel as a windlass to stop myself from bleeding to death. Now my pants are falling down and my rifle is out of the fight…

          I’ve placed my share of tourniquets on patients. They work.

        • Tom Kratman

          Why no, if we chopped the IFAK down to just that and maybe a breathing tube, or one for every other man, we’re at the level I said to Jarrad: to paraphrase: “Talk to me when we get it down to four ounces.”

        • akulkis

          The sucking chest wound device weighs even less than the tourniquet, AND it can be self-applied. All the casualty has to do is open his vest, pull up his t-shirt to expose the wound, stick it on his skin, and then seal the edges by applying pressure to any leaky spot until it’s stuck.

          Collapsed lungs suck… they force the casualty to remain in very non-tactical body positions. The sooner that sucking chest wound is sealed and the air removed from between the lung and chest wall, the quicker that soldier can begin performing useful things with his rifle. We want that man returned to the base hospital, not to graves registration.

        • akulkis

          Tom, the CAT weighs in at about 2 ounces. It’s LITERALLY a lifesaver, it takes up all of the space of 4 pencils laid side-by-side, and it can be applied, one-handed, in under a minute…and it’s easy enough to do so that you can even do it while still in a very hazy state of “what the hell just happened to me, holy shit, my right arm looks like a blood fountain” state of mind.

        • Tom Kratman

          It was this one that made me comment, short version: read the whole thread first.

        • akulkis

          Everyone going into theater is Combat Lifesaver qualified now. which means everything in that IFAK, we know how to use. We don’t need to wait for a medic to get to us (or more frequently, for someone to drag us to a casualty collection point). Yes, every E-1 private in theater knows how to insert a nasalpharangeal airway. And J-tubes, too. Doctrine now is for the medics to do the stuff that actually requires going AIT at Fort Hood to learn.

          What’s that saying — when seconds count, the cops are only minutes away. Same thing goes for tourniquets, etc. We don’t need people dying because the medic has his hands full when the soldier could have self-treated himself with $2 in supplies that weighs a couple ounces.

          When I was a commo guy, I always made sure that every vehicle in the company had extra handmikes and communications headsets. Why? Because there’s no reason to have $50,000 worth of radio equipment not being used to it’s full extent when needed because a $250 headset went on the fritz.

          Similarly, a soldier who has been trained at great expense to the army, should not have his life needlessly put at risk for lack of the absolutely lifesaving contents of the IFAK. The IFAK is much more useful for keeping men ALIVE than the old individual medical kit from 20 years ago (with eye ointment and boo-boo bandaids, for crying out loud), but which was utterly worthless when a soldier was at risk of being Dee Eee Dee DED in less than 5 minutes due to blood loss.

          I’ll give up the SAPI plates before the IFAK.

        • Tom Kratman

          Giving them up is not mutually exclusive, you know. Though, note, I never said get rid of the IFAK. What I said was cut down the density. I’m reasonably comfortable with leaving a CAT with each man. I am not so comfortable with much of the other material.

          I’d still want to see figures for use by item. I still want to see ways to cut down the weight. And I am still unconvinced that every item in there really needs to be in there. (For example: When a soldier spurting blood from an artery goes for his CAT, is he going to put gloves on first?)

        • Softwater

          If your buddies are packing light then they can move _quickly_ over that 30 feet to you or the enemy. If you are packing heavy you have sit and take it.

        • akulkis

          Well, the difference between light and heavy is the 35 pounds of kevlar on his body (which is also pushing up the heat category by 2 notches), not the 16 ounces of lifesaving materials in the IFAK.

        • Tom Kratman

          By the way, I could be convinced of the need for every man to carry an IFAK, but I am not going to be convinced by mining for the grievance and insult industry.

        • akulkis

          The keep soccer-mommy happy body armor is the bigger problem.

          1. It weighs too much to allow sufficient ability. You can’t run in it. You can’t flop to the ground in it the way you remember taking a dive using the butt-stock of your weapon to break your fall. It makes it very difficult to climb walls (more weight, and the SAPI plates are pushing your body a couple inches away from the wall). Slower foot-soldier = more likely for an enemy rifle round to hit him in the first place.

          For defensive purposes, the IOTV with SAPI plates are a great thing, but they are quite inappropriate for a foot patrol. If a dismounted soldier is caught in an IED blast, that vest isn’t going to help him, as he’s going to killed by severe injuries to the head and neck anyway. If I’m on my rotation at guard tower duty, or gate duty, then hell yes, I want that IOTV. Possibly even doin any sort of “meet and greet” with the locals. But any sort of patrol where my squad has a mission of looking for (or even creating) trouble, the IOTV is more hindrance than help. I don’t care if it makes my mom feel better that I’m wearing it … it makes me feel less able to keep moving quickly enough to stay out of the enemy’s sight picture. And trying to aim a rifle well enough to hold tight groups while in wearing SAPI plates and laying in the prone is hell, too. So, it hinders my ability to stay out of the enemy’s sights. It hinders my ability to pursue the enemy and stay within small-arms range of him, and even if he is in small arms range, it’s limiting my ability to put a round through his chest cavity.

          Other than a few well-trained snipers, most of our OPFOR can’t shoot worth shit. AK fire is used primarily to try to keep us pinned long enough to use RPGs and if they can get there hands on some, an RPK, RPD, or PK. Lots of spray and pray, or hip-shooting (which is effective against a slow-moving guy who can’t run fast, nor flop to the prone quickly, because he’s got a SAPI plate banging against his spine… or alternatively, the SAPI plates are held against the body so tightly that they don’t bang against him, but now he can’t breath well enough to run for more than 5-10 meters before he’s fighting for more air). Lack of oxygen => higher heart rate and heavier breathing, which is contrary to well-aimed rifle shots. Hard, round SAPI plate makes for unstable upper body, and again, contrary to well-aimed rifle shots to shoot Mr RPG-man or Mr RPD/RPK/PK gunner before he causes friendly casualties.

          In contrast with all of that, the IFAK is 1 pound of pure goodness. If I were going into a firefight, if you offered me an equivalent weight of gold, which you would hold onto for me (so that I wouldn’t have to carry it) and give it to me me after the firefight is over, I would STILL keep my IFAK. It’s that important. I don’t know ANYONE who has been in a combat arms unit, or who has had to go off base who would give up their IFAK.

        • Tom Kratman

          The similarity there is that, except for what’s needed, the contents might as well, indeed, be gold for all the good they’d do saving of life-wise. For the soldier who is unhit, they’re not a pound of pure goodness. They’re just another pound, until and unless we’re talking sharing. But if we’re talking sharing, they’re no longer an IFAK, but an STFAK (see why I _really_ want you to read the whole thing? I’ve already been through this before.) And if we’re talking an STFAK< then we really need to back off and analyze what is really needed.

        • akulkis

          A tourniquet doesn’t help you if it’s not on your body. 30 meters away when everyone is pinned down might as well be on the other side of the planet for all the good it does for the guy who is bleeding out, and if he loses consciousness due to blood loss, then he’s completely dead weight until he can be CASEVAC’ed or MEDEVAC’ed back to base. He can’t shoot his weapon. He can’t run a radio and try to raise a connection with mortar, artillery, or air support. He can’t even say, “Hey, sarge, 4 of those bastardss are trying to sneak around to our right flank.”

          With a CAT on his person in his IFAK, that soldier with the arterial wound is still in the fight, contributing something, because he didn’t half bleed out before someone could bring the fireteam CAT to him.

          And for all of it’s weight, the IOTV still leaves soldiers vulnerable.

          In Baghdad, Thanksgiving morning, 2006 started with SSG Priestap of 46th MP CO, (a sister company in the battalion my company was deployed with), getting shot right through the heart. 35 pounds of kevlar and ceramic plate didn’t do him any good, and in fact, might have even been why he was shot — even in 40 degree whether, if you’re wearing an IOTV, you’re in HEATCAT 3. On a 60 degree day, you’re in HEATCAT 4. So, neither SSG Priestap or anyone in his squad on the checkpoint they were manning were moving around all to sprightly… or even moving at all if they didn’t have to. Lots of standing around like a statue, which is what turned SSG Priestap into perfect sniper bait.

          Did the IFAK save him ? Obviously not.
          But I’m willing to say that the IOTV contributed to his death, not because it failed to stop the bullet fired at him, but because the IOTV is so fatiguing, it turns everyone who wears it into a slow to non-moving bullet-magnet.

          I used to think the IOTV was a great thing. But now I see that it’s caused as many injuries as what it’s prevented…and..frankly, the injuries caused by the IOTV are usually worse than the wounds that the IOTV prevented.

          Gunshot wounds to the chest — if the bullet doesn’t hit the heart, and as long as you can keep the lung from collapsing (chest seal with flapper valve), and fluid & air buildup from causing heat failure due to tension pneumothorax (14 ga. needle) — are generally survivable, and don’t cause lifelong debilitation.

          In contast, the IOTV with SAPI plates has caused spinal injuries to young men at their physical prime, to the point that they’re rated at 100% disability, several of whom are close friends. I’m long-term unemployed right now, and wouldn’t trade places with any of them, even though that 100% disability pays them over $3000/month.

        • http://www.theannoyeddroid.com Joey Calvey

          It has to suck being Sgt. Major. We had a Major Minor in 6/3 ADA at one point.

          But. IFAK. 35 per platoon? thats pushing it. Remember, this is lightening up the platoon leader, specifically. We had one combat lifesaver w/bag per track, the grunt sections had usually one per squad.

        • Tom Kratman

          Nah, what sucks is growing up in a white Irish Catholic place like South Boston, Masachusetts, with a name like Kratman: “You grow up hard and you grow up mean; your fists get fast and your wits get keen, and you roam from town to town…”

        • Duffy

          Least your Momma did not name you Duffy. Even the girls come after you on the playground then.

        • KenWats

          I knew two officers with the last names “Dick” and “Woody”. Both O-3s, soon to be O-4s.

        • TBR

          I was once treated by a corpman Maat (E-5) Rose, Spoken it sounded like “Matrose” (E-1 recruit). She probably had lots of fun on the phone as duty NCO in the medical station.

        • James

          Could have been worse. Could have called ya sue.

        • akulkis

          Went to Baghdad with a company which included a PFC Sharp and a PFC Manley, who the 1SG referred to as “the not-so brothers.” And his epethit was accurate.

        • 97E

          Haha… One of my old roommates here has the last name Duffy.

      • Jack Withrow

        Col, Every Sqd Ldr to Co Cmdr is also carrying a pistol now as well as a large part of the riflemen. So there should be a few more lbs added to the lethality column for that pistol, ammo, holster and cleaning gear.

        • Tom Kratman

          I answered this already.

          Anyway, “The Mind shudders.” But, I suppose if they don’t have the pistols and some mommy or daddy complains…

        • akulkis

          Unfortunatel it’s that stupid Baretta, which has been known to put its firer into the hospital due to catastrophic failure of the slide (slide breaks, sending huge chunk of metal right into the firer’s face, causing immediate amounts of incapacitating pain, if not serious injury if it happens to smash the nose towards the brain).

          We should let the Europeans pick the NATO rifle bullet and the U.S. pick the pistol bullet. Then we would have the best of both types of ammo, rather than the current situation in which we have th worst of both types of ammo)

        • Tom Kratman

          Actually, my personal favorite that’s available, 6.5 Grendel, is ours too. I’m not actually a big fan of general issue of pistols. It’s a lot of weight and an increased maintenance load, for not very much. A bit like bayonets, I think they ought to stay in the arms room or whatever truck is carrying same, and get issued as needed. I could be convinced otherwise, but it wouldn’t be an easy sell. Now tell me you want a redone Sterling SMG in ,45, for room brooming and trench clearing, and I’ll still say “arms room until needed,” but I’d really like to have a dozen or so of those in an infantry company. (Why Sterling? I think it’s the best SMG ever made.)

        • akulkis

          Screw the Stering. Having shot it and many other submachine guns (thanks to a retired colonel friend of mine with an extensive automatic weapons collection upto and including an M-2) I prefer the M-3 “Grease Gun”. Divorced — so rather than spend his money on silly women’s shit, he spends his money on machine guns and ammo.

          * ONLY HAND-HELD FULL AUTO WEAPON I’VE EVER FIRED THAT DOESN’T CLIMB OR OTHERWISE WANDER FROM THE POINT OF AIM WHEN YOU FIRE IT. This is out of dozens that I’v fired on full auto care of the previously mentioned colonel.

          * Nice .45 round so that whoever you hit knows he’s hit, he’s gonna fall down, and he’s gonna think long and hard before he gets up.

          * Simple to operate. The dustcover IS the safety. When the dustcover is closed, cocked and it’s on safe. If the dustcover is open, it’s either fired, or the bolt is foreward. TOO EASY!

          * Blowback operated. Simplest firearm mechanism I have ever seen.

          * Dirt-cheap to produce — everything except for the barrel, chamber and bolt are stampings or (for the rear stock) stock steel rod. Then assembled with rivets and spot welds. The bolt is basically a short length of 2-inch diameter steel stock, wth a very slight bit of machining (firing pin, sear engagement point)

          * simple to retool a shop to put it into production, and a single assembly line can produce hundreds/hour.

          * Extremely dirt tolerant.

          * Extremely cold-tolerant.

          * Cleaning? Not an operational necessity — needed only to keep the sheet metal from rusting. Cleaning can be safely put off until return to base… or after the war is over… or when you want to put it in a museum… or something.

        • Tom Kratman

          I’ve fired both quite a bit, too. I prefer the Sterling to the M3, even in 9mil (and I don’t like 9mil). I’d prefer it more, mind you, in .45, or .40, or 10 mil or whatever the hell our next pistol cartridge is.

        • akulkis

          I like the M-3 because it’s so utterly simple. A lot of damage to it can be fixed with a hammer, and/or a metal coat hanger + a set of civilian jumper-cables hooked up to a car battery (in the event that a spot weld needs to be repaired)

        • akulkis

          Even if the Euros didn’t pick the Grendel, they WOULD pick a rifle round in the 6.5 ~ 6.7mm range… which is the optimal range of calibers for the standard-issue line rifle.

      • Jarrad

        When I was on a patrol I don’t think I ever had a ruck. I wasn’t carrying extra clothes or food. I carried an assault pack with maybe some demo or some extra ammo. I had armor. chest rig, helmet, Nods, and weapon. 5-6 mags on my rig, IFAK, and A camelbak with water. We operated out of a COP and had trucks. Most Patrols are running things these days out of a truck

        • Tom Kratman

          That’s because we’ve given up on winning the war and have dropped down merely to force protection, I think.

        • Jarrad

          This is not recently. This was 05-06 Ramadi, 07-08 Baghdad, Back when we were fighting.

        • Tom Kratman

          Iraq was a little different, too. It was a much more developed area, and the enemy wasn’t perhaps quite as tough.

        • Jarrad

          Even in AFG most patrols aren’t far from the base they are operating out of. They carry fairly light loads. Most do have vehicle of some kind near by with most of the heavy equipment.

        • Tom Kratman

          I suspect that’s because we’ve given up on the war and are down to force protection and a little good will generation with the tranzis.

        • akulkis

          True. And nobody wants to be the last man killed in AFG.

        • akulkis

          Well, we’ve given up on routine foot patrols because the powers that be think that nobody can leave the wire without 60 pounds of essentials, plus 75 pounds of crap. Everyone goes from piont A to point B in a vehicle, because, as you pointed out, if they were to be engaged while carrying 135 pounds, they would lose because they would be too fatigued to fight. And at that point, we’ve become purely reactionary.

      • Jarrad

        And most folks are using pvs14′s these days.

        • Tom Kratman

          See footnote four.

      • Dan Kemp

        God, I need to sit down and figure out what I was walking patrols with.

        Never seen a LT carry his own PAS-13. Usually we had one in a squad, and if the LT needed to borrow one we handed it off to him. And I haven’t seen a 7D walking around a line company in YEARS. The only guys in B 3/502 who had them in 2003 were the company mortars. I hardly ever see the old two-battery style 14s anymore either- the improved one-battery type phased them out. Also very rarely seen an LT with his own ASIP. Usually the platoon RTO has that, and the LT has an MBTR which weighs half that much. Actually I think they use different radios in Afghan, but this is where my years out of the game work against me.

        Plate carriers mostly replaced the IOTVs in Afghan, at least in some of the regions. Will still stop a bullet to the vitals but a lot less overall mass.

        And no, keep the IFAK. One pound of really awesome life insurance stuff for keeping the red stuff inside where it’s supposed to be.

        • Tom Kratman

          I’m looking at the contents of the IFAK as I write, Dan. Most of it can go.

        • Jarrad

          What do you mean by most?

        • Tom Kratman

          Everything but the tourniquet and tube, and perhaps a bandage or some quikclot, (which isn’t in there); if it is not a question of immediate life and death, or permanent crippling if something particular isn’t done RTFN, it can go. And I am still not convinced that, even for that lower level, every man needs one.,

        • akulkis

          Sucking chest wounds kill by causing a collapsed lung. Most sucking chest wounds do NOT cause immediate loss of consciousness. Any soldier can self-apply that thing in under 2 minutes. If a firefight, who knows when someone can get me dragged back to the casuatly collection point to be treated by a medic. By that time, I could have a collapsed lung. (Having had a collapsed lung twice in my life, without any holes in my body, was bad enough. If I can treat my sucking chest wound quickly, I can continue to aim and fire my weapon (althoughy my mobility is shit), and I will stay conscious longer. The quick clot bandage is for any other serious wound. How good is the quick clot bandage? It can stop the bleeding of a severed femoral artery WITHOUT a tourniquet.

          In our combat lifesaver class, they showed us a film from the manufacturer. Sliced open a hog’s leg, down to the femoral artery. Waited about 60 seconds, applied the quick clot bandage. Took gauze and cleaned out blood from the wound. Within another 60 seconds, the gauze put into the wound was coming back blood-free. That bandage weighs somewhere on the order of 1-2 ounces.

      • Ted N
        • Tom Kratman

          Now you ned to get duffelblog to link to this, Ted.

      • Tom Kratman

        Now this is most excellently upgefucht. Comments below from TBR were showing up here as from 11 C which was seriously compromising the validity of my answers. What the hell, over?

      • Tom Kratman

        Oh, and by the way, guys, new book out tomorrow. The Rods and the Axe. Remember, every time someone buys one of my books, somewhere a liberal cries. :)

        • Jack Withrow

          Got mine Saturday from B&N. Very good book.

        • DarleneCartangyf

          my Aunty Allison recently got a nice 6 month old Jaguar by
          working from a macbook.this website C­a­s­h­d­u­t­i­e­s­.­C­O­M­

      • Bill Wade

        One of my son’s best friends was just medically discharged at the ripe old age of 25 after surgery for back injuries. He was a combat medic in the 82nd.

        • Tom Kratman

          Jumping, combat, or just worn out from the load?

        • Bill Wade

          Training jump, I believe. After coming back from a tour in Iraq.

      • Guest

        Jumping, if I understand it correctly. He did a tour in Iraq, but suffered his injuries after he got back.

      • Softwater

        So here’s a solution. Powered exoskeletons. Battlemechs here we come…
        http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Powered_exoskeleton
        When powered armor is deployed how fast until DOD overloads that as well?

        • Tom Kratman

          We’ve been batting that around a little. I don’t expect them – not actually useful ones, anyway – anytime soon.

        • KenWats

          Powered armor will only serve to raise the limit of additional junk higher makes you bring from 120 lbs to 1200 lbs. At least then, though, we’ll be talking about shorter fusion reactor life and increased maintenance on the suits. :)
          I believe we’re dealing with a people problem and not really a “system” problem. MHO.

        • Tom Kratman

          It is a systemic problem having to do with people.

        • Neil

          Exoskeletons are, at this point, entirely possible….except for the power source.

        • Tom Kratman

          I’m often quite amazed how often the people designing the tech do so without a thought for the tactics or where the tech fits. Personally, as mentioned, I don’t expect exo’s or powered armor, operating independently, anytime soon. But I could see mech infantry getting them earlier, with the carriers porting something to recharge the dismounts’ power source, enough for, say, half an hour or so of armored dismount mayhem.

        • Neil

          In my opinion, the energy density and/or recharge times for batteries are so bad that even what you suggest isn’t really feasible. And any other energy source has emissions (of noise, heat, fumes, etc.) so great that you may as well just hang an “RPG here” sign on its back.

          There may be ways to do it, but they’re many years away, at best.

        • Tom Kratman

          Well…work with me here a bit. Batteries are getting a lot better. Cheap? No. Better? Yes. So imagine a 100 or so pound battery sometime this century that _can_ power a third of a ton or so exo with limited armor. I say limited, but an old fashioned chicken suit, _thick_ ceramic good, IIRC, for 7.62 Nato at fairly close range, that covered the torso _well_, was about 54 pounds. To cover the whole body? 120, maybe. And that was damned good armor. The track has seven dismounts and carries an extra 14 batteries. It doesn’t strike me as impossible or even especially implausible, though I could be talked out of it. Not enough for a whole days fighting, maybe an hour and a half. And they’re just switching out batteries while the track recharges others. Maybe we can’t get the battery to do more than 15 minutes. Okay, they they troops have to narrow their axis of advance and leapfrog more.

        • Neil

          Well, first of all, let me say that I’m VERY optimistic about the future of power storage and utilization. However, all the concepts that make me optimistic are in the fundamental research phase right now. Widespread application might be 20 years away.

          The system you describe sounds to me like you can’t range far enough from the support vehicle to make it worthwhile. Just make a better/faster/smaller/lighter tank. What you describe can probably be done with current state-of-the-art, but I don’t see a use for it (although I’d certainly be willing to help write the bid if somebody did an RFP, hahaha).

          So, in my opinion, you’re either too pessimistic or too optimistic–either I’m right and future power systems are going to be far better than what you describe, in which case you are thinking too pessimistically. Or, we’re stuck with minor improvements on batteries, in which case you are overly optimistic about those capabilities (again, in my opinion).

        • Tom Kratman

          Normally, in the attack, and we’re mostly talking about the attack, here, mech infantry actually doesn’t range all that far. For further threats than small arms and LAW/MAW range the tanks’ and carriers’ defend themselves from serious threats through their inherent armor, dancing about, firepower and better target acquisition. The grunts for the most part do not range that widely, 300-1000 meters, say. They clear obstacles and they go into places where the vehicles can’t to clear out unfriendly strangers. Now if the exos, lightly armored, can move about as fast as an unladen man on foot then that coverage to 1000 meters is within the time frame I’m talking about. 10 minutes out and five or ten of mayhem. Then, town or trench cleared and minefield breached, the carriers pick up the grunts who exchange their batteries. One factor in the speed of the things is that the S.H.I.T.s (inside joke, look it up) can pretty much ignore most small arms fire and just move fast, shooting the crap out of anything that sticks it’s head up.

        • Tom Kratman

          By the way, something bugging me about that ceramic armor I mentioned earlier. A little background. In 1986 I was running my company through the tire house of Stewart. We live fired quite a bit, and without a lot in the way of concessions to the safety fascisti, but the tirehouse, given we were using frags, was unusually dangerous. So I got the boys PASGT, which the division had some of but not enough to issue generally, and, while nosing around DRMO for furniture to put in the tire house I noticed these three sets of ceramic torso armor, labeled 54 pounds. “And I’ll take those, too, thanks.”

          They seemed to me to live up to their billing of 54 pounds, but were surprisingly comfortable. They were form fitting enough, provided one was reasonably thin. ABout an inch and a quarter thick, the only breaks in coverage were, IIRC, cloth hinges at the shoulders and I think velcro along the sides. They were in perfect shape. I have no idea how they ended up in DRMO.

          Thing is, though, I can’t find a reference to them anywhere, neither in specs nor in illustrations. I don’t know if they were an experimental one off that nobody bought and they ended up in DRMO for that reason or what.

          So, anybody have any clue to a 54 pound complete ceramic vest like that?

        • Doc Krin

          TK:
          Possibly an aviation crew chicken plate set? The weight sounds about right for the VN to DS sets as does the description. IIRC, they were rated resistant to multiple hits from 7.62 NATO AP. The back and breast combination was *much* more evenly balanced than the chest plates that the pilots wore (they had armor plated seats in Hueys from the mid 60s on).

          We did not wear them much in peace time DUSTOFF, but we did break them out for a couple of field problems with the 47th Field Hospital.
          ck

        • Tom Kratman

          I’d always thought so, but this was different from the ones one normally sees. I am thinking something experimental, left in a warehouse at Stewart back when it was the Helo gunnery school, found and DRMO’d.

        • akulkis

          20 pounds heavier than the IOTV, about the same coverage, and will ruin more soldiers spines. I know vets in their 20′s who were ruined before the end of 1 year of duty. Some who even spent most of their time riding around in a Humvee, not walking on foot, but all 100% disability, and both the miltary docs and the VA docs are extremely reluctant to sign off on 100% — normally you have to lose and arm or a leg to get 100% from a single injury.

        • Tom Kratman

          Actually, no; this SOB was much more coverage. Think a SAPI that covered your entire torso, front and back. But, though comfortable to have on, it wasn’t a practical thing for maneuvering or even daily wear afoot. I could see giving it to TCs.

        • akulkis

          The IOTV has more than just the front and back plates. there’s also side-plates, shoulder daps, and a thick collar to hopefully protect from damage to windpipe, spinal column, corotid and jugular damage. Fortunately, I don’t know if the collar works or not. Oh, and the nut-flap ;-)

        • Neil

          OK, had to go away and think about this a bit.

          Let’s assume an average usage of 10kW (about 13 HP) for an hour. That may be low, but it’s enough power to drive down the freeway in a mid-sized passenger vehicle, which seems like the right order of magnitude for a 700 pound gyro-stabilized exo. So the energy requirements are about 10kW-hours.

          Let’s assume an improved battery with twice the energy density of Li-ion or Li-Po batteries, for a rating of 9 pounds per kW-hour. We end up needing about 100 pounds of battery, so you’re in the right ballpark on that.

          With seven dismounts, the carrier has to be able to charge 70kW-hours worth of battery in an hour, which means 140HP of generating capacity (just to make sure you can get it done before the dismounts return) in excess of its prime mover requirements. That’s certainly doable.

          The weight budget, then is:
          220 pounds of operator
          100 pounds of battery
          120 pounds of armor
          200 pounds of exoskeleton (an aggressive goal, IMO)

          Leaving maybe 50 to 100 pounds for payload.

          That’s not a tremendous payload, but I guess the upside is that it is pretty much pure lethality, with less than 10-20 pounds required for sustainment and medical since the carrier is always close by.

          I’ll leave the tactical judgement and the cost/benefit to others, but I have two observations: The lack of range severely limits the kind of terrain and tactical situations this system could be used in, and IMO opens up an exomech unit to the likelihood of a Gaugamela-style surprise. However, from the point of view of strategic technology, it might make sense to develop this type of system along with the tactics for its employment, so that when a better power source DOES come along, we’re ready to drop it in and deploy.

        • Tom Kratman

          I’m pleased I was in the right ballpark. ;)

          Yeah…it might be good now. I’d really have to look at the maintenance load before I’d commit to it, but if it could do tactically what I am suggesting it might be good.

          But getting the things in hand and working out the bugs, for the day when it can be more long term powered? That sounds like it’s worth a shot.

          Something, too…we’ve done this rarely, but it is possible to say, “to be in the S.H.I.T., you must be no more than 5’9″, and weight no more than X.” Hmmm…you know, we might even HAVE to do that, because difference in size jump fast to huge increases in weight, and we may not be able to design and build for that, as a matter of power logistics.

          “Now, boys and girls, can anybody give me an unusual use for that kind of limitation, given current political pieties? Yes, you over there in the back…”

        • Neil

          Hmmm…

          Kratman’s Krossdressers?

        • Tom Kratman

          Sort of…but what do we call women who wear male clothing? Does “crossdressers” still work?

        • Neil

          Dunno, but do you realize how hard it is to alliterize “Kratman” with something indicative of “military females”? You should work on that.

        • Tom Kratman

          Yeah, without the alliteration from “Krossdressers,” probably no real value in using my name for it. There would be value, though, in sex segregation, as opposed to the way we do it now outside of combat arms, and will be forced to do it by the aforementioned political pieties, within combat arms.

        • Neil

          Yeah, I suspect that coed combat units are less effective than segregated would be.

          I would NOT want to meet an exomech fire team, operated by women, in a dark alley. When women fight, they fight to kill.

        • Tom Kratman

          When. But there are issues. Men tend to be hugely emotional (see, forex, the some of the emotion-dripping childishness displayed here). That makes them easier to lead, actually, they – yes, sure, me, too – are emotional, irrational, all that. Women, conversely, may cry easily, when it’s to advantage, but the big limitation is that they trend WAY TOO unemotional and rational. (Note: FIRST PERSON TO CLAIM I SAID “ALL” SELF IDENTIFIES AS AN ILLITERATE IDIOT.) They know what’s important: themselves and their security and, maybe most of all, their gene pool.

          It’s a problem for people thinking “women warriors.” May not be beyond solution, but it is still a problem until solved.

        • Neil

          It depends on motivation, doesn’t it?

          We’ve got thousands of years of history demonstrating that men will fight simply because the guy next to them is fighting. Other than possibly-apocryphal stories about Greek Amazons, there’s not much data on women in large-scale ground combat, other than auxiliary positions. There were some Russian WW1 and WW2 units; the Israelis, I think, have some experience by now; there’s some experience from the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan; there are numerous cases of women in guerrilla combat and espionage. There’s plenty of instances of women in leadership roles over male units, of course. Boudica, Anne Bonny, Joan of Arc, numerous heads of state. There’s also plenty of data about women who disguise themselves as men in order to fight.

          The problem with most of these examples is that they are either too recent to be evaluated impartially, or they are a case of existential threat.

          I think there’s plenty of evidence that the average woman will fight when their homes and families are either threatened or destroyed. That is, when they have either everything to lose or nothing at all to lose. The Israelis are trying female conscription, but you can make an argument that they, like the Russians, face an existential threat.

          As for volunteer forces, I would think that a woman who volunteers for the combat arms has already demonstrated some willingness to be led in combat. The aforementioned historical instances of cross-dressing soldiers and sailors, for example. I have little direct knowledge of the actual outcomes in recent times. Sadly, I think the experience in Iraq and Afghanistan has too much political baggage to be trustworthy at this point, so it’s no good relying on that until several decades have passed.

          I do think that the combat arms are doing themselves a disservice by focusing on the trivial problems of foxhole-sex and latrine manners. The one thing we can say for sure is that it is an experiment to have large numbers of women in integrated combat units, and there’s a pretty good chance that women are going to have to be led differently from men. We should probably keep an open mind to segregated units in case that turns out to be true.

        • Tom Kratman

          If you haven’t read it, nose around google for “the amazon’s right breast.” It’s not foxhole sex, per se, though that may resonate with the puritan crowd. It’s “Am I being sent on a dangerous patrol, rather than Private Honey, because Private Honey is the squadleader’s bitch?”

        • akulkis

          ……Oh, and your chest must be conformable to this interior contour, which looks nothing like a rib-cage….

          …and there’s a space behind the skull for extra hair……

        • akulkis

          You’re talking about 100 pounds of battery, in what is basically a vehicle, WITHOUT the efficiency of tires/wheels? I think you’re severely underestimating the energy needs.

          Compare how far you can ride a bicycle (which weighs 10-40 pounds) at 10 MPH before getting as tired as you do running a mile wearing nothing but a T-shirt, shorts, and running shoes, all of which add up to less than a pound. Now try maintaining 6 minute miles for an hour.

          Walking motion is just plain inefficient compared to rolling. Lots of wasted energy going up and down. Yes, wind resistance will be lower (most of the time), on the other hand, having a machine which moves precisely with the natural walk of a person is going to waste a lot more energy in weighs you can’t even imagine.

          Just standing still burns up more calores than laying down, because your body is CONSTANTLY making minor muscle twitches to keep you from face-planting onto the floor. Now add in deliberate movement, such as swiveling to visually scan one’s sector of fire….

        • Neil

          OK, I’ll ask the question, knowing in advance that the answer is negative. Have you actually analyzed these systems and have some knowledge of the power used by an exoskeleton? If so, please be more specific.

          Otherwise, I suggest you not trash-talk when you have no discernible expertise in the area. How many automotive electric transmissions have you designed, living, as you do, in your mother’s basement? Or are you in the dorms? Playing script-monkey games does not qualify you to design physical systems.

          Your bicycle example is ridiculous–you are comparing the energy usage of a human walking to the energy usage of a human riding a bicycle, the weights of which are easily within 50% of each other. I was comparing a 700 pound exoskeleton system moving at maybe 7 miles per hour to a 4000 pound automobile moving at 70 miles per hour, roughly an order of magnitude difference in all respects.

          An exoskeleton is not a human skeleton. It can be designed to be more stable at rest, and use less power for a given mass at all speeds because it does not have to do everything that a human does. A 700-pound object using an average of 10kW (given that there will be periods of rest in there somewhere), seems pretty reasonable to me. Perhaps I’m off by a factor of two, but that’s within reason for this sort of back-of-the-envelope stuff.

          It’s entirely possible that I am wrong, of course, and that the energy consumption of an exoskeleton is much higher than I have estimated. But you’re going to have to explain why using some actual knowledge, not just frat-boy trash talk.

        • akulkis

          Go to engineering school, Neil, and you’ll quickly discover that such optimism is reserved for people who have never taken a course which requires Differential Equations as a prerequisite. Political hacks, and their Political Science and Kweirdo Studies mentors can talk with all the pie-in-the-sky optimism they want, but not one of them will change the laws of physics which govern such things.

          Take thermodynamics. It’s an entry level engineering course, which requires only 1 years of calculus. That will sober up your fantasies right quickly.

        • Tom Kratman

          If memory serves, he’s an engineer.

        • akulkis

          Batteries will never get THAT much better. We would literally need a 2 orders of magnitude improvement in battery technology. That means, for example 150 V from a D-Cell-sized device , while still providing the same number of amp-hours.

          Ain’t gonna happen. Electronegativities of all substances are within a few volts of each other, not on the order of even dozens, let aone hundreds of volts.

          Battery technology is FAR more mature than both computer technology and automobile technology… it’s even more mature than railroad technology. Other than a few minor tweaks here and there, batteries are as good as they’re going to get. They will not get substantially lighter, or higher powered, without the typical engineering tradeoffs (more voltage in exchange for less current. More hours in exchange for less voltage or less current. All in all, the Energy/weight and Energy/volume ratios will not improve by, at most, a factor of 3 (1/2 order of magnitude), and even if that happens, it will be hailed as a revolutionary breakthrough. I expect most battery improvements to be along the lines of 10% or less increments, and smaller and smaller percentages as the years pass by. It’s the physics of electon shells, and their ain’t a damned thing we can do about it.)

        • akulkis

          The problem is, instead of vulnerable mules, now you’ve got a herd of vulnerable unicorns to provide all the farts needed to power the thing.

      • Softwater

        Your articles seem like you are leading to a Rhodesian Scout style of light infantry. shirt, short, boots, hat, rifle, two clips, water bottle, and radio. Live off the land and/or the enemy. And no I didn’t include a first aid kit. …
        Just wondering if my guess is close or not?

        • Tom Kratman

          No, not really. The weather in Afghanistan isn’t as pleasant as Rhodesia’s was and the enemy is probably a lot better.

        • Softwater

          Lol. k.

        • Tom Kratman

          There’s a place for that kind of thing, but I’m not sure it’s a big place.

        • akulkis

          Lol.

      • MichaelBronson

        One of our leadership principles is “Trust the guy on the ground”. What medical training do you possess that makes you qualified to reduce IFAK’s or recommend use field expedient TQ’s such as a belt and bayonet? All of this is against TCCC recommendations. What direct combat experience do you have that pushes you against medical items?

        If you’re advocating for Soldiers to carry bayonets, you’re part of the problem. They are items that are No Value Added as they are not trained upon & the weight and space penalty. This is why we also why GPF is stuck with 7″ rail systems due to outdated requirements.

        “70 Pounds of lightweight shit is still 70 pounds of working against gravity.” – LTC David Liwanag

        Looking at the list, it is woefully outdated and missing a lot of kit. There’s no TPE (Theatre-Provided Equipment) or cross-loading of other duty positions. PVS-14′s have replaced PVS-7′s, the Insight thermal monocular is either Unit or TPE, M24′s are typically not carried outside of FIST / JTAC (PLRF25′s see more use) and I would recommend lightweight monoculars as a Team Leader / Rifleman item. Magnification is required to PID and engage the enemy.

        I’m absolutely ruthless when it comes to cutting weight. My recommendations for that list:

        Medical: Everyone requires an IFAK (preferably augmented with Self-Aid items in SOP’d pocket positions or a Blowout Kit (BOK). Not everyone needs an IV, that is not taught in Combat Lifesaver (CLS) currently.

        Sustainment: Rucksack can be replaced with an assault pack. Ditch most of the snivel gear. Strip the MRE’s and reduce them altogether.

        Water can be be cut more, especially if there are natural water sources in the area. Water purification items weigh substantially less.

        Sanitation can be cut more – bottle of Purell or similar cross loaded at the Team level. No towels needed, use an existing spare shirt. Most folks I served with didn’t wear underwear, briefs wouldn’t be packed.

        What’s in the Weapons Cleaning Kit? Strip it. Weapons lubrication is the priority. Slip EWL > CLP. MGL for the MG’s. Ditch all the copper brushes. Pack some Q-Tips & pipe cleaners in a ziplock bag. Cleaning rod can be a team level item attached to a weapon system to clear catastrophic malfunctions.

        Lethality: Ammunition can be reduced from a basic load – aim more, shoot less. You don’t win the battle by making a lot of noise, you win the battle by filling the bad guys with holes and lead (unless you’re shooting M855A1).

        Ditch the PAS-13 for an Insight thermal monocular if those capabilities are required.

        Soldier Survivability: Make body armor a small unit level command decision. Scale to the threat. Able to drop helmets, side plates, or even work slick altogether. Look into lightweight plates that are system tested (Level IV Standalone SA or In Conjunction With ICW). The Maneuverability Vs. Survivability Equation exists.

        Recommended Reading:

        1) “Rifleman Basic Combat Load in OEF.” (Fort Belvoir, VA, Program Executive Office Soldier, June 2012) 4.

        2) “Planning Considerations For lightening The Soldiers Load”. Asymmetric Warfare Group. http://adsinc.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/SoldiersLoadHandbook11.pdf

        • Tom Kratman

          It’s a logistic issue, actually, more than a medical one. Now kindly stop the bullshit disqualification game; I am likely going to be better at it than you.

          Are you dyslexic? Do you have problems reading? Because I would like you to find where I advocated a bayonet here. Now.

        • MichaelBronson

          “Know what you use for a windlass in a place with no trees? A pen? A rifle or carbine? Bayonet if he’s carrying one?” – Tom Kratman.

          A pen is an inefficient and non-durable attempt at a windlass. Tying up a weapon system to use as a windlass makes no sense as the first principle of TCCC is elimination of the threat.

          You are skylining yourself as an individual with a lack of commodity areas who has elected not to overcome his ignorance / deficiencies over the length of a career. Further, your astounding lack of research is indicative of your lack of ability and work ethic. A simple RFI to CALL reference Soldier Loads / Fighting Loads would have yielded a considerable amount of combat data to sift through… Which you seem to be sorely lacking.

        • Tom Kratman

          Okay, now stretch your brain a little, and try to analyze the difference between, “if he’s carrying one” and “he must carry one.” Try. Really fucking hard. Because you’re skylining yourself as an illiterate moron.

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        • MichaelBronson

          That’s me. OIF (Karbala & Babil provinces) / OEF (Arghandab River Valley) combat veteran with a FID deployment to Romania to train Romanian soldiers for their upcoming deployment to AFG.

          No one is carrying bayonets that I have seen in AFG. In fact, I’ve never seen a bayonet issued at the Unit level. It’s no longer part of the POI for BCT / OSUT. So I was confused as to why you think folks were carrying bayonets, hence wondering if you were recommending that particular course of action. Then I did some research and found out you never served in Iraq. Or Afghanistan. Then I understood why you don’t know what Soldiers are issued / carrying these days.

          I’m not conducting personal attacks or “playing the disqualification game”. I’m merely asking you what your qualifications and experiences are so that I can better understand your frame of reference. Although you never conducted combat operations in OIF or OEF, this doesn’t mean you have nothing to add. Indeed, some of the wisest lessons I learned come from Vietnam and Panama / Grenada / Somalia veterans.

          What it does mean is this profession is one with a short half life, and you are very far removed from the active side of the house and thus are not up on current trends and capabilities. A lot of combat data has been generated this past decade plus that you have missed out on. This clearly shows when you speak of IFAK’s and TCCC – you simply have no frame of reference for TCCC as it has evolved past you and you elected not to train on it. It would behoove you to listen to those that have been on the ground in OIF and OEF, seen firsthand what injuries are being incurred, time needed for successful intervention and with what materials are providing the best success rate for treating casualties – you know, what good leaders do. You’re not doing so.

          Simply out – you’re not qualified to speak on medical matters. You lack the knowledge, you lack the training, and you lack an open mind. You believe by virtue of your retired rank and your JD that you know everything, even when it is clearly not the case and you more closely resemble a subject matter amateur.

          Which is a shame, because you could have used that LTC pay to rectify your ignorance and be Partially Trained / Fully Trained when it comes to TCCC. It would have led to a better article, even, as a lot more folks would be amenable to your suggestions aside from the ludicrous IFAK recommendation. I guess you had other priorities.

          Commodity areas isn’t a buzzword. It’s a useful phrase for specialization areas individuals possess that leads to subject matter expertise – the types of folks in your Organization you might want to reach out and solicit their input on. It sounds like you don’t do that.

          I reckon since you retired you can’t submit an RFI to CALL anymore. Here’s a few things to aid in your “research”:

          “Soldier’s Load” CPT Bob Mahowald. 2003.

          “The Modern Warrior’s Combat Load–Dismounted Operations in Afghanistan” LTC Charles Dean & TF Devil. 2003.

          http://thedonovan.com/archives/modernwarriorload/ModernWarriorsCombatLoadReport.pdf

          “Planning Considerations for Lightening the Soldiers’ Load”. Asymmetric Warfare Group.

          Field Manuals 7-8 (Infantry Platoon and Squad), 7-10 (The Infantry Rifle Company), and 21-18 (Foot Marches) all offer doctrinal guidance for crafting and managing soldier’s load but are dated.

          1/A/2/504 PIR did a study on the gear that their Soldiers carried – this gives a good look into TPE Equipment and how RC-Mandated use affects Soldier Loads. I question a lot of their tactical decisions here for loadout & how they distribute TPE to specific duty positions. Their SSG, it seems, is doing the right thing in an understated way by bringing to light battery use / supply considerations and how that affects weight for patrols. I suspect RC mandates concerning CIED use were not well received by those on the ground, and those making the mandates were too far removed to understand ground truth.

          http://www.blackfive.net/files/rifle-platoon-weight3-w-llvi-1.pptx

          That’s how you do research, LTC (ret). And it’s “sleight of hand”.

        • Tom Kratman

          Nah, commodity,as used, is a bullshit buzzword. Really. All new words of that nature are bullshit buzzwords.

          Why are you having so much difficulty understanding the meaning of “if he’s carrying one”? You’re bright enough to catch a typo, but not to parse a clause for meaning? “IF.” Find the meaning of IF. In the alternative, find me the new buzzword definition that changes “if” to “I demand.”

          Try doing recon first. A soldier does. it will save you trouble. Really.

          Personally, I think nothing much changes in war, since the important part of war is the man and he doesn’t change. I see a lot of fads. I see a lot of posturing. I see a lot of buzzwords that should be strangled in the buzzword cradle. I don’t see a lot of useful change.

          I’m not speaking on medical matters. I am speaking on logistic matters that have medical implications. These are different issues. And I have not yet heard much of an argument for retaining the IFAKs as we do. I have not heard an argument yet to convince me that we are thinking about class VIII requirements, rather than emoting about Class VIII requirements. See comments to Jay, elsewhere herein. As soon as someone says, as he did, that a wounded troop needed someone else’s class VIII, that is already an admission that the IFAK is an STFAK. As soon as someone says, as he did, that we’re using them to treat civilians, that means it’s not even an STFAK, but a GPFAK. At that point, for someone _thinking_ about the subject, rather than emoting about it, the question has changed from individual survivability to overall Class VIII requirements. That is a logistic matter.

          Well, if that’s how one does research, you might, had you been following along, or doing _your_ research, have noticed that I cited to that report when I first started this series in the column. Now don’t you feel silly?

        • Not a PJ

          The IFAK’s PRIMARY purpose is to treat the individual soldier to which it is issued. It carries the bare essentials needed to stop massive bleeding (largest cause of preventable death on the battlefield), seal a chest wound, maintain an airway, and decompress a tension pneumothorax (second largest cause of preventable death on the battlefield). Every soldier (medics included) is trained to treat a casualty using the casualty’s IFAK first. If there are massive injuries and the medic is not there, they can then use their own IFAK to supplement the casualty’s. Treating civilians is not an intended use of the IFAK, although there are situations in which a soldier may have to do so.

          Tom, you say you worked with SF at one point in time. If you talk/train with current SF/Ranger/MARSOC/etc personnel, you will realize that every single one of the carries an IFAK. To paraphrase Pat Rogers, this is what we might call a “clue”. The amount of space/weight that an IFAK takes up is vastly outweighed by its lifesaving capabilities when paired with the proper training and mindset.

        • Tom Kratman

          I don’t, of course, I am retired. (I worked with SF in different climes and places. It was my FA until they became a branch. Mox Nix. (sic))

          Justify it; that’s all I’m asking. Don’t emote. Justify. That people are trained to do it one way doesn’t mean that’s the only way or the best way, either. If people are trained to do it one way, what happens when we use the material, as Jay says we do, on local civilians?

          The simplest way to begin to justify it is to show an occasion where a soldier died or was permanently crippled because some number less than 1 per man was all that was available. If you can’t do that, then dig into larger usage and analyze.

          No, I don’t trust emotions on this because of mommy and her sensibilities. (I was somewhat amused and somewhat appalled last night, reading a message from some Marine’s mother to an Army BG, Fuller, a few years ago,demanding to know why he hadn’t issed her Marine son Dragonskin leaving her to buy it for the boy herself.)

          Look, PJ, this shit has gotten so out of hand that _nothing_, nothing-zip-zylch-nada, should go unquestioned. Not Class VIII. Not Class I. Not weapons and basic load. Not body armor. Not STANO. Not commo…NOTHING should be left unquestioned. (Addendum: and every ounce needs to be justified.)

        • Not a PJ

          If there is data on soldiers dying from a lack of an IFAK, it would probably be from early OEF/OIF. For the better part of the last 10 years every soldier has been issued an IFAK for deployment so it’s easier to say that there are soldiers alive today that wouldn’t be had at not been for an IFAK.
          I don’t disagree with questioning what we REALLY need in the overall battle of trimming unnecessary weight, but I’m still struggling to see exactly what you’re looking for as far as “justification” for the IFAK goes.

        • Tom Kratman

          Some ways it could never be either justified or criticized because, like body armor, the weight has unquantifiable effects. (Which are, by the way, likely to be both positive – say, higher morale; “I have my IFAK, all is right with the world,” and negative, “Jesus some of this crap has to go!”).

          But at this point I’m trying to get to the whole Class VIII system, within a unit, and what is historically justifiable, or what we can estimate is probably going to be justifiable in the future, for different levels of unit. Is an IFAK per more justifiable for a small unit – a light infantry squad, say, without a medic attached – where the chances of being a statistical anomaly are greater? Well, it’s more justifiable, at least, and in a couple of different ways. Is it justifiable for a mech infantry battalion sweeping 2 Ks to either side of the ring road somewhere outside Kandahar? Probably not.

          What either of those takes is an analysis of risk and beneft that goes beyond things like: “you’re an idiot, Kratman,” which may be true but isn’t necessarily dispositive of anything (other than the stupidity, arrogance, childishness, and bad manners of the writer) and certainly not on the subject, or like, “well, sometimes we’ve had to use other peoples’ beyond the injured troop’s,” or like, “hoplites and crusaders,” or “line medics are carrying too much,” which may also be true but doesn’t mean, on it’s own, that everyone need s an IFAK, or things like, “Class VIII depth and redundancy,” which is certainly true but also doesn’t mean that the proper solution is the IFAK.

          And then there’s what needs to be in there, for those who must carry, or what needs to be in there, if we decide all must carry.

        • akulkis

          The IFAK is worth its weight in gold…

        • Tom Kratman

          By the way, Michael, that Ops-Core helmet is a simply smashing fashion statement, tacticool-wise.

        • MichaelBronson

          “Tacti-cool” has nothing to do with my equipment selection. It offers weight savings which is precisely the point of this article, increased stability for NODS, and rail sections to attach lights / cameras / et al to. Since you never deployed to the AO you are writing about, the purposes of those SOPMOD items are as follows:

          Lights: Sensitive Site Exploitation (SSE), augmentation to weapon light, administrative functions.

          Camera: Video After-Action Reviews. Intelligence Analysis. Breach Point Analysis. Cultural Mapping. Video record of actions taken – useful for 15-6 investigations.

          Hope your heart is doing better. Sorry you had to leave Iraq due to it – you missed out on a good war.

        • akulkis

          UGH.. huge holes in the top of the helmet! I wouldn’t mind if they were somewhat shielded, but they’re just begging to be fragmentation magnets in the same way that trailer parks seem to be tornado magnets.

        • Tom Kratman

          That wasn’t what the comment was about. When I looked as his profile pictures and matched them to his resume, the helmet just didn’t make full sense to me.

      • jay

        Get rid of IFAK? No, your idea that not everyone needs it is flawed. I have used 3 IFAKs on one wounded due to the extent of injuries. If you have not been in theater and under fire or hit by an IED STFU. while some of you ideas are fine, and yes we are overloaded to a point. But dropping the IFAK is just plain stupid. I love the fact that everyone who has not been in combat as an Infantryman knows what we need. And FYI yes some patrols last over 3, 5, or 7 days. And yes you can be stuck without resupply as air power gets shut down due to weather. Please understand that combat is not an airsoft game, and you prepare for the worst case.

        • Tom Kratman

          Which means that his and yours, together, were inadequate. Which means that he/you ended up using someone elses. Which means that troops can use someone else’s. Now did you have a fourth kit available? If so, it was wasted.

        • Jay

          So glad you were not my commander. Maybe we should have had you, use your kit, and then have you walk point. FYI, that day we had 6 WIA from IED and small arms fire. out of a 12 man patrol. So your idea of every third doesn’t work for me. But what the hell, your can write the letter and explain that the KIA was because you didn’t wait them carry IFAK’s. some things you don’t compromise on.

        • Tom Kratman

          I actually believe I said every other. Try reading with more care. And, by the way, yes, as a mattaer oif fact, as the size of the unit drops, the redundancy has to increase. What a company needs is not the same as what a squad needs.

          Now, let’s work on your dyslexia and math skills. Please go back and find where I said get rid of the IFAK. Please tell me every item used on that particular day, from every IFAK and aid bag, and what was left.

          And when you get that down, we can start to work on your poor manners.

        • jay

          More redundancy: the IFAK, the first aid kit, doesn’t need to be carried by every man. The combat is just not intense enough for that. One for every third man, and spread out other things to balance it all. Save maybe two-thirds of a pound.

          Read more: http://www.everyjoe.com/2014/06/30/politics/examining-our-soldiers-loads-what-are-they-carrying/#ixzz36FVL6uLX
          Try remembering what you wrote, once you get that down we can discuss your lack of combat experience.

        • Tom Kratman

          Shit, you’re right; I wrote it. Okay. Could have sworn I wrote every other.

          But your manners are still poor.

        • jay

          Please explain to me how you became an expert on current combat operations? Did you read about it???

        • Tom Kratman

          Why don’t you do a little recon. And then you can tell me all of your vast combat experience, your real name and rank, so I can check it, and how you are not Frederick the Great’s mule.

          And you still need to work on your manners.

        • James

          The Mule has better manners.

        • 97E

          After a time, sir, it’s best to break engagement with those who are only present to argue.

          I won’t comment on the IFAK, but yes, even in 05 when I got out, the load was ridiculous.

        • Tom Kratman

          Oh, yeah. This is old though.

          Thing is, everything has to be on the table if the loads are to come down. If anything is treated as “sacred” then everyone will demand their pet piece of gear or given supply load be treated as sacred, too.

        • Tom Kratman

          Now show where I said get rid of it.

        • jay

          Clearly you have lost your mind. I never mentioned anything about bayonets, (try reading with more care) I made some comments that have clearly hit a sore spot for you. I would have thought someone who was attached at 5th SF, has a CIB, and is an attorney on top of that would be a bit more thickskinned, You clearly don’t get the point. I will stop now as your use of grammer has decidedly declined due to you frustration at being called out.

        • Tom Kratman

          Sore spot? Not really. When actually annoyed I am a lot more offensive. Now, your spoiled brat two year old’s manners are annoying, but they’d annoy anybody.

          And, yeah, I confused you with Bronson, below. Easy to do, really, he claimed I advocated a bayonet, when I hadn’t. You claimed I advocated getting rid of the IFAK, when I hadn’t. You know, dishonesty tends to blend together.

          Now, let’s get back to what’s important. What’s your real name, Jay, and please put down the noisy cricket? What is your combat experience? With whom? From when to when? What is your rank? What is your schooling, civilian and military? Have you ever been a commander?

          Oh, and why didn’t your mommy spank you when you were two, maybe twenty years ago, to teach you proper manners?

        • jay

          No my mom was a hippie, never spanked me and told me never tell strangers my real name. but since the gloves are off….. I don’t post personally identifiable information on the web. So lets look at it this way. You are spouting advice on current combat operations, having no current experience in the theater. I have no experience as an attorney so I won’t tell you how to practice law. maybe clarify your opinions, and not try to come off as someone who has vast combat experience. I would hazard a guess that you haven’t performed in an infantry role since you obtained your law degree. I could be wrong. Just because I disagree with you doesn’t make me ill mannered. but yes I am an asshole who calls out bullshit armchair warriors when I see them.

        • Tom Kratman

          No, what I have is a lot of time in the infantry, probably a LOT more than you, much of that in the army’s then test bed for COIN, Panama, plus an unusual amount of logistic experience, a lot of command experience, and about as much combat – or a bit more – as someone of my year group might expect to have. It’s not that you disagree with me, Jay (please don’t point the noisy cricket), but that you immediately go into personal attacks ( “So glad you were not my commander…
          Clearly you have lost your mind” to name just a couple) when contradicted. The term of art for that is “bad manners, boy.”

          Now a man civilized, well mannered, and thoughtful might say “I disagree with you on this, what is your reasoning?” and we could discuss it. As – you may not have noticed – it has been discussed below. But that man probably wouldn’t try the internet arguing checklist disqualification game, either.

        • Jay

          So, with all your experience, you still aren’t listening to what most of the comments are saying about the IFAK. A good commander also listens. A good leader listens to what the guys actually doing the job say. It seems as if anyone disagrees with you about the IFAK, you immediately go for the where were we, when with who. Combat has changed, most of the people disagreeing with you have been there. we have been there and have bleed, and would certainly rather have an IFAK then a extra set of NVG’s You completely miss the point. we are saying keep the IFAK. and dump some on the other items that we can cross load. Until you can say you have been in a mass casualty event, you will never understand that there is no such thing as extra medical items. you may not use everything. But not having one of the items from that IFAK may also cost your life. Have I completely used all of the items of my IFAK in one event. No I have not. Have I ever exhausted all the IFAKs in a PLT? No I have not. Be you seem to forget we are also responsible for Civilian injures. we have to treat them as well not something that was trained on in the past doctrine. Do a survey on folks that have been in the current conflict. what would they drop from the list? Maybe then you’ll gain some credibility. Or is that part of you disqualification checklist?

        • Tom Kratman

          On the contrary, if you are reading I _am_ listening. What I am not hearing or reading is sufficient justification for them to be carried, as currently configured, by every man, ordinarily. Go down and look at the extended/addended comment to PJ, in re why four ounces, and why maybe more. Now I could be wrong about it, and a cogent argument could persuade me, but I am not going to be persuaded by arguments that aren’t backed up by hard facts and solid reasoning about what is actually used.

          Remember, one of my points is that the IFAK can be the STFAK (Small Team FAK) because troops can use others’. Your first comment was that, in fact, in your experience, troops’ _had_ used others. (How noting that makes me a bad commander I am not sure of. Are good commanders required to not note what people say? When did that change come down?). So you, though I don’t think you knew it, had already made one of my points for me; that the IFAK _was_ an STFAK. And, if our responsibilty for civilian injuries means we use our IFAKs for that, then it’s _really_ not even an STFAK, BUT A GPFAK.

          So let’s just drop that, shall we? It’s a GPFAK, per _your_own_ testimony.

          Then the question becomes, “So how much Class VIII do we really need? At what levels? How does it change when the size unit goes up or down? How much do we use worst case? How often does that worst case arise?” That’s not an exhaustive list. But there is nothing in those questions that necessarily demands that “Every soldier needs a 14 gauge needle in case of air between his lung and the wall of his chest.”

        • Jay

          we will obviously never agree on the IFAK issue, My opinion won’t change having been in several mass cas events, having been wounded three times my perspective on this is not the same as yours. An IED causes damage needing lots of care. more than one SOF/T sometimes four per person. some people need multiple decompressions. allowing each individual at least one chance to get it on before help arrives can be the diff between life and death. You limit that to a squad kit, and that guy gets hit by an IED where are you getting any supplies? The IFAK helps cross load a limited amount of med supplies across the unit. Med supplies minus IV’s are the lightest item to carry. My unit ditched most of the snivel gear, staying with a poncho and liner. but we all had an IFAK on our body armor and one on our ruck. MRE’s were stripped to essential items. on and on, we never skimped on medical care items, or ammo. When you have to needle decompress two bad guys, and three civilians, along with a couple of your troops then you get why everyone needs at least one.

        • Tom Kratman

          Didn’t say limit it to a squad kit. Look at the questions, above. The answers are going to vary, too, based on the size unit and the mission. You talked about a squad that had a pretty bad day. Good they had enough Class Eight. And if the squad leader decided before leaving the FOB or crossing the LD that, “Shit, this is going to suck. Every man carry an IFAK,” then that was his decision and I’d back it up. If it was a company doing a night cordon and search, where moving light and fast was important, and the company commander said, “Contact until we get there is very unlikely. One IFAK per three men. No food,. 2 liters water. No IOTVs…etc.” I’d back him up, too, for doing his job. What I will not back up is some 2 star saying, “My career is more important that winning the war. My career is dependent on good press or, at least, not getting bad press. So screw winning the war, I am going to laden my men down worse than mules so that no ignorant pressie can accuse me of not caring, or point to an instance where any man lacked anything.” I wouldn’t back that up…and I’d like to have the son of a bitch shot.

      • pilsner

        Several thought from someone who has actually been there – a couple of times actually.

        • Tom Kratman

          Is there an attachment or link that got left off?

        • pilsner

          All of the above stated items are all included before you include MOS specific items i.e. as a medic I carried an additional 45-80 pounds of aid bag, IVs, trauma supplies, LZ marking equipment (sure the LT had some but I ALWAYS carried my own), some form of folding litter, and a body bag (it was a dual use item cuz I could unfold it and sleep in it as an ad hoc waterproof bivy sack and not have to carry a sleep system. Morbid but any item that has more than one use is more likely to get packed than something that has only one). As for the 3 changes of undergarments we always just carried an extra pair of socks, some foot powder, and a travel size thing of baby wipes (they doubled as TP) thus allowing us to eschew extra shirts and socks. None of us wore briefs. Those of us not lucky enough to have a body bag to sleep in usually just skipped the sleep system but brought the bivy sack, a ninja top (part of our ECWS clothing). and a beanie. That saved both weight and space. As for carrying rations our SOP was to chow down on whatever was available before we stepped off, rat fuck the crap out of our MREs to reduce weight and bulk, and throw a zip lock of protein weight gainer shake mix into our ruck (mix it with a liter of water and you have a much need megablast of protein, carbs, and sugars in with water for almost zero extra weight.
          As for the suggestion that one IFAK per person is redundant – you are an IDIOT of the first order. Or at least ignorant of the realities of modern combat. The ability of the modern soldier to do self-aid and buddy aid is a vital part of our ability as a fighting force to have a fatality rate or less the 5% for our injured warfighters. The purpose of an IFAK is to allow soldiers to help themselves (and their buddies) and medics – like GOD – are best able to help those who help themselves. We DO carry trauma kits called Combat Life Saver bags (CLS Kits) that are divvied up in the ratio that you mentioned i.e. about one per every fire team of 3-4 soldiers. They are both a redundancy for IFAKS and a source of some extra items not included in IFAKS, mostly IV and SCW (sucking chest wound) supplies. Forget the axiom at your own peril: one is none, two is one. It applies doubly to first aid supplies.
          As per your comments about toiletry kits – you are right on the money. All one needs is a toothbrush, travel size toothpaste, microfiber towel, bug spray, foot powder, and a few multi-use baby wipes unless he is gonna be out more than a week or so.
          As for wet weather gear – I have never went on a combat patrol with mine. They are uber-useful at the range and in garrison for motorpool mondays but in general all I ever needed was my faithful poncho, my bivy sack to sleep dry (ok, in my case a body bag severed dual purpose in this regard as well) inside of, and of course my woobie. If i have to explain that my woobie is my much loved, I’ll fight to the death to keep it, poncho liner then you need to go ahead and return to the navy.
          I know this next one is gonna be seen as kinda pedantic but one is issues either the PVS-13 OR the PVS-7. They are the old and new generation of the same item (night vision goggles) and to include both on the weight list is redundant.
          You are missing a VERY critical piece of gear that every good warrior I have ever encountered has had with him – his bug out bag. A properly stocked bug out bag has a blood chit in it, a first aid kit that is basically a dup of his IFAK, at least one mag for each of his weapons (M4 and/or 9 mm), a knife, a day or two worth of meals or meal substitutes, a bottle of water or three, some kinda map and compass and/or a back up civilian magellin GPS unit + batteries, tac light with red filter and extra batteries, VS-17 panel, some kinda night time signaling device (chem-lights and/or IR strobe with extra batteries), 550 cord, water filter kit or tabs, signal mirror, and of course 100 mile-an-hour tape (aka mil spec duct tape). Much like his water and ammo a good soldier keeps his bug out or go to hell bag either on his person 24/7 or within arms reach.
          And before you go and think this is a full list dont forget that breachers wear between 60-100 pounds of hooligan tools, breaching charges, cut down shotgun, and ammo on top on what is listed above. RTO – ratio/telegraph operators are the poor bastards who have to carry even more stuff than my medic butt. They have a 40-60 pound main radio, extra batteries by the dozens, extra parts, extra ariels, extra everything. It is not uncommon for some soldiers to carry WAY more than what was listed above.
          I am a 212 pound soldier who once weighted in with aid bag, weapon, optics, extras, body armor, boots, water, and whatnot at 385 pounds “combat ready”… There is no wonder that I am now 3/4 of an inch shorter now than I was the day I entered basic training due simply to spinal trauma and disc degreneration during my 6 years of military service.

        • Tom Kratman

          You needed a mule or a burro.

        • James

          Because people are being trained to think of anyone who disagree’s as idiots or subhuman. It makes seeing them as the enemy much easier.

        • Tom Kratman

          No, I don’t think any armed force is capable of that kind of change. I suspect it’s rooted in the home and the upbringing.

        • James

          I agree I mean the culture is making them that way. When a culture begins to poison the very foundation of its peoples laws and freedoms then your fucked.

        • akulkis

          I’m all for pack animals.

        • Tom Kratman

          They don’t come without some downsides, but I think the upsides are mostly greater.

        • akulkis

          I think 2 mules or burros / squad, each carrying 50% of their rated capacity would be the way to go. And any such animal quickly becomes a mascot, which has morale benefits, too.

        • Tom Kratman

          You might say that Mules Frances and Donalda port for first squad, third platoon, but for a lot of reasons they’re going to have to be consolidated with supply.

      • M. Myer Blatt

        From several years back; last updated in 2010:
        http://www.combatreform.org/combatlight.htm

        • Tom Kratman

          Is that the Bicycle article? We discussed bikes last week, I think. The problem there is that there comes a time and place where bikes just don’t go. I think what’s going on there is an overemphasis on some early Japanese success with bike borne infantry, and the Viet Minh’s logistic usage of bikes. I’m not sure those have a lot to say about now, though.

        • akulkis

          I’m an AVID bicycle rider. I’ve done 20 miles of running around on a Saturday doing errands around town on my 24-speed with front and rear shocks (weighing in at about 40 pounds) and I would not ever consider doing dismounted patrols on a bicycle.

          Bicycle infantry these days is just asking for all kinds of trouble. For one thing, you’re as effectively road-bound as a humvee in most cases (riding through tall grass is more tiring than hiking through it, can’t ride through terrain nearly as rough as what you can hike through, etc.)….all without ANY of the benefits of a FRAG 5 vehicle armor kit around you (or the nice bucket seats and air conditioning system in the vehicle, either).

          Back when wars were fought by battalions, bicycle infantry could avoid contact before dismounting. But modern war is faught by squads and fireteams. Bicycle infantry will be caught on the short end of the stick of meeting engagements far too often… imagine getting shot AND THEN falling to the pavement while wearing 100 pounds of equipment… yeah, now the casualty has two serious injuries, if not three… one of which could very well be a serious brain injury or even broken neck caused by being on the bicycle, not from the bullet that hit him.

      • http://www.military-history.us/ Cincinnatus

        The list neglects both food and water. Even on a short patrol where you do not expect to RON somewhere, I used to make every soldier have at least 48 hours of food and a minimum of 6 quarts of water on them when I was downrange in Salah-ad-Din Province in ’04-’05. That alone is another 15-20 pounds right there.

        • Tom Kratman

          No, look again; it’s got 6 meals and 6 liters for a total of about 26 pounds. The water I am less willing to chop than the food. Maybe a liter can go if we chop enough of the other load, but I am unenthused about keeping that much food unless it can be ported on something else besides joe’s back.

        • http://www.military-history.us/ Cincinnatus

          Ok, I see it now. I expected to see that in sustainment. Where are the grenades? We carried four Frag grenades and two smoke per man. I also always carried a compass, and PLGR. Nothing beats a compass for doing polar plot missions from a fixed OP.

          Personally, I would ditch the OTV and at most go with a plate carrier with a frontal chicken plate. I have never thought the OTV gave protection that was worth the trade in exhaustion from wearing the damn thing. It also gets super heavy and awkward to wear because most joes cannot resist the temptation to fill up all those MOLLE loops with extraneous garbage.

        • Tom Kratman

          I expected to see rats and water elsewhere, too, and commented on that in the article. I can see an argument for the way it’s arranged, but I wouldn’t do it that way. I suspect, though i cannot prove, some agenda driven slight of hand going on there. Think: “What? you want to reduce troop survivabilty? You uncaring Nazi bastard, you!”

          Probably no frags because the PL.

      • sgtkay

        Shit thats a lot Boss, 50 years ago we left the choppers with 124 lb, in Borneo, to do 21 day OP, where we didn’t need water resup.
        We cut back on Ammo as we weren’t there to fight, (Observe)

        If the IFAK is the modern Field dressing then you carry your own and have since the Boer War.

        • Tom Kratman

          It goes a long way past field dressings and, based on testimony here, does get used as communal property often enough. Those are not, in themselves, reasons to not have every man carry one nor reasons to have every man carry one.

      • akulkis

        Regarding footnote number 8, why didn’t anybody in the SF community…uh… arrange for his exit from theater…..for aiding and abetting the enemy?

        • Tom Kratman

          He did retire as a two star.

      • Tom Kratman

        Akulkis: I’m starting to see things I’ve already answered pop up. Read the whole thread – yep, all of it – and organize your throughts. I have a make a living, too, and repeating things cuts down on my productivity.

        • akulkis

          Sorry about that.

      • Tom Kratman

        Tom Kratman has failed at being Tom Kratman

      • Alisdair Gaston

        It’s actually “The First Annual Montgomery Burns Award For Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence”

      • Alisdair Gaston

        Come to think of it, people who will viciously attack every foundational value in Western Civilization and see evil codes in every piece of popular culture don’t ever go after the Simpsons. It can’t be that they like it, they make being utterly humorless a point of pride. I think there’s actually one thing about our culture so beloved that they don’t dare attack it. Who knew?

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