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Old February 11, 2013, 10:44 AM   #1
Kimio
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Question for Military (active or retired) Infantry members

This is something I've been curious about. When you're kitted out for going into the field, from my understanding you're usually given everything you'll need to survive while on an operation.

This would include rations, camping gear etc. In the terms of engaging a hostile force, what would you normally do with all that gear?

do you usually drop it and then come back to it once the situation is under control and the area is secure? I recall that an average Marine carries roughly 100lb of gear on top of all his ammo and weapon when he's out and about on a mission.

I can't imagine that would make combat maneuvers exactly easy to execute especially when wearing kevlar and the like.

How about those of you who served in Vietnam or perhaps even Desert Storm/Shield.

I've been working on some novels which involve military themes and talking and learning from those with experience would certainly help if anyone would feel so inclined to share.

Thanks in advance
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Old February 11, 2013, 12:26 PM   #2
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Quote:
This is something I've been curious about. When you're kitted out for going into the field, from my understanding you're usually given everything you'll need to survive while on an operation.
Yes and no, you take a basic load that will support you for a given time and resupply as needed.

Quote:
This would include rations, camping gear etc. In the terms of engaging a hostile force, what would you normally do with all that gear?
Ammo and food yes, sleeping is over-rated, really, you don't sleep much on an op. Even on a FOB in Iraq the guys were only getting 3-6 hours of sleep on average all through the rotation.

Quote:
do you usually drop it and then come back to it once the situation is under control and the area is secure? I recall that an average Marine carries roughly 100lb of gear on top of all his ammo and weapon when he's out and about on a mission.
Basically yes but only if you are dismounted, if you are Armored Inf you gear is with your vehicle.

You're right, It's not easy. I was a Combat Engineer and the 12Bs carry even more equipment then the Grunts do, but they are rarely dismounted unless that is required.

Of course there is a world of difference between operations like Iraq and Afghanistan and force-on-force conventional operations.
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Old February 11, 2013, 12:34 PM   #3
johnwilliamson062
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US Army no longer has any traditional infantry units. All are mechanized, not that they are always mounted. Not sure about Marines, but I imagine the same.

Quote:
you're usually given everything you'll need to survive while on an operation.
I think standard units rarely carry for more than a few days worth of supplies. US military is built around out ?logisticing?/spending the enemy to a great extent. $400 dollar gallon of diesel and such. MIC and all.
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Old February 11, 2013, 05:05 PM   #4
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Quote:
This would include rations, camping gear etc. In the terms of engaging a hostile force, what would you normally do with all that gear?
I wasn't an Infantryman per say. I was a Cavalry Scout, and trained to fight the Russians in the Fulda Gap from my Bradley. Obviously, that didn't happen so when we went to the big sandbox, we fought as regular infantry, dismounted, or in hillybilly armored humvees.

I didn't deploy with the majority of "camping gear" that I was issued. Most of what I took with me was gear my like what a college freshmen would take into his dorm the first time. Shower caddy, twin sheets, coffee pot, etc. etc.

As far as field gear, most everything I wore outside the wire had a purpose and would stay on my person or within my immediate grasp inside the Humvee.

This would include GPS, radio, headset, flashlight, Camelbak, Leatherman, and the like. All of those assorted sundries, plus ammo and a frag grenades, one smoke grenade and a bandolier of 40mm grenades rode on my person. Either attached to my belt, plate carrier, or shoved in an ACU pocket.

I indulged myself in a bit of a WWII fantasy by shoving a picture of my then girlfriend in the padding in my k-pot.

Nothing I carried I would ever drop and cache during a fire fight. All of it was needed. I figure, between ammo, water, armor, comms, and other assorted sundries, I was walking around with about 80-90 pounds on. It was heavy and somewaht cumbersome, but not as bad as luggin around a 150 lb backpack like the LRRPs did in Vietnam.

The only time I ever really noticed a problem with it was when we would be high in the mountains and the air was super thin.

Then it was "step, pause, breathe, step, pause breathe."

Hope this helps. Any questions, feel free to ask or shoot a PM.
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Old February 11, 2013, 07:14 PM   #5
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Im a Marine combat engineer and when you get right down to it were not a whole lot different from infantry riflemen, at least in my experience. My load usually consisted of 7 mags (210 rounds), a frag grenade, 3L camelbak, 1L water bottle, 2-3 0.5L water bottles, metal detector (that's where we're different from grunts but some of them sweep too), 4 extra batteries, Kevlar helmet, plate carrier w/ ESAPI plates (30lbs?) and sometimes if I was lucky some C4 (5-20lbs). Machine gunners loads were a lot heavier, 23-27lb loaded weapon (SAW or 240) and several hundred rounds.

For me my load went anywhere from (spitballing here) 70lbs to 90lbs for a 3-5 hour patrol. The longer the patrol the more water I carried and the heavier the load. C4 also tacked on a good bit of weight but I only carried it once or twice a week.
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Old February 11, 2013, 07:51 PM   #6
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Like others have said, if you aren't in an armored unit, you carry all of your stuff with you all the time. Its normally just basic stuff like water, radios, batteries, ammo, first aid stuff, weapons, and some food (some other miscellaneous necessities). The point is, if you are engaged all of that stuff stays on your back because it is all necessary.

Edit:
Something I just thought to put in here as a side note. Your pack weighs anywhere from 55-85lbs. (Radios weigh A LOT!), but even without your pack you have your weapon(s), body armor with plates, loaded magazines, a grenade or two, your kevlar, and boots. That crap weighs a lot too.
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Old February 11, 2013, 11:42 PM   #7
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This is just my experience, but when we were "engaging a hostile force" in an offensive attack, we dropped everything but our weapons and ammunition.
That means backpacks, canteens (we usually carried at least four), and any other non-essential stuff.

The helmet, flak jacket, ammo bandoliers and rifle were more than enough
weight to carry doing squad-rushes up a hill in 90+ degree temps, while trying to direct accurate fire at the enemy.

Dropped gear would be brought up later by those who did not actually participate in the "assault", but gave us supporting fire. By that I mean
mortar teams, MG teams, HQ people, and anybody else who wasn't
doing the "John Wayne" up the hill.

Most of the time we got our gear back, sometimes stuff got lost and we never saw it again. But if you survived the action, it didn't matter too much.
Gear could be replaced.

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Old February 12, 2013, 12:04 AM   #8
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Marine Corps Infantry...

Your ruck has most of your gear, but your LBE (load bearing equipment) has the basics for a firefight, which consist of spare magazines, water, and first aid/immediate response items. Depending on the environment, you may also carry a gas mask, although again - that is environmentally dependent.

[Caveat: Most of what I'm saying is environmentally dependent. A 4 hour patrol through an urban built-up area is a completely different assignment than a 2 or 3 day patrol through mountain passes separating Pakistan from Afghanistan. The Marines who initially went into Iraq were equipped with MOP gear to fight in a chemical weapons environment. Your load will vary accordingly to where you are, when, and why - and what your unit is expected to face.]

But generally speaking the shoulder straps on your ruck have a break-away fastener. If you are moving with a full load and are taken under fire, you drop the pack and proceed to fire and maneuver in response wearing only plate carrier and LBE. You return to the packs afterwards.

Hope that helps.
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Old February 12, 2013, 02:53 AM   #9
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I was an infantryman. While on light infantry field maneuvers, you would carry your ruck which would have your sleeping bag (all the camping gear you need) and your extra uniforms and food and water. Plus one morter round for the morter guys. On contact you would drop your ruck in a designated area and fight with whats on your body. A combat load of ammo, water, first aid pouch, and your gas mask. You might have some food in a cargo pocket.

And yes, there are still traditional "light infantry" units. 82nd , 101st 10th mountain, 173rd just to name a few. They may be mounted for certain missions like A-stan. But their doctrine hasnt changed.

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Old February 12, 2013, 03:09 AM   #10
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It depends on the war, the unit and the mission.

I don't know what it's like nowadays, but I was a Reagan-era soldier in an Airborne unit, then was in a Mech unit in the Guard for many years, Infantry both.

One time, we deployed to a hostile country with basically what we carried. Very quickly, we were separated from our rucksacks, and just survived with our combat gear for about a week. Our rucks caught up with us, but we never had an established base camp, just patrol bases that moved periodically. I ate MREs for 27 days straight. We'd usually get a logistics package once per day. Food mostly, but also ammo, batteries, uniforms, sundry items, mail, etc.

It's funny that in peacetime one carries a heavy rucksack full of stuff that you don't even see in war: Extra boots, clean uniforms, toothpaste, stoves, etc.. In a real operation, the ammo alone is heavy enough that you can't carry too much else.

Contrast with a Mech unit in peacetime, where your camp looks like a Cabella's display. Cots, toilet seats, stoves, ice chests, duffel bags, etc.

Another time, we were deployed where we lived in a base for 10 days, then spent 20 days outside the wire. At the base, we had rooms, lockers, etc., and our duffel bags were there. When we deployed to the field, we took our rucks. We had fairly secure patrol bases, and our rucks would stay there when we went out on patrols.

Conceptually, you have a duffel bag with your clean uniforms, personal items, etc. It stays in a fairly static, secure facility.

Next is the rucksack. It contains your minimum items for several days: Clean socks, a poncho, cleaning kit, very basic hygiene items, an MRE or two, etc. It goes with you from place to place, but you drop it when actually fighting, usually.

Everything you need for your actual mission, you carry on your personal equipment.

In your pockets or on your belt, you carry a knife, a drive-on rag, and maybe a few other things for survival.

Most of the time, you get one or two logpacs per day, with hot meals and other items of resupply. If you have a vehicle, you have more stuff, but it gets pretty crowded with everybody's stuff.

Finally, the environmental conditions have a lot to do with it. Water is heavy but mission-essential. A sleeping bag that would be a luxury in a temperate climate might be mission-essential in, say, the Falklands.

In the Airborne, we had a motto: "Pack light, freeze at night".
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Old February 12, 2013, 08:42 AM   #11
Kimio
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Wow, thank you all for the replies! It's interesting to hear about some of the differences between some of the older service members and those who've served or are still serving more recently.

If anyone has some more input I'd be more than open to hear them this has been a very educational experience so far.
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Old February 12, 2013, 11:34 AM   #12
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"US Army no longer has any traditional infantry units. All are mechanized, not that they are always mounted. Not sure about Marines, but I imagine the same."

I was with the 1/75th Ranger Battalion between 1986 to 1989. I spoke to some of the current soldiers in Dahlonega, GA last spring at an open house. They are still doing patrols and land navigation. The only thing that's changed is the equipment they use; GPS vs compasses. Marines, Rangers, SEALs, Delta and maybe the 82nd are still walking to their objectives the last time I checked.
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Old February 12, 2013, 11:41 AM   #13
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I was a 12F, Engineer Tracked Vehicle Crewman. Worked on the tank, ate on the tank, slept on the tank, I have even took a dump off the tank.

It reminded me of that line from the movie Apocalypse Now, "Never get out of the boat". We didn't get off that tank unless we absolutely had to get off it.


We weren't supposed to sleep on it, but when you are digging fighting positions for Bradleys and M1s all through the night. Well two are working and two are sleeping inside and that's just the way it had to be cause the job had to get done.
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Old February 12, 2013, 12:10 PM   #14
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I was infantry when infantry walked (2/502 Inf 101 Abn Div, RVN 67-68)

We went to the field for 30-60 days, sometimes more.

To give you an idea, the average infantryman in the South Pacific during WWII spend 100 days in combat in 4 years, the average infantryman in Vietnam spent 270 days in combat in 1 year.

We carried everything in our ruck, you never got away from your ruck, NEVER.
It was your lifeline. Even during short night ambushes, you took your ruck.

This habit stuck with my in my Alaska National Guard days where I'd get caught out during the winter. The Ruck is your lifeline.

I still do it. I carry my ruck in my truck now, but I still have it on any road trips I may take. In addition to hunting and fishing.

In Vietnam we got resupplied every 5-7 days, IF THE CONDITIONS PERMITTED. You had to be prepared for extended periods where you couldn't get resupplied.

You quickly learned what you could do with or without. Weight was critical.
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Old February 12, 2013, 12:18 PM   #15
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I was Military Police in Desert Storm. Once in country all our gear was in the truck (HMMWV). We lived out of the truck and at times would pull into another unit's compound in our Area of Operations for resupply or support for chow and hygiene. You could get supplied with necessities at any unit without any paperwork at all. Just load what you needed and go. It was quite foreign to us since the Army usually runs on paper.

Nothing got turned in until we were pulled from the Theatre. As a matter of fact, they had us expend all ammunition and munitions prior to returning to Saudi from Iraq so it would not have to be repacked. Talk about an open range day.
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Old February 12, 2013, 12:56 PM   #16
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I didn't undertake any of the mechanized infantry benefits until after I got off of active duty and participated with a national guard unit. The only time we ever saw or interacted with anything mechanized was when we rode on helicopters, jumped from a plane,1st Sargent delivering chow or riding in a deuce and half. That was it.
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Old February 12, 2013, 01:01 PM   #17
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Heh. Our unofficial Troop motto was "Death Before Dismount".

Which was painfully ironic when we deployed and fought as infantrymen, like sorta miffed we didn't rate the CIB style fighting.
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Old February 12, 2013, 01:45 PM   #18
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An interesting thing about these comments is that, generally, they applied to all soldiers almost everywhere ever since the days of the Romans. Supposedly they carried everything with them on the march and their load was pretty much the same as an infantryman today. But some things change.

Typically, a highly theoretical marching load and battle load will be developed for the soldier. Then the worst possible thing happens: he goes to war. Right away theory is replaced by reality and it evolves. Reality is never static. Technology has always been changing and conditions vary, usually unexpectedly. Trench warfare in WWI was not something planned for years ahead of time, though other aspects of the war had long been thought about. The foot soldier was continuously handed one thing after another that he had to carry. Lighter weapons, lighter ammunition and lighter rations meant only that he could carry more stuff, not less weight. I'm not sure it's such a great idea to load everyone down so much, although that sometimes happens, at least to most foot soldiers.

Do you suppose the enemy carries around all that stuff, too?
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Old February 12, 2013, 01:52 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R1145
Most of the time, you get one or two logpacs per day, with hot meals and other items of resupply. If you have a vehicle, you have more stuff, but it gets pretty crowded with everybody's stuff.
Our Humvee reminded me of my truck when me and several of my Fraternity Brothers drove to South Dakota for a football playoff. Stuff everywhere. Numerous empty dip cans, empty bags of Combos, empty gatorade bottles, half-empty MREs, etc.
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Old February 12, 2013, 02:09 PM   #20
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Not in my teams vehicles, all your lose stuff stayed in your ruck strapped in the bustle. The inside of the tank stays clear of that garbage or you can't fight.

The inside of a tank is as efficient at killing a man as the rest of it is. That steel does not care if flesh and bone get's in the way. I have seen men torn almost in half cause they got stupid in a tank.
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Old February 12, 2013, 04:18 PM   #21
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Greatly depends on the operation and your specific task within that operation. My primary MOS was 0311, and my secondary was an intel MOS. As such, in my Afg. deployment, I worked on a 3 man team that was tasked out to different line units (eventually just myself and one other later on). Anyway, during one operation we did we were with LAR. We established a patrol base (1st picture) where we didn't have to do much aside from wait for orders to go do our thing. We would bring everything necessary for the whole op, but leave it behind to go do our actual op,usually a week (2nd picture). Here we would take shifts of setting up security. From here we would also go foot mobile, but usually not stray to far for too long for security reasons. With that said, we took the gear necessary to that mission and maybe 2 bottles of water +full load out. In Iraq, about 90% of our ops were leaving from the COP foot mobile, which could be anywhere from 5-20/25 kilometers. Not fun... I would only usually pack one chow, and lots of water in addition to whatever gear we were taking for that night. The heaviest pack I believe I had to carry was about 80-90 lbs in addition to the combat loadout. Lots of 5590s........Ammo wise? Typically, I would carry 8 mags. A double mag pouch on each side, 3 single mag pouches across my plate carrier, and one in the weapon, with the addition of two 9mm mags also on the side and one in the M9. On the truck, we kept about 2,000 7.62 to keep the m240 happy, and lots of other various ammo. That was our main priority, haha.

The Ritz


The Hampton, still had cots! Kept bare essentials on the truck. I'd show the hotel 7, but it would just be a picture of dirt.


The reason I posted these pictures is because it's really about readiness. Technically it was the same op, but depending on what was going on was what we had. We could easily throw our plate carriers on in the second picture and get out of dodge if neccesary. The first picture was on the PB we set up with actual posts, so we could have more. Whenever we'd roll out for a week, we'd throw everything in the trailer and leave. From there we'd leave everything and one guy in the truck and take a small element and leave. It was kind of like layers of comfort/necessity/security depending on what was going on. We did a lot of foot stuff, but to be honest I dont really want to get into how/why. It's not all top secret, but I dont feel comfortable just throwing it out there.
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Old February 12, 2013, 06:00 PM   #22
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As with so many things Army, it depends on the theater of operations, the mission, the type of unit-mech, light,airmobile-and the commander. A good commander will look out for his troops, a bad one won't,and a sure sign of a bad commander is the extent to which he tries to ignore his troops' needs and logistical problems. In Vietnam water was a major problem,the brass-who for the most part did not share their troops hardships-either tried to impose water rationing or insisted that water purified with halazone tablets was perfectly satisfactory. Likewise there were constant orders-always ignored-for the troops not to carry so many C-rations-"You'll be resupplied!"
The effectiveness of helicopter resupply was greatly exaggerated, due to a variety of reasons such as weather, maintenance,enemy action,over optimistic assumptions-incompetence.
As Kraigwy said, your ruck was like your weapon-you NEVER parted with it.
NEVER!.
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Old February 12, 2013, 06:39 PM   #23
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After a career of carrying all this high speed, low drag, lightweight equipment how many of the people posting have spinal issues that they deal with? They still haven't invented a way of carrying it all for a career length of time without injuries.

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Old February 12, 2013, 10:06 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SPEMack618 View Post
Heh. Our unofficial Troop motto was "Death Before Dismount".

Which was painfully ironic when we deployed and fought as infantrymen, like sorta miffed we didn't rate the CIB style fighting.
If you want a Combat Infantry Badge, you should have joined the infantry and gone through our tougher training first. Ive acted as a combat medic with my limited skills but you don't see me asking for a Combat Medic Badge. I know I'm getting off topic, but the infantry is a brotherhood forged in sweat and blood. Both on and off the field of battle and you can't just waltz in and join it because you fired a few rounds.



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Old February 13, 2013, 01:49 AM   #25
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If you want a Combat Infantry Badge, you should have joined the infantry and gone through our tougher training first. Ive acted as a combat medic with my limited skills but you don't see me asking for a Combat Medic Badge. I know I'm getting off topic, but the infantry is a brotherhood forged in sweat and blood. Both on and off the field of battle and you can't just waltz in and join it because you fired a few rounds.
AMEN

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