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Bartholomew Roberts
February 25, 2010, 02:41 PM
I was reading a 1985 report on the Infantryman's load (http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/1985/IDC.htm). This report cited several tests of the matter.

1. The Germans determined circa WWI that at 48lbs, an infantryman could manage on a cooler day; but on a warm day would become tired and require a full day of recovery before he was back to peak physical condition. Further they determined that no amount of physical conditioning improved changed these basic facts with regard to load and recovery.

2. A British review of previous research in the 1920s reached the conclusion that 40-45lbs should be the maximum load.

3. B. H. Liddell Hart - a British strategist whose influence on maneuver warfare is still felt today - argued for a weight of 31lbs 10oz as the maximum.

4. By the end of WWII, the Russians determined that 40lbs was the maximum load, which seems very telling given that the Soviets were not especially well known for their concern over the comfort and physical condition of their infantry.

So basically, we have several studies that all reach the conclusion that around 40lbs is the maximum load that an infantryman can fight with on a day-to-day basis without markedly degrading his physical condition.

This got me to thinking that my rifle, ammunition and the clothes on my back probably added up to 20lbs just by themselves - and this is on the range without water, food, body armor, night vision, radios or any of the other equipment so useful in modern warfare.

Even with daily resupply and flawless logistics, is a 40lb load even achievable? How would you even begin to approach an individual load of less than 40lbs after you consider the basic needs and then add squad/platoon/etc. gear into the mix?

CPTMurdoc30
February 25, 2010, 02:48 PM
When I was in the Army I was in a combat heavy engineer unit. We had dozer's and trucks to haul most everything. My ruk always weighed in at about 50 to 75# we would train with 55# in our ruks. Like you said what everything now that these guys have to carry it is amazing they can even walk. And now you have to add batteries for all the gizmos you just have to have now. of course warfare has changed somewhat now that we have infantry vehicles that will get the troops much closer to the fight much faster and with no fatigue. Also boots are much different now than they were during WWI or WWII.

Scorch
February 25, 2010, 03:20 PM
For a Recon Marine, standard combat load was between 60 and 80 lbs. Force Recon missions involve a heavier load, almost 100 lbs when fully geared up. The load carrying equipment is better and lighter, but they keep adding more to the load. 30-40 lbs combat loadout would seem like a cakewalk.

Warchild
February 25, 2010, 03:21 PM
40lbs. would seem like a holiday to most combat infantry ground pounders...

tpe187
February 25, 2010, 03:27 PM
My body armor and helmet weigh 40lbs with nothing else on it. Add ten magaizines, a full camelback, NOD's, radio, light, knife, compass, frag grenade, smoke grenade, GPS, batteries, pens/markers, map, notebook, weapon (about 10lbs) and you you get up around 60lb fighting load. Thats for a rifleman. Add spare barrel for a SAW gunner and more ammo and you get about 70lbs. M240 gunner carries a 28lb weapon, 9mm Beretta, and at least 200rds of 7.62. So, soldiers today carry about 60-80lbs for a fighting load. Now, we are seldom involved in the all day fighting or massed assaults like our WWI and WWII counterparts. That doesn't mean it doesn't happen, because they are sure as heck doing it in Afghanistans Helmand province. It just means we can't manuever like we used to. The only solution is for commanders is to have the flexibility to go with no armor in the future.

Mike Irwin
February 25, 2010, 03:40 PM
OK, after a request from a member, and discussion with Pax and Capt Charlie, your friendly neighborhood moderators, this thread is being reopened in Tactics and Training.

As I said, it's an interesting subject.

IIRC the average American Doughboy of World War I went into battle with a load out that averaged between 50 and 70 pounds, most of it slung from that abysmal piece of crap carry system that was adopted in, IIRC, 1909.

BlueTrain
February 26, 2010, 06:24 AM
Don't you wonder what the enemy carries around with him? Maybe it's no wonder we can't catch them.

5whiskey
February 26, 2010, 07:37 AM
I do think a 40lb fighting load is POSSIBLE, but it will be rarely (if ever) utilized. Fighting load, as always, will be mission dependent. Given the fact that setting foot outside of the wire these days requires flak with full e-sapis, side plates, kevlar helmet, and weapon with basic load out... well you're over 40lbs right there. IIRC, just my vest, kevlar, and rifle weighed 38lbs in 2004. That was before side e-sapis and side sapis were required. Of course, I'm 6'4" and had to have an extra large everything, so for the normal guy you may could trim that back to 30 or 32 lbs.

America is all about protecting our boys who fight. Which is a good thing. However, there are some circumstances where manuever should be more critical than armour. YMMV, but the 40lb load is virtually unattainable these days. And when it is POSSIBLE to obtain, commanders usually won't be willing to risk less armour.

Crosshair
February 26, 2010, 07:43 AM
Don't you wonder what the enemy carries around with him? Maybe it's no wonder we can't catch them.
That's one very serious problem that most people who have been there have said to me.

BlueTrain
February 26, 2010, 08:38 AM
In response to the previous comment, I'd suggest the formation of dedicated, actual light infantry components to a battalion that would operate in a true foot mobile fashion. It could be a platoon or larger unit but it would probably need to be picked men. And it could also operate in the tradition of the infantry scout, although that might be confused with the long range patrol scouts who typically operate with extra heavy loads.

It may or may not be a good idea and it might or might not work out in practice but it's a thought. And it might not even be the best solution to the problem. It certainly isn't a new idea but is one that goes back to the 18th Century. It was an idea picked up from the Indians. But come to think of it, just how successful were they?

jhenry
February 26, 2010, 08:47 AM
It is not uncommon at all for a backpacker to have 40+ on his or her back all day for many days. I have done so myself many times. Not the same, but interesting.

When in the military we commonly carried 50 to 70 in combined gear. Heavier upon occassion, especially if you had to hump extra batteries for a PRC 25, or PRC 77. Or M60 ammo, etc. etc. Add extra water depending on the situation it can add up real fast. We are larger and in better condition than the average WWI troopie, and we are also not walking accross Germany on poor rations and ditch water.

MadHatter1
February 26, 2010, 10:41 AM
The current max recommended load at a 'moderate" pace is 55#s or 1/3 of your body weight. Using this standard, you should be able to remain combat effective indefinatly.
The reality is that most loads definatly exceed 55#s, but are not being carried all day, every day. My current load out is close to 70# (M4 +15 mags, IOTV w/plates, ACH, 2x frags, 3x smoke, 2x flashbangs, PRC148, camelback, M9 + 3 mags, PVS14, IFAK, flashlight, batteries). Im 5'6" and 145#s. My FOB is 7500 feet above sea level, I've worked an area that was over 12k. I average 5+ days a week outside the wire. But I also spend at least 60% of that time in a vehicle getting from point A to point B. I can move dismounted with that load at a walking pace 8 hours a day regularly. 4 hours of sustained contact is a smoker, but rarely happens. I've had missions where I had a ruck that was over 100#s, but no helmet or armor, and it was a short walk.
The army (after only 9 years) has recognized that loads and equipment must be adjusted to the enviroment and mission. They're starting to test lighter armor, with reduced protection and coverage.
The modern loads are much heavier than in days past, but soldiers do not travel day in and day out by boot leather for weeks on end, either.

Balog
February 26, 2010, 10:49 AM
When we had the e-sapis and side sapis forced on us (and they had to force us, we didn't want any part of it) I noticed a significant reduction in mobility. However, unlike the grunts of older wars I spent the majority of my time driving around, with only short runs to and from houses and going through the houses clearing them.

tirod
February 26, 2010, 02:05 PM
As soon as the combat ground pounder commanders want to elevate the number of letters home to Mom and Dad telling them we took away 20# of life essential gear, too bad your boy didn't make it.

To put it bluntly, the American way of kissing up to civilian authority will never allow it. Strip the helmet, which is defense against artillery, the vest, also resistant to shrapnel and bullets, extra food, wireless commo, anything that uses a battery, and you can get a lightweight mobile force. They will also take more casualties, which Mom and Dad won't allow.

Spec Ops units can, the boy on the street has to hump the load. It's based on a worst case scenario that has a slim chance of happening, but protects against a guarantee that Mom and Dad will stir up a feces storm with Congress blaming their Senator.

Obviously the subject matter experts have been ignored on this one for a long time. Don't expect change.

N.H. Yankee
February 26, 2010, 02:29 PM
My son who was in Special ops for the JCSE used to run 5 miles with an 80lb RUK, drop it and do push up and sit-ups ( don't remember how many ) then put the ruk back on and run 5 miles back to base. This was on concrete and at any given time there were 1-3 members out due t knee surgery, gee I wonder why?

He also had to have his camelback, his weapons ammo and wearing his gear and BDU's in the Florida sunshine. One of the Master's had a heart attack and died during one of these runs. Didn't stop the process though, next day was different day same S$#T. He's still in special ops but in a different capacity, after 18 years active duty he's had 3 knee surgeries, on one knee, and 1 surgery on the other.

Balog
February 26, 2010, 03:22 PM
N.H Yankee: people who say "Joining the .mil is a good way to get fit!" have obviously never seen grunts. Infantry life just destroys your body.

Big Bill
February 26, 2010, 03:29 PM
Is a 40lb fighting load possible for modern infantry?No! What should they leave behind? Body Armor? Weapon? Ammo? Water? Knife? Etc... Etc... ???

BlueTrain
February 26, 2010, 03:39 PM
It is hard to decide what is essential and what isn't, whether you're walking the Applachian Trail or whether you're sightseeing in Afganistan. The biggest different is the protective gear the soldier will be carrying and the problem is that the army is extremely casualty sensitive, although we're not the only army that is. The Israeli army is also casualty sensitive because they don't have the population base. I wonder what their approach might be? And while we're on the subject, have there been parachute drops in Afganistan? Military parachuting has relatively high injuries even in peacetime exercises and I suspect that commanders may be reluctant to employ parachute assaults for that reason. Even the Germans in WWII had that opinion, though for a slightly different reason.

Balog
February 26, 2010, 04:09 PM
No! What should they leave behind? Body Armor? Weapon? Ammo? Water? Knife? Etc... Etc... ???

Ever had to raid a house in 80# of battle rattle? Trying to scale a 10' concrete fence and getting stuck on the top because of how much crap you're forced to carry might cause you to reconsider...

There is a point at which the extra weight (and attendant fatigue and loss of mobility it causes) far outweighs the good it is supposed to do. I'm reminded of when fed.gov started Prohibition to "save lives," found people were drinking industrial alcohol to get around this, and ordered that all such substances be poisoned. Somewhere around 10k people killed by fed.gov because of a law intended to "save lives."

Buzzcook
February 26, 2010, 04:26 PM
The military library that I used to access is behind a fire wall now, so this is from memory. If you can get in to the Dennis J. Reimer Training and Doctrine Digital Library, its worth a visit.

iirc the magic numbers are 52 pounds and 3 kph as the top weight and speed that troops can march without fatigue. Increase either number and the troops start to tire. In the appropriate field manual there is a table of weights and speeds for the jr. officers to work off of.

As has been mentioned we don't have to worry about Napoleonic era forced marches of 40 miles. The US infantry is blessed with a herd of vehicles that can drop them almost on top of their target. So what the ideal long term weight is, is moot,

imho what the load limitations should be focused on, is the troops ability to move and fire effectively.

I have read some reports from Afghanistan were soldiers had difficulties moving distances of less than 1 kilometer in mountainous terrains.

One of the problems with changing the burdens that soldiers carry is the US doctrine that has US troops acting as heavily armored close assault forces.
That is a role which they are superbly trained and equipped for. But in Afghanistan there is a great deal of difficulty placing troops close enough to an enemy force so that they can act in that role. Too frequently they are engaged in medium distance fire fights that play against their strengths.

I'm more familiar with conditions in Afghanistan early in the war so if the following is out dated please forgive me.
Another problem in Afghanistan that limits the ability of our troops to maneuver is that they don't have the same amount of supporting fire that they have in Iraq or in training.
Air missions take longer and long range artillery is very limited. Without that cover fire the troops ability to close on the enemy is much more limited than it could be.

Personally I don't have a number to give for a maximum load. Frankly that's well above my pay grade. I would like to point out that whatever load that may be should be determined by the conditions the troops face and tactical doctrine. It is a mistake to take a set of standards from one area and then apply it to the whole. That is what I think the OP is doing with the 40 pound standard.

Deaf Smith
February 26, 2010, 06:36 PM
Bartholomew,

Yes a 40lb fighting load is possible...

But that means doing without alot of things to make it possible.

The Afgan terrorist do have light loads. But they don't have our armor, communications, or mobility. If we were willing to take alot more casualties we sure could reduce the weight (but you know the answer to that... no... don't want to die out there.)

Best we can do is maybe 60 lb. Miniaturize the communications, use hardened titanium for most of the individual armor (and that will cost $$$ big time), caseless rifle ammo, and resupply by air increased.

But realistically, with what we consider essential nowadays, going down to 40 lb just won't happen.

The Canuck
February 26, 2010, 06:47 PM
My Battle Order weighed in at around 70-80lbs.

Crosshair
February 26, 2010, 07:40 PM
As soon as the combat ground pounder commanders want to elevate the number of letters home to Mom and Dad telling them we took away 20# of life essential gear, too bad your boy didn't make it.
Except that isn't what our military is doing. It is forcing the infantry to wear every piece of armor all the time and not letting them tailor their equipment to the mission. Forcing them to wear the armor at all times is just as bad as taking it away. A One-Size-Fits-All solution rarely works out.

There are plenty of situations where that extra weight will get you killed. Balog gave just a couple of examples. The increased protection comes at a cost of reduced mobility.

BlackFeather
February 26, 2010, 10:46 PM
I know everyone hates it when I go on this subject but I believe a few centuries ago the breastplate itself was 40 pounds not to mention the powder, musket, sword and possibly more armour. Most of their combat was with a sword as well. That having been said I don't see the problem with carrying that much weight...

Balog
February 27, 2010, 01:47 AM
Blackfeather: have you personally carried a 60-80lb battle load in a combat environment?

BlackFeather
February 27, 2010, 01:51 AM
Honestly no, and I understand the difference between me sitting here saying it as opposed to actually having done it. I was just offering up a comparative note. I have had martial arts training and have worn weights for conditioning and I was quite exhausted from the extra efforts.

I meant no disrespect.

Buzzcook
February 27, 2010, 01:58 AM
Blackfeather, a full suit of armor probably weighed about 60 or 70 pounds.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armour#Personal_armour

BlackFeather
February 27, 2010, 02:02 AM
I was thinking mid to late 1600's... But yes, they did get up there. That is why knights were almost always on horseback.

big bug
February 27, 2010, 02:20 AM
With full bodyarmor on I can imagine already 30-40 lbs. With all the other equipment and firearm and ammo...it should get up to 60lbs easy. Too old for that for me.

Rangefinder
February 27, 2010, 02:53 AM
I know everyone hates it when I go on this subject but I believe a few centuries ago the breastplate itself was 40 pounds not to mention the powder, musket, sword and possibly more armour. Most of their combat was with a sword as well.

Blackfeather--since you brought it up... You're a bit misinformed. The TOTAL weight of my Burgundian Plate is about 65 pounds including the 16 pounds of 14ga. steel German sallet with a full punched visor and bevor (yes, I have a bit of experience in medieval combat). But we're talking about a whole different animal where modern warfare is concerned.
I was thinking mid to late 1600's... But yes, they did get up there. That is why knights were almost always on horseback.
No, Knights were on horseback most of the time for speed and mobility when it suited the situation (as in commanding infantry, and needing to handle multiple facets of a battlefield quickly), and for show of status otherwise (as in "I am important--I have a very expensive horse to carry me around while the rest of you walk..."). When that 65-ish pounds is fitted correctly and spread over the entire body, it is a lot more mobile than one might think. ALL of my armored combat is on foot, and though tiring after going at it hard for several long days during a major event, no horse is required. You have some misconceptions about medieval armor and combat. Best not to dig your hole any deeper without a little more experience in the field. ;)

Where modern combat is concerned... My average combat load was around 60 grueling pounds average (90% of which rode on my shoulders in one way or another and probably is a big reason my lower back still complains when it gets even a little cold outside) which got in my way almost as much as it was thought to help. Stripping down to what was acceptable as "combat-light" dropped the load down to about 45 to 50 pounds if you're lucky, but that just didn't happen very often and it simply couldn't happen because of some necessary gear for most. Could it be less? Sure! Everyone go in with a tee-shirt, 1911 with one spare mag, and a canteen. That should put the load about 4 pounds so long as your boot tread doesn't pick up unnecessary mud. But there is gonna be a trade off.

grumpycoconut
February 27, 2010, 03:41 AM
Hey Rangefinder,

Good info there. Have you armored up your 4 legged battle taxi yet? I've been toying with the idea of Kydex plate for my own pony but I just don't seem to have the time lately. Any idea how much a lorica segmentata, scutum, a pair of pila, helmet and pioneer tools weigh? I can't remember if legionaires wore greaves. Eh, what's another few pounds between friends. What our modern fighters need is either slaves or squires to lug the gear until it's needed.

The future soldier will finally get a 40 pound combat load when the spider silk armor get's into production, the built in micro electronics have super compact super efficient power sources and we perfect caseless ammo. Of course the non newtonian fluid armor layer in the full body armor will add on some weight and the desk bound geniuses will find other stuff to load soldiers up with. Maybe the powered exoskeletons will help some at least untill the batteries run down. 240 pound combat load anyone? Sorry. I've been reading too much David Drake lately.

BlackFeather
February 27, 2010, 04:01 AM
Sorry, medieval Europe arms are not my forte. I have more knowledge in Japanese warfare. Excuse my ignorance.

KChen986
February 27, 2010, 04:05 AM
I took a full day carbine course with ~30lbs of ammo, armor and water on my person. We were doing bounding drills all day, so that involved a lot of squatting, getting up and sprinting, then squatting (rinse, lather, repeat). At the end of the day, walking all my gear up the hill to my car winded me pretty badly.

I think (and I'm probably wrong), that while soldiers may be able to ruck 60lbs for an extended period, the stresses of combat (sprinting, leaning, squatting, climbing etc.) will tire someone much quicker with the equivalent amount of weight. In short, the 40lb figure is calculated due to the higher physical intensity of combat? I may be wrong here. Some edification from someone who knows would be great. :D

Rangefinder
February 27, 2010, 04:23 AM
Have you armored up your 4 legged battle taxi yet? I've been toying with the idea of Kydex plate for my own pony but I just don't seem to have the time lately.

LMAO!! :D Yah, i've been that route---partially... Once upon a time I agreed to help a friend hammer out a full harness for his battle taxi... Never again... Just trung to get the pattern for the lames was a chore that would probably have made a great youtube clip. Turn, look back, head up, head down, shake, side-step... all the while us two monkeys were trying to hold pattern pieces together, hold duct tape in our teeth, attempt to get more sharpy marker lines on the pattern than ourselves, and NOT get stepped on. IF you do decide to go for it, you'll have to keep me posted with progress. It might make me feel better about my own venture down that road. :D
Any idea how much a lorica segmentata, scutum, a pair of pila, helmet and pioneer tools weigh? I can't remember if legionaires wore greaves.
For the weight of it, I would be hard-pressed to guess. Depending on the time period, we're still talking about bronze--with modern materials it would probably run in the low 40-ish range, but we have to tack on a few pieces that they didn't, so a bit more. I'm pretty sure legionaires were bare from the waist down.

Blackfeather>> Japanese armor began with lacquered bamboo and leather or boiled and lacquered leather laced with silk cording, and only later went into segmented steel plate that was still only in the neighborhood of 35-40 pounds or less including all the undergarments. ;) The Naginata is my preferred weapon from that region. Been that route as well.

Ben Towe
February 27, 2010, 04:23 AM
1/3 of body weight? I'm screwed. 120 pounds would not be fun!

BlackFeather
February 27, 2010, 04:32 AM
Yes, I knew the armour well. The Naginata is a lot of fun to hold, the receiving side is not so much fun. I have always gone the standard katana route, sometimes with a jitte or wakizashi.

MTT TL
February 27, 2010, 04:42 AM
Here is what I carried on patrol every day last tour, I packed light because we normally had a support vehicle no more than 500 meters away:

IBA + Helmet= 40 lbs
M4/ 203 (with gadets) + 7 full mags = 20 pounds
M9 + 3 mags = 5 pounds
3 grenades = 3 pounds
Camelback w/ water = 4 pounds
GPS, radio, various other gadgets and batteries= 8 pounds

I was in Iraq, I can't imagine having to haul it up and down mountains in Afghanistan at my age with a 40 pound pack on top of that!

So 40 pounds won't even get you started these days, more like 80. Let me tell you what, you sleep good after a patrol in 110 degree heat carrying all that crap.

The Canuck
February 27, 2010, 09:53 AM
Blackfeather:

Medievel & Renaissance warfare was not fought with swords, it was fought with spears. In fact I was informed that my rifle was merely the modern spear during BMQ. The sword was reserved for important people, not the grunts, due to expense (see, militaries have been doing the budget dance for eons)! Oh and the amount of training it takes to become proficient with one.

The full harness, or "plate" did weigh around 60-80 pounds, but was self-supported by its own construction, and I have seen guys run, climb and even do back-flips in the stuff. There are stories that knights and wealthy fighters had been caught swimming across a moat and climbing a castle fortification wall in the stuff.

And before we get into it, it was societal upheaval, not guns that led to harness going by the wayside.

If you want to discuss this further, PM me.

Now back to the topic at hand...

MTT TL:
Isn't it amazing how so few folks realize an M4/203 weighs in at 13-14 pounds with the LAM, light, optics and ammo? I remember when I was working with the arty guys, they always tried to get somebody else to carry that damned designator. Sure it only weighs about two pound, but put it at the end of a heavy stick and see what they think after walking for two hours at low-ready... I often shake my head when many of the civvies I know want to pile all the tacticool stuff on thier bang-stick.

One thing that was often a pain was that it takes calories to carry all that kit. We had to watch for the weight spiral over food and water (especially in hot environments) on prolonged foot patrols. I remember the total loadout for LRFP/LRRP Marching Order was pretty close to 160lbs. for us. It went up to 180 in winter. Yeah, I was almost carrying my own body weight in gear a lot of the time. Now cover a 140km route with all that...

The Canuck
February 27, 2010, 10:18 AM
I took a full day carbine course with ~30lbs of ammo, armor and water on my person. We were doing bounding drills all day, so that involved a lot of squatting, getting up and sprinting, then squatting (rinse, lather, repeat). At the end of the day, walking all my gear up the hill to my car winded me pretty badly.

I think (and I'm probably wrong), that while soldiers may be able to ruck 60lbs for an extended period, the stresses of combat (sprinting, leaning, squatting, climbing etc.) will tire someone much quicker with the equivalent amount of weight. In short, the 40lb figure is calculated due to the higher physical intensity of combat? I may be wrong here. Some edification from someone who knows would be great.

So after doing pepper-potting all day, you understand why an Infantryman's knees go pretty quickly...

Now the armour I wore weighed in at 30 pounds on its own, but it was made to "stop" rifle rounds at "100m". Add on the ammo, weapons (rifles, pistols, knives...tomahawks.... not kidding) and then EE kit, ordnance, optics, batteries, water, snacks, maps, comms, nav, PFAK/BOK the LBE itself and it all adds up, but its not just what you have, but where you put it all and how tight you have your -CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED- wired. If you put your stuff together right, you will find it a bit easier to hit the ground running. Maneouvering with all that stuff on is a learned skill and while it can be tiring, a fit soldier will be able to fight in it effectively for prolonged periods.

troy_mclure
February 27, 2010, 11:27 AM
Luckily i got out before side sapi's!

As a combat engineer team leader on the occasional foot patrol in iraq i carried 56lbs of armour, ammo, guns, demo, comms, water.

My saw gunner had 64lbs, and one of the other joes carried 2 more drums for it bringing him to 60lbs.

When you factor in the heat, plus the added heat of the helmet/vest and its just miserable.

I frequently did 12-18 mile ruck marches with 80+ lbs ruck, plus armour(minus sapi) before deployment.


Luckily in iraq it was more often "death before dismount" lol.

JohnH1963
February 27, 2010, 11:38 AM
The "enemies" that law enforcement and soldiers have to deal with do not carry all these things. That is primarily why the opposing team can be so effective. They carry a few weapons and little equipment where they can come out firing and then quickly retreat.

The reason why soldiers and law enforcement carry so much equipment is as a result of administrators who dictate what they carry. These administrators sit at desks and do not have to carry all this equipment therefore they don't care...they don't know. They get these complaints from politicians about body armor so they load everyone up to the point where they are like those Knights with the coat of armor walking stiff.

There was one saying in the military that there were two types of soldiers...the quick and the dead. What happened to that old saying? I can't see the current force as effective going into battle weighed down with 100lbs of equipment. Go to the gym and see how fast you can move holding a 45 lb plate.

My belief is that body armor actually puts the troops in a greater danger. The best defense against a firearm is your ability to move quickly. I think the Chinese proved that fact to us in Korea. They were able to march hundreds of thousands of soldiers in little time as a result of lightly equipping their troops.

I guess we will have to learn these lessons again the hard way as administrators do what is politically correct and weigh down troops like the Knights of old.

The Canuck
February 27, 2010, 04:20 PM
The "enemies" that law enforcement and soldiers have to deal with do not carry all these things. That is primarily why the opposing team can be so effective. They carry a few weapons and little equipment where they can come out firing and then quickly retreat.

The reason why soldiers and law enforcement carry so much equipment is as a result of administrators who dictate what they carry. These administrators sit at desks and do not have to carry all this equipment therefore they don't care...they don't know. They get these complaints from politicians about body armor so they load everyone up to the point where they are like those Knights with the coat of armor walking stiff.

There was one saying in the military that there were two types of soldiers...the quick and the dead. What happened to that old saying? I can't see the current force as effective going into battle weighed down with 100lbs of equipment. Go to the gym and see how fast you can move holding a 45 lb plate.

My belief is that body armor actually puts the troops in a greater danger. The best defense against a firearm is your ability to move quickly. I think the Chinese proved that fact to us in Korea. They were able to march hundreds of thousands of soldiers in little time as a result of lightly equipping their troops.

I guess we will have to learn these lessons again the hard way as administrators do what is politically correct and weigh down troops like the Knights of old.

I have a buddy whose grandfather served in Korea with the PPCLI. He told us about those Chi-com troops that moved so fast through the theatre. He told us about how his platoon of thirty-seven men held off THOUSANDS to good effect for two days. He even said that at one time, they were killing Chi-coms with the M1919 barrel as a club and/or taking the weapons off of Chinese bodies (I'm not sure about bludgeoning chinese troops with a machingun barrel under those circumstances, but salvaging enemy inventory is a long standing tradition in any desperate situation) . The account he gave indicated that when it was done there were literally hundreds of bodies around his postion. They had to call the Engineers in to cut a trench and bulldoze the bodies into it there were so many. Having no armour did not help the PLA maintain effectiveness, raw numbers did.

The armour is a force multiplier, I can still move pretty damned fast wearing my rig and I'm old and fat now. If they required me to get back on the pointy end, two things would happen: 1). I'd get back into fighting fit shape 2). I'd reach for my patrol rig, complete with two layers of Multi-strike plates and two layers of kevlar.

BlueTrain
February 27, 2010, 05:46 PM
Wow! Peanuts, Popcorn, Candy, Lemonaide and Ice Cream. Someone call Pontius Pilate's Bodyguard. There's a party going on.

The best thing I've ever read on this subject was written in the 1880s and none of the priciples have changed one bit. It was written from a medical perspective, which is another way of looking at it, the other being the tactical standpoint. Still, there are good points being made. The soldier of the second half of the 19th Century was lightly equipped, relatively speaking, and probably really did manage to get by with less than sixty pounds, depending on the season and the place. It seems that troops in places that saw more active service tended to be a lot more realistic about things and attempted to lighten the load, mainly by utilizing carts and waggons to carry packs. Overall, one can reasonably say the attempt to keep the load down has been a never ending struggle as technology has introduced more gear that needs to be taken along, mainly things like commo gear, heavier weapons, faster firing weapons that require more ammo and all that protective gear. The soldier of around 1860 might have only carried about 60 rounds. When I was in the army the basic load was 120 rounds. What is it now? 240 rounds?

I wonder how Jackson, whose photo hangs in our house, managed his troops that achieved such remarkable marches during the Civil War?

MTT TL
February 27, 2010, 07:13 PM
The "enemies" that law enforcement and soldiers have to deal with do not carry all these things. That is primarily why the opposing team can be so effective. They carry a few weapons and little equipment where they can come out firing and then quickly retreat.

The reason why soldiers and law enforcement carry so much equipment is as a result of administrators who dictate what they carry.

Not really. The enemy dies at a rate of about 10 to 1 when facing an American soldier in the field. Modern allies report similar numbers. Much of the stuff we carry either makes us more effective at finding and killing the enemy or makes the enemy less effective at killing us. When the enemy can find body armor he wears it.


My belief is that body armor actually puts the troops in a greater danger. The best defense against a firearm is your ability to move quickly.

All the evidence points to the opposite being true. Deliberate, accurate fire is much more effective than the spray and pray employed by the other side. Running around the battlefield won't necessarily help you in any particular way. Being bullet proof in critical areas on the other hand does wonders.

When I was in the army the basic load was 120 rounds. What is it now? 240 rounds?

For M4/16 it is 210 rounds, for the M9 45 rounds. For the 203 the proscribed load was 20 rounds. But I only carried three. Two HEDP and a signal for medevac. At night I would carry two illum parachute rounds as well.


Luckily in iraq it was more often "death before dismount" lol.

Yeah, well we started patrolling inside the city and there was no way to get down some of the streets with an MRAP that had not seen a military vehicle in three years. Ah the smell, that smell of raw sewage stays with me now...

bcrash15
February 27, 2010, 07:46 PM
This figure may be of interest in this thread, but it doesn't quite extend to the current "modern times".

There is a difference between what I would call a "fighting load" and what the troops today carry, which is more of a "patrol load," for lack of a better term. If the crap really got deep (e.g. for some reason had do long distance running on foot in a combat area), the soldiers would probably do what they needed to in order to become mobile.

JohnH1963
February 27, 2010, 08:01 PM
So basically, what you are saying is that you are walking around Iraq or Afghanistan with the equivalent of a weightlifting bar and two 45 pound plates. No wonder 7 years has passed by and we have not secured either Iraq or Afghanistan yet.

http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2009/feb/01/combat-gears-weight-triggers-injury-spike/

I am very grateful that the insurgents and Taliban are not better trained or organized. This has to be a comical site to see a bunch of guys try to manuever around with 135 lbs on their backs. You have to admit that this kind of warfare is, at best, ridiculous. Anyone who expects to win a battle or a gunfight with 135 lbs on their back has to be absolutely mad.

I can only wonder if we were facing a credible threat what the result would be. I now understand why they launch Hellfire missiles at the insurgents. Its because they can't possibly manuever in the troops because they are carrying around too much junk.

Can anyone here possibly explain the logic behind taking the kitchen sink into battle? What happened to the quick and the dead? China has nothing to fear if this is how we are waging a war.

grumpycoconut
February 27, 2010, 11:08 PM
John,

I don't see the value of the Iraq war any more than you apparently do (I've got fewer reservations about the Afgan war) but your interpretation of the foot soldier's role and his equipment seems skewed.

Soldiers are like any other war fighting tool. You have to find the magic balance between lethality, mobility and survivability and if you are smart you have to tailor it to the mission and environment. Lethality of the foot soldier really hasn't changed all that much since the Garand killed all them Axis baddies. Right now the focus seems to have swung toward survivability over mobility. Partly this is a reaction to the threats in the environment and the political reaction to being improperly equipped at the start of the war. Add in new tech additions to the soldier's load and the speed with which armor hasn't been developed and fielded and over loaded soldiers is the expected result. In defense of the modern combat load one can see how survivability can make our soldiers more effective under certain conditions. Being able to shrug off a center of mass 7.63x39 hit and then shoot back has it's advantages. Mobility is decreased but that can be compensated for in the short run by mechanizing troops as much as possible, giving them better indirect means of killing enemies and will be even better compensated for as armor tech and add on tech miniaturization progresses

It's an age old problem. Just look at the trojan war and compare the Dendra Panoply and a leather and laminated linen linothorax to see the trade off between protection and mobility.

When I was a mech infantry medic after the 1st gulf war we didn't worry about weight because we were still getting ready to fight the last war, an open desert mobility war. Now our troops are having to fight a tight urban war and a mountain war. It takes time to tune the instrument to the environment and that's what's happening now.

If we ever do have to take on a few billion screaming chinese we'll have to muddle through, killing as many as we can with the tools we have until we can fine tune our equipment and tactics to that war as well.

"What are the two kinds of bayonette fighters? The quick and the dead! What makes the grass grow? BLOOD, BLOOD, BLOOD!"
Lessons learned in basic.

Here endeth the lesson.

troy_mclure
February 27, 2010, 11:31 PM
Quote:
Luckily in iraq it was more often "death before dismount" lol.

Yeah, well we started patrolling inside the city and there was no way to get down some of the streets with an MRAP that had not seen a military vehicle in three years. Ah the smell, that smell of raw sewage stays with me now...


if you thought the iraqi sewage smell was bad, you dont even want to think about haiti. the smells there would actualy hurt.

JohnH1963
February 28, 2010, 12:17 AM
I see the US as making the same mistakes in Afghanistan as the Soviets in the 1980s. The average combat load for the Soviets in Afghanistan was 70 lbs. Today, the average combat load for a soldier in Afghanistan seems be over 70lbs. The Soviets could not chase down their attackers because they were weighed down with far too much equipment.

I can't see anyone being effective with a great load of weight. So you are carrying 90 lbs of weight and come under fire. How do you manuever with that much weight on?

Lets me show you an article that was written in 1996...its a commentary about Soviet forces in Afghanistan...

http://www.ciaonet.org/cbr/cbr00/video/cbr_ctd/cbr_ctd_52.html

"The concept of the motorized rifle force was a marriage of soldiers and armored personnel carriers. The soldier was never supposed to be more than 200 meters from his carrier. His load-bearing equipment, uniform, weaponry, and other field gear reflected this orientation. Yet, Afghanistan was a light-infantryman's war--and the Soviets had very little light infantry. In general, the Soviet ground soldier remained tied to his personnel carrier and to the equipment which was designed to be carried by that personnel carrier. Consequently, the standard flak jacket weighed 16 kilograms (35 pounds). This was acceptable when dismounting a carrier and assaulting for less than a kilometer. However, a dismounted advance of three kilometers in flak jackets would stall due to troop exhaustion. The reconnaissance flak jacket was lighter and better, but in short supply."


"The Soviet emphasis on massed firepower instead of accuracy meant that the dismounted soldier carried a lot more ammunition than his Western counterpart would. Further, heavy crew-served weapons always accompanied the dismounted force. The 12.7 mm heavy machine gun weighs 34 kg (75 pounds) without its tripod and ammunition. The AGS-17 automatic grenade launcher weighs 30.4 kg (66 pounds) and each loaded ammunition drum weighs 14.7 kg (32 pounds). Dismounted Soviet soldiers were less agile and could not catch up with the Afghan guerrillas."

pax
February 28, 2010, 01:09 AM
Well, too bad.

Closed for failure to stay on topic. And for dragging politics into it.

pax