The Infantry has a weight problem. The amount of weight soldiers or Marines are asked to carry has grown exponentially while their ability to carry that load has not. This issue was brought to the forefront recently when retired Army Col. Ellen Haring wrote an opinion piece for the Marine Corps Times in which she was critical of the requirement for Marine Corps infantry officers to carry a load of up to 152 pounds for more than nine miles, at a twenty-minute-per-mile pace—a standard that Haring argues is unrealistic and prevents women from successfully completing the Marine Corps Infantry Officer Course. At first glance this may seem like a reasonable argument: 152 pounds seems like more than most humans can carry.
Many of the rebuttal articles, including one on Tom Ricks Best Defense blog by former Marine infantryman Aaron Ferencik, state that not only is this a realistic requirement, it happens regularly in Afghanistan. Ferencik writes that he was required to carry almost 200 pounds of gear, armor, and weapons.
Despite the robust back-and-forth argument related to the 152-pound Marine Corps standard that was spawned by Haring’s piece, one fundamental question was never answered: What is the right amount of weight an infantryman should be reasonably asked to carry? And how do we get these loads down to a reasonable weight that allows the infantry to be a flexible and agile force?
How did we get here?
From the ancient Greek hoplite all the way up through the American Civil War infantryman, the overall weight carried by a foot soldier changed very little, holding steady at about forty pounds. Infantrymen didn’t see a significant jump in their load until the beginning of the twentieth century. During World War I infantry loads increased by 50 percent, up to over sixty pounds. World War II saw those loads increase again, to 80–100 pounds, depending on the type of weapon system the soldier carried.
Soldier loads stayed pretty constant from World War II through Vietnam. In the last thirty years, however, loads have skyrocketed. During the operation in Grenada soldier loads went unchecked by leaders, resulting in soldiers carrying over 120 pounds. In their paper Load Carriage in Military Operations, Joseph Knapik and Katy Reynolds quoted one soldier in Grenada: “My rucksack weighed 120 pounds. I would get up and rush for 10 yards, throw myself down and couldn’t get up. I’d rest for 10 or 15 minutes, struggle to get up, go 10 more yards, and collapse. After a few rushes, I was physically unable to move and I am in great shape.”
The story hasn’t changed much since then. In the video below, a soldier steps up on a scale to illustrate how much he carries on a two-day mission. With weapon, body armor, and pack his gear weighs in at over 130 pounds.
The British Army has had similar problems. In 2011, a senior British Army officer wrote that the Taliban refer to British soldiers as “donkeys” who move in a tactical “waddle” because of the weight they carried in Afghanistan, which averaged 110 pounds. The officer continued, explaining that “our infantry find it almost impossible to close with the enemy because the bad guys are twice as mobile.”
What should a combat load weigh?
How much should a soldier carry? Many studies have been done on this subject by both the Army and Marine Corps. The Marine Corps Combat Development Command’s 2003 Combat Load Report cites S.L.A. Marshall’s book Soldier’s Load and the Mobility of a Nation as the go-to source on the subject. Marshall concludes that a soldier could optimally carry 33 percent of his body weight. The same Marine Corps study determined the average weight of a Marine male was 169 pounds and the average female’s was 130 pounds. This would put their combat loads at 56 pounds and 42 pounds, respectively.
The Army field manual on foot marches, FM 21-18, which has not been updated since 1990, does not take into account individual body weight. It prescribes a fighting load of no more than 48 pounds and an approach march load of 72 pounds. There is, however, a caveat to those weights. The manual states, “The primary consideration is not how much a soldier can carry, but how much he can carry without impaired combat effectiveness—mentally or physically.” This essentially bases a determination about the amount carried on individual capabilities.
Bridging the Gap
Soldiers today are consistently carrying loads into combat that weigh 70–100 pounds more than what Marshall or the Army field manual prescribes. This over-burdening has significantly hindered soldiers’ and Marines’ ability to effectively maneuver on the battlefield. So how do we get soldier loads closer to these prescribed weights?
There are two potential technological solutions to this problem. The first is to provide assistance in carrying the weight. Up until World War I, armies used beasts of burden to assist in carrying some of their equipment. With the advent of the combustion engine armies turned to trucks and other combat vehicles. The problem is these solutions tie the infantryman to roadways, restricting movement. Getting the infantry away from roads is vital to their ability to effectively maneuver against the enemy requiring innovative solutions.
Several companies are working on robots that can follow behind a maneuver formation. These robots would carry the packs of several soldiers, leaving the infantrymen to carry only their basic combat load of ammunition and body armor. Reducing soldiers’ carried weight to this basic combat load would significantly increase their maneuverability on the battlefield and survivability in a fight.
Another concept under development is a wearable exoskeleton. This would allow soldiers to continue to carry their own loads but with the load-bearing assistance of a hydraulic-powered system attached to a soldier’s legs. Infantrymen would thus retain the same equipment they currently carry on the battlefield, but the exoskeleton would reduce fatigue and the consequent erosion of combat effectiveness.
Unfortunately, none of these systems are ready for combat. Problems with noise, the ability to traverse rugged terrain, maintenance, and the amount of actual weight they can carry have prevented these systems from being issued to combat units. Noise was the biggest concern for Marines. They felt, and rightfully so, that a robot with a lawn mower engine following behind their formation would easily give their position away. Until the noise and other problems are solved, these systems will remain impractical for soldiers on the battlefield.
The other way to attack this problem is to reduce how much the things a soldier carries weigh. On today’s battlefield the two main culprits are batteries and body armor. Almost everything a soldier carries today requires batteries, which can add almost 20 pounds to their load—a problem soldiers have only contended with in the past generation. One solution to the problem is the use of solar panels like the Marine Austere Patrol System being developed by the Office of Naval Research. These lightweight panels would allow soldiers to recharge batteries on the go and reduce the total amount of batteries needed per mission.
Body armor is another area where the military is looking at to reduce weight. The current Improved Outer Tactical Vest weights over 30 pounds. The Army is planning to begin issuing a new system of body armor in 2019 that weighs in at around 23 pounds. Additionally, plates can be removed to tailor the system to the mission, potentially reducing weight even more.
Where do we go from here?
The potential solutions identified above are great starting points but more can be done. Many of these technologies are still in their infancy and not quite ready for combat. While not as sexy as a new fighter jet or aircraft carrier, more resources should be allocated towards the objective of reducing a soldier’s load. Doing so will directly impact battlefield performance. A fighter jet cannot seize and hold terrain, but then neither can infantrymen who are so overburdened that they can’t maneuver effectively on the battlefield.
Image credit: Sgt. Cooper T. Cash, US Army
Why would you be assaulting an objective with your rucksack still on you back? Have we stopped training the most basic of battle drills?
No. They are talking more about encounter battles that occur when conducting fighting patrols, and the fatigue the soldiers sustain prior to contact. Of course infantry have always and will continue to cache their packs before conducting a deliberate attack on a known objective.
Of course, that reduces the ability to exploit a breach, but that is a tradeoff.
There is also only so much that you can cache – weapons, ammo, water, NVGs, body armor, medkit, comms – that is STILL quite a load. As the article notes, body armor alone is heavy enough to constitute half the recommended maximum load. A loaded M-4 , about the smallest primary weapon carried by a US Infantryman, is about 8 pounds loaded, with each additional magazine weighing about a pound. Six extra magazines ads about 6 pounds, so the weapon, ammo, and body armor (not including helmet) comes to about 44 pounds, almost the recommended maximum. Let's go light and add a single canteen of water – that's just over a pound. The new ECH helmet is another 3.3 pounds. Add another 2 pounds for NVGs. IFAK is another pound. Coms? AN/PRC-154 is about 2 pounds.
That's minimum – at about 52 pounds. Note that doesn't include other things likely to be needed – combat knife, multitool, secondary sidearm and ammo, load bearing gear, flashlight, grenades or demo charges, or even the basic uniform and boots. Figure that adds 12-18 additional pounds for the load. Note that NOTHING I list in these paragraphs is something likely to be considered "non-essential" (although arguably the soldier could do without the armor, helmet, and NVGs by accepting the tradeoff of risk for speed of movement). The load grows for grenadiers, SAW/LMG gunners, etc.
No thought is given to reducing loads? Maybe we could assume some risk, by leaving the gadgets behind and allowing infantry to operate more independently in the field. The Taliban and ISIS somehow get along without 130 lb packs. We can too.
What else can we learn from the enemy? They use combat support and equipment, too. They travel lighter but still need food, water, fuel, ammo, weapons and intel and sleep, to say nothing of medical care. They communicate. They conduct fighting patrols (ambushes) . Maybe we should go native, but with air support?
It’s a bit of the nature of the modern counter-insurgency / peace-ops mission I think. In general, the enemy is fighting on top of their logistics supply while we have to carry it with us for however far into their territory we go.
That means water, food, shelter, clothing, ammunition, batteries, electronics, communications and whatever else we need to support our presence is carried on our backs and it grows exponentially the longer we’re away.
Air resupply (via airdrop, helo-drop or even drone-drop) is a part of the solution for sure, but then we still have to make sure that the drops are secured and don’t create unnecessary dangers.
The “gold standard” of course, is continual replenishment from a small base load. Chargers for the batteries obviously, but I think we’re stuck with the rest (water, food, shelter, ammunition, etc…).
The enemy is known to use pack goats and mules. They were able to discreetly move one to six RPGS concealed up mountain tops. Then bury in a stash with multiple trips for days before staging attacks like WANAT with long range anti tank weaponry. Our troops had too much gear to lug around to actively leave their snug fob position in reasonable time to stop the attack before it occurred by destroying caches and intercepting fast foot patrols with agility.
Putting a base at a bottom of a mountain is a death trap anyways. It was flank-able. The enemy would use defolade and maneuver then run away fast with light combat loads. I would guess enemy carries 30-40 lb loads. Quick day fight then run. They weren't equipped like our guys to hang out and stay in sustained firefights or build fobs. They were limited to what they could pack on foot. They saw how fast our military moved and it took half of their brains to realize move faster or certain death would ensure. People learn things.
On our US side the closest thing is air heli fast roping where weights are strictly cut down to prevent injuries. The SEALs take that a step further and toss handguns in favor for a few extra mags in a stripped down 50 lb weight load to move fast. Law enforcement does this with even less weights and less support for urban ops. The issue is they don't have the firepower to stay long or the ammo food shelter logistics the normal military branches with traditional light infantry do. We are like using anti Russia mechanized army tactics of 90s to fight people that run and shoot a few rounds then flea.
Maybe the amount of ammo carried can also be reduced if more marksmanship is taught and less spraying of rounds by automatic weapons into areas occupied by the enemy. Much to be said for the limits of the Springfield, Enfield, or M1 Garand that won WWI and WWII. It seems that firepower has been redefined as massive fire on a target where rate of fire may be a partial answer to the overweight problem.
You’re misunderstanding the role of concentrated fire. Troops throughout the world understand the importance of good over, and they act accordingly. Good use of cover and also concealment negates the effective of even accurately applied fire.
When several carbines or rifles or a machine gun are directing their fire at particular location, the purpose is not just to eliminate (that is the ideal situation of course) but also to potentially fix him until his position can be destroyed or he can outmaneuvered and flanked.
The U.S. military understands this, and they drew this lesson from the German Army. The Germans real innovation during World War II was to make their machine gun squads the cornerstone of their infantry platoons, and one thing they were not sparing with was ammo for the machine guns. The relatively small amount of ammo that soldiers carrying Mausers or submachine guns was tolerated because their relative lack of firepower was compensated for by their machine guns.
The intended purpose of this arraignment was for the machine guns to provide fixing firepower on the enemy while the maneuver elements flanked. They were never so foolish as to rely on good marksmanship to win the fight, and neither should U.S. troops. Kills from small arms have always been a relatively tiny percentage of overall deaths in modern conflicts, particularly so with rifles and carbines.
If you think that even a sizable minority of U.S. troops are “spraying” their ammo at the enemy, you’re greatly mistaken and incredibly uninformed.
Last note: makes appeals to historic examples like “in worked in the World Wars, it should work now!” is a logical fallacy and has no place in a serious discussion.
I will take a platoon of guys and gals that know how to shoot M-4s in semi auto at 300 yards with iron sights having man sized hits over people who qualify expert marksman yet can't hit a barn at 40 yards then resort to full auto mag dumps wasting precious ammo resources. The people that shoot better generally win when their leaders let them use agile and maneuver to attack rather than slug around 150 pounds of crap like turtles. Build a base. Drop 100 pounds. Go fight. Return to base. You can't kill a 7.62 X 54R mosin bolt rifle from a thousand yards away with a 5.56mm carbine… You get shot at for 700 yards while trying to close distance to elimate it. Obsolete bolt rifle my butt…
My father flew in Vietnam. He even had more marksmen training than our poor grunts get these days as a helicopter pilot with an M-14. He learned how to adjust the sights, take up the slack, breath, and squeeZe. With iron sights. They issued him a .38 special revolver and ceramic body armor. He never used the revolver in anger, but he was happy they issued it.
Agree w/ Drew & Travis below. Too many videos on YT of guys behind a wall, just spraying at the Taliban.
The M4 may be a semi/burst or full auto rifle, but it still has to be fired as if it's a bolt action to make shots that count, and not waste ammo.
I beg to differ with the opinion about the amount of US troops that spray and pray. After years and years and countless thousands of Afgan youtube posted videos all I have seen any of our troops do is fire in fun mode full auto……no flanking or moving to counter. Just spray spray and spray some more. Half of the time from behind cover..which is great, but not holding the rifle weapon above cover and just spraying…that is pointless. The idea of sustained covering fire is to put a large volume of semi on target area fire. That is usually been the job of the platoon or squad .30 caliber machine gunner. For him that is his job…run belts through as good as he can and help his rifleman to gain ground or kills. I have seen more then enough of my share of M4's and M16A3's being rapid fired way beyond the range that a 5.56 is even remotely effective. Say oh 1200 yards on out to 2000 yards. I just think that there are a lot of new younger NCO's and squad leaders that are just not as trained as the older more experienced ones were.
We all know it's no fun being shot at, but there is a huge difference in taking fire from a MG42 at 400 meters in salt water and sand then there is taking fire from a RPK at 1200 meters when wearing body armor head to crotch. There is also a difference in shooting semi aimed bursts and rapid semi auto fire and holding your M4 over a wall spraying 30 rounds into the world around you.
I do agree though that ammo is not the weight to cut from a troops gear. An old saying in Vietnam was not to carry another can of Sardines but to carry another box of loose ammo or another magazine…..you can eat later if you live.
Well you saw it on YouTube you must be an expert. Didn't have full auto M4s issued to units until 2015. And there's a difference between being shot at from 400 M away and being shot at from 5 M down a hallway from a fully auto AK. I would give these kids sacrificing their lives a little more credit. Have seen plenty of these kids shot and blown into bits despite being armored "head to crotch."
My first comment is a little tongue-in-cheek, but you identified the best addition to the current transport lineup in your article: the mule. Able to go pretty much anywhere infantrymen can go. Resilient. Immediately available, and if we don’t have enough around, we can breed them fairly quickly. Maybe it wasn’t such a smart idea to get rid of animals for supply purposes, was it? New technology is not always the answer…
My second has more to do with organization. The fact that the infantryman has to carry such a ridiculous load SO OFTEN says more about inadequate organization at multiple levels (mission planning, operations, tactics, etc.) than anything else.
Oh man, exactly what I was thinking. During WW2 and post war, militaries were so eager to get rid of pack animals. It's honestly a bit of a mistake. Sure they require immense amount of water and food, but they are invaluable to a army's mobile logistics train.
Trucks are limited to road or hard surfaces in general. Tracked vehicles are less limited, but more fuel hungry.
And all vehicles are still limited by rocky terrain or dense forestry. Instead of a mechanical mule that is loud, require trained technician… horses, camels and mules are better. Camels and mules are actually the best pack animals, better than horses. they are quite, have better mobility than even humans, and carry a lot of supplies.
Keeping pack animals for tactical level logistics would be very helpful. Trucks can be long distance base to base. But when troops are moving out from base or from their encampment, only pack animals will keep up.
This is not a new problem.
1995 paratrooper to Normandy vet “When you jumped into Normandy, you were carrying 100 pounds of low-tech, heavy equipment. When I jump today I carry 100 pounds of high-tech, light equipment.”
There is nothing to support a 152lb load… Not in today’s vehicle and helo-borne military with similar resupply options. Although “light infantry” is an oft-used term, how often have you heard “heavy-infantry”?… And batteries? How about ammunition instead? During the Revolutionary War, lightly-equipped, fast moving colonials, using asymmetric guerrilla warfare tactics, defeated marching ranks of British infantry further bogged down by supply wagons. Have we become the equivalent of a 17th century Army? If you haven’t noticed, in Afghanistan, we’re fighting truly “light infantry”.
The batteries are not really for “toys” this is one or two per soldier to run the ECM and radio which is needed on patrol.
Yeah I'd say the 17th century equivalent is true. In modern flavor. Too slow to move. Too massive of an organization to change to new tactics when required to win. Put the generals in the front lines with the troops and the paper pushers will change what needs changing.
Alternatively, Heinlein’s exoskeleton assists (“Starship Troopers” – the book, not the movie).
Marine Officers has been able to meet the requirement, so why should we lower the standards to accommodate females.
Your reply is so off base. Nothing about all of this is about females. females weren't even mentioned. Stop it. just stop. Lower weight or making weight easier on ALL soldier REGARDLESS OF GENDER will improve mobility and effectiveness of our troops AGAIN REGARDLESS OF GENDER. think before you type or stay off the internet.
Yes they were at the beginning of the article, go back and open your pretty little snowflake eyes hunny.
The point is still missed tho, the main point is not about accomodating females, its about lowering ridiculous overweight issue that happens on infantries. Its just happens to quote one retired soldier suggestion that mention about this ridiculously heavy load hinders females participants in Marine's Officer test, which is agreed by other male former military man that also regards this standard as unrealistic, and lowering this will not just benefiting servicewomen, but servicemen as well.
They (Marine's Officer) are able to pass this of course, but why we should hang in this unrealistic standard that will harmfull to both soldier's condition and operations in the future? Why should we burden our troops just to fulfill our (unnecessary) machismo standard? We training troops, not masochistic donkeys.
Rez 152 pounds is not unrealistic, especially for troops that are specialized in crew-served heavy weapons like mortars, machine guns and rocket launchers. I was in a weapons platoon and carried loads of up to 120 lbs at times. In addition to a standard rifleman's load, I carried 2 or 3 rockets that weighed 14 pounds each. There were guys with heavier loads than me.
Ali, your statement is from a year or so ago,but get off the female part okay. If the Marine Corps fines that officer's need to carry this load, so be it. No Monday Morning Quarter backing okay. No, females are not equal. They can't run as fast as men (talking enlisted women not track stars), they aren't as strong hence muscle strength and endurance is lower. There are plenty of jobs for women that put them on the battle field or air space over the battle field. But ground pounding maybe just isn't the one thing for them. Tanks, choppers, mortars, etc. Yes, to better and lighter equipment!!
You should think before you type. Your political correctness is foolish. As a former infantryman the idea that woman can perform as well as men is a joke not to mention hygiene issues. Also sexual distractions. Woman cant do what men can do. That is ridiculous nonsense. Including woman in a real combat unit will without a doubt reduce combat effectiveness. Dont they already have enough to worry about!
Preach it. Seems it's just more of a conspiracy against women to keep them from being physically equal to men…lol. Oh, wait. Biology dictates that. 🙂 Clearly it's the fault of the Almighty.
I feel we have become too relent on tech as a solution to our problems. Like Bradleys and hmmvws today, exos and mules will go down in the future. What cannot break is the infantryman, he must be able to take the weight carried by the machine and move forward without its help.
The best solution is carry only the essentials, both in technology and sustainment.
Today’s radios are getting lighter but more complicated. We give soldiers a system that only needs to do 2 things (be a GPS and LOS comms) and have it do 5 or 6. The radios consume countless batteries and no solar panel, or NATO slave module, can keep up with the demand. In the IBCTS, the infantryman’s radio must lasts 72 hours and provides a grid and short range LOS, platoons and company HQs should have BLOS. We need to train leaders to use brevity and reduce their EM signatures, the byproduct of this being survivability and extended battery life.
For sustaining the warfighter, I would argue we pamper our infantrymen too often. The answer is reduce the size and creativity of the MRE (when patrolling) . MREs have countless ounces of unnecessary weight. They have remained the same cubic center meter dimensions they did a decade ago and have reduced superficial weight through removing some cardboard packaging. Focus soldiers food intake on fuel for patrolling and not the contents of the meal. The first strike packs are a step in the right direction, keep it small enough to be stuffed in a pocket, each meal/snack should be calorie/nutrient dense, and eaten on the go.
These are only two ideas, not the absolute best answers, but what I would attack before spending money in our budget constrained environment on something that might not solve the problem.
Decent points but it's already standard practice to field strip MREs and take only the basics unless we're operating from a vehicle.
The discussion on the correct load for a soldier to carry is fair enough. However, Colonel Haring’s objections reflect her long-stated belief that women must be allowed to serve in every branch of the armed forces, and her equally long-held belief that the only reason they can’t is antiquated prejudices and artificial standards, not the inherent physical inferiority of women. I’d note further that being able to pick up from the ground and carry, fireman carry-style, a wounded and possibly unconscious comrade has long been a standard combat task (and a standard shipboard damage control-related task). Virtually all women have failed at this task in military tests and in civilian fire departments. The latter have been pressured to lower standards and some have. Foreign military forces like those of Canada, require the test be performed with someone of comparable weight. This artificially makes it possible for women to succeed. The bottom line is that there are more strength-endurance issues in all branches of the military than just the fighting load carried by the infantry. Colonel Haring’s agenda (and her grotesque obsession with the Marines) should be kept in mind when debating these issues.
This article has nothing to do with females being allowed in the infantry. Reducing the weight on any soldier or Marine is beneficial, regardless of gender.
Oh yeah is the response to 150-200lb load? Dumb, dumber , dumbest. We spend endless time and dollars training our soldiers and providing them with superior skills and then overload them to the point those skills are negated. The questions of combat load require two things, discipline and moral courage. Not on the part of the grunts but on the part of the commanders. Set a max load of 60/70 lbs and then exhibit the discipline to stick to it and the moral courage to resist the finger-wagging and CYA that may follow. Gosh, the B-23 body armor subset offers a 7% reduction in casualties and is only 12lbs heavier. Tell us, commander, why are heavier casualties acceptable to you? Because the infantry must close with and destroy the enemy not be a pack mule. If the unit needs something, have it freaking delivered via the myriad machines that we are blessed with. Grunts will always have to hump but their commanders are to protect them from stupidity not encourage it.
Go talk to the troops that had to Ruck that 150 pounds under fire. Many are on disabilities today with back injuries. They are furious and would have given up 25-35 pounds or more of mostly useless side and rear armor. They liked the flak jackets for urban. They liked the armor when sitting in vehicle turrets. They all complained too much to carry. What has changed is ceramic and metal plate armor. It weighs a ton. Yes it's way better and lighter than previous generations. It still weighs a lot. Why are they carrying soft gel pistol protection armor? In a RIFLE caliber threat environment? There's easy 20 lbs less of sh*t to carry. The gel everywhere else armor won't stop a Russian 7.62 x39 rifle threat. The Army/Marines expect humans to run with it and the default old generation combat loads. The old generation Vietnam/Korea/ww2 guys they gripe these new guys can't shoot at long range decently and they don't know how to dig in on defense positions with captured enemy gear to reduce weight.
They teach all this run and gun CQB, defensive "tactical" shooting and they don't know how to manually adjust sights on rifle iron or electronic for elevation/windage. To adjust for winds or gravity. Dear God… Reload the ammo brass case spent on training in US. Double the training time on shooting range for all enlisted. Same costs. Better performance on infantry accuracy. Spread the training sessions out because the shooting skill is perishable. You guys spent $36 qualifying a guy about to deploy who will shoot at targets that shoot back. That is SAD. Many complaints of "expert marksmen" failing to hit barn at 40 yards on first deployment.
Stop equipping CQB red dots on mountainous long range environments with no cover. ACOG or better yet a variable zoom scope!!!! But someone who has more range time with iron sights will shoot better than any multi thousand dollar optic dude who has only shot 120 rounds or less.
The enemy uses Russian PKM. It's lighter than a FN240 and uses heavier ammo. It has slightly more range than 7.62 x51mm. The enemy has packable mortars. They have reliable reloadable RPGs. Need to equip more Carl Gustavs squad level. Blow hole in mud hut. Reload-able high explosive lobber. Bring back infantry mortars. Screw treaties. This is war. Our grunts are being out ranged by enemy not following treaty. And it doesn't take an Apache or Cobra to always save our grunts. They need more tools and weapons to select for what THEY feel is necessary. Let the troops equip what they want. That's right. That's how special forces role. And they learn to adapt different weapons for different missions. That way they aren't overburdened with unnecessary shit. You guys give our guys single shot AT weapons. The enemy has learned the range limits and slow mobility of our soldiers.
The army never approved the hk21E. It was the lightest 7.62 X 51mm machine gun on planet. Oh it's not has operated. Wank. It had no gas system to clog. It's a belt fed machine gun the weight of an average sniper system. Why complain???? No let the poor grunt carry a tank mounted FN240 Bravo crew served weapon firing same round at 30-40 lbs. I'm not even military and I can pick better gear than these jerks do. First off. Listen to troops. Let troops pick what they want and what they need. Then you will win.
Here's an idea. Pick up enemy weapons and use their freaking ammo caches they bought… Because you can't always get resupplied. The Fins slaughtered the Russians that way. They were too poor to buy much ammo.
Why are you lugging tow missile launchers up a mountain side? By foot. When the enemy tanks don't climb said hills? Can't M855 by a rifle destroy a car as a TOW can? No wonder grunts complain so much. The stupidity is real. A grunt will know more than the general about what the current threat environment is and what a required to destroy said threat.
Why did the military go to M-16 KAC M5 RAS rail? It added over a pound to rifle? Congratulations. You made a 5.56 X 45mm NATO weapon with accessories attached weigh more than a 7.62 X 51mm delayed roller block back G-3. Hahahaha. Oh it's too heavy to use 7.62. **Adds weight to lighter rifle using 5.56 cartridge until it equals the obsolete heavier full battle rifles while adding zero range gains**
Gives troops M4 carbine. In a wide open mountainous region of long range. Wonders why it lost the fight.
You guys and gals should look at lancer mags they are lighter than pmags. Ounces in quantity equal pounds. The aftermarket AR market has plenty of civilian products trusted by law enforcement good enough for duty use that is lighter and cheaper than kac rails. No grunt complains of kac rails. They all say better rails that are lighter do exist and the military is ignoring it.
I say they dont need but one rail and that's the top one on A3's were the handle used to be! I agree with you and others about training marksmen better. They don't need a laser sight, red dot, forward grip, and a damn spare to boot. All you need on a normal battle field rifle is good optics and a flash light in your pack that is mountable if need be. I said it for 20 years before the newer 3x and 6x AR specific scopes came out that some of the older long field of view 6x scopes made for lever guns would be great for both CQB and regular 300 meter ranged fire. who needs a damn sight at 10 feet any way thats what the full auto selector is for and pointing lol.
It's all just bullshit and tacticool crap and made for TV money making back scratching. All those contracts that flooded the AR15 M16 market after 911 were dreams before that. I seen it coming a mile away when 5000 different companies started making AR15 M16 parts and mountable junk. The whole modular craze hit with Generation Y and Z and not everything is better that way. If you can't hit your target with dry sights then you will never learn to hit with a optic either. Amen to your comments and others as well.
It's all just a money game to make bucks for the Generals friends and get them a job after there 20 years in service.
The move to the M-72 Law was a critical step in AT weapon weight reduction for not as harsh armor environments. The issue remains is no reload-able system remains in inventory to counter the RPG other than the heavy Carl gustav. The grunts are not typically using the AT weapons in anti armor roles in asymmetric fights. These offer more range against hardened targets or soft targets with great anti personal casualties. Some times the shock effect alone is good enough for the enemy to regroup and break contact like how throwing a frag grenade does. The move to M-240L is good step in reducing weights. At same time they could have went to the Mk48 and Mk46 systems which are even lighter and were also developed to reduce weight further.
Granted I am still a stupid civilian. It is hard for me to rationize carry 152 pounds anywhere which is 22 pounds over my body limit.
Some infantry on gun forums m4carbine.net now retired or some even active are reporting anywhere from 7 to 10 magazines loaded for M-4/16 platforms. The special forces operators were reporting carrying at least ten mags slightly downloaded 1-2 rounds improving reliability. The scout infantry recon marine units reported often times humping that one hundred and fifty pound load on four day patrols because they had to carry all the camping tools to live off the land plus food etc. Anti tank units reported briefly two hundred forty five pound loads which seems absurd from as far back as eighties. Word of mouth on Internet is some infantry had injuries on knees on training and the ruck loads felt as if it was a fiery pain upon removal. So heavy loads that falling over meant injuries.
What's worse is no one sets a limit on how much ammo a guy or gal can grab in combat. What the technical manuals are saying and what is carried on certain missions do not match in the reality of war once bullets go both ways due to the real fear of not having a resupply point 100% foolproof. This grab and store all you can how you can because God knows if there will be more attitude exists.
The Army website itself had a Medal of Honor page of how in Korea especially certain units ran out of ammo and died by not being resupplied in timely fashion. This fear of running out of ammo without resupply in combat at remains a hard reality.
Likewise today some soldiers are saying up to one hundred mags of 5.56 were carried short distances in very intense firefights. Usually when a HMMV or Stryker isn't an option and other guys and gals need ammo so some grunt hoofs it in as a ruck load. Usually with comments of never again did I ever do it and it still hurts but beats being dead comments. Certain soldiers are reporting arthritis at 35 and many having fractured bones due to the physical toll of the work required.
Comments of these brave men and women remain they don't complain about it because someone has to do it. At the same time they know they carry so much that an load related injury out of country in a war environment would prove deadly or very costly to a units success. This is really disturbing.
As far as logistics seems as if they have figured out how to cram even more ammo into vehicles. Although SOF is using more airdrops and caches than the current other branches are.
Has anyone at the military looked at RMA level 4 body armor plates? They advertise a multi hit protection against .30-06 M2 AP in 10" X 12" plates that weigh 4.4 pounds each. They are expensive at $399 per each. Granted the medical bills two of those plates replace outweighs the costs. Other armor company plates are double the weight for same protection.
I don't know how heavy the military plates are but I think this may be an improvement in the weight section.
It would be interesting to figure out the weight of all the vests and bags used to carry infantry equipment.
my info is a bit dated perhaps, then again maybe not … referencing the IBA set of armor the carrier/flak vest weighed about 15 pounds by itself, the front and rear SAPI plates weighed in at 4 pounds apiece the side plates somewhere around 2 or so pounds apiece…total weight of the IBA (medium sized) not including the helmet was 31.09 pounds. The old Kevlar depending on size weighed about 4.5 pounds. Since then we've gone to ESAPI plates which, for the front and back, have increased their weight from 4 to 5 pounds each. The helmet on the other hand has been reduced from over 4 to about 3.5 pounds. Larger sized sets of armor, for larger people weigh more, and smaller ones weigh less naturally. Recent advances in material development show promises for armor weight reduction but armor is only about a third of everything the soldier carries. Ammo, ammo, and more ammo is one thing soldiers need and want to carry with them. Comfort gear is at a minimum, if carried at all. Radios however, are a big thing and contribute in a very big way, so batteries because there's no place to charge them up again although that may change. There are also many other items which are considered mission essential along with ammo in Afghanistan, Iraq, etc., water is a very big item especially in the summer months when temps get 135F or even more.
The 6" X 6" side body armor RMA level 4 plates were 2.47 pounds and $180 each. So combine with 8.8 pounds of front/back L4 RMA plates and you have .30-06 M2AP protection at 13.74 pounds. This is not including plate carrier or soft gel armor inserts or military helmet weights.
However the data I see is a 23-30 pound military equivalent for literally same protection. There's a huge endurance advantage by shedding some pounds. You can even get other brands soft armor that stops knifes and up to .44 mag pistol rounds which is thinner than military gear.
There are many competing brands out there but they have to get through the testing. Dragonskin was one such back in the day, and seemed very competitive until it went through the army's testing process. I had considered buying some at the time myself, but am now glad I didn't as it didn't hold up to the temperature extremes. That said however, there has been great strides forward and testing of new materials and possible replacements is ongoing so what they have for the soldier today is not likely to be what they will have in another year or three.
Most of the time if not all the time the enemy will live off the land. Not as easy for outsider forces although the basics are the same no matter what country you are in . I carried 80/120lbs when serving (UK) Most of the stuff I had to carry I never used. My back and knees are FUBAR now thanks to those days.
And they call us light infantry ? Yeah….. Right ! Maybe we should look at the FFL (Legion) and Russian forces (and others) even to this day they are light loaded, living of the land they are in, basic multi use kit and they still get the job done. While we (UK/US) are still trying to stand up with our packs.
We're a laughing stock at the amount we carry.
Big tip for the "Generals" get soldiers who have to carry all the crap to advise on what's needed ! Clearly pen pushers have no idea.
I'm an old jungle fighter. I spent one tour in Viet Nam as an adviser to ARVN Infantry, and one as a company commander.
I always wondered why we didn't have pack mules. Pack mules were the signature of jungle infantry through WWII. I had some guy tell me that we couldn't because in WWI the most tonnage we shipped overseas was fodder for the animals. Well, duh! We were providing fodder for ourselves, the British, the French, the Belgians and so on. And what's the creates tonnage we ship today? POL! Which is fodder for motor vehicles and aircraft.
In Viet Nam we typically carried 80 to 100 lbs and had to be helicopter re-supplied virtually every day. And every dink within 20 miles knew where we were spending the night! Why not use pack mules and cut those helicopter resupplies to once a week?
I used to charge $50 for firing full auto. I taught my men to shoot by setting up an enemy position with C-ration boxes that could not be seen from the firing line. I'd have a few troops in then prone shooting position and set up two bamboo poles, one on each flank, and stretch another pole or engineer tape between them and ask "Is the enemy OVER this tape (or pole)?" Then we'd lower it a bit and ask again, until everyone agreed the enemy could be UNDER the tape, but not over it.
Then we'd do the same thing starting at the ground, but ask "Is the enemy UNDER this tape (or pole)?" The result was a shallow box (try it yourself and see.) I'd have the men "work" the box, evenly spacing shots into that area and then we'd walk into the jungle and examine the effect on the "enemy."
Then we'd work on unit firing. Officers and squad leaders carried solid tracer — no one else. Leaders would mark sectors of fire by firing pairs of shots, left, right and center — that pattern ensures everyone knows where the squad sector is. Officers and squad leaders would be alert to ensure all shots were going into the "box" or hitting short (ricochets can kill, overs are wasted.)
A leader who spots a potential point target shoots tracer steadily at that point "Everyone shoot where I'm shooting." Then he switches back to sector coverage with the left-right-center pattern. Automatic fire with tracers means "Machine guns engage this target."
"Cease fire" is a pyro — smoke grenade, flare, whatever. Type and color changed daily.
Let me help. Less profit, less gear.
Figure out a way for our generals and DOD civilians, political appointees and contractors to make money by lessening our load and we’ll carry less.
Or perchance make war less profitable and we’ll also carry less.
I can provide you the answer; less Infantry Generals, close the Infantry School. That translates immediately into less profit, less gear. The very neglect would be benign. It’s not as if they’re winners: our Generals are losers. Don’t worry it won’t mean bad rifles either- we already have bad rifles.
Less career advancement=less profit=less gear.
I think the overall problem that no one is addressing is that our warfighters have lost the ability to adapt to the theater of war. We over encumber them with comfort items. I get it. I spent 8 years in the Marine Corps. Field and combat environments suck. They're not supposed to be cushy and comfy. Warriors are going to fight, to kill another before they're killed. There is a certain inherent level of uncomfortability with war. If our warfighters cannot adapt to that then they are not being trained properly. Commanders create gear lists that contain literally a full issue of equipment instead of allowing the individuals operating to dictate what equipment they need for the task at hand.
One thing I didnt hear mentioned was an attitude to risk. If you're talking about reducing loads by 60% you are not going to be able to do that through a weight saving exercise, you will end up spending a lot of money to get lighter kit that still isnt light enough, equally why is a robot the obvious solution over a manned vehicle? we seemed to manage this in WW2.
Either way I think troops need to carry less and much of a soldiers or marines load is now down to risk and an aversion to taking casualties. how often did units run out of ammunition over the last 20 years of war fighting? this is something that no one wants to happen to them but realistically there will be instances where it happens. given how rare an event this is this, to me, indicates that commanders have sacrificed the mobility of their troops to reduce risk. the same goes for body armour and electronic countermeasures.
we've been fighting wars that we didnt need to win, this has led to nations prioritising reductions in risk over combat effectiveness which may not be an issue now, but does anyone really think this could continue against a peer/near peer enemy? or are we just hoping that they are as encumbered as the rest of us?
Marine Corps Company Commander 3 times.
Military budget is a problem, buying stuff and not having ammo or aviation fuel to train properly.
Shooting skills cannot be maintained with only one week a year of live fire on a range.
The Spec Ops units shoot all the time.
Need to limit congressional seats to one term so it's harder for costly useless programs to perpetuate.
And have flag level officers actually punished for their transgressions.
Folks in government that were World War 2 veterans want technology to provide "surgical strike" capability for future forces. I get that. But if you are rescuing people, or trying to quell a civil war some place, it's not so simple. We thought we wiped out a Serb tank brigade in Kosovo, only to find out we had been precisely striking farmers water cisterns.
Our Scud hunting in Iraq was unsuccessful. Surgical strike is defeated by moving your weapons around.
We have to accept the fact that it we go to a foreign land WE are the outsiders, and it is going to be nasty. Leadership needs better checks and balances in the USA to keep us from being stupid.
What I am always wondering about is not just the weight, but the volume and bulk of all the magazine pouches strapped to the front of plate carriers nowadays.
Is it even still possible to fight in a prone position and crawl around on your belly under fire with this kind of equipment?
I know, in the asymmetrical wars of the last 20+ years, fox holes, entrenching tools and crawling around on your belly has fallen out of fashion, but I imagine in any "near peer" kind of war, which seems more and more likely, according to pretty much everyone, taking cover and keeping your head down will probably become a lot more important again.
You're not going to sit around behind a wall made of clay and hay, casually come up to squirt off a few rounds now and then and wait for a A-10 to spray the bad guys when fighting the Russians or Chinese, I imagine.