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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

light infantry


LIGHT INFANTRY

The basic historical data for this article was taken from the booklet “4th Generation Warfare Handbook” by William Lind and Gregory Thiele.  It certainly wasn’t a bad book ( a big part of its purpose seems to be in trying to teach today‘s conventional armies to get their head out of their 2GW asses but I would wager on a return of our civil rights before that ever happens to the US Army ), but handicapped as an essay trying to be a real book ( a bit too fluffy and on the pricey side for what it is, but not a disappointment in content like much larger and cheaper books have proven to be ).  Still, authors of note must be supported (   I also bought his big novel on 4GW written under an assumed name of Thomas Hobbes.  I have little idea if it is worthy or not and that sucker set me back twenty bucks ).  His chapters on light infantry were refreshing and worthy of my further elaboration.

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Light infantry goes back quite a ways.  The Greeks had their heavily armored phalanx, but used less encumbered highly mobile ( “light” infantry can mean either less equipment or enhanced mobility depending on who is defining the term but a combination of both attributes seems to equal the more successful attempts ) light infantry as flank protection.  They used primarily distance weapons and never tried to hold ground.  They were attacking or retreating-mobility was primary.  The Romans essentially duplicated this.  Then, infantry lost most of its primacy during the middle ages and heavy cavalry was dominate.  That is mostly attributed to the scarcities that followed the collapse of Rome.  Overpopulation, declining soil fertility, loss of trade to import foreign grain, and loss of centralized monopoly on force in effect decentralized all governments.  With far less surplus energy to fight war with, conflict for a time was with a much reduced number of Knights rather than with legions of troops ( in this way, both governing heads and the military were one in the same and minimized energy requirements.  It was an outgrowth of the old tribal organization, to illustrate how far the collapse took society ).  It wasn’t until the nation state started to gain political power that larger armies started to proliferate. 

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The Spanish tercios in the 1500’s signaled the return of infantry domination.  Two hundred years later light infantry in the Greek model returned as a supplement to line infantry ( the large bodies engaged in rigid maneuver ).  They were flank protection, raiders and ambushers as well as recon.  Unfortunately, light infantry was usually a “let’s re-invent the wheel all over again every time” wartime creation.  After the conflict ended light infantry usually disbanded.  The reason for this is straightforward.  Militaries prior to repeating rifles and machineguns were First Generation militaries.  The tactics and strategies called for discipline and uniformity, rigidity and inflexibility ( the US currently practices 2GW, which is the same culturally, with the strategic difference of artillery [ to include air artillery ] dominating over infantry ).  Light infantry, to be successful, had to teach adaptability and self discipline which went over like a turd in the punchbowl with the regular military.  They were victims of their own success ( since individuality won the skirmish, and the military is decidedly anti-individuality… ).  Successful light infantry in the last century plus have been the Boers, Jaegers, Sturmtruppen, Chindits and IDF’s.  Semi-State forces would be Hezbollah and Pushtuns. 

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Now, here is a vital little statistic that was repeated numerous times in the book for clarities sack.  The MAXIMUM weight that light infantry could carry, observed over a historical time frame ( not just some arcane one off study ), and still move over long distances while remaining fit for combat at the end of that maneuver, was 45 pounds.  That included everything, from uniform and boots and rifle and ammunition to all  other gear.  Endurance over encumbrance.  Now, obviously, you don’t just go marching fifty miles without serious training.  Light infantry must be well trained, both to physical standards and mental.  But if they are forced to carry too much weight they cannot complete the mission they are entrusted with.  No matter the utmost physical condition of the soldier, carrying more than 45 pounds is detrimental to his performance.  You would think that the military brass, being interested in their tip of the spear troops increasing performance, would heed such advice, but then those running the show militarily have never been interested in the performance of their weapons or troops as much as they have been focused on the performance of their organization.  Again, it is far more important that their heavy line infantry is tasked with strengthening the infantry organization than actually performing optimally.  If heavy infantry is slaughtered because no light infantry is strengthening their flanks, why then even more heavy infantry and its sister support troops are needed more than ever.  And as a bonus they are all wedded to the rigid discipline and organization of centralized top down command.

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The number one rule of Bureaucracy is to strengthen its organization.  Job Security Is Job One ( or, in the Chinese phase, Protect The Iron Rice Bowl ).  As a potential insurgent ( hopefully four more years further away since Clinton wasn’t elected ) it is imperative that you emulate light infantry tactics rather than the line infantry ones our military is rigidly adhered to.  The only defense against light infantry is to be BETTER light infantry, and our empire is addicted to centralization.  It has no ability for its rigid bureaucracy to perform flexibly.  Just as the corporations you work for are incapable of independent thought or innovation ( the recent plunge in small business creation is not only bad from a independent worker standpoint, it bodes ill for any creativity in our economy-stagnation and implosion shall be the watchwords ), the military has been both the vanguard and the stalwart supporter for centralization.  Don’t expect much “out-fight the light” on their part.  Which, as Martha would say, is a GOOD thing.  You won’t have an advantage in logistics ( the Afghan fights had local popular support, WITH local production.  Here, food production is also centralized along with everything else ), so be thankful for tactical superiority.

END

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32 comments:

  1. 45lbs That is a good number to know. That is the MAXIMUM you should carry in your bug out bag, or while being a refugee/evacuee. And like light infantry/scouts you need to be alert to your surroundings when ever you are moving. And what should your pack and kit contain? water, water purification, appropriate warm clothing, self defense tools/ammo, fire making tools, shelter building tools/supplies, calories, vitamins, first aid kit. Clearly to keep weight down, multi-use and lightweight versions of everything needs to be found packed and practiced with. Lightweight camping gear can meet the requirements but a lot of it is more than you need and costs too much too. Boots, gloves, hat, clothes, can all be sourced used from those who work outdoors in all weather all the time.
    Cheap light alternatives to new camping equipment can be found used on occasion. Keeping the kit ready to go and in rotating use is key, and difficult. I seem to get a kit together, let it sit, then go use it, only to fail to keep it rotated or back together after use. It should probably be a seasonal chore. Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall camping trips could take care of it.

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    1. To reiterate, the 45 lbs max is NOT the bug out bag itself. It is EVERYTHING you carry, to include the bag, your boots, your rifle, the change in your pocket.

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    2. Agree. 45 lbs gets real heavy real fast. I don't recall ever carrying that much weight, except for very short distances, during my 4 years in. Our general load out from the CP was the alice pack sparsely loaded and the buttpack. The poncho was my house and the liner was my rack. Dining was out of the can, cold, stripped down C-rats. Couple pairs of socks, a change of skivvies, a small towel IFAK, basic gun cleaning kit, canteen, bayonet, gas mask, and lots of ammo. 3 days out and 3 days back shoots a big hole in the middle of a week of field duty. I did 173 days in a row in the field in 1976. Got to where I liked it out there, more solace than back at the CP.

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    3. You must have gotten a commander that remembered humping 100 lbs in the jungle. Ours had no such experience/understanding.

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    4. In the Falkland Islands conflict, after the brits lost most of there choppers they were forced to lurp across the Island carrying 200pounds or so (from memory) and the kicked butt when they got there. Just saying, but that's defiantly the exception to the rule.

      You can carry some pretty serious weight IF you don't try to go to fare. I recon I could carry 200 pounds if I only had to go 2 or 3 miles in a day( and didn't have to take on the Argentinian army when I got there)

      I have never been a big fan of the whole bug out senerio. I'm staying put bareing being in a radio active fallout out zone (highly unlikely in my area) or the off chance 2 opposing armies choose my particular area to square of and have a set piece battle on(also highly unlikely). We should always keep bugging out as a option, but its a really bad option and probably only going to post pone your iment dearth by a few weeks.
      Aussie

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    5. Bugging out to caches, or to avoid initial die-off, okay. Not that you should be in a subpar location to begin with. But, yeh, just not the best strategy to begin with. I think I could carry 200 lbs about 2 blocks.

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  2. I think the most important part of your article was the fact that a 45 lb loadout is practical only when combined with the physical and mental training needed to go with it.
    Most folks in America can't walk three miles empty handed. Add even twenty lbs of encumbrance and they won't get out of the backyard. That is my biggest gripe about the bug out frame of thinking.

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    1. Right, the training was needed, then 45 lbs was fine. However, no matter how much training you get, going over that weight is never anything other than counterproductive insofar as end combat effectiveness. It is like eight years of college not being able to cure stupid.

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  3. The Dingo that ate your BabyNovember 16, 2016 at 7:30 PM

    @JJ Grey - I agree with your thought about camping at least once every season in order to rotate your gear.

    Recently I got caught out with the battery in my emergency torch being depleted and I was unable to use the "death ray" setting when I needed it the most (prowler in my yard). It had power to use it in the lower settings but I wanted the "spot German Bombers overhead" search light setting.

    It just goes to show that the Prepper adage about the importance of rotating is true

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    1. Of course, I also have issues with batteries I use every day ( near enough-depends on season ) on my bicycle flashers. They suddenly aren't doing a very good job. But I don't do a "pre-flight check" on them, either. I think it is just a waste/cost issue.

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  4. The Dingo that ate your BabyNovember 16, 2016 at 7:34 PM

    Sorry I posted before I'd finished.

    The issue with outdoor gear is it's always a trade off between weight and durability.

    I've got gear that I made the conscious choice to go for durability but you make that choice to often and the weight quickly adds up. Yet it's bomb proof. Do I lug around that weight or take something much lighter and risk it failing when I need it?

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    1. I'd always go with durability over weight. A toilet paper tent wouldn't weight much. Perhaps the better strategy would be paring down to essentials.

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  5. Weight vs. Durability: don't forget cost in this triangle. You can get durable lightweight stuff, and the first couple pounds of shaving is inexpensive vs. WWII era canvas gear (free! with torture.). After a while you are paying $10/oz saved/shaved to get lighter equal durability gear. Everything starts to become aramids, carbon fiber, and titanium. Inevitably, some of this is prestige/luxury stuff to impress your hiking buddies. When this happens, it's time to re-think about caching to reduce weight cheaper. Water never-ever gets lighter, even if you spend $150 on 72gram carbon fiber titanium 2L bombproof bottle (saved 179 grams over stainless- whoo hoo!). The water is still 2000 grams, no matter what. A $20 water filter may reduce need to carry lots of heavy water. Hexamine tablet micro stove ($7 with tabs) or a tiny wood-burning stove (#10 can hobo stove?) may save 2 pounds of super-awesome kerosene burner and be "just right" unless you are in a sub-alpine winter. Even better is to find a Boy Scout troop with strong boys to carry your stuff as unit gear.

    pdxr13

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    1. Law Of Diminishing Returns shown in vivid detail.

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  6. This 45# weight that is mentioned is very similar to 1/3rd optimal body mass for an average 5'-6" 135# man. I would add a supplemental formula that subtracts pack weight for extra gut weight that should be shed. The 6'-8" beast-man and Igor carry the M240 while ammo is in every pack as group load. If you are 20# heavy in non-muscular body mass, you should subtract that from your load. Men only formula. The ladies and children should be 25% loaded if pretty fit, and walked slower for shorter distances. An 80# very fit 4'-6" woman may not be able to keep up (or worse- gets hurt from the weight) if her pack is 25#, so weigh everything and fix it.
    pdxr13

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    1. Subtracting for extra gut weight for most people would leave barely enough weight for one Top Ramen and one round ammo.:)

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    2. Gut weight and pack weight are the same to your knees. Gut weight is even worse for your back than pack weight. Gut weight makes you a slow-moving target for cannibals, while a skinny man with a rifle is merely dangerous.

      pdxr13

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    3. 1st rule of the zombie apocalypse-cardio.

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  7. oh I meant 45lbs as absolute maximum. better still to have alternative transportation for anything over about 15 lbs more than your clothes (that basicly means a weapon and butt pack.)

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    1. Taking weight off of your knees is a good overall strategy. This can be with a 26000 pound RV, car with trailer, bicycle, or hand-cart, or all of them. The 45# carry weight is weapons and bare short-term survival, while the weight carried on wheels is for longer-term or longer-distance travel. As always, knowledge/training travels lightest.

      pdxr13

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    2. I think my next research topic will be the French Foreign Legion, masters at the long march. See where they sit in all this.

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  8. Hey I resemble that remark!!!!

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  9. “Taking weight off of your knees is a good overall strategy. This can be with a 26000 pound RV, car with trailer, bicycle, or hand-cart, or all of them.”


    Some time back, a minion posted something on the Chinese wheelbarrow. To be honest, I was unaware of how this contraption differed from the conventional wheelbarrow that is standard here in the west. In short, it's a much more efficient means of transport since the load is strategically placed directly over the wheel, so all you're doing is directing the load.

    This was actual quite helpful to me, since for the longest time now I have been wanting to flee to the woods for long periods of time during the warmer months, but I didn't really have any idea of how I would pack the heavier loads that would enable me to stay out for longer periods of time, and I did not want to have to deal with pack animals. This contraption will be just the ticket for what I want to do.

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    1. And of course, if you lack extra funds, you can just bury a bicycle under your load ( then have transport back and forth if needed ).

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    2. I suppose that wouldn't be a bad alternative James, but it would seem like it would be slightly awkward compared to the wheelbarrow, since you would have to steer and balance the load on two inline wheels at the same time. You would have to rig something to hold your gear, or have saddle bags for the bike. The Chinese wheelbarrow was actually used to transport people at times, but of course you would need two people on your journeys, and it could then come into use if one of you were to fall sick or become injured. I'm not very handy, but it looks like it would be fairly easy to fashion one.

      I saw in one of the early episodes of “Dirty, Rotten, Survival” (Dave
      Canterbury's new show) where the British military engineer used a hand truck with a box strapped to it, and it actually served him pretty well. It's kind of an interesting show. They start by going into a general store or a hardware store (sometimes military surplus) and gather everything they need for a weekend outing. They can only use what they can find in these specific non-outdoors outlets. You can learn of some good, low cost alternatives from watching this show.

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    3. Pushing a bike sucks. The pedal keeps bruising your shin. It is for Po Folk use only.

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  10. Russell/Black Cat's blog had some good light infantry info.

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    1. Too bad he discovered a life and dropped the blog. But still posted-and don't forget all the post-apoc fiction reviews.
      http://reflexionesfinales.blogspot.com/

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  11. Well maybe it's me then. Or there are a whole lot of Batman's in this group.

    I'm 61, 6' tall, 190+- lbs and not a stranger to hard manual labor out here in deep ruralville. Yeah, I have a little extra around the middle but not bad.

    Monthly I carry (5) 40 lb bags of cat litter, softener salt, and dog food about 80 feet from my vehicle in the driveway to the laundry room in the house and it's kicks my ass sideways. This is on non-flat, uneven terrain, gravel, and decks and steps.

    The wilderness terrain around here is pretty rough, not much flat land anywhere. I've heard that 1 mile in wilderness like that is like 5 miles on flat pavement and I agree. When doing my regular walks on the road I can get about 3-4 mph out of it but out in the sticks it is way, way less.

    You guys that are talking about carrying 40+ lbs, not to mention that illusory 200lbs, need to strap on and get out there and do it, then get back with us - after you get out of the emergency room.

    I carry 200rds in the butt pack, along with a 20 oz bottle of water and a couple reeses pb cups, and my cell. On the pistol belt-H suspenders is 2 ammo pouches, 1 canteen, first aid kit, cell phone, bayonet, over my shoulder is my AR and my 92F is on my right hip. My pockets have all the regular everyday carry stuff. With that load out I am in long range (5-8 miles out)patrol mode and I stay in the woods unseen. I do this about once every 2-3 months just for the helluvit and it ruins a whole day, and most of the next from recuperation.

    If I tried to do this with an extra 40 lbs or more I shudder to think what condition I'd be in. For certain, I'd be in no condition to carry on full fledged battle.

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    1. Remember, the 45 lbs is a MAX, and that is WITH training. Carrying 45 lbs on my bicycle kicks my ass after an hour and I am in top muscular condition ( at the time, cardio was suffering slightly-now I might do better ).

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  12. Part of my work out to stay middle-aged is to walk 15 minutes wearing a 60lb weight vest. That's on level pavement and it sucks. 45lbs is the max for youngsters, not old geezers.

    Maybe subtract your age from 65. That's the most you can carry without dying a slow, painfully death....

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    1. It was my understanding that 20 minutes was the minimum time for maximum cardio.

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