Friday, September 15, 2017

worth its weight in gold


WORTH ITS WEIGHT IN GOLD

I know I’ve made many a snide comment in other articles, but I don’t think I’ve devoted an entire one to this subject for some time now.  Yep, no reason to seek out my other blogs, I get around to repeating everything all over again.  Realistic and unrealistic weights you can carry.  I just ran across an article on the military or military consulting types questioning the wisdom of the current load of the infantryman.  They claim in certain instances it can be up to 90% of the individuals body weight.  A few cases of even 100%.  Their solution?  Knocking it back down to 60%.  Wow, don’t friggin hurt yourselves, dudes!  The article was probably linked to by the Western Rifle Shooters site, the go to source for everything militia porn and white power.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that ( Seinfeld reference )!  I keep coming back to their site, not because I enjoy the call to arms to make ‘Murica Great Again Against Liberals, because that is just a waste of my time, but because there is usually always at least one interesting article that tones that kind of crap down enough for me to process and enjoy.

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Now, I have nothing but respect for anyone who ever fought in combat ( not simply served, which is a different matter ), because they are truly the only ones that can have Clue One about what is coming down the road.  But that doesn’t stop me from announcing to all and sundry that they were ill equipped and incompetently led and they do no one any favors passing on most of what they learned from the government.  Teaching guerrilla tactics without overseas logistic support, fine.  Your crap doesn’t stink.  Otherwise, you are going to get some naïve idiots hurt or killed.  And the first place to start is the combat load.  You are carrying too much.  And, no, I don’t care how valuable you think each extra magazine, each electronic device, each friggin ounce is.  All that extra crap is NOT worth its weight in gold.  It is about worth its weight in bullcrap.  If you are carrying so much weight that you can’t move quickly, you are a target.  Period.  Okay, fine, there is your squad moving along at two miles an hour, each Joe carrying 130 pound packs plus armor plus ammo.  They have artillery and gun ships at their beck and call.  Sure, perhaps the RagHeads won’t attack just because it isn’t worth the trouble of dodging $376,004,876.24 worth of ordinance the soldiers can bring to bear. 

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Most likely they fire a couple of rounds at extreme range ( “I bet you my turn with Sally The Sheep tonight that I can come closure to shooting him in the face than you can” ) and run like hell and all the explosives end up doing is creating a crater the taxpayers pour money into ( not really-kidding!  The government just creates as much debt as it has to ) which would have been a few hundred thousand dollars cheaper if they rented a backhoe to do.  But just because it isn’t a daily event that these overburdened schmucks take fire they can’t run away from doesn’t mean these are sound tactics.  The last I heard, bankrupt empires without oil imports have a hard time continuing these kind of tactics.  Hell, all the money we’ve piled into the military in a hundred and fifty years?  We still are stuck on the original military strategy and tactics that won the North the war.  Infantry protects the artillery, or acts as its tripwire, and factories supply the cannon unlimited rounds.  We couldn’t even learn anything from the Germans other than how to fire rockets ( while true we learned from the French during the first World War, that was refining our fighting rather than learning a whole new way to fight ).

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How are we fighting today?  We don’t have the bodies, even though we treat each one as cannon fodder ( just as the welfare state had nothing to do with FDR being a democrat, and everything to do with hunger about to start a civil insurrection, the end of the draft had nothing to do with civil rights but was needed to halt a revolution.  Of course, it had other factors such as Peak Oil and economic collapse, but at the time civil unrest was the immediate threat ), so we turn each soldier into a squad’s worth of firepower ( or least a fire team.  I guess it depends which era you compare it to ).  This is fundamentally nothing different than ten workers being laid off and the remaining one is expected to do all their work for them.  Granted, less is delivered out of so few soldiers, so automation and robots replace some.  Firepower individually is replaced by even more heavy weapons.  But doing this costs a crap ton load of money.  But, hey, why not?  We have plenty of money and no warm bodies.  But you can’t escape the basic truism that infantry protects your other branches.

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So, since you are vainly attempting to push enough grunts to the front line ( oh-em-friggin-gee, I simply could NOT believe my eyes!  I was trying out one of those free streaming TV channels you have to watch commercials on, and there was one from the Marine Corp.  Big, bad, mighty and righteous Zena the Princess Warrior was up front with the big boys shooting.  Of course, she was wearing almost no standard gear so she could move, and she was popping away with her poodle shooter under the shadow of a mechanized grunt hosing the place down with fifty cal.  This is our new age infantry.  I bet you guys that went through hell to be Jarheads are oh so proud right about now ) to do those pesky tasks that are necessary of infantry, you cover them in armor plating to keep the casualty list down, and load them up with ammunition so they can pick up the slack the low numbers of practitioners dictate, and now you have a new and unimproved military that went from carrying 60% of their body weight to near 100%.  Mission accomplished!

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When I was young, full of starch, fat and dead animals, and in the prime physical shape of my life at the END of Basic training, I could barely struggle with 60% of my body weight on a road march.  I went from huffing and puffing after a quarter of a mile to running 10k’s with ease and enjoying them, and from screaming in pain after three push-ups to, barely, pumping out the minimum for qualification ( I believe it was forty.  Hey, I was 6’2” and 155 pounds, all skin and bones ).  And after this physical transformation I was almost wiped out carrying 60% my weight.  I could barely stand up with the load and walk, and that was before you factored in Alabama summer heat and humidity.  And these people are expected to carry half again as much in combat conditions?  Sure, it can be done.  But your attention is in staying upright, not in avoiding enemies.  Not effective at all, and in plain fact rather dangerous.  The military has no compunction about killing you through their stupidity.  Zero.

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And these are the people you want to learn tactics from, for the apocalypse?  Fast forward, I’m in my mid-forties, I’m once again in the best shape of my life.  Perhaps I’m not equal to my 18 year old self, but I have better muscle mass even if my cardio is suffering from decades of light smoking, so it is about a wash.  I’m lifting and carrying cumulatively up to ten thousand pounds a day and biking an hour and a half.  And when I go over ten pounds in my backpack with more than thirty pounds on my bike, I’m feeling some pain.  On a bike!  The bicycle is the most calorie efficient form of transportation ever known to man, even more so than a motor vehicle when to factor in the kilocalories of petroleum and compare manufacturing energy.  And I’m maxed out carrying forty pounds, ON A BIKE!  The weight isn’t even directly on my body, other than the ten pound backpack.  How can any of this be Rocket Science to anyone?  You cannot haul weight and remain combat effective, nor can you carry a lot of weight long distances without bleeding your energy reserves severely.  You need training and a steady diet of high density foods prior to hauling weight, and even then you cannot carry close to what is routinely called for.  Study a bit of military history.  Light infantrymen fighting guerrilla warfare barely carry anything at all.  About the maximum is twenty pounds over your clothing and rifle weight.  Maximum.  To be effective long term, with minimal logistic support.  Yeh, did anyone mention your post-collapse diet?  After a very short time when the freeze dried meat and the MRE’s run out, you will lose muscle mass and energy reserves in the form of fat, and you won’t be able to carry much even if you want to.

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In theory, yes, our modern lifestyles allow you to perform a one time bug out severely overloaded.  Energy wise.  Tactically, you probably won’t make it due to inattention caused by physically painful, energy draining exercise and a severe hit on your dexterity ( sorry, the RPG gamer in me coming out ).  Afterwards?  All this militia porn overburdened tacti-cool hauling of hundreds of rounds PLUS everything else?  Later, Darwin lottery loser.  Nice knowing you.  Don’t listen to me, I was never an officer in the military, akin to a living deity according to most in awe of shiny sparkling unicorns. 

END ( today's related link http://amzn.to/2vUhsK9 )
 
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21 comments:

  1. I don't believe any of it, not for 1 second. And I never have since the first time I seen it years ago. I'm talking about your subject matter, soldiers *supposedly* carrying unholy amounts of....what? What in the world are they supposed to be carrying that weighs that much. Nevermind, I already said it ain't happening. NOBODY is going to carry even half their body weight over rough terrain very far at all.

    I was 153 at 6' tall when I left Basic-AIT at 19 years old and my mother said I looked like one of them holocaust victims. I could throw a 90 pound bag of Portland cement up on each shoulder and carry it to where it need to be taken but it was extremely limited, maybe 100' on flat hard ground. I could carry 1 bag maybe 200'. No way in hell I was carrying that kind of weight very far at all and I was in the prime of my life.

    I was in from 74-78 and the most we ever carried was an alice pack, buttpack, winter uniform, and combat equipment, and all of it together was maybe 30-40 pounds. That was when we were on combat patrols. The idea was that if the shit went down we jettisoned the alice and the weight was reduced by at least half. Then we could run, dodge, and jump with the big dawgz.
    With alice? Not hardly. Every one of us would have been killed instantly.

    Large vehicles carried us and our gear to the field where we set up command posts, set up our pup tents and dug the fox holes and all the other stuff that is necessary. From the trucks to the area where our tents were set up was about 50' and thats the distance we carried our dufflebags filled with the TA50 gear.

    So when I see a pic with a soldier all hunched over with stuff stacked all the way up to here I laugh out loud and then say to myself, "Some one needs to be arrested for putting out such falsehoods."

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    1. Not only do you see lots of pictures of the standard load in combat zones, before backpack, looking quite heavy, there is a lot of testimonials from Vietnam of the overloaded patrols. True, the 90-100% loads are most likely rare and on specialized snake eater missions, which is why the statement "up to..." at the beginning. I believe that your 40% max is now a minimum, just due to the armor additions. They don't just take muscular burly guys for infantry. The skinnier ones will of course skew the average. So, granted, some are more overburdened that others. Even on our light patrols I was carrying 30% just in M-60, barrel, ammo, 45 with ammo. Then factor in the rest.

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  2. I'd like to see a normal sized person carry an M60, barrel, and ammo for any distance more than say, a couple hundred feet. I've carried a 60, and I've carried the barrel pack, and I've carried ammo. But not all of it at the same time.

    Maybe we're talking apples and oranges. We'd go out on squad level (12 guys) patrols that last from a couple hours to a couple days and we lived off what we were carrying. This meant stripped down C-rats (no boxes, no crackers, etc.), minimal extra clothing, and no ammo. No tent, no sleeping bag. The alice had a field jacket, gloves, socks, underwear, set of fatigues, full canteen (in addition to the one on the battle belt), few personal items, and food. Buttpack had poncho, another pair of gloves, forget what else. Battle rattle had 2 mag pouches with empty metal 20rd mags, buttpack w/ suspenders, bayonet, canteen/cup/cap/carrier, first aid on the suspenders, angle head flashlight/red lens, compass pouch. Gas mask had it's own belt with leg strap. Helmet.

    I was so fed up with the army when I got out I gave almost all my stuff away. Now, I kinda wish I hadn't done that. The spontaneity of youth isn't always a good thing.

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    1. My load was road marches, an hour or two. Mostly we were mechanized. But, aside from "only" carrying one belt of ammo, I had everything else for that whore. Damn 2nd ID. Jarhead wannabe pukes.

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  3. I'm going to answer in several separate posts, because the topic is so generic :) Your hair is splendid *today*.

    I like that the average cost of equipment carried by a US soldier is worth 17,000 USD, which is a number equal to twice the cost in Euros to what a Middle School pupil costs in France per year (8,500 EUR). Let's say that the education of the US grunt is worth 6,000 USD (when 8,500 would be optimal) and that the equipment expenditure could be trimmed of excess fat and would amount to 7,000 USD.

    By saving 2,500 USD per year on education for four years, the State now has to compensate with the same amount in stuff. We could say that some stuff remains when its carrier gets fragmented to bite-size bits but for the sake of the argument we will consider a total loss (similarly we will also not factor in the pension that has to be paid to the widow).

    That is the difference I make between “craftsmen” cultures and “master/slave” or “mass” cultures. In craftsmen cultures there is a high investment in capital in general (the stuff that produces value) and education in particular. There is an obsession with efficiency and balance, what Guillermo Ferrero called a “culture of excellence”.

    On the other side, the master/slave culture is obsessed with what the same author calls a “culture of might”. Basically it's about throwing money/men at the problem. Quote from an US general to an European general in some of the Sand Wars of the last quarter of a century “You want to solve the problem, we want to crush it.”

    Both aspects exist simultaneously in any society, but generally one is dominant. The indenpendent farmer (“craftsman”) is always considered the best stock for soldiers, and the latifundia worker or the city poor (“slave”) the worst. It was already that way in Ancient Rome, as it was in WW2.

    Any armed force has to balance both in its units for them to be effective, the proportion of the ingredients depending on the task : more “craftsmen” in technical / engineer units and as NCOs, more “mass-slaves” in general sweating/bleeding/dying grunt work. COs are almost always“mass-master” dicks with a few exceptions (Eisenhower for instance).

    Both US and Soviet cultures are mass-oriented, just as France was from the wars of the Revolution and Empire (1792-1815) until WW1. Russia is shifting to “craftsman” culture since Team Putin took over in 2000. “Mass” cultures tend to subsitute the lacking education in their grunts with the education enbedded in stuff (weapons design, ease-of-use) and how it gets there (logistics). “Craftsmen” cultures give more importance to local initiative (“Auftragstaktik” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mission-type_tactics ), “Mass” cultures like to treat the entire force like lemmings.

    This is why a lot of the equipment the grunt carries is the equivalent of your mom organizing your luggage (“when it will rain in Basrah you will be glad to have your rain poncho”), and all the distance micromanaging gizmos are the equivalent of having Mom on the mobile (with the same results as when your Mom serves as your navigator in the car...)

    Excepts from the hilariuos article https://www.duffelblog.com/2015/05/new-battle-command-network-offers-unprecedented-micromanagement/ : “The great part about modern technology is that it allows us generals to re-live our glory days as 22-year old lieutenants.”

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  4. This also applies to Survivalism. “Mass”-oriented people are being influenced by mass propaganda, and thus the “national rifle” is being hailed as the end all be all. Some guys are ready to diss the AR-15 (in face of its glaring shortcomings) but only to glorify older national heirlooms such as anything in .30-06, which is a round too powerful for your average family member.

    “Mass”-oriented people will also try to compensate the time they didn't invest in researching the topics with purchasing expensive stuff. This is the commercial equivalent of propaganda, called advertsing. Considering this, it is not a surprise that most “mass”-oriented survival blogs have both the largest number of viewers and parrot the advertisements.

    Lord Bison Of Heavenly Goldilocks is clearly advocating a “craftsman” mentality (which IMHO explains why his relationship with #2 was such a transcendental disaster). “Craftsmen balance and mull over things constantly, coming up with alternative solutions that has “mass” people laughing at anything not full-auto and badass and Brawndo.

    Here we must beware to not idealize the extremely lightly equipped Middle Eastern soldier/jihadi. Their equipment is not balanced at all, they have only the very bare minimum so they don't starve right on the spot, and so they are worthy to appear on the enemy's map. You don't want to be that guy either.

    Actually, you don't want to fight at all (gee ! Who would have known ?) and so you want to minimize the population density around you. Bison lives in the desert, quite literally, and free of debt. He actually owns lots of stuff (most he will rediscover two years into the apocalypse when everything else has been eaten or read).

    Yuppie survivalists watch too much TV and commute every day to their cubicles. With a ginormous car. Full of expensive stuff. Purchased with debt.

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    1. I love your viewpoint, always concepts I hadn't heard of. Or, perhaps I heard of them under different labels and your definition is clearer, more concise. Keep up your most excellent contributions.

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  5. Sure am glad that I wasn't with the normal grunt army.
    Everything I've ever read or heard about them says cluster fuck disaster waiting to happen.
    For LRRP missions my load out was 72 lbs. Could have been under 70 had I chose the Mattel rifle instead of the M14.
    But I was always paired with two jar heads for those outings and they too were required to use the .308 rifle.
    At that age I was 6'2" and 225 lbs of lean mean. Of course our whole objective was to remain unseen, otherwise I wouldn't be here today and the mission will have failed.
    Believe me , that 72 lbs. was memorable ! Tho I wasn't a snake eater , they did call us the Sneaky snakes lol
    Today...I couldn't carry that load across the street let alone the many kliks done then. Without support nor any possibility of getting an evac ! Until that is we hiked back into territory we were legally supposed to be operating in wink wink...

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    1. Regular army just got worse after the economic collapse in roughly '67. Volunteers didn't make it better, despite the hype. Incompitants leading cannon fodder.

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  6. I read somewhere (can't remember where) that Rome calculated the maximum load a soldier could carry all day without fatigue was 11 pounds. This is back when the Roman military was the strongest in the world.
    Peace out

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    1. I'm sure was plus the armor. I just read how much that weighed and I can't remember. It didn't seem too excessive.

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  7. Thanks for the memories. Humping the worst weapon system of the 20th century through the sand was one of the reasons I was not a career army dude. No, not the M16A2, but rather the Dragon antitank system. The night tracker (which weighed around 35# and was issued in it's own large ALICE pack) was so complicated, even the dragon school cadre didn't understand how to use the freon-cooled piece of crap. Anyhow, I am compelled to comment on your claim that the bicycle is the most efficient form of human transportation. I'll concede that it is the most efficient form of LAND transportation. Folks been sailing on the water for >5000 years dude. Mother nature, though she is a fickle bitch, can take you around the globe using only her wind and the ancillary calories required to raise and trim sails.

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    1. I hadn't realized they took something simple like a bazooka and high-teched it to that level of uselessness. Wasn't there a period we had to use a Swedish unit because ours were all crap? Anyway, on the efficiency of transportation, you are certainly correct, and I stand humbled. Perhaps if I was still living in Florida boats would be more on my mind. Here in the desert, I see a boat, I laugh at the schmuck throwing money into it. How many hundreds of miles do you have to drive that to water? If your area was the ability to trade by water, transportation ALMOST doesn't even factor in the cost. Why over half of us globally live real close to the ocean.

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  8. Sorry, I forgot to mention that your hair is groovy!

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    1. You know what they say, "A boat is a hole in the water you throw your money into.".

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    2. I thought that was about wives :)

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  9. Yeah...

    Twenty klic hump with a full ruck and a 60.

    Fun times.

    YKW
    MM

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    1. Almost makes you want to do it again in a bug out.

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  10. The purpose of a soldier is to hang things on him. Medals and the blame, primarily, but also packs and racks and sacks.

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    1. Medals are cheaper than designing better equipment, one imagines.

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