Categories
Phillosoph

Webbing Gear and Ventilation

Recently I have been reading some new stuff on “cold-dry” or “snow” survival.
Dipping back into one of my older books, I noticed this caption on an image:
“Most soldiers trained in Arctic warfare prefer to keep their webbing attached to their backpack, rather than over their clothes, which restricts movement. ”
“Survival” (1988), Len Cacutt (p.124)
If it is acceptable to not wear webbing during Arctic operations, this suggests that it may be practical to do without many of the contents of the webbing during operations in warmer climes.
Given the date and origin of the book, the webbing referred to would be the British 58-pattern. Below is an illustration from the SLR-era. The following comments are still applicable to later systems and those of many other nations.
As can be seen from the illustration, webbing carried a lot of gear that was not immediately mission relevant.
Earlier in “Survival” there is a recommendation to “eliminate all non-essential items” (p.60). It then shows webbing loaded with wash-kit, stove, mess-tins, boot-polish, cutlery etc.
Part of the problem is the kidney pouches. Their large size is a temptation to load them up.
The pouches cannot be easily removed from the system when the weight they carry is not needed.
The position of the kidney pouches also hindered the use of efficient rucksacks that transfer the weight to the pelvis.
The consequence of all this is the webbing is heavy and bulky. It cannot be worn comfortably unless the belt is clinched tight, and it requires some system of yoke or suspenders.
In the SLA Marshall loadout recently described, a notable feature was carrying the ammunition only in bandoliers. No equipment belt is mentioned. Presumably there is one, since the soldier had to carry a water canteen and possibly a pouch for his pair of grenades. However, this belt would be relatively light without 80 rounds (about 5 lbs) of ammunition weighing it down.
Note in the photo below the GI wears a belt without any clip-pouches and does not use suspenders.
WW2 GI wearing bandoliers
Reading about pulks produced a similar observation from a Dutch source:
“As a result, Marines are now carrying a heavy backpack while moving on skis in snowy areas. An additional disadvantage of a complete package on the man is that the function of the worn clothing is not fully utilized (breathing capacity).”
In sub-zero operations it is important to avoid overheating.
Condensing perspiration can soak into clothing, reducing its insulating capability and chilling the body. This moisture can even freeze within the clothing.
There are a number of solutions to this problem. One is to not wear too much insulation. Another is to pay attention to the permeability and venting of clothes. Sweat must be prevented or allowed to escape the clothing before it becomes cold enough to condense.
It should be obvious that venting, air-circulation and removing excess insulation will all be hindered by the torso being constricted by a system of tight straps.
Air-circulation and heat-loss remain important considerations in warmer or hot-climates too.
Not only is what we carry important, but how we carry it!
Webbing/Load Carrying Equipment should be reserved for immediate-use mission gear. Items that do not qualify should be removed to a backpack. A small pack, or the detachable side-pockets of a large pack, can carry items for a 24 hour or CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear) operations
Decreasing the mass and bulk of webbing gear to improve air-circulation will greatly improve soldier comfort and performance. As a regular reader so eloquently puts it, it “reduces sweating without the benefits!”
A simple chest/belly rig, as described here, should be used for the primary ammunition supply. This will have three two-magazine pouches and a couple of smaller pouches for up to six (standard size) grenades, for example, two smoke and four fragmentation grenades. The only other features of the rig would be a snap-link, map/dump pocket, small weapon-cleaning kit, flashlight carrier and a mounting for a pec-knife. comms and first field dressing.
An equipment/waist belt would be lightly loaded with an CI-IFAK pouch and up to two litres of water.
In sub-zero conditions, water might be better carried in a bladder worn under the clothing to keep it liquid.
Possible additions to the equipment belt would be a handgun, handgun-magazines, long knife and possibly additional grenades and rifle-magazines. Extra munitions may be better carried by other means such as a claymore bag.
This configuration leaves the back clear for the more comfortable carrying of backpacks.
Categories
Phillosoph

SLA Marshall Soldier's Load

Over the years, this blog has visited the topic of Soldier’s Load several times, and published a number of equipment lists.
What to carry, and what not to, is of interest to any backpacker, outdoorsperson, prepper or survivalist. Although a list may have been written for a military context, understanding the reasons for any differences is often productive.
The following list is something of a “classic”, being taken from SLA Marshall’s book “The Soldier’s Load and the Mobility of a Nation”(1949). It seems to be obligatory to mention this work when writing about Soldier’s Load. How much notice is taken of its suggestions is beyond the scope of today’s blog.
Marshall, and many other sources, had concluded that the optimum marching load for the average man is not more than one-third of body weight. Marshall also maintained that troops would carry more food, more munitions, more everything into combat than there was any reason to believe they would use.
On this basis, Marshall proposed an optimum working combat of around 40 pounds (80% of optimum carried load).
WW2 GI wearing bandoliers
SLA Marshall: “We can do it, as is shown by the following table of weights. Though we had many variations of combat dress in World War II, according to the climate, the present field uniform strikes a good general average insofar as weight is concerned.”
WEIGHT OF CLOTHING
Undershirt, drawers, socks…………..0.62
Shirt, flannel …………..1.13
Trousers, wool…………..1.69
Jacket, wool…………..3.02
Cap, field ………….. 0.25
Boots, combat…………..4.13
Belt, waist…………..0.19
Total for the field uniform…………… 11.03 [lbs]
Belt, cartridge 2/48 Rds M-1 ammunition………….. 2.29
Canteen w/cover and cup…………..2.69
First-aid packet…………..0.40
Helmet w/liner…………..2.82
Rifle M-1 w/o bayonet, w/sling…………..10.30
Two (2) Grenades (Fragmentation)…………..2.62
Light pack w/one (1) K Ration and mess gear………….. 7.79
Includes:
Haversack and carrier…………..2.46
Toilet articles…………..0.92
Change of underwear…………..0.43
Two (2) pairs of socks…………..0.38
One (1) K Ration…………..2.31
Mess gear…………..1.29
Total, field uniform and battle equipment…………..39.94 [lbs]
“On that figure, I am prepared to stand. One blanket, woolen, OD, would add another four pounds; one raincoat, another three pounds. During initial combat in hot weather, it is better to take a chance without them than to put that much extra weight on men just as they are about to undergo fire for the first time.”

Commentary

Unlike many later analysts, Marshall included the weight of the clothing in his estimate. This is often disregarded if the wearers are accustomed to wearing the items.
• Undershirt and drawers of this period are likely to be cotton tee-shirt and boxer shorts. Socks are presumably wool, rather then the cotton worn with service dress. Underwear can, of course, be varied with season and climate.
• “Flannel” is a somewhat ambiguous term these days. A M1937 wool shirt was in service at the time and this is probably that suggested. Woollen clothing is preferable if you are going to get rained on.
Incidentally, the prototype M43 combat dress had featured a “high-neck sweater” to be worn under the field coat or as outerwear in hot weather. The fatigue/utility shirt would become the preferred hot-weather wear.
A friend of mine likened soldiering to an extreme sport, which did make we wonder if field gear should be made to more closely resemble sports and active gear. Something modelled on a tracksuit top or hoodie may be a better intermediate layer than a conventional shirt.
Pocket configuration of hoodies/tracksuit tops is not ideal. Handwarmer pockets are a bad idea, since your hands should be out of them helping and defending you. Extra sleeve pockets and Napoleon chest-pockets are useful, as it a kidney-area pocket for soft items such as hats and scarves.
I prefer hoods that can be stowed away inside a collar. It is easy to snag a hood on a branch when moving through the woods.
Poppers to supplement any zip would allow for more versatility in ventilation. I am undecided as to whether a fully opening or pullover configuration works best as field wear.
• Wool trousers (M1937) are suggested. Cotton cargo trousers had seen widespread introduction with the new 1943 field gear. Cargo trousers are a good modern substitution, since the pockets are ideal for carrying much of your skin-level EDC emergency items.
• “Jacket, Wool”, could be one of several garments. It may be the M1939 wool field coat, or the ETO “Ike” Jacket. The latter had been based on British battledress and had been intended for both field and service wear. In practice they had been in short supply so usually only officers had them and kept them for non-combat use.
By the time of Marshall’s writing the M1939 had been widely replaced by the cotton and wool M41 “Parsons” field jacket and the cotton M43.
Tropentarn Camouflage
My experience with my desert parka makes me suspect that such an item is far more practical than a conventional half-length field jacket. Being uninsulated and lightweight, it can be worn comfortably across a broad range of weather. It appears a single layer, although the inside may have a closely bonded thin lining. Vent zips and a roomy interior allows for good air circulation in hot weather and cooling via bellows-effect. A loose cut allows room for the liner or other insulation when cold. Its larger size covers more of the distinctive human body-shape.
Buy your parka on the big side. Mine is thigh-length.
I have modified the hood of mine so that it rolls into a collar secured by poppers when not in use. The only other modification I might wish for is more and larger pockets.
The desert parka is a reasonably priced item, so is an easy way to modify a soldier’s appearance.
A parka intended for field use would be camouflaged and provided with textilage and attachment points for foliage. Such a field parka can easily be replaced by another more suited in colour and cut for non-combat, service or parade wear. The latter may appear something like the frock coat/greatcoat look that is used in some Japanese anime.
The idea of using a “long” coat as basic combat dress has obvious echoes of the French practice of usually fighting wearing their greatcoats.
• A woollen watchcap, beanie or headover may be a more useful and versatile item than a field-cap. A hat with a brim does keep the rain off my glasses, however.
At least one type of gloves, and something to act as a scarf such as a keffiyah or scrim should also be part of a basic outfit.
• The belt listed is probably the item intended to hold up the trousers, rather than an equipment belt.
M1923 Cartridge Belt
• “Belt, cartridge 2/48 Rds M-1 ammunition… 2.29” did give me pause. The cartridge belt for use with the Garand M1 rifle has ten pockets, each holding an eight-round clip.
With the rifle loaded, the soldier’s basic ammo load was 88 rounds. Marshall advocated soldiers carry less ammo, but only filling six pockets of the belt for 48 rounds seemed odd. And what did “2/” signify? Was it a transcription error in my PDF copy of the book?
Garand Ammunition Bandolier
Eventually, I learnt Garand ammo was issued in a throwaway cloth bandolier. This bandolier had six pockets, each holding one eight-round clip, for 48 rounds total! Soldiers would often carry a pair of bandoliers in addition to a fully loaded cartridge belt, for 23 clips/184 rounds.
It seemed logical that Marshall was suggesting that a soldier just carry a pair of bandoliers instead of a ten-pocket cartridge belt. This would still give the soldier 104 rounds (2 bandoliers of 48 + 8 loaded).
The quoted weight of “2.29 lbs” is still a mystery. A loaded Garand bandolier weighed 3.5 lbs, and a loaded M1923 cartridge belt even more, so the figure might be expected to be either 3.5 or 7 if a pair of bandoliers was intended.
This use of such bandoliers is a practical system for the Garand. I would not, however, recommend the Garand for modern shooters. There are lighter weapons with equivalent performance, and the need to have ammo in clips for the mechanism to fully function is an obvious potential problem.
The bandoliers used for the Garand were also used for the Springfield M1903, each pocket holding a pair of five-round strippers, for total of 60 rounds per bandolier. Thus something similar might be used for a bolt-action rifle or for the loose ammo for a shotgun. The bandolier was also apparently repurposed to hold six 15-round M1 Carbine magazines.
Few modern self-loading rifles can be loaded by strippers, so another arrangement for carrying their ammo must be used. The above does, however, give a useful idea of the number of ready rounds carried that may be practical.
Substantially reducing the weight carried on the waist belt and eliminating the need for tight webbing suspenders would improve both air and blood circulation. This would be very welcome in hot or very cold climates.
• A canteen/water-bottle is a reasonable item to carry on your person. Since a cartridge/equipment belt is not listed, it is not clear how Marshall’s soldier carried it. In a modern context a flexible water-bladder may be preferred to a rigid bottle. Many modern examples have a sip-tube so you can drink without unpacking your water container.
The canteen cup should probably be carried in the pack rather than on the belt.
• The first aid package is probably one area where greater quantities are prudent. Bullets often make exit holes as well as entries. Optimising the CI_IFAK/Trauma kit carried is an entire topic in itself!
• Marshall suggest a pair of fragmentation grenades, rather than the five to eight some units encouraged soldiers to carry. Modern fragmentation grenades are a little lighter than their 1949-era equivalents.
While a civilian would not carry fragmentation grenades, legal smoke bombs have practical applications for defence and signalling.
It is not explained how Marshall’s soldier was to carry his pair of grenades.
The 1943 combat gear had introduced jacket and trouser pockets designed to take several grenades.
In the thigh pockets, grenades were difficult to reach and the weight was uncomfortable. Enough weight and the trousers would not stay up without suspenders.
The lower jacket pockets were difficult to access if wearing belt-gear and cast-iron weights swinging around your genitals was objectionable!
The above items constitute what some authors call a “fighting load”. The combat load is considered to include a fighting load and an approach march load. The approach march load is usually in a small pack that is dropped or cached before closing with the enemy. The haversack Marshall describes is the approach march load.
• The suggested haversack contents are reasonable. Two pairs of spare socks and a spare set of underwear sounds about right.
On other pages, I have described effective wash-kits much lighter than those many soldiers carry. This should include a roll of toilet paper.
The K-ration can be replaced by modern equivalents. Marshall is telling us the combat load need food for a day or so, not a week or more!
Rations such as MREs may include heating pouches, reducing the need for a stove and fuel.
The mess-kit can probably be replaced by a metal canteen cup and an emergency stove, such as the British Crusader or US Natick.
Pack the interior of the cup with packets of instant noodles and other useful items.
The only other eating item needed is a spork.
A plastic sandwich box makes a useful eating bowl. When not used as such, fill the interior with a brew-kit, spork and packet-soup and OXO cubes.
• The poncho-liner can substitute for the wool field blanket suggested.
A set of goggles and a flashlight are worth adding to the pack contents.
• The issue US army raincoat would be replaced by the more versatile and lighter rain-poncho.
Incidentally, another advantage of the desert parka is that it can be worn over a lightweight plastic raincoat, providing protection and camouflage while the waterproof stops water reaching the warm layers below.
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Phillosoph

Camouflage: Light, Dark, Neutral and Natural

Camouflage is about “not being seen”, which is one of the most fundamental of survival strategies. If you cannot become “invisible”, you may be able to appear insignificant, uninteresting or become easily “lost in a crowd”.
Good use of monotone neutrals. In some shots the actresses blend into the terrain.
You may have spent good money on the latest designer camouflage, but it is of no use to you hanging up at home. The most likely source of threat is other human-beings, and you are most at risk when other people are around.
Miyamoto Musashi tells us in the “Book of Five Rings”:
“In all forms of strategy, it is necessary to maintain the combat stance in everyday life and to make your everyday stance your combat stance. You must research this well.”
In clothing terms, what Musashi tells us means your everyday wear should be selected with a mind to decreasing your “visibility”.
Camouflage-patterned clothing does have a place in a prepper's wardrobe. There are, however, times when using camouflage-patterned clothing may be counter-productive. In cosmopolitan cities, clothing in camouflage or camouflage-like patterns may attract little attention. In other parts of the world, its use may attract unwelcome attention, or get you wrongly identified as military, paramilitary or a poacher.
Even if restricted to unpatterned clothing, there are strategies that we can adopt that will still decrease our visibility.
In previous blogs, I have touched upon a concept that might be called “camouflage without camouflage”. One can make oneself less observable by using a mix of non-camo-pattern clothing.
By using a variety of shades and hues, the basic identifiable human-shape can be broken up and become harder to distinguish. I have advised that you select clothing items in neutral and natural shades and colours.
While this remains good advice, a little more thought needs to be given to the system and some additional explanation may be warranted.

What is a Neutral Colour?

“Neutral colors are muted shades that appear to lack color but often have underlying hues that change with different lighting. Examples of neutral colors include beige, taupe, gray, cream, brown, black, and white. While neutral colors are not on the color wheel, they complement primary and secondary colors.”
On this blog I have stressed “neutral and natural”. Not all colours classed as neutrals are suitable for concealment.

Black

Regular readers should already know that “black is NOT a camouflage colour”.
In the movies, the bad guys, and often the hero will be dressed in black. It looks great on screen, and makes the actors stand out. This is exactly the opposite of the effect we want our clothes to have!
Even at night, black is to be avoided. In many partially lit conditions, black can be too dark, and stand out. Seldom is it dark enough for black clothing.
The special forces in Vietnam who dyed their gear black knew the colour would soon fade to a more useful dark grey.
Pure black clothing also tends to show the dirt, so you might like to rethink its usefulness as general wear.
If you want a dark suit for weddings and funeral, buy charcoal-grey rather than true black.

White

White is another colour that stands out and should be avoided. Like black, white really shows up any dirt.
The only time to wear white is when there is snow on the ground.
White garments used as snow camouflage should be uninsulated. If they are warm, you will be tempted to wear them all the time, they will quickly become dirty and will no longer be effective as snow camouflage.
Improvised Snow Camo
Obviously snow-camo should be unlined and of a material that is easily laundered.
Avoid white underwear if you can. Outer clothing can get damaged, and being exposed may expose you. Select underwear in neutral and natural tones.
If you have to wear a white shirt at a formal occasion, you may need a white undershirt to avoid the colour of the undergarment showing through.
If you have to wear a white shirt for work, carry a neutral colour scarf  or keffiyah you can cover it with when outdoors.

Blue

Not all shades of blue are neutral. Some that are neutral are not that natural. Neutral shades of blue or blue-grey can work in a winter or urban environment.
Light blue is generally a “cold” colour and can be used in the snow. Some snow-camouflage patterns use light blue and white to break up the shape.
Watch some nature footage of polar bears in the snow and ice and note how much the terrain appears blue, grey or blue-grey. Interestingly, the bears often appear yellow-white.
In an urban environment, light blue is often encountered as faded or mid-blue denim. Light blue is a good colour for a button-up shirt.
Darker blues are probably less useful for concealment. A blue blazer is supposedly an essential in a gentleman's wardrobe (I don't have one!). If you want one, select a neutral shade of navy. If nothing else, it will at least go better with whatever other colours you may wear with it.

Undershadow

Many animals have lighter colouration on their undersides. This makes the shadow that their bodies cast less distinctive and is an example of counter-shading. The animal appears less three-dimensional and blends in better with the surface that it is upon. Behaviours such as crouching low further reduce the shadow, and the animal will often remain immobile while it thinks it is observed.
Interestingly, many aquatic or amphibious animals show an abrupt change from light underside to darker upper. When swimming near the surface the dark upper makes the animal very difficult to spot. A predator looking up from beneath will find the light underside difficult to see against the sky seen through the water surface.
A light underbelly, or clothing to simulate it, is of little use to a human, since we spend a significant portion of our time upright and bipedal.
Keeping close to the ground and remaining still is good tactics, however. If you are concerned with being observed you should never be reluctant to crawl if necessary.
An interesting example of trying to apply counter-shading can be found in the book “Second World War British Military Camouflage”, p.27-8 by Isla Forsyth.
Solomon J. Solomon was one of the early pioneers of modern camouflage. During the First World War he proposed “alterations to [British] soldiers’ uniforms to reduce their visibility, such as the darkening of the soldier’s cap and the lightening of his trousers.”
Upper surfaces catch more light, and correspondingly, need to be darker. Body areas that are commonly thrown into shadow need to be lighter.
Watch some videos of soldiers in action, and you will see they often appear as man-shaped blobs, darker than their surroundings. Modern combat gear often uses exactly the same pattern for headgear, torso and legs. The chest area is often shaded by the position of the arms, yet often the equipment worn here is actually darker! Even in desert environments, soldiers wearing black or woodland-pattern body armour or load-bearing gear are still seen.

Illumination

When considering camouflage, a lot of attention is paid to colours and patterns. More attention should be paid to shade, light and contrast.
I have advised you to select items in natural and neutral shades, but how dark should they be?
If you have to hide in a dense wood, particularly at night, a mix of clothing items in medium or dark shades of natural and neutral colours may serve you. There will be lots of shadows, so use them. Camouflage is about behaviour as well as colouration.
Suppose you leave the wood to move across a neighbouring field. How well will your dark and medium-coloured clothes serve you then?
Even at night, the surfaces you move over may be relatively light. Grass and hay may reflect any available light, even that from the moon and stars. If you go prone, you may appear as a dark blob that attracts investigation. During the day you may be even more conspicuous.
Most of us spend a significant proportion of our time in urban areas. Even at night, this is an environment with many light or medium-shaded surfaces, and many areas are illuminated by artificial lighting. Dark outfits may make you stand out.
Discussions of camouflage often mention shade and shadow. Level of illumination in the surroundings is often not given that much attention. Clearly, if you are in a shadow, you are illuminated less, but it should be clear by now that light level has a much wider significance to camouflage and concealment.
In really deep shadow, what you wear probably matters little. There is no light, or more correctly, there is none escaping. Not all shadows or unlit areas will be this dark, however.
Stronger light can have interesting effects on concealment. Suppose someone is wearing a sand-colour outfit and lays down in a grass field on a sunny day.
You might think that someone in yellow would be easy to spot in a green field. One thing that would prevent this is that shade is more significant than hue. If the sand-coloured clothing appears a similar shade to the grass at the viewing distance, the figure can be over-looked. Another factor is that light materials reflect. Sunlight hitting the grass causes them to reflect green light. This green light may in turn be reflected from the light-coloured cloth, causing it to appear to have a green tint.
Effectively, your world should be viewed one of light and shadows.
Some areas are “shadow-dominant”. These include deep forests and jungles, and poorly-lit building interiors.
“Illuminated” areas include desert, open fields and many urban exterior areas.
This status may be changed by time of day, weather or season. At night, a wood may become even more shadow-dominant, yet in winter it may become better illuminated.
In shadow-dominant areas, clothing of medium-shade, with some dark items may be most effective. In better lit areas, lighter clothing may be less conspicuous.
Your movements may take you from light to dark areas or the reverse, so what should you wear? Having to deal with both light-dominant and shadow-dominant areas may explain why most attempts at a universal camouflage pattern have only ever proved partially effective.
In the early days of camouflage experimentation, a number of double-sided items were fielded or tested. Some had a spring-summer pattern on one side and a autumn/snow pattern on the other. Jungle/desert and green-dominant/brown-dominant were also tried.
The needs for the different patterns were thus either separated by season or by geography. As far as I know, no double-sided garments based on patterns for differing illumination levels have been tried, which is a shame.

Camouflage Patterns

For camouflage patterns for illuminated areas there are a number of options. Some of the patterns designed for desert use may prove useful in a wider range of environments. Make sure the pattern has sufficient element-size and contrast to disrupt shape and outline. Off the shelf, “tropentarn” seems to work well, although I would wish for a grey rather than green in the pattern.
Tropentarn Camouflage
Some urban patterns are good, although some use too much white or are too greyscale and could use some browns and tans.
Some newer patterns such as multicam use lots of colours and small elements, resulting in garments that appear a single colour beyond a few metres. This very much depends on the material and print. I have seen some camouflaged gaiters in these patterns that look like they might work. Polycotton trousers and shirts in the same pattern tend to blob-out at a relatively short distance. Generally I would avoid these patterns. They may be no more effective than cheaper single-colour items. Many of these patterns are also too green-dominant for a multi-terrain pattern.
For shadow-dominant terrain, you should probably consider “older” patterns such as US m81 woodland, flecktarn and British DPM. Canadian Cadpat is presumably intended for deep woods, although the green looks a little bright in some examples I have seen. Unfortunately, these patterns vary considerably. Browns can range from natural-looking shades to chocolate. Greens also vary and the lightest shade may be either light-green or a more useful tan. Contrast between elements and overall darkness may also vary.
Many of these patterns have too much green. While green is good for summer woodland and lush jungle, a pattern with more browns and greys would be better for other dark environments and seasons.
You may also encounter fashion/police patterns consisting of blacks and dark greys. These are too dark and lack sufficient contrast between the shades to disrupt the shape.
Ways to improve camouflage
Personal Camo-min

Camouflage without Camouflage

As was stated earlier, you cannot always wear a camouflage pattern. You may not have a garment such as camouflage parka (see below) with you.
How can you become less distinct wearing monotone clothing or “civvies gear”?
The first step is to mix it up! Different items should be different colours or shades. Obviously, what you select should be in neutral and natural colours suitable for your surroundings. Select medium and light shades unless the illumination level requires different.
Whilst you may not be able to wear a camouflage pattern, other patterns may have a disruptive effect, providing they do not use bright or primary colours. Some garments have pockets, collars or panels in contrasting colours, which may break up the shape.
Below is an example of the Russian Gorka wind-proof outfit. Some of these use camouflage, but they are also used in unpatterned cloth. Note how the two different shades and hues of neutral coloured panels break up the basic human shape.
Gorka two-tone suit
You probably know that several thin layers of clothing will keep you warmer than a single thick garment. You can also regulate your insulation more easily by removing layers. What many people do not appreciate is that a layered clothing system can be used to change your appearance and for camouflage.
For example, on the street you may be wearing a light-tan hoodie over a dark-grey bomber jacket. If you move into a darker area, you may move the bomber jacket to being your outer layer.
More layers often means more pockets. Thus you can carry a spare scarf or more than one hat, letting you further change your appearance.
Some hoodies or jackets are reversible. Generally I think you are better off with several thin non-reversible garments. They will cost you less and offer you more options.
If your garment is lined, ensure the lining is a neutral and natural colour too.
There is another advantage of having a wardrobe that is mainly neutral colours. Neutral colours go with just about anything. Most suggestions for a capsule wardrobe are based on having a versatile selection of garments in neutral colours.

Face and Hands

When James Bond wants to skulk around at night, he wears a black polo-neck. He never bothers to cover his face nor hands. He must leave a lot of fingerprints!
There is little point using camouflage if you do not cover your face and hands. Irrespective of your skin-shade, human skin can reflect. Hidden troops are often detected from the air since someone always has to look up at the spotter aircraft. Even at several thousand feet, an uncovered human face pops out and cries “Here we are!”.
Skin can be darkened and matted down by various means. Do not overlook local resources such as dirt, soot and soil. These do nothing to conceal your hair. Face-paint or dirt are also difficult to remove easily if you want to later appear innocuous.
You should carry suitable head and face coverings. A full-face balaclava/ski mask in a medium to dark shade of grey or brown would seem a good choice. However, some cops have been know to label these “ninja masks” and treat their possession as intent if they feel inclined.
Various face and head coverings can be constructed by combinations of suitably coloured and patterned bandannas, neck gaiters, scarves and knit-caps.
Gloves will be needed, and of a suitable shade and colour. Olive meraklon glove liners are a good start. Fingerless leather gloves (aka “recondo gloves”) are worth considering in milder climates. They provide some protection to the hands when climbing or crawling, so you may be more inclined to “go low” when needed. They can be found in tan-brown, or you can cut down old gloves that are surplus to requirements.

The Lower Body

There is no reason why your lower body has to wear a camouflage pattern that matches that of the upper body. The legs are a different shape to the torso and larger than the arms, so may need a different pattern to disrupt their identifiable shape. Using a different pattern for the legs may help break-up your overall recognisable human shape.
How well the concept of countershading can be applied to the human form probably warrants further investigation. Having your trousers lighter than your upper body is worth considering.
Desert patterns are suitable for trousers. UCP/ACU might also be worth trying for leg camouflage.
If we are considering monotone garments, our choices are probably various neutral tones of light-blues, greens, tans and greys.
Many style guides for capsule wardrobes recommend trousers that are lighter than the jacket.
Personally, I am wary of light-blue outside urban or winter environments. I actually don't own any jeans, wearing cargo trousers instead. Much of my EDC is in the pockets,
Greens are good for many rural settings, but may stand-out a little more than some other colours in urban areas. Some shades of green will stand-out in rural areas. Even neutral shades of green are less common in certain rural areas or seasons that one might expect.
Tans and greys are your most versatile choices for monotones. Tans and browns have the advantage that mud does not show up so much on them. On the other hand, the contrast of mud on grey trousers probably has a disruptive effect that breaks up the leg's shape.
Gaiters should be of a suitable camouflage pattern or neutral and natural colour. Since these are seldom worn in town, bows of textilage can be added to break up the shape. Ensure any materials used for textilage will not soak-up water.
Langdon-Davis had a lot to say about the distinctive appearance of black army boots. Footwear should be natural and neutral colours and matt finish when possible.
Black socks are supposed to make your legs look longer. I am not sure that works without black shoes and dark trousers. I generally wear boots so the socks are not visible.
Update: Recently I attended a funeral and noticed my boot tops were visible when seated, at least when wearing my suit trousers. Own at least one long pair of black socks for formal occasions. 
In town I often wear white cotton sport socks since they are cheaply available in quantity. In the field, spare socks may be used as extra carrying pouches tied to the outside of a pack. These should be neutral and natural colours.

Camouflaging Gear

The institutional military mind likes uniform, regular and symmetrical.
This may be part of the reason why personal camouflage has waxed and waned as a priority for soldiers.
Improving the camouflage of an item becomes unpopular when the additions must be stripped off for every parade or inspection. If you are outside of the military, then such restrictions will not limit you.
Previous blogs have discussed methods to improve the camouflage of your backpack. Similar methods can be applied to a chest-rig, contributing to the camouflage of your torso. Base colour for a chest-rig should be light or a desert pattern, since this area will often be shaded.

Camouflage Smock

A useful technique is to have a “camo-smock”. You put it on when you need a camouflage pattern. Roll it up and carry it when you want to appear non-military. You can carry more than one, and wear the most appropriate for the conditions.
Your bug-out outfit should include an item that can be used as a camo-smock.
My main camouflage item is a German Tropentarn desert-parka. Get this as big as possible so that it can form a camouflaged outermost layer over anything you may be wearing. There is a nice liner for it that makes it into a nice cold weather coat.
Without the liner, it is unlined so can be worn for camouflage in relatively hot weather. There are vent zips under the arms.
Being a parka, it comes down to mid-thigh so will fit over anything I might wear under it and partially conceals my legs and body shape.
Sleeves are long enough to conceal my hands and keep the wind and rain off them.
If this is a “field only” item, add some bows of textilage to the sleeves and shoulders.
How to add camoflage bows of textilage
The pockets of the smock/parka include items that can be used camouflage my hands, neck, face and head. Little point in camouflaging yourself without covering your extremities!
For darker conditions, I have a several metres of camouflaged scrimm that can be worn over the parka like a poncho. Bows of suitably covered material or scraps of camouflage cloth have been tied to the scrimm.
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Phillosoph

Crash Course in Rifle

A friend of mine was reading about the training of conscripts in Taiwan. He referenced some of the articles I have written about making training more relevant. These include my blog on the “Murray System” and the book that derived from it, my book “Crash Combat”.
Crash Combat is about unarmed and non-firearm combat. For a more generic training program, where would I start?
Probably, near the start, would be an introduction to practical use of the rifle, taught in several phases:

Introduction Phase

• Basic safety and orientation.
• Perceive, Recognize, Engage.
• Load, unload and clearing.
• Anatomy for shooters: The Lethal T, the belt-buckle aim and the armpit line.
No one goes past the introduction phase until the instructor is convinced all students are competent and mature in their handling of firearms and their behaviour on the range.

Phase One

This phase teaches shooting from behind cover, from various positions. It ingrains the habit of always using available cover, while teaching shooting posture fundamentals.
Firing from a squat position
Start with prone position and move on to other positions such as kneeling, sitting and squatting.
Key points:
• Fire around rather than over cover when possible.
• Keep low. Never be reluctant to get close to the dirt.
• Always use cover when possible.
• Use cover when reloading and clearing stoppages.
• What parts of a gun not to rest in contact with hard cover when firing.
• Includes section on correct techniques to use when firing from windows.
Phase one is conducted with half-silhouette targets of various sizes, engaged at relatively short ranges, such as 20 to 50 metres. Sights zeroed to 200 metres are used for all shooting.
Emphasis in this phase is on building the student’s confidence in their shooting while teaching good shooting postures and tactical positions.
There are no scores, shots being judged as either hits or misses. Reactive targets that make a noise, fall or flash a light when hit will prove useful.

Phase Two

Phases two is dry firing. It is effectively kata for guns, or tai chi with triggers.
As recommended by Elliot, students practice mounting their rifle to bring it smoothly up to firing position. This is practised in the various postures learnt in phase one.
Mounting is combined with tracking, breathing and trigger exercises:
• Tracking involves keeping a mounted weapon moving to pursue, swing through and lead a moving target.
• Breathing involves synchronizing the respiratory cycle with the moment of firing to minimize unintended movement of the weapon.
• Trigger exercise is developing a trigger “press” that causes minimum displacement of the barrel.

Phase Three

Phase three is Quick Kill training.
Airguns/airsoft guns with the sights removed are used to engage small thrown targets. This builds on the instinctive pointing and tracking skills developed in phase two. Phase three teaches effective engagement skills for situations when there is insufficient time to align sights or when sights are not visible.

Phase Four

Introduction to room-clearing techniques. The likelihood of operations in urban terrain means a familiarity with room clearing must become a fundamental skill-set of any firearm user.
• Shooting on the move and while sidestepping.
For safety, phase four may be practised with airsoft weapons.

Phase Five

Phase five is a repeat of phase one, but the engagement range is increased up to 250m.
Students may be required to crawl to a firing position, or use other appropriate modes of tactical movement.
Target shooting, long-range shooting, volley fire and other fields can be taught later. Soldiers with an aptitude for these disciplines can be encouraged accordingly.
The five phases are designed to quickly produce riflemen that can respond quickly and accurately against threats that occur within likely engagement ranges and terrain.
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Phillosoph

Crash Combat Third Edition Out Now!

I am pleased to announce that the Third Edition of Crash Combat has now become available.
This version has been extensively expanded, being about 30% longer. More content, extra illustrations, more techniques, new techniques and generally much more book for your money. In addition, much of the book has been rewritten and restructured so information is more easily assimilated and learnt.
While Crash Combat was originally written for a military context, it remains relevant to any individual wishing to learn to protect themselves in this dangerous and uncertain world.
Visit the Author Spotlight for my other books.
May be purchased direct from Lulu.com in either print or epub format. It will take a few more days or more for this version to appear with other retailers. Buying from Lulu costs you less and more of the money goes to the author.

Update!

I have just received and approved the proof copy of the print version. Very pleased with how it looks and reads. Treat yourself!
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Phillosoph

Soft-Core Pack: Military Version

The battle order suggested in the previous blog raises an interesting question: How does the soldier carry his poncho?
Items such as bayonets and ammunition have obvious places on the webbing.
Not only must a poncho be carried when not worn, but it must be protected from unnecessary damage.
The official solution was most probably to carry the poncho in the butt-pack. As I have discussed in previous posts, there are objections to using a butt-pack or similar. Its capacity is a temptation to carry extra gear. Its position makes it hard to easily access, and it is inconvenient if sitting in a vehicle for any time.

Military Soft-Core Bag

In a previous post I described my “soft-core bag”. This idea can easily be adapted to military applications.
The military version of the soft-core bag actually may be lighter than my version. Items such as the fire-kit, first aid kit and sweets can be omitted, since these roles will already be met by items hopefully carried on the soldier’s webbing or person.
For the same reason, the water-bottle in the soft-core pack can be omitted unless operating in particularly arid conditions.

Contents

What should the military soft-core bag contain?
• A poncho. This should ride at the top of the bag for easy access. If the poncho has its own stuff sack, add two three metre lengths of paracord. Loops of cord for pegging should already be attached to the poncho side and corner eyelets.
• Accessory clothing items such as warm hats, work protective gloves, spare socks, bandanas, shemagh.
Many outdoor coats lack sufficient pocket space to carry such items, and you may need your pockets for more tactical items.
The soft-core bag is a practical solution. Wrap in plastic bags to waterproof them. The majority of these items would stay in the large pack. The soldier dresses in what he needs when he caches his large pack.
• A spare shirt, jumper, jacket or liner, “ranger-rolled”. Useful if the temperature drops or you reduce your actively level. Wrap in plastic bags to waterproof them.
• Toilet roll in waterproof bag. As well as the intended use, good for fire starting. Use a bag that can be sealed against water. A 100 ml bottle of alchohol hand-sanitizer may be added to this bag.
• A small notebook in a waterproof bag may be useful.
• Items such as cordage and space blankets are optional for the military soft-core pack. You may decide these are better carried in your trouser or shirt/jacket pockets.
• A “non-soft” item of equipment that might be carried in your soft-pack are your goggles.
These can get in the way if you are not wearing them. When not in use they need to be covered for camouflage purposes.
Stowing them in your soft-core bag is a very practical solution. Place them in the middle of clothing to provide padding and protection.

Carrying Bag

Like the other version, the military soft-core bag fits in a simple draw-cord bag. This is stowed in the top of your rucksack so the poncho or other contents can easily be accessed if needed.
When you stow your rucksack, you pull out the soft-core pack and wear it as part of your battle-order. When seated in a vehicle, the soft-core pack should act as additional padding for your back.
Nearly all of the contents of my civilian version of the soft-core bag may be fitted in one of the detachable side pouches of a bergen.
There is room for a water bladder and a few “mission” items.
Ideally, there should be provison to stow the mini-medical kit directly under the lid,
Tent poles that can fit down the sides of the pack, and a small bag of pegs would be useful. Currently I am not aware of any off-the-shelf shelter poles that break into sections of less than 32 cm.
The other side pocket may be used for NBC gear. When NBC (CBRN) is not a likely threat, the single side-pouch may be carried as a patrol pack.

Camouflage

Ideally, your draw-cord bag should be of an effective camouflage pattern.
A grey-beige-brown scheme may be more versatile than the green-dominant examples shown in the photos.
Sewing some textilage to the outer side is a good idea too.
If you cannot get a camouflaged example, a suitably neutral-coloured bag can be camouflaged with a few passes of spray paint.
Making a camouflage draw-cord bag will be within most reader’s capabilities. Note that the bags shown have carrying cords created by taking the cord down to eyelets at the bottom corners. If your bag lacks these, they can easily be added.
Dark or unsuitably coloured cords are easily replaced with something such as “desert-camo” paracord.
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Phillosoph

Tactical Bed Rolls

I came across an interesting article called “Pedomic Mobility” in the October-November 1960 issue of “Infantry” magazine.
Pedomic_compressed
In the narrative, an officer watches his company conducting a “ruck attack” on a position. A ruck attack is an assault where the troops wear their rucksacs. This slows the soldiers down, makes them larger and more obvious targets and tires them out more quickly. Shooting from a prone position may be problematic if the pack prevents the soldier raising his head. Despite the obvious disadvantages, the ruck attack remains common in certain armies, both in training and actual combat operations.
The officer watches his near exhausted men and ponders if there is a better alternative.
The proposed solution has two parts. The first is the attacking force should be equipped thus:
• Clothing appropriate for the climate, season and weather
• Load-bearing equipment
• Helmet
• Weapon and ammunition
• Bayonet
• Water bottle, cover and canteen cup
• First aid packet
• Gas mask
• Poncho.
Personally, I consider a canteen cup a backpack item. The dynamics of operating in a platoon or company may change this, however.

Soldier's Bed Roll

If the unit was to stay in one place for any time, a bed roll for each soldier would be brought forth. A bed roll, as described in the article, consists of:
• Shelter-half with poles and pegs (“pins”)
Blanket
• Air mattress
• Sleeping bag
• One or two changes of socks and underwear
• Towel
• Toiletries
• Field jacket liner and trouser liner*
*The jacket and trouser liners were included if it was a “seasonally transitional period”. The mention of the blanket and insulated boots suggest the cold of Korea was still fresh in many soldiers’ minds.
If you have read Kephart, you will know that an outdoorsman’s pack was once exactly that: a package of items wrapped in canvas (above).
Soldiers carrying tactical bed rolls
Bed Rolls in Action. Note the man at the rear has transferred his entrenching tool to his bed roll for more comfortable carrying.
The bed roll was primarily intended to be moved by truck or jeep. When necessary it could be carried by the infantryman. The author suggest re-rolling the item into a horseshoe roll, or fitting the bed roll with a rope or carrying strap.
The use of a shelter-half for the outer layer is particularly clever. Being made of canvas, it is robust and relatively damage tolerant. It is better suited for this roll than a poncho or more modern nylon tent might be. Shelter-halves were widely available from military supplies and easily replaced. A shelter-half could be put to a number of other uses other than as a pup-tent.
See this video for a “pegs before poles” method of setting up a shelter-half tent.
The only objection to using a shelter-half is that most are green, rather than more versatile dull brown or camouflage finishes.
Also notable was this officer understood that toiletries were not something a soldier needed to carry on his person.
Can we adapt this concept to more modern equipment? An all-weather blanket that can serve as a ground cloth and for other uses would be a good addition. Air mattresses are not common with modern users. I do know some soldiers who use self-inflating sleeping mats. Most, however, use foam kip-mats. Even when trimmed down, these tend to be bulky. Similarly, a poncho liner is rather bulky when rolled. I am not sure you could roll these up in a shelter half with a sleeping bag and still have a roll only a foot in diameter.
In the article, mention is made of stowing bed rolls in waterproof bags. An obvious extrapolation of this is to carry a bagged bed roll within a medium-sized rucksac. Packs would be clearly marked with name, squad, platoon and company, for example: Grant N. 471, 3-2-B. The pockets of a rucksack are a more convenient place to carry a wash-kit, canteen cup and some other items. A foam kip mat can be rolled separately from the bed roll and carried along side it within or outside the pack. Kip mats have uses in addition to sleeping on, so having them separate is more convenient.
When bed rolls are brought forward, rations and ammunition will probably be brought with them. If a unit has to fall back the rucksacks used to move the bed rolls can also carry some of the rations and ammunition too.
The specific contents of a bed roll with vary with climate and other factors.
When in transit, experianced soldiers will keep their bed roll close to hand. If baggage gets misdirected or delayed, the soldier still has the essentials necessary for a good night’s rest.
The article Pedomic Mobility was written for infantry companies conducting operations within range of support units. It may, however, provide some inspiration for independent outdoorsman both as to how and what they may carry.
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Phillosoph

Bandoliers for Budget Burdens

This interesting photo is from the Osprey publication, “Armies of the Vietnam War 1962-1975”.

Caption for the photo reads:US soldiers with Bandoliers

Soldiers of the 196th Light Inf.Bde., Americal Div., examine a VC cache near Chu Lai in December 1970. The abbreviated rifleman's equipment is typical of short-range operations at this period. Bandoliers are used to carry both magazines and grenades, and spare M-60 belt is looped around the riflemen's waists. The two XM203 grenadiers at the right wear the special grenadier's ammo vest; the man at far right also carries his rifle magazines in a spare canteen carrier, and ration toilet paper packs in his helmet band. Third from right has a Kabar knife sheathed in his trouser cargo pocket, and fourth from right has a civilian hunting knife on his belt.

A lot going on in that photo. The bandoliers used to replace, rather than supplement, the issue “ammo case” [pouch] are of particular note.
A previous blogpost discussed stripper clips or chargers. In this photo the bandoliers are being used to carry grenades and 20-round magazines.
More recent examples of bandolier can also accommodate 30-round magazines. In the photo below, a light-coloured thread is visible. Removing the thread makes each pouch deep enough to carry a 30-round magazine rather than a pair of stripper clips.
As issued, each pocket of a bandolier holds two ten-round 5.56mm strippers. Number of pockets varies between four and seven.
Bandolier with pull threadM16 Bandiolier
If you shoot 7.62 x 51mm (or 6.5mm Creedmore), you needn’t feel left out. Below is an Australian bandolier intended for use with the SLR/FAL.

Aussie Bandolier for SLR

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Phillosoph

The Brooksbank Carrying System

I have talked about using Claymore mine bags to carry ammunition on a number of instances. I was therefore intrigued by this idea from 1943, called the “Brooksbank” method. All credit to Karkee Web for the images and information:

(a) The gas cape folded flat, about 10 in by 12 in, is put on first in the normal manner.

(b) The small pack is slung over the right shoulder and the two valise straps fastened (firmly but not tightly) over the stomach with the bayonet and frog on the right hand side, slung on the valise strap.

(c) The respirator is put on in the reverse alert position, i.e., the haversack goes on the back resting on the gas cape with the sling (shortened as far as possible) on the chest, with a piece of tape on each lower " D " on the haversack coming round to the front and with the left tape underneath the brace, through the sling, fastening on the right with a slip knot. (The right tape therefore will be only approximately 4 in to 6 in in length).

Commentary

Some clarification is in order. The “gas cape” or “anti-gas cape” was a protective garment against chemical warfare agents such as mustard gas. It actually resembled a long, sleeved coat rather than a cape. The model in use in 1943 was provided with long tapes so that the rolled garment could be carried across the back of the shoulders. No webbing was needed to carry the cape in this fashion. In the figure on the reader’s right in figure 1 the tapes of the cape can be made up coming up from under the soldier’s armpits and disappearing behind his neck. The cape could be quickly unrolled down the back and put on without unfastening the tapes. An excellent source of information on these items can be found on this video.
What is possibly not made clear is that the small pack would spend most of its time across the small of the back, and would only be pulled around the side when ammunition or other items were wanted. A photo of how just the pack would be worn is shown on this page.
The Brooksbank method was supposed to save weight. While it does away with the ammo pouches, belt and water-bottle carrier, the soldier still carries his standard haversack contents, plus finding some room inside for carrying individual and squad ammunition. Although called a haversack, not many of the recommended contents of the 37 pattern small pack were actual clothing. The interior was divided into two compartments, the forward one bisected by an additional divider. One forward pocket held the soldier’s pair of mess-tins, the other a water-bottle. Carried in the main compartment was a groundsheet, towel, soap, pair of spare spare socks, cutlery and possibly an emergency ration and cardigan. Below is a photo of a typical British infantryman’s small pack contents, taken from “British Army Handbook 1939-45” by George Forty.
Many of these items should probably have been left with the truck rather than being carried into combat. I recently read a 1940s manual on street-fighting and soldiers were told not to bring their haversacks into action. Urban environments had plenty of shelter so groundsheets and gas capes were not needed. Haversack items that might prove useful could probably be carried by other means.
The groundsheet carried at this time is of interest, since this would probably be of some variety of MkVII, and was designed to also act as the soldier’s rain protection. The gas cape was supposed to be reserved for the event of chemical warfare, but in practice might be used as a raincoat.
Many years ago, I travelled down Italy, my belongings packed in a sports bag. At one town I had to walk longer and further than usual to located accommodation. Even though I could swap over the shoulder I carried the bag on the uneven weight caused me to sprain one ankle, resulting in a rather painful couple of days. Since then I have always used rucksacs. I don’t know if that would have been a problem with the Brooksbank method, but do feel more though should have been given to what was carried, as well as how.
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Phillosoph

The Point of Bayonets

Reams have been written about the bayonet in the last one hundred years. Several US Army manuals begin by talking about “the Spirit of the Bayonet”. Much is written about the psychological effects training and using the bayonet is supposed to induce. We are even told “the bayonet is irresistible”.
As I noted in an earlier post, the practicality of the bayonet as a weapon was being questioned as early as the introduction of breech-loaders. Once machine guns became common, one would think the matter had been settled. Not so.

The Bayonet en Mass

Part of the problem with examining this topic is that many writers fail to distinguish between the use of the bayonet in massed charges and its use in personal combat.
Many bayonet manuals do not give much space to how a massed charge is to be actually conducted. Perhaps this was covered in other manuals. A US Army manual from 1916 informs troops that they should walk most of the distance to the enemy position so as not to unduly tire themselves. At 30-40 yards distance they may begin to move at double time, and rush the last few yards. A British manual from 1942 urges troops to approach the enemy position using all available cover. When reaching 20 yards distance, the unit was to form up for the charge and rush the final distance. When conducting massed charges it was felt important that a line formation was maintained. Given the effects of adrenaline and irregular terrain, this may not have been practical in many cases.
If one can approach to within 20 yards of an enemy position, there were probably better options than a bayonet rush. The position could be attached with multiple grenades, and automatic weapons used to sweep the visible sections of trench, for example.
Sir Basil H. Liddell Hart said:
“There are two thousand years of experience to tell us that the only thing harder than getting a new idea into the military mind is to get an old idea out.”
The conventional military mind seems to have retained its fascination with the bayonet charge long after such tactics should probably have been retired. Certainly bayonet charges have been used since the Second World War. Charges were used in the Falklands War, and in Afghanistan.

Hill 180 Korea

One of the last great bayonet charges, for American forces at least, was the bayonet charge by Easy Company, 27th Infantry Regiment, against Hill 180.
“Commentary on Infantry Operations and Weapons Usage in Korea, Winter of 1950-51” by SLA Marshall has a chapter on the utility of bayonets, and the following observations about the attack on Hill 180:
“The tactical omissions, which accompany and seem to be the emotional consequence of the verve and high excitement of the bayonet charge, stand out as prominently as the extreme valor of the individuals. . . The young Captain Millett, so intent on getting his attack going that he “didn’t have time” to call for artillery fires to the rearward of the hill, though that was the natural way to close the escape route and protect his own force from snipers who were thus allowed a free hand on that ground. . . His subsequent forgetting that the tank fire should be adjusted upward along the hill. . .The failure to use mortars toward the same object. . .The starving of the grenade supply, though this was a situation calling for grenades, and the resupply route was not wholly closed by fire. . .The fractionalization of the company in the attack to the degree where only high individual action can save the situation, and individual ammunition failures may well lose it.

It cannot be argued that bayonet charges have not worked. And yet, one cannot help but wonder just how many lives have been needless expended because a massed bayonet charge was attempted rather than other more practical options. For a young officer the bayonet charge seems a gamble between a medal or a court martial. If they survive.

Individual Bayonet Use

Let us move to the more practical topic of the use of the bayonet as a personal weapon. In the second edition of “Crash Combat” I suggest that the use of the bayonet, or other close combat means are only attempted if the threat is within three body lengths. If the distance is greater, seek cover, reload and shoot, or some other tactic.
Older manuals recommend the bayonet be used for night combat where muzzle flash might expose your location. It is also to be used in close quarter situations where any firing might endanger comrades.
Three to four kilos of rifle does not make an ideal spear handle. It is, however “what you got”.
To use a bayonet, you must have a bayonet. Most modern bayonets are overweight supposedly multi-purpose tools of little actual utility. Understandably, many soldiers have discarded them in favour of more useful blades.
I won’t discuss techniques for unbayoneted weapons, since these are covered in my books.

When to Fix Bayonets

Assuming you have one, when should you fix your bayonet? Wartime British manuals require the bayonet to be fitted whenever the enemy is within 300 yards. Sights for shorter ranges were set to compensate for the changes the fitted bayonet made on point of impact. The Russians took this further. During wartime the Mosin-Nagant was always fitted with its bayonet. A fitted bayonet is necessary to zero the sights.
In a more modern context, it may be prudent to fix bayonets if engagement range is less than 50 metres.

The Indoor Bayonet

A fixed bayonet may seem a handy thing to have when sweeping a house. As well as its defensive use it can probe under beds or into other dark places. Bert Levy comments that within a building, bayonets are more a hazard to comrades and likely to get frequently caught on furniture. Levy was probably referring to sword bayonets mounted on relatively long bolt-action service rifles. Experiments need to be conducted to determine the best ways for teams to move with modern bayoneted weapons within building interiors. Since shooting will remain the primary offensive mechanism, this will probably be a low-ready position, rather than the high-port usually required for moving with bayoneted weapons.

À la Bayonet

Recently I read an entertaining and informative paper on the bayonet. Unfortunately the author devotes a big chunk of his discussion to perpetuating the bayonet wound fallacy. Later in the paper he graphically describes how visceral and final an encounter involving bayonets may be. It does not occur to him that this may be related to why there are so few bayonet wounds in the field hospital. Most victims never make it that far! Near the end of the on-line version of the article he states: “The Military Manual of Self-Defence (55) offers a series of aggressive alternatives to traditional bayonet fighting movements, its focus more on disabling the opponent than parrying until a clean point can be made. While not necessarily offering a full replacement to classic bayonet training, it does show that more options exist.”
This did amuse me. Firstly, The Military Manual of Self-Defence (Anthony Herbert) unashamedly copies entire sections from other works. Most of the bayonet section is taken from “Cold Steel” by John Styers USMC. The illustrations even still look like Styers! Styers, in turn, drew directly from Biddle (“Do or Die”), who was an instructor for the USMC. This “untraditional” system was that taught to most marines.
There is also an amusing irony here. During his military service, Herbert was wounded fourteen times. Three of them were from bayonets!