Based on some of the feedback from my last, I think it’s important to clarify things a bit. There’s a significant issue concerning equipment selection that’s often lost during gear selection conversations, that being task and purpose, which doesn’t translate well to either civilians or non-small unit focused troops. Shortcutting the experience to the end product can leave some scratching their heads or asking questions that might make some eyes roll; it’s the responsibility of the trainer to fill in those gaps.
First, we have to understand there’s a reason we’re out. Patrolling has one of two end goals; Recon or Combat. Recon is to find what’s out there, Combat to kill what’s out there. If can be broken down far further than that, but for now we’ll keep it simple. For a great vignette on how it works, I refer you to Dan Morgan’s The Patrol Series. Mission requirements must be identified before a competent plan can be put into place, and this requires a competent leader. If scouting or killing is not necessary, then maybe a change in posture needs to be considered. Mission dictates gear.
I’m Bugging Out, Man
The bulk of civilian focus is on 72 hour bags, AKA “bugout” kits. This concept is rooted in the large numbers of suburbanites planning some sort of emergency egress, with the idea being that it’ll be three days till someone helps them or they get where they’re going. Yeah…no. That’s not patrolling, that’s being a refugee. Have any of you ever seen an armed refugee? No? What does that tell you? I digress, but the fantasy of an armed doomsday uprising from the bedroom community is just that, designed to sell you inferior trinkets and cheaply made backpacks.
If you’ll notice from not just what I’ve attempted to impart here but from many, many others on any outlet of competent information is the concept of having rudimentary gear layered on your body, also known as Line 1. In addition, we would usually pack what’s known as a drop bag inside our ruck, being a small pack with lifeline gear, a couple bottles of water, extra trauma gear and a few extra mags, in case an emergency situation arose(AKA “compromise”) and our rucks had to be ditched and/or destroyed a la Bravo Two Zero. This drop bag was meant to sustain on the move to an emergency rendezvous point, which there are multiple ones planned based on 12hr, 24hr, and 72hr recovery plans.
For the light Guerrilla not covering the same distances as a SOF element of a standing Army, and being of the population they’re fighting to support, some of this load can be reduced. Caches become vital in the Underground to combatant elements, as well as being on good terms with the local populace. Additionally, equipment lost by a military force can usually be replaced eventually. Not so concerning the Guerrilla. Every piece of equipment is vital, sensitive, and irreplaceable. The more infrastructure planning that goes into priming the region, the better the chances for success. None of this is accomplished by building a “bugout bag” based on someone’s opinion and hoping for the best.
Ruck vs Patrol/Assault Pack
A square is a rectangle but a rectangle is not a square. They’re both backpacks…but they’re two different tools. Inserting into an unknown area with a small team and a laundry list of team equipment requires a ruck. Despite the ever growing options out there, the best ones for the money still are based on the large ALICE. The Tactical Tailor MALICE ruck and Blackhawk SOF ruck are both commercial versions of common mods guys would do to their rucks to enhance it’s carrying capabilities. Moving into an area for extended or indefinite operations requires carrying a ruck to accommodate the equipment required. And yes, they get super heavy in a hurry.
A patrol or assault pack is used for shorter duration or specific types of patrols. Once a team has set up in the area, a patrol pack’s role now becomes carrying mission required equipment to meet the needs of that particular patrol, leaving behind other less-critical items. If you’ve well primed your area of operations(AO) with equipment spread about among supporting cells, the need for large ruck may or may not diminish. Ideally, for the prospective Guerrilla, have and train with both.
Chest Rig vs. LCE
This is an argument I find kinda stupid, not for any sort of emotional attachment to gear that some folks seem to get, but simply because what works for me may not for you. And I’m fairly certain I stated that. LCEs fell out of favor largely with the advent of lightweight-ish armor and patrolling from vehicles in Iraq. A few mags on your chest is also quick and efficient and generally doesn’t snag stuff as your moving through dense underbrush. But again, what works for me, may be different for you.
I’ve heard a few grumblings about chest rigs that “it interferes with going into the prone”. I’ve never seen anyone with this problem, unless you have some sort of weak sternum or proclivity to laying in the prone with an inch of steel between you and the dirt, or you stack so much junk on the front of your rack that it looks like you’re laying on a ramp in the prone. Don’t laugh- I have seen that, from a few who should know better. Split-front designs, like the two rigs that I most favor, unbuckle the same way old timers unbuckled their LCE belts in the prone, as did the SADF with their Battle Jackets.
Sleep Plans on Patrol
This is probably the largest issue that cannot translate to civilians, and there’s really no civilian course I’m aware of that illustrates this. Sleep deprivation is a way of life when in the bush. The ‘shelter’ kit I pictured was actually nothing of the sort- it’s a base layer for building Hide sites. It’s not meant to be comfortable or cozy to take a snooze under the stars with my buddies- I’m hiding, observing an area or holding position in a RON(remain overnight) site, and moving out just before a designated commo window to relay my report.
If I’m comfy, I’m sleeping, not observing. I’m not pulling security. I’m not taking care of my buddies. The priorities of work at the halt go out the window. And I sure as hell can’t unass the hide in a hurry. Patrolling is not camping with camo paint, hence why you didn’t see any sleeping kit listed in my last.
Inside such a position, sleep plans are rotated, and it’s not comfortable. There’s a reason some of us can rack out anywhere, in any position…because most often it’s in less than desirable positions that in the field you get a few moments of shut eye. You may get an hour here or there, and rotating the sleep plan requires discipline among the guys on your team. It might sound rough, but its a way of life, at least if you want to survive. The Z monster happens to everyone, even the best, and it’s something that has to be trained for to work against. Your guys have to get used to working through exhaustion. And if you’re considering a Light-fighter Guerrilla paradigm and not training in this manner, you will realize the folly of your ways when someone who has kills you and your team.
North/South, East/West, Roger
I hope this clears the waters a bit…because the more important concern is that mission defines equipment used. I’ve described what works in a rural, traditional patrolling model. Your needs might be a little different, but the basics really don’t change. Keep it simple, keep it rugged.