Fighting Light.. what is the problem?

HE117

LE
There seems to be a bit of an elephant in the room regarding how much kit a soldier is expected to carry! It is obvious that there is a bad case of "kit obesity" in the western world that has resulted in the modern western soldier being forbidden to leave a defended postion without being loaded with insane amounts of kit "just in case".

There are also a number of sub plots in play as well:

1. Kit being used as a vehicle for pointless power plays.. "You must have new toothpaste/soap/boot polish for kit inspections". OK a certain level of bullshit is acceptable in the training of recruits, however how do you keep this within sensible bounds. This is not just a junior problem.. "Party Rings Anyone...?"

2. Mandating the wearing of PPE/Body Armour etc. This is a tricky one, however again the imposition of blanket kit rules from high level is fraught with unintended consequences.. I have oft quoted the madness of having troops who cannot get up unaided because of the body armour/12 mags/gallon of water/radio/grenades/first aid kit/ rations/ boot polish etc that they are having to wear whilst trying to deal with a couple of guys running round in a dishdash and flipflops..

There seems to be no proper doctrine or training about what is appropriate kit for a task, and no checks and balances to control the kit monsters and arrse coverers that are causing the problem..

...Any thoughts?
 
Well one thing that springs to mind was an experience I had with army procedures vs reality.

As IDF infantry we wore our vests (webbing) most of the time on duty/in training, including when using our M113 APCs.
We had a drill that included 6 bods standing up in the open hatches giving a 360 degree arc of fire - the commander's .50 cal, 7.62 MGs on versatile mounts on each side of the rear hatch, a "rear hatch commander" with a VRC helmet and a rifleman on each side of him.
Thus we rode throughout our service and thus we rode into battle in Lebanon in June 1982. When the first salvo of Syrian shells bracketed us we all tried to drop down inside but in trying to do that we all rebounded off each other's full webbing pouches and were left stuck up there and exposed. For the rest of the war we rode with our vests off.
 
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itchy300

Old-Salt
You've pretty much nailed it here and in the other thread.

Its a mix of H and S hand ringing/blame shifting and SNCOs who are fighting the last war or the one before!

The classic example is 2 sets of bowman to CES per section plus 2-3 in the platoon HQ. Why on earth does an infantry platoon need 8-9 radios for a start but it's not just the weight burden, battery replenishment, training requirements, encryption and possibly worst of all the massive amounts of radio traffic/data it generates most of which is unnecessary. How are we supposed to be a more flexible, agile (insert buzzwords of choice) force if every level of command from the section 2ic to the brigade commander are utterly overwhelmed with information (see the comedy oversized staff HQs in Afghan for an example)
 
There seems to be a bit of an elephant in the room regarding how much kit a soldier is expected to carry! It is obvious that there is a bad case of "kit obesity" in the western world that has resulted in the modern western soldier being forbidden to leave a defended postion without being loaded with insane amounts of kit "just in case".

There are also a number of sub plots in play as well:

1. Kit being used as a vehicle for pointless power plays.. "You must have new toothpaste/soap/boot polish for kit inspections". OK a certain level of bullshit is acceptable in the training of recruits, however how do you keep this within sensible bounds. This is not just a junior problem.. "Party Rings Anyone...?"

2. Mandating the wearing of PPE/Body Armour etc. This is a tricky one, however again the imposition of blanket kit rules from high level is fraught with unintended consequences.. I have oft quoted the madness of having troops who cannot get up unaided because of the body armour/12 mags/gallon of water/radio/grenades/first aid kit/ rations/ boot polish etc that they are having to wear whilst trying to deal with a couple of guys running round in a dishdash and flipflops..

There seems to be no proper doctrine or training about what is appropriate kit for a task, and no checks and balances to control the kit monsters and arrse coverers that are causing the problem..

...Any thoughts?
Project PAYNE is supposed to specifically address this issue.
 
Project PAYNE is supposed to specifically address this issue.
And was chinned off by most on here, because the ability to walk very slowly with heavy loads (“because you can’t be too sure”) was deemed to be appropriate.
 
I think osprey in full plates alone during the latter stages of HERRICK was 20-25lb. Can't recall which ECM suite was the heaviest as I was saddled with a nice light radio as 2IC.

Mind having to wear those f***ing stupid cod pieces as well :D?? And getting kit checked to make sure you were wearing the black ballistic lycra shorts prior to patrols. I'm surprised I'm still fertile!

'Agile' would be a distant adjective to describe the manoeuvrability of our patrols.
 

japseyewarrior

War Hero
I was attached to a fellow NATO member for a HERRICK once upon a time. It was mandated that I was to be in a British ECM bubble, for "reasons".

There was zero J2 to suggest there was a RFIED threat in our AO, let alone one that couldn't be defeated with my host nation's ECM.

Nobody at British Higher questioned how I managed to carry the whole ECM suite dismounted on my own for 6 months, as far as they were concerned they had fulfilled their duty of care.
 

HE117

LE
Sorry, I missed the PAYNE thread which seems to have degenerated into a bit of b1tch slapping about four years ago. I think however the general subject matter is worth keeping alive..

Payne is not, by a long chalk, the first study into the matter.. My boss during GW1 had just come back from the States where he had been working on a US project on "Lightening the load on the Infantry" under Norman Swartzkopf.. the conclusion being that you couldn’t.

I don't think this works, and we are seeing the signs of a number of underlying issues which go to the core of the problem, and that really needs to be addressed.

I think, like many problems, the real cause is the destructive interference between a number of underlying issues, in particular a poorly managed promotion system and a systemic inability to handle risk. This is a potentially fatal combination in a military context.

One is as old as the hills and is to do with the exercise of power within a chain of command. There is a clear tendency for over controlling behaviour to be tolerated in command hierarchies, particularly where individuals lacking confidence are promoted into positions beyond their level of competence. This is a well-known phenomenon, often referred to as the "Peter Principle" which states that individuals in hierarchies rise to their level of incompetence. This is exacerbated in long established organisations where the promotion system becomes normalised and gets “gamed”. What happens is that people get promoted because of their ability to play the game, rather than possess any of the actually required attributes, many of which are removed from the selection criteria as they are hard to fake. I suppose the current “fake it ‘till you make it” concept is analogous. The results you see from poorly managed promotion regimes are easily spotted; over emphasis on “generalist” traits with an inability to work with specialists, martinet and micromanagement tendencies and a generally weak and supine approach to decision making.

Modern communication methods have allowed a level of micromanagement that is almost impossible to sustain in a military context. Whilst tight information management is essential to allow you to run high efficiency tuned systems, these require extremely predictable and stable contexts in which to work. A battlefield is neither predictable nor stable and the prosecution of successful warfare is not simply based on efficiency. The key to winning wars is sustainability, which is not the same thing at all!

The outcome of micromanagement is the imposition of generalised solutions to specific problems and the removal of authority from layers of command. This cannot work. If you want your military to achieve miracles, then you need to accept the level of uncertainty this requires and grant the authority to take the required risk. This brings us back to issues of liability and autonomy and the assumption of trust.

The test of whether an individual can be held liable for their actions must always be taken in context. The whole presumption that it is possible to correctly assess risk independently of context is ridiculous, yet this seems to be the legal position. There must be some presumption of honest intent and benefit of the doubt when assessing the failure of an incident, particularly when this occurs in a recognisably hostile or hazardous environment.

We really do need to both be much more careful to select leaders (at all levels!) with the required abilities, character and judgement and then give them sufficient protection to allow them to manage the risks that face them in the best way they can.
 
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Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
Sorry, I missed the PAYNE thread which seems to have degenerated into a bit of b1tch slapping about four years ago. I think however the general subject matter is worth keeping alive..

Payne is not, by a long chalk, the first study into the matter.. My boss during GW1 had just come back from the States where he had been working on a US project on "Lightening the load on the Infantry" under Norman Swartzkopf.. the conclusion being that you couldn’t.

I don't think this works, and we are seeing the signs of a number of underlying issues which go to the core of the problem, and that really needs to be addressed.

I think, like many problems, the real cause is the destructive interference between a number of underlying issues, in particular a poorly managed promotion system and a systemic inability to handle risk. This is a potentially fatal combination in a military context.

One is as old as the hills and is to do with the exercise of power within a chain of command. There is a clear tendency for over controlling behaviour to be tolerated in command hierarchies, particularly where individuals lacking confidence are promoted into positions beyond their level of competence. This is a well-known phenomenon, often referred to as the "Peter Principle" which states that individuals in hierarchies rise to their level of incompetence. This is exacerbated in long established organisations where the promotion system becomes normalised and gets “gamed”. What happens is that people get promoted because of their ability to play the game, rather than possess any of the actually required attributes, many of which are removed from the selection criteria as they are hard to fake. I suppose the current “fake it ‘till you make it” concept is analogous. The results you see from poorly managed promotion regimes are easily spotted; over emphasis on “generalist” traits with an inability to work with specialists, martinet and micromanagement tendencies and a generally weak and supine approach to decision making.

Modern communication methods have allowed a level of micromanagement that is almost impossible to sustain in a military context. Whilst tight information management is essential to allow you to run high efficiency tuned systems, these require extremely predictable and stable contexts in which to work. A battlefield is neither predictable nor stable and the prosecution of successful warfare is not simply based on efficiency. The key to willing wars is sustainability, which is not the same thing at all!

The outcome of micromanagement is the imposition of generalised solutions to specific problems and the removal of authority from layers of command. This cannot work. If you want your military to achieve miracles, then you need to accept the level of uncertainty this requires and grant the authority to take the required risk. This brings us back to issues of liability and autonomy and the assumption of trust.

The test of whether an individual can be held liable for their actions must always be taken in context. The whole presumption that it is possible to correctly assess risk independently of context is ridiculous, yet this seems to be the legal position. There must be some presumption of honest intent and benefit of the doubt when assessing the failure of an incident, particularly when this occurs in a recognisably hostile or hazardous environment.

We really do need to both be much more careful to select leaders (at all levels!) with the required abilities, character and judgement and then give them sufficient protection to allow them to manage the risks that face them in the best way they can.
I commented the other day on the Battle for Goose Green thread about the rigidity of some officers' control over those under them. In one breath, much is made of troops' professionalism. In the next. they're not trusted to do anything.

We have this situation of double- or even triple-think, whereby such as Mission Command is espoused but then micromanagement is enforced, of boasting that we have highly trained and motivated individuals capable of independent thought and then mandating pretty much their every move.

I have somewhere a cartoon from the American Civil War of how 'Si', a notional soldier, marched into battle and how he marched out. He starts overladen, there's a middle cartoon of a sweating and knáckered bloke, and the end is a guy with a weapon over his shoulder and little else.

It's nothing new, and threads numerous have noted that the infantryman's load has barely changed since Roman times.

There are a couple of things here.

Get rid of the büllshitters who expect to see fresh soap, etc. in the guys' kit. If someone's a minger, beast him, by all means, but obliging people to carry a wash kit on patrol is ludicrous. Stop collectively impugning people as individuals, not just soldiers.

And get a grip of the overbearing top-downedness which mandates full personal protection at all times.

If people on the ground want or need to be fleet of foot, then let them make that decision. If it can be tactically justified, then the people above should show true leadership and defend the choices of those below them.

Good luck in seeing any of that happen, though.
 
But the kit list says the blokes need all these things, so we're going to do at least seven kit checks and make sure they have every bit of kit they've ever been issued with them!
 

Planets

War Hero
When I got some new webbing a few years ago I thought that I needed 4 utility pouches so I made sure I squeezed them on. All it did was make me want to carry lots of unnecessary kit. That's what the daysack is for.
 

japseyewarrior

War Hero
When I got some new webbing a few years ago I thought that I needed 4 utility pouches so I made sure I squeezed them on. All it did was make me want to carry lots of unnecessary kit. That's what the daysack is for.
I'm well away from a job that requires belt kit these days but I see minimal "shooter" belts are in vogue rather than 2 water bottles, jetboil, 24hr rations etc setups?
 

Mufulira42

War Hero
There seems to be a bit of an elephant in the room regarding how much kit a soldier is expected to carry! It is obvious that there is a bad case of "kit obesity" in the western world that has resulted in the modern western soldier being forbidden to leave a defended postion without being loaded with insane amounts of kit "just in case".

There are also a number of sub plots in play as well:

1. Kit being used as a vehicle for pointless power plays.. "You must have new toothpaste/soap/boot polish for kit inspections". OK a certain level of bullshit is acceptable in the training of recruits, however how do you keep this within sensible bounds. This is not just a junior problem.. "Party Rings Anyone...?"

2. Mandating the wearing of PPE/Body Armour etc. This is a tricky one, however again the imposition of blanket kit rules from high level is fraught with unintended consequences.. I have oft quoted the madness of having troops who cannot get up unaided because of the body armour/12 mags/gallon of water/radio/grenades/first aid kit/ rations/ boot polish etc that they are having to wear whilst trying to deal with a couple of guys running round in a dishdash and flipflops..

There seems to be no proper doctrine or training about what is appropriate kit for a task, and no checks and balances to control the kit monsters and arrse coverers that are causing the problem..

...Any thoughts?
IIRC in sunnier climes the load of bollocks gear all of which was pattern 37 vintage and soaked up moisture like a sponge and uncomfortable to boot -- a couple of ex Rhodie RLI chaps quickly removed the shoulder straps, doffed the steel helmet, slung the pouches to rear like kidney items, bayonet was attached to a pouch by reversing frog, Bren Gunners had a No 2 to to lug magazine boxes and 2" mortar was dispensed forthwith. Job done and dusted. Nimble like our cousins In Aden times we noted our Br Army colleagues wore light order similar to ours. esp Welsh Gds
 
Boring from the old and bold.
BAOR, tons of kit carried everywhere.
OP Banner, pouch, water bottle, shell dressing. (Except on long patrols where you carried a bergen to be ditched if things got lively)
Dhofar belt order with water bottles, note plural, pouches and first aid kit.

In the late sixties and early seventies, night patrolling , trainers, no webbing , everything in pockets unless fighting/ambushing in which case a couple of guys carried daysack with mines, comms cord, flares etc.

It seems we keep reinventing the wheel.

Edited to add. No flak jackets worn in rural NI only urban. Protection traded for mobility.

Standing by for incoming.
 

Themanwho

LE
Book Reviewer
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose:

1647019417473.png
 
Yep, we never wore body armour in the cuds, we hardly ever wore helmets either. Every bit of unnecessary kit was sacked off to save weight, although if we were out for more than a couple of days we would usually get a resupply. We had enough to carry already, ECM, Comms, batteries etc.
 
I'm well away from a job that requires belt kit these days but I see minimal "shooter" belts are in vogue rather than 2 water bottles, jetboil, 24hr rations etc setups?
They certainly are in my battalion, but we are armoured so less need for big webbing generally.
Blokes still prefer the shooters belt for light role too though
 

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