US Marines Become "Muleskinners"

#1
Marines Turn Mule Whisperers as They Prepare to Head to Afghanistan War Zone


Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Two-week training course teaches Marines headed to Afghanistan to get hundreds of pounds of gear off their backs and onto donkeys and mules.

It may not have been in their boot camp brochures, but U.S. Marines headed to the mountains of Afghanistan are learning back home how to get hundreds of pounds of gear off their backs — and onto those of donkeys and mules.

The furry animals are perfect for hauling heavy loads through rugged terrain and have become crucial helpers as U.S. forces prepare to head to a war zone where the air is too thin for heavy choppers, roads are inaccessible and donkeys are plentiful, cheap and efficient.

According to the training center in California's Sierra Nevada Mountains, a 500-pound donkey can carry up to 150 pounds in gear, food, water, clothing and even weapons. The ability to relieve each Marine from having to carry that load can help prevent exhaustion and save lives, especially in an ambush situation.

"I know when I get ambushed I don't want all this stuff on my back," Corporal Jason Dierberger told FOX News.

But though the donkeys and mules are doing the heavy lifting, the Marines traveling with them still have plenty of work to do, even before they hit the battlefield.

Training includes learning how to tie ropes and pack up saddle bags so that the weight of the heavy gear is distributed evenly and nothing falls off.

More importantly, these Marines must learn the art of coaxing, as the strong animals are surefooted so long as they can see the ground, but if they can't see their feet — or decide to be stubborn — they won't budge.

"It's almost like having a 5 or 6-year-old child you're trying to teach," Sgt. Joe Neal told FOX News. "You have to make them think it's their idea."

By the end of the two-week course, the Marines and mules are said to be a team, and those Marines are better prepared to carry the fight to the enemy with the help of their trusty burros.
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,540432,00.html
 
#3
The Thai Army has a mule Sqn in Chiang Mai.
It grows in size with all the mules they capture in border ambushes.
john
As for the art of coaxing, memory says the lads from the Regt could show the way.
 
#4


I dare say he's pulled worse in his time... oh, is that my coat? Thank you very much.

TAXI!!!
 
#5
Not new, Mule Handling course used to be attended by Royal when on exercise in Pickel Meadows. Evidently it's tried and tested and still works...though i wonder how long it'll be before the PC/animal welfare/Richard North group get on the case and demand an "MRAP"/V-bottomed donkey....
 
#6
dutybooty said:
Not new, Mule Handling course used to be attended by Royal when on exercise in Pickel Meadows. Evidently it's tried and tested and still works...though i wonder how long it'll be before the PC/animal welfare/Richard North group get on the case and demand an "MRAP"/V-bottomed donkey....
:D

He'll be an expert on that as well then!
 
#7
I met an Indian copper while in Croatia with the UN, back home he was in charge of the police elephant squad, beat that one! imagine stable duties there.
 
#8
There was still a mule troop in Hong Kong in the early seventies at least.

On exercise in the New Territories one summer one of the buggers died of heat exhaustion. The stink and flies at the check point where poor Muffin lay was truly 'orrible.

GrandadsMOB

PS Is it still the case that Muffin the Mule is a sexual offence :?
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#10
We sent a lad on the course in 85 for our tour in the Falklands, no mules but a fun course allegedly.
 
#11
affectionately know as the ass-packing course!
 
#12
Didn't a British Cavalry unit in the Balkans end up patrolling on horseback?
 
#13
a good chum of mine, ex Household division, waxes lyrical about when he trained with the Selous scouts and fired 66's when on horseback, also lying the horses down to fire the gimpy over the top - lone ranger eat your heart out!!
 
#14
14th Army used thousands of mules in Burma in WWII, but learned to cut their vocal cords 'cos they were so noisy.

Some of a certain age might remember the 'Out of Town' programme on Sundays with Jack Hargreaves. There's an episode on DVD where Jack watches an old RAVC vet do the op at a horse sanctuary sometime in the early 1980's. Apparently the vet once did 200 mules in one go on the docks in India, missed one, and it later got 20 men killed.

(I'm not that old. My dad's a Jack hargreaves fan)
 
#15
HectortheInspector said:
14th Army used thousands of mules in Burma in WWII, but learned to cut their vocal cords 'cos they were so noisy.

Some of a certain age might remember the 'Out of Town' programme on Sundays with Jack Hargreaves. There's an episode on DVD where Jack watches an old RAVC vet do the op at a horse sanctuary sometime in the early 1980's. Apparently the vet once did 200 mules in one go on the docks in India, missed one, and it later got 20 men killed.

(I'm not that old. My dad's a Jack hargreaves fan)
I read somewhere that the mule silencing operations didn't always work, some poor squaddy would be leading a loaded mule up and down some hellish mountains, Japs everywhere...'Eeyore Eeyore...' Then they'd have to work out what to do with both load and noisy mule...
 
#16
creepy said:
a good chum of mine, ex Household division, waxes lyrical about when he trained with the Selous scouts and fired 66's when on horseback, also lying the horses down to fire the gimpy over the top - lone ranger eat your heart out!!
Grey's Scouts surely!?
 
#17
para_medic said:
creepy said:
a good chum of mine, ex Household division, waxes lyrical about when he trained with the Selous scouts and fired 66's when on horseback, also lying the horses down to fire the gimpy over the top - lone ranger eat your heart out!!
Grey's Scouts surely!?
According to Dennis Croukamp in his excellent 'The Bush War in Rhodesia', the Selous Scouts experimented with cavalry/mounted infantry at Reid-Daly's instigation, in order to capitalise on the calibre of men in the Scouts and the proven effectiveness of the cav/MI approach, as demonstrated by Grey's Scouts. IIRC, Grey's Scouts ended up with the role because of blinkered thinking and hidebound attitudes on the part of the non-SF types.
 
#18
auscam said:
para_medic said:
creepy said:
a good chum of mine, ex Household division, waxes lyrical about when he trained with the Selous scouts and fired 66's when on horseback, also lying the horses down to fire the gimpy over the top - lone ranger eat your heart out!!
Grey's Scouts surely!?
According to Dennis Croukamp in his excellent 'The Bush War in Rhodesia', the Selous Scouts experimented with cavalry/mounted infantry at Reid-Daly's instigation, in order to capitalise on the calibre of men in the Scouts and the proven effectiveness of the cav/MI approach, as demonstrated by Grey's Scouts. IIRC, Grey's Scouts ended up with the role because of blinkered thinking and hidebound attitudes on the part of the non-SF types.
Perhaps they should have tethered their opinions more often?
 
#19
Dunservin said:
auscam said:
para_medic said:
creepy said:
a good chum of mine, ex Household division, waxes lyrical about when he trained with the Selous scouts and fired 66's when on horseback, also lying the horses down to fire the gimpy over the top - lone ranger eat your heart out!!
Grey's Scouts surely!?
According to Dennis Croukamp in his excellent 'The Bush War in Rhodesia', the Selous Scouts experimented with cavalry/mounted infantry at Reid-Daly's instigation, in order to capitalise on the calibre of men in the Scouts and the proven effectiveness of the cav/MI approach, as demonstrated by Grey's Scouts. IIRC, Grey's Scouts ended up with the role because of blinkered thinking and hidebound attitudes on the part of the non-SF types.
Perhaps they should have tethered their opinions more often?
Maybe they were in season and bred indiscriminately.
 

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