October 31, 2016 at 9:31 am #101415
There have been several threads talking about various issues so I wanted to combine them all here and expand a little more about the subject.
Good fieldcraft is the art and science of operating “in the bush” as we used to say. After several decades of urban warfare a lot of the older T,T,P’s have seemingly been lost. Depending on your terrain and situation, you may find yourself patrolling in a more pastoral environment (Grunts: out in the boonies). So I would like to share with you some tips for patrolling in the woodlands.
First of all, uniform. We have seen all manner of cammies in the last few decades, with many changes. I still prefer the old school BDU cammies, because they don’t have all that Velcro. Instead you get old school buttons. This is important because you need to start culling all this Velcro from your uniforms and equipment. The reason is you are now on your own, or with a small group. You don’t have big army to back you up. So you need to start incorporating more stealth into your SOP. You have to operate like a small recce team, not a company moving to contact. In other words, you are trying to avoid the shit, not looking for it.
Now, that being said, there are a couple of things that I do like about ACU style. The “preacher” collar works best in the bush, and I like shoulder pockets for E&E gear. These are simple mods we used to do and can still be done, on home sewing machines.
BDU style cammies are still available from both Propper, and Tru Spec. And in fact are usually cheaper. So you can still get practically any cammo pattern you want. There are also many different material combos out there. I am partial to ripstop Nyco- 50-50 nylon-cotton, which is a good blend of strength and comfort. You might find poly-cotton works very well in hot, humid environments. 100% cotton works OK in very arid climates (or extreme cold) with low humidity, otherwise I’d avoid it. Whatever you choose, I find the rip stop weaves are more durable.
Which brings us cammo. Guys, in all honesty, cammo has become more of a fashion statement, that designates branch of service, more so than any superior value in the bush. Use whatever suits your terrain and sit, but don’t get wrapped around the axle. I’ve known guys that fixated on the subject, always trying out new patterns, looking for the ultimate cammo. Truth is a good solid color, like coyote brown works just about as good as any Gucci pattern out there. Also, I like the concept of mixing and matching different items/colors for a camo effect. Especially an earth-tone trou, with a foliage colored jacket. If you added an OCP/multicam chest rig, ruck, and hat (or ghillie hood), for instance, you’d be in pretty good shape.
Now how to wear this stuff. If the chance of enemy contact is high, the collar should be done up, and the sleeves rolled down. Yes this is different from all those goofy Hollywood movies you’ve seen. Even if you have big boobs, they need to be covered up. The jacket is not usually tucked into the trou, especially in hot weather. We did not blouse or pants into our boots either, but this is an optional thing. I would just lightly tie the drawstrings so the pants could slide up and down my boots as I moved. This keeps from tearing out the knees.
I like a light nylon pants belt, with a low pro buckle, so it’s sits under a belt kit well. Something like 1 1/2″ nylon webbing with a tri-glide buckle.
Mods. As previously mentioned, we used to mod our cammies. The collar can be easily cut down, from “fly-away” style, to a “preacher” collar. Velcro is optional. I found that it wasn’t usually necessary; we used the OD triangular bandage out the first aid kit as a jungle scarf/ field expedient TQ, so it usually held the collar in place, but allowed a little breathing room for your neck as well.
We usually removed the chest pockets and placed them on the shoulders. Then the hip pockets were placed on the chest. This is because the hip pockets are bigger and work better on the chest, whereas the chest pockets are smaller, and work perfectly on the arms. So yeah, easier to do than to describe. Out SOP was as follows: Left chest pocket: compass on lanyard; Right chest pocket: notebook, pen, “pen” light (all on laynards) I might also lanyard a small folding knife here; Left shoulder: General E&E kit: paracord, wire, tape, signaling kit, etc.; Right shoulder: Medical E&E kit: meds, bandages, ointment, etc. Maybe some hard candy for energy. Left cargo pocket: map in WP baggie; Right cargo pocket: Hat, gloves, as needed. Soldiers have gotten into the habit of carrying all this stuff in assault packs. If you run a chest rig, like the MVT Patrol, Responder, or 3X, you can also carry some of these items in utility pouches in front of your mags, instead of chest pockets. There are loops for dummy cords in each pouch so you can still tie off laynards to critical items. But the point being, having these things on you, where you can reach them, and making sure they don’t get lost.
A quick word on underwear or 1st layer gear. Lots of guys went commando in the bush; I think the modern day compression wear is the way to go. Think tri or bike style shorts. With a synthetic t-shirt. Wool socks work the best, IMHO. Followed by synthetic blends. Avoid cotton.
Hats. Practically anything will do. Ball caps for GP, or bush hats for tougher terrain and weather. Sewing a cut-down signal panel inside makes it easier to identify friend or foe out there, as you become separated for any reason. Just have a running numbers code and open and close the hat to flash it. Lot better than stage whispering “Hey Buddy, Is That YOU?” A piece of Velcro on the back makes it easy to use ranger eyes, of either luminous or IR tape. Set about 1/2″ apart they can help you maintain about a 10m spacing on patrol. When they blur to one bar, you’re too far back.
Gloves. Can be handy out there. Keeps you from having to re-apply camo crème all the time. We used to use the nomex flight gloves, because the gauntlet covers your wrists well. Mechanix gloves are also very good. If you don’t wear them, make sure and camo your hands. They are like signal panels.
Boots. Very individual thing here. You gotta get what fits and works for you. Some guys can wear USGI, which is great cuz there relatively cheap and available. Some guys need civvie hiking boots, for specific fit issues. Get whatever it takes to make your feet happy. Forget about style or what unit wears what boot. Really.
But a word about gortex. It is not the be-all end-all you were led to believe. Yes it works in some climes. Like out west, in cooler climes with infrequent rain, yeah drive on. But for hot, humid climes, with frequent rains (and/or blue lines) I find that NON-gtx boots work much better. That’s because non-gtx boots dry out MUCH faster, which means you can cycle from wet to dry much faster, in many cases over-night, rather than the multiple days it takes a gtx boot to dry out. So I would hazard to guess that for most guys, a non-gtx boot is going to work better for you, for a general purpose boot. I use Seal Skin gtx socks in conjunction with non-gtx boots, for when I need some WP pro on my feet. Note: in pouring down rain, you need a gtx gaitor to keep water from running down into the tops of your boots, defeating any WP pro you may have. The rain soaks right through your trou and runs down into your boots. A gaitor will not completely stop this, but slows it way down. You need a complete rain suit for extended ops. Gtx boots/socks only protect you from water on the ground!
Windproof Smock. This is something alien to a lot of folks on this side of the pond. Max has written extensively about it, but I will re-iterate it here. For a lot of times out in the field, including a lot of the lighter/intermittent rains, a wind-poof smock actually works much better than a gtx parka. The smock concept uses a lighter poly-cotton blend to protect from wind and rain, without the totally non-breathable gtx layer (regardless of what they say, this shit doesn’t breath). You’re trying to balance the sweat versus rain factor here. You’re gonna be wet, one way or the other, the key is to manage the moisture with breathable, wicking layers, versus just locking it in. Again, much like the boots, you are going to get wet, BUT, you will dry out much faster. You only need the hard shell/ gtx layers if you are stationary or if it’s really pouring down, and you might get chilled from it.
October 31, 2016 at 10:17 am #101416
Now lets move on to your fighting load-out, or 2d layer gear as it were. Lots of choices here, and again Max has written extensively about it. I will try and hit some fieldcraft notes here.
In general, light is right. Ounces become pounds, pounds become pain. Keep this in mind when assembling your kit. You will thank me later.
There was a concern about solid color lines on your kit. I think we have put that to bed. But a few additional comments. Back in the day, we used woodland (or actually jungle) pattern cammies, with solid color OD green kit, for the most part. And yes, we occasionally camo’d it up with everything from shoe polish to mud. But in general we had solid color belt kit, and ruck straps across our bods and never once did I hear anyone say, “hey look at that 1″ solid OD strap on that guy”. Really.
Also, I remember back when MarPat was being R&D’d, the idea was the average bear cannot discern a 1″ square at 100m. So the pattern was developed to fuzz or blur out at that distance. The same principle applies to molle webbing. Unless you’re in your back yard shooting you-tube vids about camo, the solid color lines on your kit are a non-issue.
Try and minimize Velcro on your kit. Same as your uniform, this stuff is not recommended for small unit field ops. When we designed MVT gear, we went to great lengths to minimize all use of Velcro.
Tuck tab closures are highly recommended, versus all manner of Velcro, snaps, or buckles. They operate silently, one-handed, in low or no light. They will not break, wear out, or clog with mud or snow.
Tape down those webbing ends! When you get things adjusted, roll up the webbing ends and tape them down. It keeps them from flying around in the wind, snagging on everything, and makes a nice fat pull tab.
Ready mag pouches. Ideally, you want something that’s really quick to access, yet has good retention, and is easy to “plus up”. So an open-top mag, with a kydex insert, works pretty good here.
Hydration systems. Whether it’s attached to your chest rig or assault pack, makes sure and cover the hose, and secure the hose routing with elastic, one-wraps, and/or tape. The uncovered hose will glint from a long way off. The hose will snag on bush and even possibly affect your mag changes.
Cammo colors. Your choice here. The Jar heads use solid color coyote brown (oh the horror!) on all their kit, which works well in damn-near any environment. Issue OCP/multicam is still available if you look hard enough. Commercial pattern stuff- your choice. Not totally necessary to match every last accessory in your ensemble. Max likes solid color coyote brown. And for us, this makes a lot of sense.
The key here is to arrange your kit in a way that helps you fight, rather than gets in the way. After attending classes at MVT you should have a pretty good idea on what works and what doesn’t for you. Depending on your level of skill, this might not have even been on your radar when you first showed up, but you then you discovered what makes a ready mag quick to do a reload from (and also quick to plus back up). You discovered you were carrying way too much shit, or where you placed it wasn’t optimal.
I like the concept of working from my “office space”, like right in front of my face. I like my mags on center line, within easy reach, especially when proned out. I find this gives me much better situational awareness, of both enemy and friendly, as I don’t have to shift focus to the belt line. You can glance at your mags in a chest rig and still be keeping your focus outboard on what’s going on out there.
October 31, 2016 at 10:37 am #101417
And finally weapons. There was another thread about painting your rifle recently. This has become a separate art form on line. I would daresay they are millions of photos of guy’s paint jobs. And then there are all those guys who wouldn’t dare defile the finish of their collector piece for fear of reducing re-sale value.
As usual, the truth lies somewhere in between. Yes, your rifle needs to be cammied. No you don’t need a fancy pattern that would do an art student proud. For most guys, a spray can job is gonna do just fine. Yes it will wear off, but two things. The black underneath merely adds to the disruptive pattern. And it’s really simple to touch it up, usually on an annual basis.
Sling. I like a quick-adjustable Two Point sling. The Viking Tactics slings are damn-near the perfect deal, IMHO. Tape those sling ends. Tape the swivels.
Tape the muzzle. This is a lost technique. The first time you are crossing a creek bed and plant your muzzle in the mud, the light bulb will go on. Tape across the front first, Then wrap around the sides, leaving a slight gap in back for the bbl to “breath”.
If your weapon has been out all night, condensation will form in the morning. It’s not a bad idea to crack the chamber, inspecting for loaded round before “stand-to” in the morning. I’m not sure if hydro-static pressure could really seal the chamber causing a malfunction, but don’t see how it could hurt.
If crossing a blue line and your rifle becomes submerged, crack the bolt (well actually the bolt carrier key) and let any water run out of the gas tube. Do this by buddy teams, according to your SOP.
Keep a small paintbrush, with cut-down handle to clean the lens of your RDS each morning or as needed. Extra cleaning patches will also work but be careful about scratching.
October 31, 2016 at 11:33 am #101418wheelseeParticipant
THIS^^….. Information above is gold….. like in medicine, it’s these “little” things that aren’t found in any manual or textbook but only through experience…..
Thank you Diz
October 31, 2016 at 12:36 pm #101419Brian from GeorgiaParticipant
Good stuff Diz.
October 31, 2016 at 1:39 pm #101420JamisonParticipant
Good stuff, thanks for posting this, some of this stuff is great for reminders!! Thanks for distilling all of this into one thread.
October 31, 2016 at 2:44 pm #101421zeerfParticipant
Great info DiznNC,
Just when I thought I was getting more comfortable with my setup for my upcoming CTT training you give me at least 3 other things to try out! I know my kit won’t be perfect but it will be in MUCH better shape thanks to posts like this and others I have read over.
Thank you for taking the time and posting this in one easy to mark post.
October 31, 2016 at 6:34 pm #101422RoadkillParticipant
I totally agree on the goretex issue. Goretex holds in the sweat.
November 1, 2016 at 3:58 am #101423WeberParticipant
Great post Diz! This is especially good info for first time students for CTT or CP.
November 1, 2016 at 8:12 am #101424
A couple of other things for class and real patrolling. Keep a small oiler bottle in an admin pouch on your chest rig or belt kit. With a bore snake in your pistol grip (such as a Magpul MOE) you have a basic kit to keep your rifle running.
Mags get lost in the bush. For training put some bright colored tape on them.
Remember your safety. It’s easy to get wound up in training and forget to put it back on.
Be mindful of you muzzle. Practice active muzzle awareness. At MVT it’s muzzle down, always.
Don’t fixate on any one thing. Some guys get behind the gun and just tunnel out. Think: sights, where’s my buddies, where’s the enemy, in a constant loop.
So it’s like this: You move into position, locate the enemy, sights, squeeze trigger. Then where’s my buddies? Weapon on safe, up and moving. You’re down again, thinking about where you are in relation to your team. Then where’s the enemy. Sight in and fire.
You will learn all this in class. Just remember not to fixate on any one thing. Don’t shoot more than 1 or 2 (3 max) rds before getting your face out the sight and seeing or hearing what’s going on around you.
When you have to change a mag, don’t rush it! You will be quicker doing it once, with deliberate movement, than rushing around and fumbling it. It only takes a few seconds.
One of the top malfunctions in class is not getting the mag fully seated. You will fire one round and CLICK. The mag may or may not fall out. Remember to PULL on the mag once it’s seated. If this does happen, remember, tap, rack, bang.
Don’t just make noise. Aim in and hit the target with effective fire. If your enemy is half-way committed, you may scare him off with just rifle fire. If he is fully committed, you will have to hit him with well aimed shots to put him down.
Remember, you have a team of at least 3 other guys with you. That’s 4 rifles in the fight, 120 rds before any mag change. You don’t have to go cyclic. Fire at a sustained rate. Like take a breath, let it out, squeeze the trigger. Boom. Take a breath, let it out, squeeze the trigger. Maybe every 2-3 seconds. If you’re running hard, take two breaths and then squeeze in.
Be a good team mate. Put out hard on every evolution. Encourage your buddies. Stay switched on.
November 1, 2016 at 9:25 am #101425farmerParticipant
Thank you for these posts. Please keep them coming. I think it is a good style- short, quick reminders
November 1, 2016 at 10:25 am #101426
Great stuff, Diz. Keep ’em coming.
November 1, 2016 at 10:31 am #101427wildbillParticipant
A couple of other things for class and real patrolling. Keep a small oiler bottle in an admin pouch on your chest rig or belt kit. With a bore snake in your pistol grip (such as a Magpul MOE) you have a basic kit to keep your rifle running…..
Everything Diz has posted so far in this thread is pour gold not just in general as in post SHTF but also for Max’s classes. I just attended CTT for the second time this past weekend with a great group of guys and the section of this tread that I pulled this quote from is EXACTLY what you need to do — period!
Read that section above again and again and know this THAT is exactly what it will take for you to really get the most out of training.
.. a well lubed gun that stays running so you are learning what Max is trying to teach you and NOT constantly trying to keep your gun running.
.. SAFETY SAFETY SAFETY — this is a hallmark of Max’s classes.
.. do not get sucked into IVAN (Max’s name for his targets) be constantly aware of where your buddy and team is at ALL times.
And if you haven’t trained with Max yet then what are you waiting for?
November 1, 2016 at 1:21 pm #101428
On patrolling, walk as fast as you can scan the surrounding area. No slower, no faster. When you have a team SOP, you may be assigned a certain sector to scan. Like first guy forward, second guy always left, third guy right, last man cover the rear. With an 8-man patrol, alternate with the last man tail-end Charlie. Here again, it’s a continuous loop. Look where you’re placing your feet, scan your sector, tie in with your buddies (for and aft). Swivel your head not your rifle. Maintain good muzzle control.
Carry some cough drops in a baggie. Coughing and clearing your throat is not acceptable on patrol. Just one day out in the field can make you cough if you’re not used to the area. When you prone out in the woods sometimes, there is this dusty crap from all the leaves n shit that can get in your throat. Cough drops, hard candy, etc. will help you push it down.
A small red or green LED micro light is very handy in the bush. When you just a need a little light under your basha, and shielded by your ruck, to read a map, look at a watch schedule, read or write a patrol order, etc. That 1,000 lumen Surefire light is a little over-kill in this situation. I keep one dummy-corded with my notebook and pen.
Jet boil stoves are the shit, but are way over-kill for short patrols. A small fold up “Nesbit” stove does the job perfectly. A fold up stove, and a few heat tabs, will heat water for coffee and freeze-dried meals, with minimum heat and light signature. Just make a little scrape for it, to keep the flames below round level ideally, and heat your stuff up. The jet boil is awesome but I swear it looks and sounds like a Titan IV launch.
Pre-attach bungees to each corner of your basha. Mash the hook down so it stays on. This will save much time and bs in patrol base. Yes para cord works but takes much more time and effort. You want to think in terms of getting it up and down quickly with minimum fuss. This is how to do it.
Don’t worry about having individual stuff sacks for everything like civvie back packers. Have one big ruck liner, and stuff your sleep system down into the bottom, followed by your basha and bungees. These are things that need to come in and out quickly. A separate small bag for spare clothes is ok, as it gets this stuff out of the way, along with a food sack. Additional clothing layers are just “ranger rolled” and fit in the nooks and crannies. Close up the WP liner bag, and put wet weather gear on top, right under the top flap. Your top flap should have some kind of zip compartment for admin items, such as wash kit, TP, small tool/ cleaning kit, etc.
This stuff will get re-arranged as you work in and out of it in patrol base. It’s no big deal really, as it’s mostly rolled soft goods so the order it gets thrown in there is a non-issue. It cracks me up to see all these threads on ruck packing on line, with their perfect little ADD lay outs. As long as your hydro bladder is against your back, along with any additional ammo or heavy shit, you’re GTG. You may prefer additional ammo already in mags, in storage pouches on the outside. That’s fine; my suggestion would be to keep them as close to your back (on the sides of the ruck) as possible, I also prefer then down low, towards my CG or center of gravity but you might have to play with that one.
If you run NV’s get the Crye Night Cap. With a ballistic helmet, it’s very difficult to prone out on watch and scan with them. With the Night Cap you’re GTG. Very little weight and bulk. Use a battery counter-weight pouch on back. Makes all the difference.
November 1, 2016 at 2:13 pm #101429Short StrokeParticipant
Does anyone have a specific red pen light that they recommend?
November 1, 2016 at 5:49 pm #101430
November 1, 2016 at 6:07 pm #101431Short StrokeParticipant
Thanks. And so you just tie it down with paracord?
November 1, 2016 at 6:50 pm #101432
Yes, stripped paracord. Pull out the inner threads and fuse the ends.
November 2, 2016 at 7:26 am #101433
Yeah those little micro lights are the shit. I have a green LED one now cuz it fits with NV. You can also use the smaller survival kit dummy cord which comes in coyote brown.
Also if you can find it, the pilot’s “finger” light is very good. A green LED as well. Just remove the finger tape if you want and re-string with survival kit cord. Uses a 357 batt which is fairly common.
November 2, 2016 at 9:17 am #101434wheelseeParticipant
Yes, stripped paracord. Pull out the inner threads and fuse the ends.
I’m a bit confused….. Use the empty sheath or the individual strands??
November 2, 2016 at 10:32 am #101435
I’m a bit confused….. Use the empty sheath or the individual strands??
You use the outer sheath. It is plenty strong enough for a dummy cord, and is not as fat as the entire enchilada. I have a stripped loop attached to the front sling loop on my AK, which the sling attaches to and easily supports the weight of the rifle, and holds up to heat.
November 3, 2016 at 7:19 am #101436
Otherwise known as “gutted” 550 cord. Yeah I do that as well if you need to reduce bulk. Like replacing zipper pulls. I don’t like the jangly metal zipper pulls so I cut them out and use gutted 550 cord on the smaller ones, and the whole cord on the bigger ones. It will work in a lot of apps, but sometimes the smaller survival kit cord works better.
In this case, I don’t worry about getting mil-spec 550 cord; the commercial spec stuff is just fine since I’m only using the mantle.
September 17, 2019 at 7:54 pm #119995thotpatrollingParticipant
Super stoked to have found this thread … this is the recce bible \
Ive always been against all the velcro in modern equipment and also having done tons of alpine ice climbing and alpine mountaineering I can say that the times you would want/need gortex are surprisingly few … We go very veryyyyy minimalist (our load outs would terrify a lot of military folks) and just keep moving
Like he said youre going to be soaked in some fashion its about how fast you dry out… Embrace the suck – type 2 kind of fun.
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