Gear: Patrol Packs & Sustainment Loads – The 'Combat Patrol Lecture'

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    • #92030

        Texas 6 Day 2016

        This post is derived from the gear talk that I give as part of Combat Patrol Classes (CP). If you have not attended this class, you really should – the prerequisite is Combat Team Tactics (CTT), which is really the MVT ‘basic training class.’ CP really moves you on to a higher level of training, with patrolling, patrol base, recce, ambush, and raid which are staples of any irregular warfare situation – not to mention the utility of knowing how operations may be conducted against you, and the training on Ground Domination Activity (GDA) security patrolling in order to protect your area.

        There is much nuance in this post, which may or may not translate well across the medium of the internet. As usual, I see much nonsense out there. Many people get hung up, for example, when watching a class training video, with the exact terrain the class took place in. Well, not only do you not always get to choose your ideal terrain, but either way these TTP’s are the same, just adapted to the specific environment. It is about training the basics, and adapting, rather than becoming focused on, or limited by, whatever terrain the class took place in. Terrain at classes is just a different flavor. Small Unit Tactics (SUT) is simply SUT, adapted specifically to the operating environment.

        In this same vein, people like to criticize training that takes place in the woods, not understanding that what is being taught is SUT, in a certain training environment (and I don’t have a range in the city). If these basics are applied for real, one would hope that they would be adapted to the environment and common sense applied. But related to this is the notion from some that the woods are not important, and that all conflict will take place in the city. Well, if you want to be there to take part in it, that is your choice! I would argue that you need to make best use of rural areas – you are either there patrolling and defending a retreat or community, or you are moving back out there after an operation in an urban or suburban area.  Obviously you can’t conduct operations entirely in the woods, if your enemy is not there, unless of course your whole goal is avoidance. If you wish to conduct operations against an enemy that is in an urban or suburban environment, then it stands to reason that you must go there to conduct them. But you don’t have to live there. Mission, or METT-TC, dependent.

        Many preppers can take full advantage of rural areas by simply being there to avoid any conflict in urban areas. If you decide you must partake in any conflict, for whatever reason or cause, then you may either have to operate, evade and defend in rural areas, or you may have to move out of them to conduct short term operations. Which brings me back to the point about these classes teaching you SUT that can be applied in any environment. Fire and movement and squad tactics learned at MVT in the woods of West Virginia equally apply in a suburban environment. If you wish to enter and clear structures, then this adds another dimension which is covered by the Citizen Close Combat (C3) Classes, which applies equally to a lone farmhouse in the woods.  But be aware that the urban combat environment is extremely dangerous and casualty intensive, so my advice is go there if you think it necessary, conduct the raid or ambush, and then get out into the rural areas again.

        If you do specifically want to be trained on your home terrain, then look into a remote class which can be held at your location: CLICK HERE FOR INFO.

        This whole topic is related to gear. There is a whole lot of nonsense on the prepper internet community about ‘Bug out bags’ (BOB) and such sayings as ‘two is one and one is none’ etc. It’s all nonsense. Many expect, when they come to class, for me to get them to pack some huge ruck with a whole lot of gear in. Items for all occasions! They are often disappointed. Consider this (Fun spoiler alert – PT is involved!):

        • You must pack as light as possible in order to retain practical mobility.
        • Although you may have a common ‘standard’ basic load, you must pack METT-TC dependent: mission, weather, environment, duration of patrol, season etc.
        • If it is too heavy, you will become tired, lazy and ineffective.
        • Sadly the above is related to PT and mindset.
        • If it is too heavy, in a contact you will dump it and never see it again.


        • If you are to operate as light infantry, which is really what people mean with this talk of going all ‘G’ and unconventional warfare-ish, then you need to carry a basic load.
        • Operating as ‘light as possible’ is never actually ‘light’ when we consider what we need to carry to operate in such a situation i.e:
          • Rifle
          • Basic ammo load on person – 8 mags.
          • Immediate resupply ammo load – 4-6 mags (patrol pack)
          • Handgun ammo?
          • Small IFAK.
          • Water
          • Food / snacks
          • Night vision gear?
          • Weather dependent clothing
          • Ballistic plates (yes, please)
          • Radio batteries
          • Misc items
        • This means that we will already be somewhat weighed down by gear. We will also most likely be carrying some type of, even if small, patrol pack for this load in addition to whatever belt or chest rig setup you are wearing. . This may be a small daypack/hydration carrier affair, which you will need if you are ever more than a couple of yards away from either your base, or vehicle.
        • If what you carry is too heavy, you will become exhausted and lose alertness, thus take the easy option every time = complacency = death.
        • If you carry a heavy ruck load, you will end up having to drop it in an emergency or contact situation, thus losing all your gear.
        • Some weather conditions, such as extreme heat or cold, have unavoidable realities for gear carriage if going out for any extended period of time, or perhaps for overnight. This means that you will be unable to ‘go light’ in these situations if you plan to be out overnight or for more than 24 hours. ‘Travel light, freeze at night’ becomes foolish in these circumstances, and the other adage that ‘any fool can be uncomfortable (or die of exposure)’ becomes more relevant.

        The realities are now starting to crowd in on us, and we realize that our BOB /ruck is too heavy to be practical, and would likely result in our exhaustion, or dropping it at the first sign of trouble, and that our PT is probably not up to scratch anyway. ‘Two is one, and one is none’ results in a BOB that we can’t, or won’t, carry. As far as bugging out anyway, you may have your BOB squared away, but what about the kids? Grandma? We start to get into nonsense territory, where BOB(s)  are really just car bags if you have to drive out in a hurry from a  natural disaster, and thus not tactically practical loads.

        We are now realizing that:

        • ‘Light’ isn’t really light, and thus we should try and minimize our loads as much as practical for the mission.
        • Why are we even out there? Are we planning on living for weeks out of a patrol base? Or perhaps just going out for a short (as possible) mission? However big your ruck, if you are out for long enough, you will need resupply.
        • Thus operations need logistical support, and a plan that does not involve you trying to patrol and conduct operations while struggling around like mules.
        • Thus mission analysis and planning.
        • If we need to carry sustainment gear for something of longer duration, perhaps an Observation Post (OP) patrol, then the following applies:
          • If you have to carry a heavy ruck, pack your patrol pack ‘grab bag’ with essential items and have it attached to the top of the ruck (under the top flap works) ready to be grabbed and run if a contact forces you to drop the heavy ruck.
          • If you can think of any other way to bring in heavy/sustainment gear, use your intellect. Can you move rations to a cache / patrol base using vehicles or ATV/UTV? Can you incorporate vehicles into the operation anyway? It’s not all about humping gear – use your brain and plan. Perhaps you are manning a long term OP, so you have supplies moved into a cache, to which you can send short patrols periodically to resupply you in the OP?

        I have the following recommendations:

        • Use a smaller ‘day pack,’ something like a hydration pack with pouches or small patrol pack, for when out on patrol close to your base or vehicles. This would carry the immediate items mentioned above, with space for snacks/lunch etc. This would be added on the back of the chest rig / battle belt concept outlined in the video below, whether or not you are wearing ballistic plates:


        • You are therefore not going to be unrealistic about the weight you carry on normal security patrols. Remember that as the weather gets hotter, you need more water, and the thought of humping this gear (plates?) will deter you and make you lazy. It’s a balance between going light on the one hand, and having enough gear to do the job and operate in a contact situation on the other. How far out are you going from the retreat? Are you out over dawn/dusk on patrol and thus need to take NV gear on / off and stow it, etc?
        • For operations that are going to be overnight or for a longer duration, try to plan to be mobile with nothing more than a ‘three day pack’ larger-type patrol pack. This will hopefully allow you to remain alert, while remaining mobile in a  contact situation, and thus avoiding the need to drop it to bug out.
        • Although you will see modern infantry equipped with large heavy patrol packs, and operating under fire with them, and this is the reality, you still do not need to carry the same weight as they do. You do not have to carry much of the gear that a soldier on deployment may have to carry – heavy radios and similar equipment, mortar rounds etc. So apply the balance to this. Your gear is still going to be a hump, but it doesn’t want to be too much. In fact, much ‘overnight gear’ is in fact bulky, but not that heavy – think sleeping bags and tarps etc.
        • Purchase decent gear that is where possible small and light but gets the job done. I talk about specific gear brands for classes on the Combat Patrol Class page. Balance minimalism against practical living in the field. Weather has much to do with this.
        • If you can move loads for resupply using vehicles, then do so, as long as it is tactically sound for the operation.

        What kind of gear goes in a 3 day patrol pack? This is not an exhaustive list, but some suggestions. This is assuming at least one overnight where you have to sleep out on the ground. Much of this gear is for ‘personal administration’ purposes and for keeping you going in the field. It stands to reason that the shorter, rougher and dirtier your patrol, the less you need of this. Again, you can get away with a lot in the summer, if you have water, that you cannot get away with in the winter months:

        • Spare ammo in mags – perhaps 4-6 magazines.
          • This is to immediately resupply if you have a break contact and use some of your mags.
          • For specific operations i.e. ambush / raid you will need more because you will use more as part of the planned  ‘action on the objective.’.
        • Water bladders / hydration carriers / Camelbak – the number defined by season, patrol duration and water availability.
        • Means to purify water resupply into the bladder(s).
        • Rations: if MRE, strip down. Two MREs per person per day are sufficient, stripped down.
          • Morning and evening meal entrees, rest of the time eat snacks.
        • Cooker: see above for type of rations. SOLO stove with pot burns twigs as well as solid fuel tablets if you want, and can be used to heat water for rations, purification and also for hot drinks (morale).
          • Dehydrated rations are lighter but require more water to prepare.
          • For shorter term operations, you can consider leaving cookers and heavy rations behind and eating convenience  rations such as meal bars and MREs etc.
        • Suitable trash bag, to bag and carry out ration trash (Ziplock).
        • Waterproof/canoe type bags for inside (and perhaps securely outside i.e. sleeping system) the patrol pack, to keep everything together / separate and dry.
        • Seasonal sleeping bag.
        • Bivvy Bag
        • Tarp / MVT SHIELD – use bungees / paracord /lightweight tent pegs to erect. If shortage of trees, consider shelter half poles.
        • ‘Thermarest’ style ‘self inflating’ sleeping mat – 3/4 length is fine.
          • Without which all your body heat will disappear into the earth.
          • Will fold down and stow away nicely.
        • Foot care:
          • Spare socks
          • Foot powder
          • Blister kit
        • Seasonal spare clothing / rain gear (‘snivel gear’).
        • Beanie hat / gloves.
        • In the heat, consider at least a spare t-shirt/combat shirt to change into.
        • Folding saw.
        • Small Medical kit with limited medications – anti- inflammatory etc, for less than trauma situations.
        • Bug / tick  spray.
        • Garden trowel to dig cat holes for poop.
        • Baby wipes / hand sanitizer.
          • Wipes better than TP.
        • Lip balm.
        • Vaseline / petroleum jelly or specific anti-monkey-butt glide cream.
          • consider wearing spandex type or well fitting boxer briefs to cut down on chafing. Wear well fitting pants that do not chafe the seam between the thighs.
          • This still won’t stop the chafe between your butt crack in certain environments, this is where the Vaseline comes in (yeah, yeah, chortle chortle)
          • Don’t use the Vaseline on your butt and then your lips……
          • Chaffing will mess up your patrol….’nuff said.
        • Lightweight litter or equivalent – one per patrol.
        • I’m not going to get off into patrol medic /specialization stuff and all that.
        • Hard candy – coughs and morale.
        • Mission specific gear: radios, batteries, wire cutters, bolt croppers, lights, flares, booby traps (don’t ask), binos, spotting scope, thermal device, chicken wire, burlap and camo for OPs…..etc….

        In the video below, from the recent Texas Patrol Class, we conducted a full overnight operation, including a patrol base and the works, before moving off in the early hours and laying the ambush. That is because it was a training class, designed to compress and teach aspects of a full operation. Clearly, if it was just the ambush we could have headed out and simply patrolled to the ORP overnight, and shivered in the ambush until it was sprung/or collapsed. Alternatively, it could have been a long way to the ambush site, requiring a long patrol and perhaps some rest stops along the way, whether just lay ups or full patrol bases. The exercise took place on a ranch in Texas, which is why it looked that way it did. A real operation ‘off the ranch’ might have involved vehicles moving either covertly on roads or cross country. The ambush could have been in a suburban or urban area, perhaps using buildings,. The patrol base or lay up could have been in a building, in certain circumstances. It’s all about applying the principles, as taught, to the situation. What if we had taken casualties or had exploited the ambush site and had gear to haul out? Maybe we could have had vehicles on call…….get the idea…..?

        Break – Break – Break

        Okay, as we can see, it starts to get detailed when you are thinking about spending time out in the boonies. So let’s engage the brain again and try to figure out why we are out there and for how long. If you are going out for a short term mission then you will want to spend as little time on the ground as possible which is balanced against the requirement to stay out there by the specifics of the mission that you have planned. If you are heading out to raid the cannibal bikers in the next village, you may head out, for example overnight, and attack at dawn, but you may not really be factoring in much of a planned rest/sleep i.e. patrol base or Lay Up. So you may go relativity light (there’s that misleading ‘light’ word again), loaded with ammo, water and any necessary food, and plan to just rest for an hour or two, having placed security, as necessary. That way, you are doing the whole ‘travel light, freeze at night’ deal. I have memories of having an hour or two to kill in places like the ORP while waiting for an op to kick off, and curling up shivering on top of my gear to get up off the ground, and nodding off for an hour or so. Think of the old jungle technique of sitting back to back with rucks on, taking a rest, etc. Perhaps sitting backs against trees….

        You may also be able to incorporate vehicles into the plan, particularly when thinking about ammo resupply and also casualty evacuation. If you can move closer to the objective tactically using vehicles in some manner, then do so, because it will help with your extraction / evacuation.


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