Water Crossings

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    • #115610
      TC
      Participant

        In reading the book First Sergeant recommended, “Infantry in Battle” (Third Edition, 1939) one thing that stood out is how many of the WWI missions/battles involved water crossings. One in particular went wrong when soldiers got entangled in barbed wire strung throughout the water, some drowning.

        Just looking at your AO, chances are there’s water to cross. Bridges may be down one day. Figured it would be a good idea to gather some tips, experiences, resources on what to know regarding water crossings. So if you have any thoughts on methods, gear considerations, gotchas, experiences, where to find more info, anything at all, looking forward to hearing it. :good:

      • #115611
        Joe (G.W.N.S.)
        Moderator

          I’ve touched on this in many threads. It’s a serious problem without training.

          Most here if you were to have them gear up as they envision their combat load, then have them jump in the deep end (over their head) they would either drown or lose most, if not all of their gear.

          That’s before even considering operations in and around water.

          I’ll see what I can dig up from the past, before going further.

          • #115632
            First Sergeant
            Moderator

              Did you ever find anything on how to pack a ruck for this. I have searched through all my stuff and can’t find it anywhere.

              FILO
              Signal Out, Can You Identify
              Je ne regrette rien
              In Orbe Terrum Non Visi

              • #115633
                Joe (G.W.N.S.)
                Moderator

                  No, we would have to recreate it ourselves.

                • #115641
                  Joe (G.W.N.S.)
                  Moderator

                    OK, for those that don’t know what First Sergeant and I are talking about. Awhile back Robert posted about Caches and his real world testing, prompting First Sergeant…

                    @Joe (G.W.N.S.), seeing your pic of floating caskets reminded me of the planning that went into underwater caches.

                    I love underwater caches.

                    Thought about a write up on them, but I suspect its too much for this format.

                    When I talk about packing my pack for neutral buoyancy most peoples eyes glass over.

                    Yeah, probably a little much here.

                    I thought everyone packed their ruck that way until I had some conversations with people that had no clue what I was talking about and that was still while on AD.

                    Then Tango asked First Sergeant about more information, since he couldn’t find anything online.

                    So this has been a “On the to do list.” item. ;-)

                    This is another of those lost in the GWOT things we sometimes mention.

              • #115646
                Joe (G.W.N.S.)
                Moderator

                  I am going to throw out some general comments I’ve made previously…

                  A much overlooked aspect of not just jungles, but any terrain with many bodies of water is drown proofing.

                  Anytime you are dealing with combat loads and water depths over your head or fast moving currents you must not only have gear prepped, but adequate training.

                  Historically many military personnel have drowned due to lack of training in water survival.

                  Even with proper training it is possible to get in over your head (pun intended).

                  Operation Urgent Fury, 4 Navy SEAL’s drowned during a water insertion under storm conditions. Say what you will about the Teams, but few are more qualified for such work and this demonstrates how important preparation along with knowing your own limitations.

                  This will be a general overview, but will go more in-depth in response to any questions.

                  I use dry bags to establish a neutral buoyancy for my pack, this requires experience through testing your load out. Keep in mind there is a difference between buoyancy in fresh and salt water. Your level of training and experience should dictate your buoyancy choice, less training should default to greater buoyancy.

                  There are a variety of Personal Flotation Devices (PFD’s) suitable for our purposes. New PFD’s are not inexpensive, used PFD’s are available, but need to be serviced and repaired if necessary. Anything short of extensive dry rot is easily repaired for the DIY individual. I would avoid auto inflation for maximum flexibility.

                  Mustang Survival Tactical Inflatable Side Pouch PFD

                  The low profile MD1250 provides flotation capability with minimum bulk or interference using separate, independently operated left and right side pouches. With the option to wear on a standard or padded LE belt or attach directly to Pouch Attachment Ladder System (PALS) webbing on Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment (MOLLE) vests, the MD1250 is a versatile solution for users who require emergency flotation with minimal bulk or interference with gear.

                  Mustang Survival Tactical Life Preserver

                  The Mustang Survival MD3196 is a compact life preserver that has been designed specifically for easy integration with body armor and tactical vests that use a MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) webbing system. The low-profile design provides flotation capability for body armor users, with minimal bulk or interference.

                  TFSS-777

                  Our TFSS-777 bladder was designed to fit the inside pocket of Rhodesian style vests where it can be manually inflated to offer enough buoyancy compensation when it is needed the most. The system consists of a black in color, reusable welded flotation bladder made of 200-denier nylon with an oral inflation tube. These units are ideal for use by any operator in or around water, where safety is a must.

                  These are just a few options.

                  Everyone here should get familiar with the improvised Poncho Raft.

                  Note: When conducting water survival training have qualified recovery personnel and a rescue line.

                  Not using ponchos, but a clear demonstration of the concept.

                  Since so few know, here’s something I’ve posted before.

                  Anytime you are dealing with combat loads and water depths over your head or fast moving currents you must not only have gear prepped, but adequate training.

                  Historically many military personnel have drowned due to lack of training in water survival.

                  Even with proper training it is possible to get in over your head (pun intended).

                  Operation Urgent Fury, 4 Navy SEAL’s drowned during a water insertion under storm conditions. Say what you will about the Teams, but few are more qualified for such work and this demonstrates how important preparation along with knowing your own limitations.

                  This will be a general overview, but will go more in-depth in response to any questions.

                  I use dry bags to establish a neutral buoyancy for my pack, this requires experience through testing your load out. Keep in mind there is a difference between buoyancy in fresh and salt water. Your level of training and experience should dictate your buoyancy choice, less training should default to greater buoyancy.

                  There are a variety of Personal Flotation Devices (PFD’s) suitable for our purposes. New PFD’s are not inexpensive, used PFD’s are available, but need to be serviced and repaired if necessary. Anything short of extensive dry rot is easily repaired for the DIY individual. I would avoid auto inflation for maximum flexibility.

                  See above.

                  It’s awfully embarrassing to prepare and acquire the skills MVT offers to end up drowning. :wacko:

                • #115648
                  Joe (G.W.N.S.)
                  Moderator

                    Now that we have some general stuff out of the way, we’ll see about getting into some specific “water crossing” information.

                    Remember like many things we discuss here, there is a lot more to it than most realize.

                    First we have the safety aspects, environmental factors to include hostile wildlife, and then we have the tactical considerations.

                  • #115701
                    wheelsee
                    Participant

                      Now that we have some general stuff out of the way, we’ll see about getting into some specific “water crossing” information.

                      Remember like many things we discuss here, there is a lot more to it than most realize.

                      First we have the safety aspects, environmental factors to include hostile wildlife, and then we have the tactical considerations.

                      Bolded for emphasis!!

                      My recommendation is to try this in a swimming pool, CLEAR water, that you can STAND in (and have your head above water). Lower yourself in the water and see what happens, adjust from there. May also be advisable to have a buddy there WITHOUT gear (while you are doing this) to provide a safety backup.

                      We (firefighters, old school, early 80s) were taught how to survive in a pond wearing all of our gear (bunker coat with 3/4 hip boots, and SCBA). We used what we had (a pond) but there were a few instances (no deaths, but could have EASILY been) that made the situations and learning more difficult. One never got over the fear of a near-drowning (he was one that could have been a funeral) and transferred to the Fire Marshal’s office – we didn’t know what we didn’t know……

                    • #115730
                      wesmc
                      Participant

                        These pack rafts only weigh 8-9 lbs and might be worth considering.

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                      • #115734
                        Max
                        Keymaster

                          So, yes, water crossing is historically an activity where people will actually die in the military. I saw a post maybe on IG from the group.us showing guys crossing a river and it was wrong. There are a couple of simple points that I can make here.

                          If the river is wadeable, then the simple technique is to cross using a stick/pole to help with stability, facing upstream into the current, and shuffling across the current, making sure you stay stable as you move. I have done this even in glacier streams flowing out of glaciers in Greenland.

                          Now, you may still stumble and fall. You can rope the team together, which is one option, and involves carrying a rope. That is the team roped together as they move, much like to see mountaineers do. Or, you send a swimmer across on the end of the rope, much like for a non-wadeable crossing.

                          There are a number of ways to get across a deep water crossing. Some of them are classic jungle / ranger school methods. I even recall learning the specific US Army way of doing a rope across a creek when running the ‘Sandhurst Cup’ at West Point. One of the events was a river crossing. It involved basic rope work, same the the rappelling with rope harness that also featured. All good old school ranger stuff. That was for an above water crossing on a rope, which has to be taken across by a swimmer. I always recall that they insisted we went into ‘river crossing mode’ by un-blousing pants and untucking shirts.

                          If you have to put a rope across, for an aerial or swimming crossing, then the swimmer needs to be divested of kit. In a tactical scenario this involves securing the near bank and then the far bank. The swimmer needs enough rope to get across and if the current is fast flowing he should start the width of the river upstream so hopefully he arrives at the desired exit point as he is carried down by the current. If he fails, he will end up length of the rope downstream on the near bank. Make sense? (rope needs to be preferably long enough to double the crossing so it can be recovered after without a swimmer.

                          If you are swimming, you need the ruck to float as Joe and Scott have talked about above. In a slow moving current you can swim across tactically, weapon on ruck (slung!!!!). If the current is fast, put the rope across and have some way of clipping in to the rope to get you, your kit, and your rifle floated across.

                          • This reply was modified 7 months, 3 weeks ago by Max.
                        • #116607
                          TC
                          Participant

                            Thanks, appreciate the info. Good leads to look further into. Will post more vids/links here after digging into this for a bit. :good:

                          • #116639
                            tango
                            Participant

                              https://youtu.be/q09-xAmvuq4

                              Since giant plastic sheets are not typically part of our operating gear list, are Ponchos or Bashas big enough to accomplish this?

                              • #116641
                                Max
                                Keymaster

                                  Dry bags. Your ruck should consist of dry bags. One big one for the whole inside of the ruck, and lots of smaller ones. That allows your ruck to float.

                              • #116650
                                Joe (G.W.N.S.)
                                Moderator

                                  Since giant plastic sheets are not typically part of our operating gear list, are Ponchos or Bashas big enough to accomplish this?

                                  Not using ponchos, but a clear demonstration of the concept.

                                  This same method was taught using military ponchos in my time.

                                  Alternatively as Max notes above.

                                  Dry bags. Your ruck should consist of dry bags. One big one for the whole inside of the ruck, and lots of smaller ones. That allows your ruck to float.

                                  I think everyone with our interests should be able to use the poncho method as a option. I always pack my gear as Max describes, though I typically go for neutral buoyancy this can be changed as needed fairly quick.

                                • #116665
                                  tango
                                  Participant

                                    This same method was taught using military ponchos in my time.

                                    Is there a technique for dealing with the hood hole in the center?

                                  • #116667
                                    Joe (G.W.N.S.)
                                    Moderator

                                      Is there a technique for dealing with the hood hole in the center?

                                      Twist, fold, and tie very similar to what they do on the ends depicted in video.

                                    • #116629
                                      tango
                                      Participant

                                        In reading the book First Sergeant recommended, “Infantry in Battle” (Third Edition, 1939) one thing that stood out is how many of the WWI missions/battles involved water crossings. One in particular went wrong when soldiers got entangled in barbed wire strung throughout the water, some drowning.

                                        Just looking at your AO, chances are there’s water to cross. Bridges may be down one day. Figured it would be a good idea to gather some tips, experiences, resources on what to know regarding water crossings. So if you have any thoughts on methods, gear considerations, gotchas, experiences, where to find more info, anything at all, looking forward to hearing it. :good:

                                        I now always carry 2 carabiners and a good length of 550. This allows you to string up a pack line across the water feature to send packs across while men go separately. Trying to swim with your ruck on is a disaster because you either drown, or manage to live through the swim but soak all of your gear and have raging hypothermia later. Thankfully I did not learn this the hard way, but did come close enough to drill it home while on a hike in January where temps dropped to 20s overnight after multiple precarious water crossings.

                                        Here’s why I asked about buoyancy packing. Water feature was too big to string across and waist deep about 75% of the way.

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