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The soldier's load

More accurately, the mortarman's load.
 PleaseTellMeHowBadYourDayWas.jpg
Just another reason not to go "Light" Infantry. Gimme Mech, or Gimme a different MOS. Oh, yeah, like 13A and tell Branch you ain't going to any unit that walks to work. And just because you flew to the job site doesn't mean you don't walk to work...

H/t, Jim C.

37 Comments

Well, Saker, you wanted to know what you'd be doing in AfStan when you're not stuck in an office...?
 
I see no tube, nor baseplate, nor bipod on that poor beast of burden. Heck, I see no face!

I do think I see the shadow of an M-16 on the ground behind him. 

Hell, even if the mortar and ammo are OMG heavy and you have to carry them on yer back,  you are dispensed from the eye-glazing math when it comes to setting up and shooting.

The mortarman's creed: "That looks about right."
 
Wait! That is a base plate. Of the circular kind. It's on top of the stack. Still can't make out a face, there.
 
Gosh, JTG - I see an M16 *in his hands*.  And he's probably humping a bunch of mortar rounds.
 
God that guy needs a papa san A-frame pack.  At least when you stop and straighten up all the weight of the load goes on the legs of the A frame.
 
"They said that I could ride in the truck!"
 
'They said that I could ride in the truck!"
 
 Greetings:

Back during my all-expense-paid tour of sunny Southeast Asia, the mortar platoon was the beneficiary of those young riflemen who weren't quite up to snuff.  Humping heavy was somewhere between non-judicial punishment and social ostracism.  Not that regular riflemen didn't get stuck humping an 81mm round from time to time.  And, those PRC-25 RTOs humped awfully heavy too, not that there's anything wrong with that.

One day, I was upset with our Charlies for some reason or another and I rhetorically asked my favorite Platoon Sergeant just what the mortar platoon's function was.  His reply was to make sure that I paid attention to my map reading.
 
Oh, right, that's not a shadow.  He has a staff in his right hand, and the rifle seems to be dangling behind his left calf.  Dang! Still can't see his face. Assuming he lives through this and comes home, how much you wanna bet that the VA will refuse to treat his back problems when he gets old?
 
Oh, the Army is just insane about how to carry things. I used to do some back-pack camping, and as early as 1967 we understood that you don't stack all the stuff on top of your spine, you have a padded hip belt at the bottom of the pack and let yer pelvic girdle bear the weight. The shoulder straps are just to keep the pack stable.
 
Those POS M548s don't look so bad now.  LOL
 
That base plate looks like it might go 150+ pounds. What with all the other stuff, too, I do see the need for the staff. Can he make 1 mile/hr, ya reckon?

That looks like a nice road he's on, there. Why ain't he in a truck, or an oxcart, or something?
 
Definitely, on a nice road like that, the guy needs something with wheels. A wheelbarrow, one of those two-wheeled carts the airborne guys used in WWII, even a little kid's little red wagon would be a great help. I guess the wheel is still a novel untrustworthy concept among the infantry.

How old is that pic, anyway?  The circular baseplate implies one of those French or Swiss mortars designed in my lifetime.
 
That's a current 81mm baseplate, JTG.  And they're made from aluminum.
 
Marines march in grueling Afghan sun for July 4
By JASON STRAZIUSO, Associated Press
July 4th,2009

NAWA, Afghanistan – Taliban militants were nowhere in sight as the columns of U.S. Marines walked a third straight day across southern Afghanistan. But the desert heat proved an enemy in its own right, with several troops falling victim Saturday to temperatures topping 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Marines carry 50-100 pounds (23-45 kilograms) on their backs. But because they are marching through farmland on foot, they can't carry nearly as much water as their thirst demands.

Few even realized the date was July 4, but once word of the holiday spread through the company, several said they knew relatives would be holding lakeside celebrations — a world away from the strenuous task Bravo Company of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment was taking on.

"Happy 4th of July, dawg. Happy America," said Lance Corp. Vince Morales, 21, of Baytown, Texas said to one of his Marine buddies while resting under a tree during a break.

Some Marines ate watermelon from a farmer's field as the evening sun set, but there were few other signs of a holiday celebration here.

Some 4,000 Marines are moving through southern Helmand to take back Taliban-held territory and pinch the insurgents' supply lines. Bravo Company has seen a lot of walking but up to now little fighting, though other Marines in the operation have had extended battles.

So far, the worst danger facing Bravo is the heat. Temperatures are well above 100 degrees (37.8 Celsius), and medics treated several heat casualties Saturday.

"When (body) temperature goes up past 104 (40 Celsius), your brain starts cooking, and that's what we're trying to prevent," said Simon Trujillo, an HM3 Navy Medic from Dallas.

The high heat, heavy packs, limited water and three straight days of walking through tough farmland terrain were taking a toll, he said. Several Marines threw up or were dry-heaving from the heat. Three passed out, and other Marines rushed to share the weight and pour water on overheated bodies.

"It's pretty taxing on your body. There's no way to prepare for this," said Trujillo.

One cruel irony: A helicopter dropped off a load of water to the Marines early Saturday, but because they hadn't yet reached their final destination, they took only what they could carry and left hundreds of bottles behind for Afghan villagers to drink.

The sun in southern Helmand is blazing by 8 a.m., and the troops seek out any sliver of shade available. Trees grow along the many manmade water canals the farmers use to survive here, but there is little relief elsewhere.

Sweat pours off faces as Marines shift heavy weapons from one shoulder to the other. Everyone still carries all the ammunition they arrived with in the dark hours of early Thursday, because this unit has not yet exchanged fire.

The Marines walk in columns down dusty dirt roads, and every couple dozen steps they bend over at the waist to give aching shoulders a break. During frequent breaks, medics go up and down the line, looking to see if their men are drinking water.

"It'd be so great if we took contact. We'd lose so much weight," said Lance Corp. Michael Estrada, 20, of Los Angeles.

Lance Corp. Bryan Knight, a mortar man, carries one of the heaviest pack. The 21-year-old Cincinnati native weighs a slight 145 pounds (65.8 kilograms) — and his pack almost equals him.

He carries a 15-pound (6.8-kilogram) mortar base plate, four mortar rockets that weigh 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) each, about 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms) of water and another 50 pounds (22.7 kilograms) of combat gear — ammunition, weapon and his flak jacket.

Unsurprisingly, he is drenched in sweat. "The only dry parts of my clothes are the pockets," he said.

Squatting in a lean-to made out of a camouflage poncho beside Knight was Corp. Aaron Shade, 24, of Greenville, Ohio, who hadn't realized it was Independence Day back home in the U.S.

"My family's out on the boat house riding on jet skis, drinking lots of beer," he said. "That's not depressing to think about."

The company captain, Drew Schoenmaker, said the heat was affecting militants as well, noting there were few daytime attacks theater-wide and none on his unit. He said he doubted people back in the United States could understand how hard his Marines work.

"Someone back home might say, 'Oh, it's 100 degrees here, too.' But you're not trying to carry 60 or 90 pounds and people aren't trying to kill you," he said. "And you can always step out of the sun. You can't always do that here."
 
Hah, don't be silly, Bill. They don't let fobbits like myself outside of the wire!

Poor guy. Crap like that is why my company commander is an inch or so shorter than he was when he joined the military. Too many patrols in the infantry carrying heavy stuff.
 
I still don't understand why you went for *koff* military intelligence, Saker, instead of Ordnance so you could go EOD and play with 'splodey stuff?
 
I dunno, John. I actually have more fun with guns than 'splodey stuff. Science is fun, but I have no natural aptitude for it. I'd probably die. There's a reason I have a liberal arts degree. :D

Besides, what could possibly beat MI? I get paid to be snoopy!
 
...as early as 1967 we understood that you don't stack all the stuff on top of your spine, you have a padded hip belt at the bottom of the pack and let yer pelvic girdle bear the weight.

That idea works fine -- until you find yourself in a kill zone and have to shed your ruck *now*, or die.

 

Bill, have ya noticed the longer outta Basic Saker is, the fewer "sirs" we get?  Useta happen alla time.  Now she's gettin' all familiar and first namey and stuff.

Kidz.  No respect for their elders.

But at least Saker is self-aware about her degree.  More'n I can say for those kids crossing the stage to get their "Bachelors Degree of General Studies in Medieval French Literature and Fast Food Counter Service" I saw at a recent graduation at Kansas University.

BGS - I suppose we can at least take solace in that the degree is a result of competition (albeit a race to the bottom) among Universities for Pell Grant dollars.  "I don't want to go to *that* school - they have requirements that I study stuff I don't want to study... like a foreign language!  I want my college experience to be High School +"

Heh.

 
Yeah, but she's paid her entry fee, so she's entitled to take a couple of liberties.

Plus she's just so darned cute when she goes acting all "real Army" like that...
 
...aaaaaaaand we do the "patronizing auld phart" thing pretty well, too!
 
Yer durned tootin'...
 
Well, the *auld phart* part anyways.....
0>;~}
 
Oh, we got patronizing down, too, you-who-are-approaching-auld-phartism yerselfs.
 
Recruiter: "And what is it you think you'd like to do?"
Me: "Well, I know I don't want to walk though the jungle!  Maybe Supply or Arty."
Recruiter:  "Well you know with a High School education, you could go to Flight School."
Me: "Where the H' do I sign!!!"

You can't see his face because he is leaning over with his head down.

Wrong, on so many levels.
 
Oh, don't even start. You two were the ones who told me not to call you "sir," because you supposedly "work for a living" now. Heh.
 
Well, we *are* contractors.  If there were civil servants who wanted to do this stuff, we wouldn't be, right?

And who said we had to be consistent?  We were *officers* for heaven's sakes.  Surely you've learned that? (With apologies to Frank Drebin)
 
And who said we had to be consistent? We were *officers* for heaven's sakes.

And it gets even better.

I didn't resign my commission in the USAR when I signed on as a warrant in the Guard. And when DA waved its magic decree stating that all warrants had to be commissioned in order to rise above WO1, I was given *another* commission -- as a CW4.

So I hold *two* commissions, which authorizes me to be twice as inconsistent.
 
@The Armorer:  See, I post something ignorant, and I get educated. Yer good that way.

@Bill:  IIRC,  the hip belt on my last one of those had a quick release buckle on it for similar, if not so dire, reasons, such as falling into a mountain stream or something. You really can carry more that way, and are more agile when doing so.
 
P.s. @Bill: Run a timed test with the quick-release buckle on the hip belt. The stopwatch does not lie.  Really, I'm trying to help, here. You can carry the same with less pain, or carry more for the same pain...
 
"So I hold *two* commissions, which authorizes me to be twice as inconsistent....let me fix that for ya...*sees large boot-shaped shadow looming*....ummm.......nevermind.
0>;~}
 
Oh, c'mon, Sly, what were ya gonna run with?  Incontinent?
 
Inconsistent? Wait, I think that was mentioned previously!  Anyway, hobgoblin of small minds, and all.
 
@Sakar,This has been quite a discussion. If you have been around the block a few times, you will look at the dialogue from a different perspective. Sakar, there was an old test that Albert Einstein and jokingly gave was to his students. He would ask, “Tell me, are you smart enough to be dumb, or dumb enough to be smart?”  Now, most of his students would try to pick one or the other option, now Einstein knew the question was loaded, but he wanted to find out what his students would do. After Einstein had died in 1955, one of his students knew my father. One day, in the early 60s, 61 or 62, this student raised the same question to make. He actually expected an answer from me. My father just watched, he wanted to see how I would react. I thought about the question and simply answered, “Yes.”   Lady, I see you in that role.  My brother and I were both in the military during the Vietnam years.  Just  tell these guys, that new do know the meaning of the word, “Sir”. My brother and I were both enlisted personnel. When ever we wanted to tease each other, we would start calling each other “Sir”. Believe me, that term was not a sign of risk back. In our world, there was an old Navy Adm. and she was known to be rather feisty. Some of the most powerful men in the military had to deal with her. She always made it a point to say, “The are two kinds of authority, appointed and real.” The people with "appointed authority", just write orders. The people with "real authority" are the ones that actually make them happen. As long as you have found your place that is the only thing that really matters. There are two things be mindful of the people around you but also take care of yourself. Enjoy yourself. In my view, you're doing all of it, *right now*!
 
@DL_Sly, are you sure that wasn't incontinence? They did say they were "auld phart" didn't they?
 
Sly, are you sure that wasn't incontinence?

If she wasn't afraid of the Great Hobnailed Boot of Doom, she'd have replied, "It all Depend®s..."