Given that Sunday is the 10th anniversary of 9-11, I thought it would be cool for Kit Up! to examine what the ensuing conflict since the attacks has meant for the development of gear that a Soldier carries. Much of what we look at here can be translated to the Marine Corps and Air Force (at least the ground side) as well — and that’s not to mention the special operating forces. Think of how much their gear has changed over the last decade.

First we have the Soldier of September 10, 2001. He’s wearing a heavy as hell Kevlar helmet, he just got the Interceptor body armor vest (maybe) but he probably doesn’t have SAPI plates — and if he does, he’s got one for the front. He’s draping Vietnam-era web gear over the vest and he just got an M4 — if he’s lucky. When he’s shooting, he’s looking through iron sights and Picatinny rail systems with grips, lasers and lights were well out of reach.

Fast forward 10 years and here’s what Joe looks like today…

He’s sporting a lightweight helmet with a low profile cut; he’s got a streamlined plate carrier or he’s wearing body armor that can be configured for the mission. All his web gear is gone and in its place is a wide assortment of pouches and pockets to fit any manner of ammo and gear attached directly to his armor. He’s wearing a “combat shirt” that’s fire resistant, instead of a ripstop jacket and he’s ditched the woodland camo in favor of a pattern that was previously only available to special ops troops. His rifle has a laser, an IR beam and a white light attached to it and he’s aiming through an optic that helps him hit his target with both eyes open. He’s even wearing boots that used to be the the kind of kit used for high-end mountaineering rather than soldiering.

In short, while 9-11 was horrific and the conflicts that came after were costly, the rapid evolution of snuffy has been incredible. What once looked more like a Vietnam castoff has transformed into a Starship Troopers warrior from the future — and that’s just for regular infantrymen, not the Tier guys.

Sure the DoD could do better. Sure there’s waste and abuse. But I’d much rather go to war with the Soldier’s kit of today than that of a decade ago.

{ 108 comments… read them below or add one }

snakeeater September 9, 2011 at 4:42 am

Christian,

As noticable as the changes are for you, imagine how we old soldiers feel when we see the current kit.

I served in the "old" black boot Army in the 70's and 80's with the same VN era or older web gear, OD perma press fatigues, steel pots for helmets, M-113 APCs, nylon flak jackets, LAWs, Dragons, and M-16s. Todays soldier looks like something we only saw in sci-fi movies back then, and it's a good thing to see.

Now if we could just get the bugs worked out of those personal force field generators we could finally get some weight relief on the body armor. ; )

Snakeeater

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Uncle Willie September 9, 2011 at 7:28 am

I'll be honest, a time or two I would have loved to have a LAW. The AT4 was great and all, but it was big and heavy and overkill for most of our applications.

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NGPOG September 9, 2011 at 4:56 am

When you say this is what Joe looks like, I take it you mean the door kickers and the spec ops guys. If I were loaded out like that I'd be laughed all the way home.

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Fred September 9, 2011 at 5:27 am

Hell, in '04 I looked closer to the first guy when I was in Afghanistan than I did the second guy. I was still using a woodland interceptor vest, although we did get both plates, and I was high speed and attached pouches to the vest, rather than putting an LBV over it.

I had an old Colt M16A2 (lower once was an A1) but it happened to be the most accurate rifle I've ever been issued. I miss that rifle.

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Jeff September 9, 2011 at 6:05 am

I've said this before to my friends, but I'll say it again: this is the age of attachments.
With M4/M16 flat top uppers, ACOGS/EOTechs/Aimpoints, RIS rails, MOLLE FLC carriers, etc there was an explosion/emphasis in modular gear in the last 10 years

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Steve September 9, 2011 at 6:17 am

Amen!

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Lew September 9, 2011 at 6:21 am

Another thing: gloves that are dexterious enough to allow shooting and maniplation without having to cut off the fingers.

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Uncle Willie September 9, 2011 at 7:16 am

I jumped into Iraq in March of '03. In April of '04 when I left 90% of my web gear had changed out of my own pocket. First to go was that useless 40mm grenade vest. I'm happy to see the guys now getting issued gear that works, and commanders who have figured out that making every soldier set up their Nam era LCE exactly uniform is a bad idea.

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VTGunner September 9, 2011 at 7:19 am

Hell I STILL have an M16A2, NO body armor (not even an empty vest), or working comms gear. The comms issue was great when working with the Hurricane Irene relief efforts here in the state the last two weeks.

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Uncle Willie September 9, 2011 at 7:33 am

Not to be a jerk but, why would you need an M4 or body armor to work hurricane relief?

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major.rod September 9, 2011 at 7:56 am

Don't get me wrong, technology is cool. Body armor that works has had an extremely significant impact (everything from maintaining the nation's will to fight because of less casualties to making troops more aggressive in a given situation).

One thing stays the same, the soldier.

He gets it done with or without Gucci gear. All too often we as Americans get enthralled with technology and forget its the training that really differentiates our army from every other one in the world.

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Rip Off! September 9, 2011 at 8:33 am

Posts the price tag comparison. What we ended up spending for outfitting the military and intel is the greatest fleecing of American taxpayer money and needs to be told. Look at all the new "corporate" bldg's around DC. DHS has the biggest gov't facility now and solutions company like SAIC, Gen Dyn, BAE, made out like bandits.

Guess who found UBL, one case officer, a handful of analysts, cell phone tracking and a take down team, so do we really need all this big BS? Nope. Too much gear that just costs a whole lot, if you ask me.

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Nick September 11, 2011 at 2:09 am

Oh yes, because military modernization is always a waste of taxpayer money. Oh yes, because adapting quickly to an extremely complicated and dangerous environment or situation is completely unnecessary, and it's a waste to err on the side of saving the lives our soldiers.

"Avenging" 9/11 isn't as easy as having a handful of CIA operatives take down the world's most wanted fugitive. You know, it kinda took a decade's long war to establish the networks of informants and to gather sufficient intelligence in order to zero in on his location and take him out. Even so, OBL was only part of the problem.

Sure, the military's acquisition system is flawed and inefficient at times, but significant progress has been made, just as this article argues.

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Snarf June 7, 2013 at 1:56 am

Military modernization is relevant to the government… mostly because the Federal Governments only REAL job is to provide the military…

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Edward Liu September 9, 2011 at 8:43 am

I would be curious to see the price tag comparison per soldier as well. I can't imagine that the tricked-out M4's today can possibly be less expensive than the M16's of 10 years ago. Not that I'd begrudge those in uniform the better body armor and gear, but it'd be nice to get some sense of value for the money. If nothing else, seeing value for money might silence those who argue reflexively that all of it is a waste and cite extremely specific examples as justification.

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Of Course September 9, 2011 at 9:01 am

I like how you pulled your whole argument from that stupid show. Major Rod has excellent points (more than likely from experience), whereas you watch one "public" media presentation and ZOMFG!MILITARY'SARIPOFF!

Do yourself a favor before popping off after watching near-political propaganda: do further research. Yes, the intelligence agencies and industry around it needs reigning in to perform better. Yes, big mistakes have been made that have cost money and lives. No, it's not our troops fault. Before you start raging in your blissful ignorance against the protection of our troops and the methods at which they're missions are accomplished, listen to someone like Major Rod and do your damn homework.

And stop following American Public Media.

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Riceball September 9, 2011 at 9:18 am

I really don't understand all the hate towards paintball players and airsofters, so they (esp. the airsofters) like to dress up like Spec Ops types and soldier & Marines, where's the harm in that? What's so wrong about admiring our brave men & women in the military and wanting to dress like them while doing something they enjoy? As long as they don't actually try to pass themselves off as real members of the military then where's the harm? Plus, have you stopped to consider that maybe not all of these people are "wannabes" and are real life military, police, or PSCs doing this stuff because they think it's fun?

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sgtbear September 9, 2011 at 9:35 am

I served wearing both sets of kit and I have favorites in both. All in all this new gucci gear is one hell of an improvement from that heavy sh*t we used to wear.

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snakeeater September 9, 2011 at 9:52 am

Amen!!!

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FormerSFMedic September 9, 2011 at 10:02 am

What is the deal with the trolls? @ XL6, Hates Larps, and usma '02- I have said this once and I'll say it again. Christian does an amazing job at giving us the latest in military kit news as well as bringing up great topics for discussion. If you can't stay on topic then you don't need to be here. It's ridiculous comments that make actual BTDT's stay away from the comments section, which in turn hurts the blog overall.

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major.rod September 9, 2011 at 12:28 pm

SF Medic, agree. Unnecessary, unwelcome.

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VTGunner September 9, 2011 at 10:09 am

Notice how I mentioned the comms gear being the issue not weapons or body armor with the hurricane relief. Read the comment before replying.

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Uncle Willie September 9, 2011 at 10:38 am

I did. You still haven't answered the question. But no worries, I was trolling a little, but not actually trying to start a fight.

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VTGunner September 9, 2011 at 10:51 am

No you're right an M4 and body armor has nothing to do with hurricane relief, the comms however had everything to do with it. This post is talking about the advances in gear to the average Joe. My point was here I am in a deployable unit (aka not a desk jockey) and we have no armor and still have M16A2's with iron sights (they gave us Aimpoints to mount in front of the carry handle, but I don't put it on because it's retarded that way).

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Jake Bennett September 10, 2011 at 3:09 am

Until you go through RFI and get issued all your gear for deployment, your unit isn't deployable. If you don't have all the equipment, you aren't ready. You may be training up and ready in that way, but until Uncle Sam gets the proper equipment to you, your unit is not ready. And if your commo gear isn't working properly you need to get with your s6 or your maintenance and learn why, and what will be done to fix it.

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KLP September 9, 2011 at 10:19 am

No they don't. They're just stinkin up the place. They sound like repressed milfreak geeks to be honest, and change the subject to something completely irrelevant. And that's before even mentioning the prepubescent trash talk on a group of people who likely don't even read this blog.

I'm starting to think this blog needs stricter moderation, and I hate that.

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Mike Halvorsen September 9, 2011 at 10:20 am

JEEEZZZ!!! Relax folks. The topic was the improved gear since 9/11/01, unless I was mistaken…I,too was a 19D10 (Scout) in the late 70's. the equipment is WAAAYYY better today…I'd need complete re-training to operate this new stuff. HOWEVER…if your GPS takes a crap, and all you got is a 1/50000 TopoMap and a lensatic compass and need help shooting a back-azimuth, let me know (heh). Seriously, we would've happily killed to get the goodies these Soldiers and Marines have today. And Major Rod? If anything, these youngsters are better than we were…and I have to swallow my pride to admit that. Well done, Lads!

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FormerSFMedic September 9, 2011 at 10:56 am

Your right Mike, training is required on most of this new tech. Unfortunately our troops aren't really getting that training. Most guys are going out there learning on the fly, which says alot about our soldiers (very intelligent). Which brings up a good point IMO………

The kit got better (slightly better), the guns got upgraded with new accessories, the tactics have changed for the better. So why is the Military still 15 years behind in their weapons related training? Focus needs to be equal across the board, and weapons training and weapons accessories training needs to be enhanced too. Kit is important, but its the soldiers ability to run his gun and his attachments that's going to increase his survive-ability.

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Lance September 9, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Id stay with 70s era ALICE gear much more tough and holds more mags per pouch MOLLE only holds 2 per pouch while ALICE holds 3 and 2 grenades and can be put on current belts and armor vests. This is alot better to me.

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major.rod September 9, 2011 at 12:49 pm

SFMedic – Training is near and dear to my heart. Training has always had a direct corelation to leadership and what's emphasized. We could get an exponential increase in our efficiency if we paid half as much attention to training as we do to new toys. Goes back to camouflage is something you do not buy… The challenge has always been to grow, encourage and reward good leadership vs. cookie cutter safe approaches to difficult issues.

Then again this is "Kit Up" not "Soldier Up" and so I understand the emphasis on gear. Love the articles and most of the discussion here and understand why the focus seems to be a little skewed at times. Christian makes a good point (though I don't think the 9/10 Army was as dismal as he described).

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reflexivefire September 9, 2011 at 5:14 pm

Good idea…this should be an article in of itself! The reason why the military's training is so far behind the power curve is largely because of risk assessments and other red tape. It's so bad that it is little wonder why SOF units have to go off-base to vender schools to conduct training.

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FormerSFMedic September 9, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Good point Jack! This is the reason I'm so big on this issue. Even in Group, I wasn't getting the training in weapons manipulation and shooting skills I should have (no offense to you Jack being an 18B). We went to numerous outside sources for this kind of training, when we should have been doing it ourselves. You know if SF is getting the training, conventional units probably aren't either. The saddest part of the whole thing is that I didn't truly become proficient in shooting and weapons manipulation until I left SF. I look back on it now and I realize that the only thing I really got was a basic understanding of the fundamentals. The military can't modernize this kind of training until they can understand the difference between tactics and running the gun. The two are not interchangeable. Training one is not necessarily training the other.

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major.rod September 9, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Mike, I agree on equipment, never EVER would say anything defamatory about the soldier. Universally few know how special they truly are. What they daily do as a matter of course only thunders their true greatness and humility. I'm also not that old. Retired 5 yrs ago.

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major.rod September 9, 2011 at 11:12 am

"Guess who found UBL, one case officer, a handful of analysts, cell phone tracking and a take down team, so do we really need all this big BS? Nope. Too much gear that just costs a whole lot, if you ask me."

What did satellites, two stealth hawks, 2 MH47s, a sentinel UAV, all the Gucci gear DevGru has, a base in Jalalabad, an aircraft carrier task force cost and all the overhead, maintenance, R&D and ?

Specifically which "dodads" mentioned would you deem as unecessary and consider a waste of money? Are you saying BAE fleeced us on the Bradley, Gen Dynamics on the M1/Stryker and the upgrades on these systems to make them more survivable against the current threat? Trying to understand your rant about the "military industrial complex" but the link between the companies you mentioned and the story is tenuous.

Should we price what it costs to outfit aWWII paratrooper and Roman Legionaire while we are at it?

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Andrew September 9, 2011 at 11:56 am

If you think this is cool then just google the 2020 future soldier

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Payce September 9, 2011 at 11:59 am

You ever think that service members play them too? I know of 6 bases that have paintball/airsoft fields. I'm in the military and I play them too.

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Payce September 9, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Wow, I come from a military family and joined up when I turned 18, it's amazing to see the difference side by side.

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orly? September 9, 2011 at 12:17 pm

So much copy/paste!

I bet half these off topic posts are made by one person!

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major.rod September 9, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Riceball, apologize for some of the blatant racism out here. Uncalled for. Personally I don't have an issue with airsofters but that community has two annoying qualities. First arguing with those that have been there on strategy, tactics & equipment. Discussion is fine. Telling someone that's been there "that _______ is better" is going to get someone rightfully angry. Second, an almost obsessive fascination with equipment and gadgets. Otherwise I think that that military enthusiasts that occassionally break a sweat is cool. Better than American Idol & Jersey Shore fans.

USMA '02, ever heard of Shinseki? Class of '65. Puerto Rican CIB '85 grad here.

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ConditionBlack September 9, 2011 at 2:59 pm

I'm probably going to get trolled for this but…
I'm an avid airsofter. I'm also currently enlisting in the US Army, and right now, this is as close as I can get to actually serving my country until I sign on the dotted line. I play this because it's a great workout, not so I can play pretend military with the non-existent "computer geeks" and "cowards" are rampant throughout the sport. If anything, I've seen actual Marines play at the field I go to. The idea that everyone who plays this does not possess the intestinal fortitude to serve, or is immature enough to think themselves to be some sort of high speed killer is stereotype.

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Lance September 9, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Don't know what you mean ALICE gear is still in use for men here in the US and for base personnel over seas only front line infantry got new LBR gear. MOLLE gear sucks and falls off too easily im glad there leaving that. Only digital wood/desert works ACU in service now sucks and woodland is in use in SOCOM and Navy still. M-16A2s are in service in all branches of the Military. The USMC has A4s now and front line Army units use M-4s that's only change out there every one else has a A2. Which is fine I found them better balanced and more accurate than a smaller M-4. Longer 20 inch guns do better in combat in the afghan war. A2s arnt going away for many years to come Navy USAF and Coast Guard units have them and have no plans to replace them.

Im not saying ACOGs AIMPOINTs lasers and better armor isnt better they help alot in front line combat. But im saying not all that much has changed. And most back line units still have pre9/11/01 gear and with cuts coming doubt it will change any time soon.

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FormerSFMedic September 9, 2011 at 3:46 pm

@Lance- I don't know where you get some of this brother. Maybe your thinking of the old days. I haven't seen ALICE gear in years! You would be EXTREMELY hard pressed to find any of that stuff in Afghanistan or here in the states. I respect your opinions, but the only way MOLLE gear is going to fall off, is if you didn't put it on correctly. MOLLE or PALS is the industry standard because its super stable and reliable. ALICE clips are not. The military has no desire nor plans to get rid of it anytime soon.

As far as the M16A2. Again, you would be hard pressed to find one in Afghanistan. A4's are the norm for every unit in combat that still uses M16's, that includes support units. ****, our ODB's got better gear than us sometimes. Some NG units still use them in training or peacetime ops. However as soon as they are deployed, they are usually issued M4's. M16's are impractical in Afghanistan due to the terrain and the fact our troops are fighting out of vehicles most of the time. The shorter guns allow soldiers to have a lighter weapon when climbing harsh terrain and fighting in and around vehicles. The ballistic advantage just isn't great enough to sacrifice the performance of the M4. Besides, our troops have substantially better ammo now, which allows a much greater terminal effect, even out of a short barrel.

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Hamchuck September 9, 2011 at 4:33 pm

"@Lance- I don't know where you get some of this brother."

+1 on that. I wish I'd known about you a year ago, when I was trying to unload my accumulation of gear from years of active duty: the whole ALICE set, basically. I even had an H-harness that I'd scrounged somewhere, because as a snot-nosed private I liked the "old school" look of it. I nearly had to pay the surplus shop to take it all off my hands. I'm in a Guard unit now, and I can tell you that in my little corner of the Army, we don't get ALICE gear, we get the full-blown "rifleman's kit", as it says on my hand receipt–and we're an aviation outfit.

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Jake Bennett September 10, 2011 at 3:48 am

"only front line infantry got new LBR gear" – What crack are you smoking? Everyone gets issued the same kit.
"MOLLE gear sucks and falls off too easily" – weave it properly and it's nearly impossible TO get off.
"Only digital wood/desert works" – MULTICAM!!! WORKS WAY BETTER THAN DCU's or BDU's EVER DID. IT'S WHAT THE ACU WAS GOING FOR. ONE DESIGN THAT WORKS WELL IN MORE SITUATIONS. CHECK IT IN WOODLAND AND DESERT. IT'S AMAZING!!!
"better balanced and more accurate than a smaller M-4. Longer 20 inch guns do better in combat in the afghan war" – The new barrels are balanced to counter act whatever unbalance feeling you are referring to. and the m16 and m4 are almost identical in accuracy over long ranges. I love my M4. If you take care of it and learn to use it, it's a valuable weapon.

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Lance September 9, 2011 at 12:27 pm

yeah they will still have same gear as now with some minor new modifications.

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Alex September 9, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Read an article somewhere (PS, PM or Scientific America etc') that said that the plasma around the inner sphere of the some what comman Tesla ball that you can buy could possibly be expanded as real plasma shields. However before that we either need better power storage or a portable power generator, I read an article in PM about how to build a generator into a back-back that gets its energy from the natural up-down movment of a person walking, I think it was quit a bit of energy, used strapes and bunjee cords attatched to a generator, I think.

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8up1977 September 9, 2011 at 3:50 pm

I'm asian, I do airsoft, because I don't want to lose the muscle memory of carrying and handling a rifle and pistol when I'm deployed. Since I am a support troop and my service is not exactly "small arms" focused I don't get enough training time with guns (although I get plenty operating some big, cool and vital vehicles). I have a hertiage that includes swinging a real sword. I exist to challenge stereotypes from ignorant shits like you. You can completely kiss my Asian ass sir.

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8up1977 September 9, 2011 at 3:55 pm

They are forgoing marriage because they have other choices, like.. go to school and get a job? Sorta like how white people started getting married later when a larger percentage of women hit the workforce. If you're in the military I'm embarrassed to serve with you.

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FormerSFMedic September 9, 2011 at 4:57 pm

***! Are you drunk? Where did that come from?

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FormerSFMedic September 9, 2011 at 8:57 pm

***! Are you drunk? Where did that come from?

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8up1977 September 9, 2011 at 3:56 pm
hamchuck September 9, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Ballistic sunglasses and Camelbaks weren't even allowed in a lot of units then. Too "faddish". You want a flashlight on your rifle? A laser, for chrissakes? What do you think you are, Delta? It's nice to see that for the most part, practicality has won out. Now, when you throw in the aftermarket on top of what's issued, the array of gear available can make your head spin.

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FormerSFMedic September 9, 2011 at 4:55 pm

If that's the only thing you take, then you better be prepared to run! Because that's not going to do anything for you.

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Lance September 9, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Strange guys I know of men in basic training last year who have ALICE gear and I know of some Guard and reserve units and back base personnel in Iraq who have ALICE gear at least the Y spenders and Mag pouch. Ive seen them in pictures up close already.

I also read reports that the USMCs choice and navy's choice of M-16s where better in hits and accuracy in a fire fight at afghans long ranges. Short barrels don't work past 300+ meters as well.

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Mohammad Qureshi September 9, 2011 at 5:53 pm

I really love the new gear, it looks so cool and it also encourages me to join, and we as America should be proud of ourselves, I lived in Pakistan and saw their soldiers and they are still using M1 steel pots, we are even leaving behind so many nations in Europe when it comes to war. Security is the most paramount of all priorities, and no money can be enough when it comes to new technologies.

I think the US soldier looks bad ass as hell, but I wish he had a bit more form like the Russians do and the British, it just looks really good. We had some gorgeous uniforms in the war of 1812 and many others I wish we could expand on them.

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Payce September 9, 2011 at 6:41 pm

No, in fact I can't remember ever playing with any Asians. Mostly white people.

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Edward Liu September 9, 2011 at 7:48 pm

No, actually born and bred in the USA, if you must know. Not that I think that'll change your dumb-ass mind if you really think the Chinese are going to deploy a cyber-agent to ask for information like that from a web comment in a public forum. Thanks very much "Uncle Sam" for reminding me again why I shouldn't waste my time with the comments.

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saberhagen September 9, 2011 at 7:57 pm

you are a foool if you think they dont. You think all of their 'cyber army' are genius that hack into DOD suppliers network?

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saberhagen September 9, 2011 at 7:59 pm

How about the 'price tag' of a dead soldier? Following your logic then we just need to equip them with 1 rifle and some magazines, thats enough!

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major.rod September 9, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Shinseki – Not too crazy about the beret decision but yes, the same and only General to follow his conscience and state we needed 400,000 troops to do Iraq right and was subsequently made a lame duck in reprisal by Rumsfeld. I'm not really impressed with generals even ones with four stars but the bronze star w/"V" & two oak leaf clusters, three combat tours in Nam (not typical in that time) and even after losing half his foot has to say something about that soldier of Japanese descent.

I'd stop digging if I were you. That hole you're standing in is well over 6' deep.

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Dumb Grunt September 9, 2011 at 11:39 pm

Major Rod, Please do not forget the 442d Regimental Combat Team. The most decorated combat unit from WWII. All Japanese-Americans and all were volunteers. Asian-Americans currently serve in ALL branches of service, just because one does not see us, does not mean we are not there.

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1-0 Meadows September 9, 2011 at 11:49 pm

I am pretty sure he is referring to kit given to troops in the middle east, more specifically combat troops like infantry and specops.

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Dumb Grunt September 10, 2011 at 12:19 am

Quit squinting and open your eyes. Asians serve in all branches of service. We are as patriotic as the guy or gal next to us. We are Grunts, Techs, SpecOps operators, and everything else. All we ask is to serve and be treated as equals. Nothing more and nothing less.

Just to be clear, I presume from your tag of USMA '02, you are of that class. Your attitude towards Asians is unbecoming of a USMA graduate.

I have served as a 0311 Marine Rifleman and was serving before you were born!!! Today, I have a nephew who is an 0311 Marine Rifleman and has recently returned from Afghanistan. I am a American born Chinese.

Anything else?? Bring it!!!

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Jake Bennett September 10, 2011 at 3:13 am

Exactly! Without the ability to train on even the latest greatest gear, all that crap will sit in the connex and stuff will get done the old school way. We may have the best gear, and OFTEN it can help with the mission, but the old skills are where these skills/training should be focused first. GPS is great, but if you still don't know how to find north on a compass, or even without a compass, you have a problem. Same with almost every piece of equipment we use. Using your head can take you farther than most people can believe.

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Jake Bennett September 10, 2011 at 3:20 am

That may be, but having these resources at hand is what sets our military apart from a bunch of kids running around with a gun. that's what you sound like you want them to do. I am in the Army now, and as much as I hate running around with my gear, I would rather have a portable radio system that has encryption on the net, my m4 with all the cool gadgets I got, my body armor that weighs less than it did a few years ago and is better ergonomically and at it's protection levels, and knowing that when I get back to the FOB, whatever problems I have been through can be dealt with in a way that will help me reduce my risk of killing myself.

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Jake Bennett September 10, 2011 at 3:31 am

you've watched 300 a few times.

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Grunt September 10, 2011 at 6:18 am

Riceball wins!!!

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Nance, E September 10, 2011 at 6:18 am

It worked for the VC and Talibans in the sense that they are able to fight but compare their casualties to the US casualties. There is obviously a huge difference that is due to US military training and equipment. If you get rid of one and keep the other then the US would have more casualties. As the US has an all volunteer force higher casualties isn't really a smart thing to go for in order to lower costs not to mention that if they are killed or wounded than all their training and experience is useless and the money put into them is then wasted and then their medical bills or life insurance has to be paid.

The Alamo scouts and OSS agents can't really be compared to regular infantry. They are trained and used for completely different missions. They need to be a much lighter force, compared to infantry, and have less gear. Although for the time I'm sure the scouts had about the same amount of gear as infantry. Now in my opinion you can't really compare the amount of gear from WWII to the gear now though as even when they had all the gear that infantry had, it was much less than what was available now. So while they had minimal gear compared to the soldiers of today but for the time they probably had about all that was available. The scouts anyway, I doubt a OSS agent could carry much in the way of infantry gear due to them being alone and their mission style.

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Evan September 10, 2011 at 6:31 am

lemme ask u this…. if u had a loved one in the army…. would u prefer he be suited up with the best protection? or still using vietnam era stuff?

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Hamchuck September 10, 2011 at 7:39 am

Education and philosophy are wonderful things, but unless you're an office clerk, you're still going to need a gun, professor.

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reflexivefire September 10, 2011 at 9:17 am

Exactly, this was a huge issue when I was in Group as well. Commanders were asking the question, with valid reasoning in many cases, of why we need to go to vender schools and why SF soldiers whose primary job is to train foreign troops, can't even train themselves? The answer is multifaceted of course…I'm going to think about this a little bit and then I will do a write up on it and we will see what people think.

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Quicksaber September 10, 2011 at 9:24 am

The gear is great but it is double edge sword. There is a fine line between cool gear that is useful and too much that just becomes a liability just because you have a space on your chest rig/ plate carrier or vest doesn't mean you should place a pouch there the same for the ruck sack. Trust me I have been there and done that.I think the problem is to much stuff. I think the gear needs to be streamed line. REMEMBER METT-TC. The M16 serise is just fine why can't we just take a M4 lower and slap on a A4 upper when needed all you need to do is change the buffer and spring and there you have a modular system. But I think Canada has done that already. I remember when you where high speed when you had a strobe light,fanny pack,gore tex rain gear and a mini mag flashlight with the red filter and Danner Go Devil boots or OD green jungle boots LMAO.JUST MY 2 CENTS

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Lance September 10, 2011 at 12:33 pm

On Military time the USMC said there considering doing that a M-4 and a4 mix. However this is hard to do a fixed stock is more durable and lack of funds for the Corps will make it HARD to do.

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major.rod September 11, 2011 at 8:14 am

Funds won't impact what stock is on Marine rifles. Think about how the Marines have been able to invest in Marine specific gear. EVERYTHING from the helmet to the bayonet is specific to the Marine Corps. That's not a symptom of a shortage of funds. About the only thing the Marine Corps shares in common with other services is ammunition. The primary reason Marines continue to see fixed stocks was Gen Conway's resistance to them. He feared a degredation in Marine's capability to conduct hand to hand fighting. Not an unimportant issue when you consider the crowd control requirement of many NEO type missions.

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Hamchuck September 10, 2011 at 9:50 am

"I'm starting to think this blog needs stricter moderation…"

Agreed. Racism, conspiracy theories; it's become ridiculous.

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major.rod September 10, 2011 at 10:57 am

Grunt – I didn't but '02 was commenting about asians he knew so I was trying to stay current. Disturbing comments coming from an officer. Can only hope he isn't/wasn't combat arms. The mods have deleted the worst comments. Stiil dion't know where they came from!

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Dumb Grunt September 10, 2011 at 11:17 pm

Major.rod – I know '02 would not last in combat arms, not with those delusions. I would be just amazed if he did graduate with that attitude. Thanks.

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FormerSFMedic September 10, 2011 at 12:01 pm

I've been hoping to see a write up on kitup about the issue. SF probably understands the problem better than most because its our job to be the best trainers in the world. With that said, I know your write up is going to be on point. I'm looking forward to it Jack.

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major.rod September 11, 2011 at 7:28 am

Ref training… I would suggest looking at it from two perspectives. The majority of emphasis in this blog is on special ops yet its only a small percentage of the overall force. Could you imagine the impact on the conventional force if it enjoyed the resources and leadership heavy environment enjoyed by special ops? "Outside sources"? WOW! In a line unit you had to find the expertise in house or it didn't happen.

I'm sure you guys have a tremendous amount to say about training but your perspective is really focused at the highest level when most of the readership hasn't mastered immediate action.

If that window is too big just caveat your take as coming from a special ops perspective. I'll be interested in reading what you write.

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Joey johnson September 10, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Why does everyone always say oh infantry does all the work or de ops does all the work. You know forward observers have to go out with ever convoy. And if you dismount then you have to have two FO's. One with the trucks, one with the dismounts.

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boogyboogy September 10, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Because Fisters are that Fisters, Infantry are still the main guys out there as trigger pullers. It's their job, and in their job description. Quit crying , should've went 11b then been a 13

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Stefan S. September 10, 2011 at 2:07 pm

I remember being cool with 4 M-16 ammo pouches and butt pack and M-1956 butt pack suspenders! Boy, have we changed!

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boogyboogy September 10, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Maybe you haven't gotten the gear because

A) You're not a rapid deploying unit
B) You don't need it (i.e a POG)
C) You're not Active Duty

Guarantee you fall in 1 of the 3 of those

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boogyboogy September 10, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Molle gear falls off? AHAHA it's damn near impossible for MOLLE to fall off if you fasten it PROPERLY. ALICE is still in use? Where, maybe national guard or reserves. I haven't seen it on AD since 2007.

M4 can shoot out to 500yds, anything longer with a standard rifle is asking for a miracle.

And alot has changed. I've been in since 2004, and it's a COMPLETELY new army. Too many people on here saying stuff they don't know.

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SteelMedic September 10, 2011 at 3:11 pm

It's basic training man that's why they still use alice gear,

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Jeff September 10, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Yeah, correct me if I'm wrong, but, in our current war, aren't the worst we're facing simply technicals and bunkers? LAWs can do the job easily

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echo September 10, 2011 at 7:02 pm

in mob station and still have an m16

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Zach September 10, 2011 at 10:41 pm

I think it would be kind of cool to post a price comparison of a WWII Soldier, Soldier in the Cold War, and a modern Soldier… Not to be offensive or anything just think it would be interesting.

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Nance, E September 11, 2011 at 5:31 am

There is one kind of actually. Shows the cost and the rates of wounded/dead from WWII to modern soldiers. Compares a WWII-era soldier, a Vietnam-era soldier, a modern soldier, and the expected costs for future soldiers. It is old and I can't remember where I found it but here is the link to it. Don't know about the Cold War costs though.
http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b185/RGM-79GM/U

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major.rod September 11, 2011 at 7:10 am

Nance – THANKS! That was a very interesting and informative graphic. I'd like to check the numbers but going from $174, 1 KIA to 2.4 WIA in WWII to $17,472, 1 KIA to 8.3 WIA (a 41% to 12% decrease) is worth knowing.

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Nance, E September 11, 2011 at 8:38 am

Yeah I don't know for sure how accurate it is but to me it seemed close enough to me and it says it is from the DoD. Nice to see how much lower the casualty rates are now compared to then though if it is accurate. Since it really helps to show how much the equipment and training help.

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Jay Friedman September 11, 2011 at 7:17 am

I ended up here linked from a 'gadget' site. Read on to find the fascinating comments take an odd turn to gaming, then terribly, into bigotry. As someone with no military experience, my only thought is that of humble gratitude to every American that has served. Thank you All, whatever your color or faith may be, for serving our nation with valor and honor, I thank you.

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major.rod September 11, 2011 at 7:39 am

I'd differ when you say "the military's training is so far behind the power curve is largely because of risk assessments and other red tape." Maybe in the special ops level but not military wide. From my experience the most important factor impacting the quality of training is the quality of the leadership. I've seen the best training done innovativly, economically but most importantly addressed individual/unit's needs in priority when quality leaders were present.

Invest in QUALITY leaders and everything else works out. They create effective training regimens/techniques, find the resources to get it done and execute to standard,

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reflexivefire September 11, 2011 at 10:15 am

Major Rod, I'm 100% behind you on this. The two issues are inter-related I believe. The Army has introduced mountains of bureaucracy, "safety" surveys, risk assessments, and more in an effort to replace the judgement and discernment of Soldiers and NCO's with regulations and policies. At the end of the day you simply can't replace that E-7 or E-8 who has been in the military for 18 years and knows his jobs frontwards and back, not with paperwork or anything else.

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james stevens September 11, 2011 at 11:07 am

it my brithday today im in the army serving my frist year

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bbb September 11, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Your ancestors planted rice for a living. The chances that any of them swung swords is incredibly low.

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8up1977 September 12, 2011 at 7:53 am

Actually, without getting too much into the details, yes my ancestors literally were samurai, with my grandfather ending his working days as a provincial prosecutor.

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Hamchuck September 11, 2011 at 4:01 pm

The problem with a fixed stock is that it wasn't designed for somebody wearing body armor. An adjustable stock allows you to keep a comfortable cheek weld and eye relief. As for the hand-to-hand thing, I agree with major.rod, not a big issue. I absolutely do admire how the Corps emphasizes hand-to-hand combat, but a fixed stock won't, or shouldn't, make or break somebody's ability to fight that way.

Anyways, if you DO have to hit somebody with it and it breaks, look on the bright side; now you've got TWO weapons.

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Stefan S. September 11, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Thanks Jay we all appreciate it.

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Charlie Self September 12, 2011 at 6:11 am

I recall feeling what is today called "cool" with a BAR and a bandoleer of magazines. Steel pot and all.

I look at today's young troops and I am amazed at their ability carry all that stuff.

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Achilles September 12, 2011 at 11:37 am

Wow, there are a crap load of people drinking haterade. WTF is wrong with you people?

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major.rod September 12, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Nah, just a little bit of realism poking through all the giddiness over gadgets. Like I said earlier, tech is great but the real payoff is the soldier.

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Dan September 12, 2011 at 12:49 pm

i think its better they gave them lightweight and hi tech gear, but hi tech stuff needs batterys. if their stuff short circuits or dies. they just have a little spy glass for i scope with no accuracy. they shouldve kept the metal sights in my opinion

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Nance, E September 12, 2011 at 5:23 pm

ACOGs are the most common sight for Army and Marine infantry iirc. They don't use electronics of any kind, the worst things that can happen is they lose their zero or take damage both of which can happen to regular irons. Irons however are obviously much less effective for accurate shooting in comparison to an ACOG or a CompM2-CompM4 when they are being used at the correct ranges..

Not to mention now there are BUIS that can be folded down so they don't get in the way of other sights placed on their rifles. So they do still have the iron sights but they are foldable and meant to be used should their main sight take damage or have some other nasty thing happen to it.

I'd much rather have an ACOG or a CompM2-CompM4 and foldable BUIS than just regular old irons.

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major.rod September 12, 2011 at 7:48 pm

Agree, the paper trail IS ridiculous but again it comes to leadership. I've known leaders to say, "WHAT!!! You want me to schedule how far out and submit what?" They of course had commanders that understood and supported them. I feel for the leaders today.

My last job was deputy for a task force whose mission was to put together a 12 month reset schedule for units coming back to turn them around and get them ready again. Couldn't be done without just going through the motions. We wasted hundreds of hours to create a mountain of paper that wasn't a "real" solution.

Hate to say it but the only real solution is a catastrophic failure akin to Task Force Smith. Right now senior leaders are doing CYA with a piece of paper, procedures etc. instead of waving a BS flag or putting THEIR butt on the line.

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R_O September 13, 2011 at 9:25 am

The diffrence is what, about 15 lbs and a scope? For the amount of money spent between Iraq and Afghanistan the past decade these improvements are pathetic. Lousy leadership and spending no matter where you turn.

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Nance, E September 14, 2011 at 6:13 am

So you think the better armor, which would save guys from wounds that would be lethal without it, is a pathetic improvement? You think better combat capabilities due to newer equipment that would give them a better advantage over their enemies are pathetic improvements? I guess you feel the same about ENVGs, better camouflage, better rifle magazines, and better helmets?

It sounds to me like you are saying that even though these things increase survivability and effectiveness they are still just a waste of money. Which would you prefer they spend, money or the lives of soldiers? Since without these "pathetic improvements" they would suffer more casualties.

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02 03 September 26, 2011 at 10:00 am

I really like camel backs.

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