Wednesday, July 26 , 1995

Most Americans live daily dehydrated--if there's a doubt check: anything but clear or light yellow urine means you're at risk. We don't drink water because it's plain--the tea/coffee/sodas that we drink actually make things worse--they're diuretics (make you urinate out nutrients and water). For your kidneys to effectively filter your blood you need to well hydrated. Our dehydration may be a contributing factor the nation's health problems. As a Soldier if you become a heat casualty your body's "thermostat" may be forever damaged--or you may die. Before you "laugh" this off, I've seen this happen in 1981 at marine corps boot camp--the old water rationing idea was in effect and our leaders actually didn't care; to them another "puke" who couldn't make the title of "marine". He was running around the depot perimeter with us, collapsed began convulsing and gyrating--we gave our canteens from our waist pistol belts which was poured over him, but it was too late.

By 1982, we had awakened somewhat: The realization that the body needs X amount of water regardless--you either give it or breakdown will occur. Forcing water even if you were not thirsty (it's too late when you feel thirsty) become the norm, even in the desert of Twenty-Nine Palms, Calif. We still had heat casualties (wearing flak jackets and 100 lbs of gear while rucking the desert) but no one died--barely. The Army study that forced the USMC to change its water policy also noted that cool water lowers the core body temperature better than hot/warm water so we used canvass desert water bags which evaporated to keep the water inside cool. (Canvass Specialties, "Desert Water Bag(c)" 7344 Bandini Blvd, East Los Angeles, CA (213)722-1156.)The Army got wind of the need for forcing water from the Israeli Defense Force which won 2 major wars against the arabs because their men didn't perish in their tanks like their enemies did of thirst.

Each of us should drink 8 glasses of water (21 quart canteens) just if we are indoors in class! The "ballpark" figure for very hot days in full combat equipment is 4 quarts per day. It's possible to over hydrate which can flush out electrolytes--drink the amount your safety officer determines, check your urine and adjust accordingly.

As a Soldier, you are at risk each day you wear the overly materialized BDU--it's a notorious "heat sink." You should trim off all of the excess material (laundry dry labels, waist tabs, trouser bug fly, cuff ties, pen pocket under top shirt pocket etc.) as described in my Airborne Equipment Shop article. Always wear the lighter hot weather BDU. Only wear the heavyweight BDU in very cold weather. If you are jumping, use the parachutist jump braces (PJBs) over jungle boots so these lighter, more breathable boots can be used without loss of ankle support when "PLFing"

You must carry the least amount of equipment possible to do the job to preserve foot mobility and reduce exertion which results in perspiration for cooling that robs the body of its water. Every AES article works towards the equipment lightening/function fix that is needed. Please read them and implement their suggestions. A new static-line parachute with reserve on the back would open up the front for better cooling during Airborne operations.

You must get involved in your Soldiering--being a "troop" (robot) isn't going to "cut it" anymore. You need to force water into your body each day--flavor it with Kool-aid(c)/Gatorade(c) if you have to --but at least the day before a major field exercise/jump where you know you'll be draped over with lots of gear you should be forcing water to the point that your urine is clear. Paratroopers that are fully hydrated have a "combat edge" they have more water to sweat for higher levels of exertion. In combat where your next canteen refill will come from is not guaranteed--maximize what you have already. There should be no pure "Hollywood" jumps--everyone should wear LBE so at least 2 canteens of water will be accessible. Even without LBE you can have every Paratrooper carry a full 1 quart in the BDU trouser cargo pocket--drink all of this, collecting the empty canteens prior to boarding--fold your nylon kit bag and place it into the open trouser pocket to act as a thigh PLF pad. This will allow all your LBE water to remain for use on the ground.

Male Paratroopers awaiting boarding at green ramp should be able to go to the packing shed and urinate without de-rigging (unbutton your fly......) Female Soldiers need to experiment with traveler's relief recepticles ("Lady") 1-800-526-4784 Camp-Mor 80976, $5.99) to see if its feasible to urinate without derigging. If not, they'll have to de-rig, relieve themselves and be re-inspected by the jumpmaster; the price one may have to pay to be "Airborne". Relief bags in the plane--or even urinating into a designated 5 gallon water can like the Rangers did enroute to the night jump into Panama will work for planes without latrines and/or cramped conditions.

If water is plentiful, wet-down your canteen covers so evaporation can cool the water inside. If water is in short supply (the desert) shave without water by electric razor or using handy baby wipes to moisten the face for shaving by razors with lubricating strips. Use your MRE drink mixes to flavor your water. Make sure you drink, drink, drink. If water runs out completely do not eat--digetion takes water. Collect more fresh water by solar still, collectinng rainwater/dew or purify stagnant water using water purifier devices which will be described in future AES articles. Water is needed IN the body more than on it.

Another scientific finding is that a little bit of water taken over time during strenuous activity (rucking) is better than stopping to drink a quart at a time. Drinking-on-the-move with a tube system like the Camel-Bak(c) System on sale in the outdoor sports section of the Mini-Mall Sports Shop ($29.95) is more tacticle than using both hands to drink the issue canteen--if you don't drink all of it--it'll slosh and make noise--not so with the Camel-Bak(c)'s flexible bladder. U.S. Army SF and Navy SEALs use Camel-Bak(c) which can be filled to the side of the ALICE rucksack--it doesn't haave to be worn on the back.

Return to Paratrooper 2000, click on M4 5.56mm Carbine with M203 40mm grenade launcher