UPDATED 22 September 2011


Wednesday, August 30, 1995 with 2008 UPDATE

PROBLEM 1: new allegedly "better" rucks are too large

The Army is blindly going along with the usmc designed MOLLE rucksack that is so big you cannot raise your head with it on to fire your weapon while in the prone. In fact, it is larger than the current large ALICE rucksack and will be filled with even more gear to overload and slow the Paratrooper down to nil mobility. Being longer and with a detachable daypack, this rucksack is making the same mistake as the Combat Pack Large Internal Frame that preceeded it; it will be too long to jump safely without dragging along the aircraft floor. A 1st TSG (A) staff member writes:

"I've got some comments on streamlining Paratroopers. In '90, the only unit in our division with the new Lowe internal frame ruck, was XXX LRSD. On a jump, a young recon guy had a very bad exit, got all twisted, died. His whale of a ruck was packed to the rucks full extension, over 7,000 cc's, which is huge by even the largest mountaineering packs. Being winter, and him being LRSD, his ruck weighed well over 100lbs. not to mention the rest of his gear. A combo of the weight, and the top of his ruck dragging on the ground, caused his death, as confirmed by ABN Committe investigators. Thankfully XXX XXXXX made sure the XXXX remained with ALICE Larges, when the other inf bn's got the new Lowes. I do believe LRSD stayed with the Lowes. During a JRTC rotation, I was scared of heat injury with the big temp difference, so I ended up using all my own purchased water blivets, jumping in 10 qts of water. Feeling bad for my AG, and my new TM LDR on his cherry jump, I jumped their mortar rounds, and I managed to procure 400 extra rounds for my pig. Along with most of the gunners in my bn, I do not break down my [M-60 Medium Machine Gun] "pig", to better fit in a 1950 (I prefer to land with weapon intact). We were jumped by XXXX pilots, just getting qualified to jump paratroopers, so we had to stand at an actual 10 minutes. I slugged out, and could just not physically stand straight up with all this combined, so I made my way towards the door, stooped, and 1950 slightly dragging. I had the worst exist of my life, hit the aircraft, and woke up on the DZ, a little sore, but good to go."

It seems clear that weight like mortar rounds should be removed from the individual Paratrooper and placed together in a door bundle with an All-Terrain, All-Purpose Cart (ATAC) that would be slid out the jump door just before or after the stick using a piece of truck bed liner or SKEDCO plastic for directional sliding without getting stuck in the door. Once on the ground, the SKEDCO can enable the door bundle to be dragged off the drop zone to a safe location quickly without de-rigging the bundle. The U.S. Army should insist that new rucks be shorter and not just go along with what non-Airborne units might be conjuring up for equipment. The Soldier's load CAN be solved by living with LESS and SMALLER equipment, not be increasing our gear size and volume.


A visit to Fort Bragg's DRMO (Defense Reutilization Marketing Office), also known as the military's "surplus store" results in viewing at least several bins of HUNDREDS of broken metal ALICE rucksack frames: a graveyard.

Talks with officials within the Airborne community tell a tale of frames breaking at a rate of six for every 100 Paratroopers during a jump. It's common knowledge that the Coleman Compact "Ram Flex" synthetic frame is more durable and jumpable, though it is too long for shorter Paratroopers rigged under the chest reserve to exit without dragging on the aircraft floor, and when worn in the field, impossible to raise your head while in the prone position. The new MOLLE rucksack slated to replace the ALICE system appears to suffer from the same length problem and is breaking under the stress of mortar base plates and ammunition loads in Afghanistan.

Close-up of modified Coleman RAM-FLEX Synthetic frame fitted to ALIE rucksack

Frame behind head prevents it from being raised to fire in the prone position

The dilemma is that Coleman will not mold the frame shorter to fit the ALICE ruck without a major order, and the Army doesn't want a frame unless it is shorter to fit the ALICE rucksack!

Coleman synthetic frame cut to fit the ALICE rucksack

Fortunately, a hacksaw and five minutes transforms the Coleman frame ($32.00 available from General Jackson's on 6207 Yadkin Road in Fayetteville, NC 28303 (910) 868-1806 or U.S. Cavalry Store via mail-order to the same size as the issue frame. General Jackson's will even do the modification for a small fee. The procedure is to cut off the top open parts of the frame to the solid center. Then narrow the top by cutting down through the first strap slot and cutting off the end pieces stopping at the next slot.

Rounded frame edge where frame is narrowed for ruck to slip over

Round the square edges for a smooth edge not likely to snag. 2LT (now CPT) Brent Orr, USARNG suggested this modification and took the photos you see here.

Lower frame/waist belt detail another view of the synthetic frame

You now have a shorter version of the same frame that the Airborne/Special Operations Test Board at Bragg uses to outfit combat medics: it is jumped all the time with no breakage or complaints. A sample full-size and cut-down frame is on display at General Jackson's for you to examine in person.

In 1994, 1st Tactical Studies Group (Airborne) Director, Mike Sparks contacted Coleman and suggested they modify their synthetic frame slightly so it could fit the large ALICE rucksack.

Despite their initial interest changing the way they mold plastic even if it meant MOLDING LESS was too expensive for the cheapskates at Coleman. Fine. So we hack off the top ourselves. Then Coleman discontinued the line of frames. We suspect an anti-military mindset exists in that company not unlike we discovered with Cascade Designs, maker of the Platypus water bottles. We hope that ever since the 9/11 attacks on America in 2001 that their attitude towards military excellence has had a turn for the better as we have went with SOMEONE ELSE'S synthetic frames (though on overly large MOLLE rucksacks) and SOMEONE ELSE'S flexible 1-quart canteens. If the Airborne wants to keep jumping the large ALICE it had better BEND ie; get a better plastic frame that BENDS or is drastically stronger if metal or else its going to "BREAK" ie; end up jumping overly large, unsafe MOLLE rucksacks and it will be our Paratroopers that are going to "BREAK" their legs and ankles and lower backs, with some DYING needlessly.

Nevertheless, in 1997 we proposed the synthetic frame to the Fort Benning Army Ideas for Excellence Program (AIEP).

Of course, we got a rejecto-gram from Fort Benning; "home of the Infantile (Infantry)" = closed-minded narcissists who think their foot-slogging, unimaginative methods AKA "shit" doesn't "stink" (when it does).

What is really fascinating is the evaluation letter by a 1-507th Airborne School Major who is completely out of touch with reality of the "I-am-more-Airborne-than-you" school of snobbery who doesn't give a shit about the troops.

"His rucksack frame has never broken in a 100 jumps" he boasts---as if the THOUSANDS of broken ALICE frames at Fort Bragg's CIF is a figment of everyone's imagination? As an aloof staff officer, he probably only jumps "nerf rucks" full of personal comfort gear, (while the troops have to carry machine guns, mortar bombs, base plates, spare barrels, tripods etc.) so Surprise! Surprise! (Gomer Pyle) his frame never breaks. What an asshole bureaucrat. However, he is not an exception, there are many Airborne snobs running around giving the Airborne Operation a bad name and making everyone hate them (Hint: the REAL REASON why didn't the 82nd Airborne drop into Baghdad International Airport?). America already has enough selfish, insecure, insufferable snobs in the USMC, Rangers etc. beating their chests on how great they think they art.


Notice if they were going to be absurd on roads they could have been TOWING their rucksacks hands-free--if they had ruck-wheels. Their OD GREEN gear ruins their camouflage--more proof that all TA-50 should be a neutral TAN or LIGHT BROWN color.

If General Gavin were around today he'd have fired the smug rucksack problem-denying egomaniac bureaucrat on the spot, or made him get in his car and drive to CIF and see all the broken frames and write a 3, 000 word report on "Why Rucksack Frames Break During Parachute Jumps". What America needs is an EFFECTIVE, FORWARD-THINKING Army Airborne that can do 3D maneuvers decisively to get the Noreigas, Saddams and Bin Ladens of this world. This only happens by pro-actively ADMITTING TO PROBLEMS (humility) and SOLVING THEM (creativity) to create military EXCELLENCE. Its ironic that the Airborne watchword used to be "STAY ALERT, STAY ALIVE" and yet so many jump snobs don't live by it.




ALICE ruck rigged to HSPR & HPT LL

I recommend that at the point where the straps on your harness, single-point release cross to form an "X" that instead of girth-hitching your hook, pile tape, (HPT) lowering line, clip a snap link.

Girth-hitch your lowering line loop to a snap-link so upon landing, you can quickly detach your lowering-line without having to de-rig the Harness, Single-Point Release (HSPR); saving valuable seconds in a combat situation. Your rucksack's shoulder straps can be pulled out from the HSPR and used to shoulder it off the drop zone. The current Airborne operation is far too complicated and cluttered with extraneous straps/buckles, hardware, and is a major time waster hindering our forces from proceeding onto their combat missions.

Another possibility is placing a small piece of shock-absorbing honeycomb cardboard in the frame in case the Soldier should fall while sliding down a fast rope, rappelling ropes or simply fall from a height. During the October 3, 1993 ("Blackhawk Down!") raid into Mogadishu, an Army Ranger fell off a fast rope, injuring his back and interfering with the mission.

Paratroopers jumping deep behind enemy lines on the non-linear battlefield must carry everything they need on their backs. Their frames must not break during the critical period of forced-entry. A small amount of Soldier-level initiative can solve their nagging problem; the issue metal frames can still find a use in non-Airborne units where they are subject to less stress.


We are not convinced that the two-rucksack system in the MOLLE, which has the main rucksack in an extremely long and large form is the optimal existence load-carrier. The key complaint with the ALICE rucksack is its slow to open and access the contents inside, thus some want a smaller day-rucksack with a quick-detach feature likt the MOLLE has. What if you modify the existing rucksack with quick-release Fastex buckles? Look below:

PROBLEM 3: Slow to retrieve items from inside ALICE rucksack main compartment

With this common to the SF-community modification (done by local off-post sewing or send in your ALICE ruck to from U.S. Tactical Supply or Tactical Tailor), you can access mission gear frequently while still able to leave the rucksack at the cache point.

Many places off-post that do rucksack modifications or the mail-order gear outfits can do this for you for under $20. The U.S. Army should modify ALL of its large ALICE rucksacks with quick-release FASTEX buckles, new synthetic frames and better shoulder and waist pads in light of the fact that the marine designed MOLLE system is a miserable failure.

PROBLEM 4: not enough volume in large ALICE rucksack for needed mission items

Modified ALICE (MALICE) rucksacks

U.S. Tactical Supply and Tactical Tailor will modify your rucksack with up to 5 extra outer pouches, to carry M18 Claymore AP mines, sleeping bags, e-tools, Camel-Baks etc. But of course you must OWN your rucksack before spending $60 on these mods. This mod used to be SOP for SF troops going through the "Q" course or going operational at Bragg.

U.S. Tactical Supply MALICE Rucks
34653 Ranchero Ave.
Albany OR 97321
Phone# 541-928-8645
Fax# 541-791-2965

Tactical Tailor MALICE Rucks
Tactical Tailor
10203 Lakeview Ave, S.W.
Lakewood, WA 98499
(253) 984-7854
(253) 984-6696

We must always remember the larger ruck a ruck is, the more likely its going to be filled, resulting in overloading the Soldier and ruining his mobility. The proven ALICE rucksack, especially with extra pouches has more than enough volume to carry needed mission gear in a fast-to-retrieve manner.


We have to face the fact that we are NOT training as we would fight in peacetime.



What do Soldiers in COMBAT carry in their rucksacks?

Look at the picture below from Vietnam.




An Army Sky Soldier just back from Afghanistan combat writes:

"I would like to pass on a few things learned during our recent deployment. It won't be in a specific order so bare with me.

I guess the biggest lesson I learned is nothing changes From how you train at jrtc. We all try to invent new dilemmas and ttp's because it's a real deployment but we end up out-smarting ourselves. Go with what you know, stick with how you train.

Some of the things in particular were Soldier's load, because you're in the mountains of Afghanistan you try to invent new packing lists, or new uniforms. Some units went in with gore-tex and polypro only, when the weather got bad they were the only ones to have cold weather injuries that needed to be evaced. We've all figured out how to stay warm during the winter so don't change your uniforms. It was never as cold as I've seen it here or Ft Bragg during the winter.

Because of the high altitude's and rough terrain we all should have been combat light.

That's the first thing you learn at jrtc [Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, Louisiana], you can't fight with a ruck on your back.

We packed to stay warm at night. Which was a mistake; you take only enough to survive until the sun comes up.

We had extreme difficulty moving with all our weight. If our movement would have been to relieve a unit in contact or a time sensitive mission we would not have been able to move in a timely manner. It took us 8 hours to move 5 clicks. [Editor that's less than 1 mph]

With just the [Interceptor hard body armor] vest and [Enhanced Tactical Load Bearing Vest or the MOLLE vest] lbv we were easily carrying 80 lbs. Throw on the ruck and your sucking.

We out-smarted ourselves on how much water to carry. We took in over 12 quarts per man on our initial insertion, which greatly increased our weight. In the old days you did a three-day mission with 6 quarts of water, and that was on Ft Campbell in the summer. Granted we were all heat exhaustion [casualties] at the end but it's more than do-oable. I say go In with six quarts, if your re-supply is working than drink as much as possible keeping the six quarts in case re-supply gets weathered out. We also over tasked our helicopter support bringing in un-needed re-supply because we've lost a lot of our needed field craft.

We didn't even think to take iodine tablets [to purify water from melted snow etc.] until after we got on the ground.

If you're in a good fight your going to need all your birds for medevac and ammo re-supply.

Bottom line is we have to train at the right Soldiers load, relearn how to conserve water. [Editor: CARRY THE DAMN AMMO YOU WOULD IN COMBAT NOW IN PEACETIME!]

How many batteries does it take to sustain for three days etc.? Take what you need to survive through the night and then wear the same stuff again.

The next day, you can only wear so much snivel gear it. Doesn't do any good to carry enough to have a different ward robe [set of BDUs] every day. Have the bn invest in gore-tex socks, and smart wool socks; our battalion directed for every one to wear gore-tex boots [Intermediate Cold Weather Boots] during the mission, you can imagine how painful that was. I gave up my boots to a new Soldier who didn't have any so I wore jungle boots, gore-tex socks and a pair of smart wool socks and my feet never got wet or cold even in the snow.

You need two pairs [of boots] so you can dry them out every day.

All personnel involved hated the lbv its so constricting when you wear it with the vest, then when you put a ruck on it cuts off even more circulation.

I would also recommend wearing the body armor during all training, I doubt if we'll ever fight without it again.

It significantly affects everything that you do."

We are not designing rucksacks for COMBAT (Carrying dense, heavy AMMO) we are designing rucksacks for CAMPING (carrying sleeping bags and extra clothing etc.

Thus, when we go to combat and throw in HEAVY AMMO LOADS on top of the soft camping gear, the gear breaks--just like MOLLE did in Afghanistan after just some light movement by marines in a static position.

The solution is to design the next rucksack to CARRY AMMO FIRST, which means a strong packboard with shelf and THEN----add an ability to attach a fielding living existence "module" of a LWSB, poncho-tent, space blanket ground cloth etc. which can be detached so Soldiers can go into combat with just the bullets, rockets and grenades in the attack.


1. Ammo (dense/heavy) carrying first priority = packboard/frame carries load not fabric, ruck is for COMBAT not camping

2. Field living gear must be minimal (LWSB, Gore-Tex jacket, space blanket, poncho-tent), perhaps a bottom pouch where the entire thing comes out as a roll or a day/assault pack, compressed by vacuum bags

3. Ruck should be LOGPACK that can be collected en masse and refilled by organizational levels with ammo, water and food (in that order)

4. Personal stuff/home feeling items carried in buttpack (minimal) or day/assault pack, main ruck will not be used to be home away from home shenanigans which bogs Soldier down to 100+ pounds etc.

5. Some ruckframes (at least 1 per 9-man squad) join together and can be fitted with wheels to be an all-terrain, all-purpose cart/sled (ATACS) so loads can be TOWED instead of carried when the terrain allows it. ALL other individual frames should have minimalist wheels with capability for bigger wheels and telecoping tow handles.

For a peek into how a possible future rucksack should be constructed with a METAL, ADJUSTABLE FRAME---look at these superb power points showing what Paratrooper Brian Heitman did to improve his ALICE rucksack:



Meet a Delta "Dragoons" Heavy Weapons Company in the 82nd Airborne in the video below:



The goal of our Delta Weapons company video was to showcase the "icing" positives of having vehicle-mobile heavy machine guns and anti-tank/assault missiles that are parachute forced-entry capable in the hands of skilled U.S. Army Paratroopers, though they'd be far more capable in M113 Gavin armored tracks. ALL Army units should use digital video cameras to record their training and play it back to critique it for tactical excellence. They do this in high school, college, and NFL football--why not for COMBAT training when its even more important and lives depend on it? You'll see what its like to jump out of a C-130 from a "bird's eye view" via our "ruckcam" we attached to the outside of a rucksack.

Meet the "RuckCam"


The sad fact is the MOLLE rucksack is a miserable failure; it cannot carry heavy loads of ammunition and mortar baseplates...its modularity breeds overloading through too much available volume. Many of us think the answer is a sturdy pack frame made of metal that can be carrying heavy items via a cargo shelf or inside a nylon rucksack. Army combat veteran Kevin Aston has created such a rucksack depicted above.


Please take the time to go to his web site and consider the case he makes for a sturdier rucksack than the MOLLE.

Kevin writes:

"I have been testing the ruck in various configurations. I will give you my impression. The large pack is great for monster loads. What I found works best for military applications is the use of the frame/suspension system coupled with a large modified ALICE pack.


I found that being mobile is key. But the need to have various carry options just as important. With the large ALICE the system is like the old tropical ruck. You can then strap stuff to the BOTTOM of the shelf if more room is needed. This leaves the top 1/3 of the frame open to carry just about anything. I found that putting my patrol pack on top the ALICE allows a secure means to carry and with just a couple quick snaps of the fastex I am off with the patrol pack only. Now other things like medic bag, ammo, water could also be carried this way."

The design is a direct result of the mission requirements.

The motivation to begin this project stems from my obsession with backpacks. Early in my military endeavors, I had a series of bad experiences with issue military backpacks. The last disaster occurred while on a long-range patrol. The shoulder strap on the ALICE backpack disintegrated. I ended up repairing the shoulder strap with 550 cord, but you can imagine the abuse my shoulder took! After that, I tried multiple after-market backpack accessories without much success. I was fortunate enough to do some training with a team from the RAF Regiment where I managed to swap for a Berghaus ROC with one of the Regiment members. This backpack became my prized possession and served me well during the 1991 Gulf War.

Time passed and I started to accumulate a number of packs in search of the perfect backpack. Most of the backpacks had great features, but were not quite what I had in mind. I own a bunch of internal frame backpacks, but decided an external frame backpack offered the most options. I looked at all of the external frames on the market and found none of them met my needs. So, I finally decided to design a rucksack that would meet my needs.

Months of doodling on napkins and daydreaming became the basis for my backpack. Several months passed as I searched all over the country for people to help with the prototype. I finally found a local company that was willing to do the metal work. I then teamed up with Custom Tactical Creations to develop the perfect nylon components. I listened to the needs and ideas of folks in the field. The end result is my idea of the perfect rucksack.

We believe the best way to carry heavy loads is with an external frame backpack. The external frame backpack allows the individual to have many more carriage options than an internal frame backpack. The historical problem with external frame backpacks has been comfort and durable construction. By understanding the principles of efficient load bearing, I have been able to design an external frame rucksack that works! This is not an easy task when you consider how complex the human body is. Strapping a heavy load onto your body can pose many problems. An understanding of the human musculoskeletal system and how it functions is important in designing an efficient rucksack. Any backpack that straps onto your body will decrease your efficiency. The idea is to find a backpack that will inflict the least amount of pain and still get the job done.

The suspension is the key. The job of efficiently transferring the weight of the backpack to your body rests upon the suspension system. A poor design results in pain and suffering. A good design results in less."

ARUC Systems
117 Skyline Drive
Eau Claire, WI 54703
(715) 552-0839 (phone and fax)


In 2005, 1st TSG (A) modified the ARUC frame system with wheels and a telescoping tow handle, creating "ruckswheels". The telescoping handle came from a KMart Pilot's case:

KMart Corporation
3100 W. Big Beaver
Troy, MI 48084




First, we need to stop this garrison Army crap of not training as we fight. Get rid of ALL buildings and live in ISO container "BattleBoxes":


Next, this means EVERY DAY we go to duty WE WEAR ALL OUR COMBAT GEAR TO INCLUDE IBA and/or LBE. This way there is no more of this I'll accept the TA-50 status quo when I'm in combat and when I get to garrison the gear comes off. No way. Make us adapt and get better TA-50 by DAILY USE. Necessity = Invention. No necessity (goofing off mowing lawns, polishing floors, filling out paperwork etc.) = No Invention.

We have already perfected a LBE vest with folding leg straps with Lee Cashwell of COMET Enterprises in 1993 that USMC Force Recon uses. It uses a split-saddle so your balls don't get smashed and has FRIES/SPIES interface (single donkey tail in back) not just STABO (two V rings on shoulder straps). How many of you realize fast ropes can have extraction loops on the end?

Are we going to fight without IBA (body armor) and just LBE? When? In the jungle?

Its not a matter of "being out of shape" (typical narcissist always-blame-the-individual knee-jerk reaction), strapping ANYTHING to the legs results in a constant energy cost. This is why we think the leg holster-I-have-a-big-penis-wannabe-Delta-Force look in Iraq is such BS. We've been down this road before.

The Field Protective Mask (FPM) is a 3-pound "Book bag" on your left leg! Get EVERYTHING off the legs. Have a minimalist SERE kit and pistol on a Rigger's belt on BDU trousers UNDER IBA as your "security blanket". We sure like the FN 5.7mm pistol more than impotent 9mm, a 5.56mm pistol would be even better.

Next, let's continue with MECHANICAL ADVANTAGE.

Get the @#$%% rucksack off your back. Huge, constant energy cost here.

Why we're pushing hard for minimalist always-there ruckwheels and telescoping tow hand. Its easy to attack a FASTEX quick connect/disconnect to the tow handle center for hands-free towing. This makes EVERY rucksack a defacto cart.

Bottom line?

Do these things and we have infantry that can RUN into battle at 4-7 mph instead of the plodding 1 mph slugs we have now.


This politically correct BS must end. We must issue Soldiers actual live ammo, rockets and grenades for them to carry in training or get off our ass and make exact dummy versions to achieve the same effect to light a fire under the ass of Soldiers, Units and Natick Labs to start producing field living gear that is drastically lighter within a context of realistic combat loads instead of the current peacetime camping mentality where they ASS U ME they have an entire empty rucksack to work with.


The 1st Tactical Studies Group (Airborne) since 1997 has online;





offered and detailed through U.S. Army official channels; commercial, off-the-shelf and equipment modification solutions to almost every problem listed (and then some like ahumm, SOLVING THE SOLDIER'S LOAD) in the appalling recent U.S. Army Natick Afghanistan Report (which is viewable here). As we also forewarned, the u.s. marine designed "MOLLE" gear has been a COMPLETE and utter failure in Afghanistan service--even for the short time marines made a token ground appearance and fled back to their ships as the U.S. Army dodges the RPGs, mortars and AKM rounds to hunt down and kill the enemy terrorists.

The bottom line is, closed-minded and small-minded people (we know all about them, don't we?) are running the Congressionally-mandated and funded Army's Soldier Enhancement Program (SEP) which could have PREVENTED this sad state of affairs by some low-cost purchases.

Want to make a suggestion to SEP?

SEP Home Page

Make a Soldier Equipment Improvement suggestion to SEP

The Afghan power points show a number of gear problems that many of us have solved and proposed solutions through SEP and Natick channels mostly for naught. The Brits have a plastic ammo box for their M240-type medium machine guns. We could have upgraded the Kevlar helmet with a better chinstrap and suspension, offered the Nomex flyer's glove with a little insulation and in a black color, ALICE rucksacks could have synthetic frames and quick-release buckles, issued a chest binocular/NVG pouch and provided a toothbrush/shaving razor cartridge attachment point on the end of the MRE spoon years ago. However, the decision makers generally don't act on lesser rank Soldier inputs. The Afghan gear report is likely going to "whitewash" systemic failures so this is why we are calling on a Soldier board to be formed and given the money, authority and time to make Soldier gear decisions to prevent recurring failures like experienced in Afghanistan and now Iraq.

Whoever is ruining SEP should be replaced by someone who listens and ACTs on suggestions for improvement by Soldiers instead of pooh-poohing (ignoring) them with words like "dislikes". If a piece of gear doesn't work, gets left behind or gets someone killed it isn't some trivial matter.

The enemy terrorists got away from our Anaconda cordon and search operation while we were bogged down with equipment, a lot of it bad, so this is not a small matter. Details:



Solution: Soldier TA-50 Board and Subject Matter Experts in every Army unit


I think you see we are furious, and rightfully so. Here is THE ultimate solution.

We've just learned that its a "Council of Colonels" that meets to decide gear for us grunts for the SEP program to "type classify" (tested to "perfection" to be declared Army kosher) when it should be the lower-ranking gear gurus who are actually humping (carrying) the machine guns, rockets and mortars from every Army command representing their specific climes/places/missons. This is why a lot of our gear sucks. Most Colonels we've run into are concerned more with form than function and are not technotactically oriented and candid. SGTs, LTs and CPTs should decide on our new gear.

The expertise of the natural "gear gurus" should be tapped and have them designated as a "Master TA-50 Specialist"---an additional skill identifier (ASI). These gear experts would go to Natick Labs and be school trained on the proper fit and wear of ALL Army equipment and have field living (survival skills) taught to them so they can advise Commanders that a hot weather desert boot is NOT a mountain boot and how to properly size Soldiers for body armor so a bullet doesn't sneak by and kill them. The Army's Master TA-50 Specialists would also train the Soldiers in their companies how to wear and maintain their TA-50 as well as be pro-active about getting better gear. The Army is strangely an organization that goes "camping" yet hasn't trained itself how to "camp". Lay on top the need for combat mobility 4-7 mph which requires smart loading and constantly improved equipment, its clear that a Soldier from every Company in the Army should go to "gear school" to become a Master TA-50 Expert. To fund this we should cancel the un-needed LAV-III/Stryker deathtrap armored car purchases and upgrade superior tracked M113A3 Gavins into IAVs for the IBCTs. Call them tracked IBCTs or "Gavin Brigades".

An Army bureaucrat informs us that Company Commanders can buy with unit funds whatever gear they need for their men from the GSA Catalog and CTA 5900 (not Army "type classified" but available for purchase: "good enough" using Army funds) but this is something that's not pro-actively done and known about. Have you ever heard about this? GSA catalog is on CDs Supply Sergeants have so it takes a bit of looking when it should be on the www for all Soldiers to see.

What we need is a Soldier's Board of lower ranking gear experts who will review new gear, get it on the GSA Catalog/CTA 5900 and then publish an annual focused list throughout the Army encouraging Commanders/units/individuals to buy these items. Apparently its ok for units to fund-raise to build up a unit fund or this purpose, too so not having the money is not an obstacle. This list of authorized field gear on GSA/CTA 5900 should be placed on the Army Knowledge Online (AKO) secure web site so any Soldier can see what the Soldier Board recommends they get ASAP.

Every year, every Major Army Division (Airborne, Air Assault, Light, Mechanized, Armored etc.) and separate unit (2nd ACR, 172nd Arctic Brigade, SF, Rangers) has ITS SOLDIERS select by vote a field gear representative who will travel to Fort Benning, Georgia to decide for the rest of the Army what off-the-shelf Soldier gear to buy and what gear to develop. Every unit has at least one "gear guru" right for this job; a pro-active Soldier who studied field gear and on his own tinkers and tests what works and does not. THE CHAIN OF COMMAND DOES NOT SELECT THE GEAR BOARD SOLDIERS. Some out-of-touch Army General does NOT select some political yes-man to be on the board to keep the troops ill-equiped and "in their place". Some DA civilian with a ponytail going through perpetual mid-life crisis does NOT decide what items are bought or developed, THE SOLDIERS DECIDE. No "Council of Colonels". Its the individual Soldier's lives that are at stake not some bureaucrat in a comfy office with one retirement already under his belt longing for the good 'ole days when the equipment they had sucked and everyone liked it. What the Soldier TA-50 Board decides AUTOMATICALLY become AUTHORIZED Soldier optional wear/use items without the current kill-joy, politically correct "uniform board" having one say in their decisions. They do a great job keeping everyone miserable and without esperit de corps during garrison hours; the field Soldier's attire should be guided by FUNCTION decided by the mud-Soldiers. Each year a list of acceptible alternatives will be decided on by the Board for Soldiers to buy/use on their own option. Each year the board will decide on commensurate with the SEP budget what items will be bought/issued to enhance Soldiers immediately. And each year the board will see what industry and Natick Labs have "cooking" and provide feedback.


The Staff
1st TSG (A)



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