Matt Six Actual
10 hrs · Madison, WI
Load carrying efficiency: How much is too much? The old saying 'you can't have too much ammo, unless you are trying to swim' may not necessarily be accurate. As a security guy, when I first got to Iraq I was carrying eight carbine mags on my vest, four in a subload on my leg, and I had a go bag with six M4 and six AK (team had mixed weapons) stashed in my seat of my truck. By the time I left Iraq I was running a plate carrier with six mags and I had three extra in a shingle on the back of my TCCC pack.
Carrying 12+1 mags in a full vest along with the standard gear of the day plus the Medic kit was a lot and impacted capability. It can be done but should it be done? How can modifying other variables allow for load reduction? How can modifying the way the load is carried improve capability?
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- Chuck Haggard, John Miner and 5 others like this.
Noah TramposhDepends entirely on the mission. But yes you can carry too much.
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Noah TramposhI was never into carrying much on my legs. I like the carry the right amount of gear while avoiding shit i dont need. Everything strapped to you affect mobility. And shooting and moving go hand in hand. I have noticed a stark shift to minimalist setups nowadays. I think its a good move. Everyone tried to be iron man with huge carriers, plates covering every patch of flesh and it didnt work.
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Mike GriffinTo answer a few of my own questions: Looking back I wish I had trimmed that load down much faster than I did. I was running a Diamond Back tactical version of the Paraclete RAV. It was like seven pounds of nylon before you put armor in it and then I was carrying ammo, radio, pyro, medic kit, and personal blow out kit. I could have put that on a plate carrier tailored back mags and cut my load by at least 10-20%.
Subloads suck. This seems to have been learned and forgotten as subloads become popular again. Tying your leg to your torso limits range of motion and creates resistance within the limited range of motion you do have. I went from a 6004 and and quad M4 mag pouch to all waist height pouches and holsters (occasionally I can be caught with my old 6004 still) to avoid this. If you need space below your armor I recommend one of the UBL deals or a offset for holsters. You can also deconflict that side by limiting gear on the armor from 2 o'clock to 4 o'clock.
On the software side: There are times that you need volume of fire but my experience is that a lot of times quantity is used to overcome an inability to identify a target or an inability to hit a target. Tweak those two and you can reduce your volume. That may mean more optic than an RDS.
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Chris HillCarried 12 mags on me in the Stan. A drum in the day pack for the saw gunner and 3 or 4 m16 mags We were going on loooooong foot patrols with little possibility of qrf getting there in a timely manner and we constantly were denied air. I had no issues operating with that load. Iraq may have been different but in my case the load out was appropriate. If I was in an urban scenario where the squad was moving Id revamp my load out. Our course of action was to fix the enemy in a gun fight then call 120's 81's or use our own 60's
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Mike GriffinChris makes a good point about resupply. This, to me, is where HOW you carry the load comes into play. Balancing a load and not just throwing pouches on armor. How much do you need 'right now' and how much can be stowed in a pack. How many emergency reloads do you have?
I like having one or two belt mounted M4 mags now as my emergency reload. Then 3+ on a plate carrier and anything else in a small pack. The belt mounted stuff may be in conflict with a large ruck so keep that in mind, that was not my environment.
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Jonathan WeaverObviously it is very mission specific as to what you carry and the fine line between too much and just right. As CONUS LE, a 30 round mag on my body for the M4 complements the 30 in the gun. For situations where it may be needed, I have 3 more on the PIG on the seat next to me.
Have talked with some SOF guys that ran DA missions in Iraq with only 3x M4 mags on their plate carrier.
All so very mission specific and only those who have or are performing your missions will be able to answer this for you
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Chris HillI didn't like a sub load for that environment either but I run one now as my Civvie life doesn't require me to carry giant radios mortars and other shit other ppl should be carrying or walk ludricrous distances through Taliban high country.
The SF guys profile differs as he likely has a friggin stealth flying saucer on station to shoot laser beams at the enemy if they need it. Also they aren't a bunch Of 18-22 year olds who think they are better at hiding than they really are. End of the day it's about the mission. If you have a truck you can easily put 4 on you one in the gun and 16 in the truck somewhere.
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Mike GriffinI agree, mission drives the gear train. As a result of the ammo question earlier where someone asked about carrying 500 rds of ammo and expending that much every day I am trying to build some more realistic structure to how people are tailoring there loads when given the flexibility.
Some people don't get to choose what or even how they carry their gear, some people can choose freely, and others impact how and what subordinates or team mates carry.
Keeping the above in mind, how are tailoring your gear? How much and where (1st, 2nd, 3rd line) you are carrying it?
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Chuck HaggardPaul Howe quote; As for combat loads, look at how much ammo and how many weapons you are carrying. I have watched folks carry 12-20 magazines on their body and in my opinion, it is too much. You cannot effectively maneuver with that weight nor sustain any aggressive operation tempo for any length of time. Generally 4-5
magazines in an LE environment is more than adequate for any situation.
Let’s do the math on this one. If you critically hit a bad guy with one out of three rounds you fire, that is 10 people per magazine (30 rounder). Carry five magazines and we are looking at 50 people you have critically injured. Multiply that times five officers on a tactical team and you have 250 folks you have neutralized. I think you
get my point. If the situation becomes so critical that you need more ammo, you will have plenty of dead and wounded on your side who will not need theirs. If it makes you feel better, keep a few extra magazines in the trunk of your car.
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Mike GriffinJonathan Weaver, great point about the SOF guys rolling out with only 3 on a PC and maybe one on the belt. This is somewhere I see some significant crossover with LE as most of the guys I have talked to would say they went slick like that in order to navigate barriers (fences, short walls, climbing in windows, etc) which seems like a vague commonality to domestic LE.
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Matt Levi"METTC" Randy Hugspath
I carry 3+1 in the gun as LE. Sometimes one on my belt as well. If assault packs are worn I have 2 more in it.
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Mike GriffinThanks for posting that Chuck Haggard. My takeaway from Paul's statement is to focus on making hits. I admitted earlier that there are times where volume of fire are potentially needed a renewed emphasis on target ID and accuracy can reduce rounds fired which reduces rounds needed to be carried.
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Matt LeviThreat, environment, etc all must be evaluated.
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Chuck HaggardBeing on patrol, etc., is not the same as being on a COP. If I was on a vehicle in a .mil scenario there would be a lot of ammo on board. My cop car was a shift ammo emergency resupply point if it came to that, but when I bailed out of the car it was typically with the AR and an extra mag. 60 rounds of 5.56 is a lot of ammo in a CONUS LE scenario
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Matt HaughtI used to carry a pair of spare 20rd mags for my CCW gun, plus often a J-frame and a full 6-round speed strip. That put me at 67 rounds of ammo for a daily carry rig. It just seemed a bit much, given the weight and increased odds of printing. Now I'm down to the primary, one spare standard-capacity mag, and occasionally the J-frame and speed strip loaded with another 5 rounds. 31 rounds of 9mm and 10 rounds of .38 Special should be more than enough, and I don't feel like I need a pair of suspenders to keep my pants up.
That said, I will keep a few spare mags in the truck if I'm going on a trip.
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Mike GriffinAgreed. I kept my go bag full of mags, ammo cans with m4 mags in vehicles, and I had some larger ammo can for some munition I can't remember that would hold like 98 M4 mags stashed in our TOC.
On the other end of the spectrum to cutting way back on ammo carried I will relate this story: The first FOB I was on was colocated with an IA base. There was a Kurdish guy that I would see at one of the OPs pretty regularly with IA. He was the only one of them that would consistently get behind the gun when rounds would start coming. He went out on a patrol one day as it was told to me the patrol was disabled by an IED initiated ambush and lightly engaged until the IA ran out of ammo. At that point everyone on the IA side was butchered. By the time QRF showed up, these guys were in pieces. Not running out of ammo before QRF shows up is critical BUT so is fire discipline and having a plan to break contact, etc.
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Chuck HaggardIn cases like Wanat not going full auto and doing mag dumps might be a good idea
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Tore HaugliA few observations (my background is conventional infantry/recon);
1. Mission dictates gear - yes. Is that a viable approach across the total spectrum of operations, for all types of units? No. In a high intensity scenario, you will not be able to adapt load-outs to missions as easily as you can when doing low intensity operations, working from FOB's and COP's.
Reference minimalist loads, it might be viable for some units doing specific missions, but not necessarily the correct approach if you are in an infantry platoon about to execute a deliberate attack against a fortified enemy position. Maybe even as part of a larger offensive.
My loadout as a platoon commander, plt. sgt or patrol commander, wearing a plate carrier when using armor, and belt-kit when no armor, consisted of 4-5 mags on rig, 1 in the gun and 2 in my assault pack. This was standard, and did not change. I ditched my sidearm
I distributed the load across my 2nd line and assault pack in order to reduce my overall bulk - a priority for how I/we do battle drills is prone shooting when possible. So being able to lay flat is important.
2. Small unit tactics and engagement techniques/ammo conservation
For me, working within a platoon, the overall capability of the platoon is what decides how you solve a problem.
The only thing that matters when engaging an enemy is having an effect - if that effect is killing, wounding or causing him to seek cover is secondary to actually having an effect. As opposed to only making noise. Of course, killing him is the best outcome, but not a guaranteed outcome.
Volume of fire still needs to be accurate, and is also regulated by what the platoon commander wants to achieve - suppression or covering fire. Suppressive fire should be non-ammo intensive, as it should be sustainable over time. Covering fire is where you increase volume and rate of fire, to ensure that the enemy's freedom of action is limited for duration of the action requiring covering fire.
Volume of fire will also necessarily be greater during the initial phases of a contact, when the goal is to achieve fire superiority. Also critical here is locating the enemy before returning fire.
Ammo conservation is key - proper fire commands should be given, targets should be called out using ADDRACs/3D's, engagement ares should be called out at the buddy, team and squad levels to ensure overlapping fields of fire as well as proper security within the squad area of responsibility. Using the weapons best suited for the targets presented is also key.
All efforts should be directly linked to the platoon commanders maneuver plan - if you are stuck slugging it out with an enemy position, you need to adapt and revise the plan.
Fire rates should be directly linked to what is going on in your sector of fire - no need to shoot if nothing is happening. Observe instead.
The final key to successfully executing SUT, and ammo conservation as part of this, is communication. Communicate vital information in order to help build SA at the leadership levels within the platoon:
-What did you see? (Enemy strength)
-Where are they grouped? (use reference points, or grid ref if viable)
-What are they doing? (Enemy actions)
-What have you done to affect the enemy?
-What was the effect of your actions? (defeated, displaced, unknown)
-Any recommendations you might have (enemy dispositions, terrain etc that gives you an advantage)
I don't think we ever went below 70% in our team in Afghanistan on small arms, in any of the TIC's we were in.
3. Balance of mobility - protection - firepower
This is always a difficult subject. That being said, if I was going on a mission where I knew ammo would be a critical component to mission success, I would seriously consider ditching torso protection to maintain mobility. PPE has reduced the instantaneous death rate by 5%, from 25% to 20%, with regards to penetrating trauma.
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