Average Paratrooper 72hr kit is 103.69lbs. Paratroopers are carrying 55% of their body weight. The recommended fighting load for a conditioned soldier should not exceed 48lbs and the approach march load should not exceed 72lbs (FM 21T18)

A big hat tip to Tom Ricks at FP’s Best Defense blog for finding this. After reading through the load outs of today’s soldier in the document below, I was just floored. This is ‘not’ light infantry, and in our desperate attempt to take all of the risk out of war fighting, we are actually making it even more dangerous for them and making our forces less combat effective. That is my opinion at least.

I mean how can a heavily weighted down soldier like this, outmaneuver an enemy like the Taliban, who usually wears the bare minimum of what is required for their assaults? And if you read this report below, soldiers invariable are forced to use CAS as the only viable means of killing the enemy–just because they cannot maneuver effectively. Which is fine, if you are dealing with an enemy that is not wise to how CAS or artillery works. But this enemy is much wiser than that, and especially after fighting the world’s best military after 12 plus years of war. They know the windows of opportunity of when to attack, and they know how long they have until we bring the big guns onto the scene.

The other thing that you don’t hear too much about is the amount of skeletal and back injuries that our soldiers are suffering, because we are asking them to wear all of this crap? I suspect the VA will be busy long after this war is over.

I think these load outs are indicative of the damage highly bureaucratic organizations like the military can inflict upon itself. You have a military constantly fighting with itself as to it’s true goal–is it to win wars, or to render warfare ‘safe and sane’ to use a fireworks analogy.

Then of course there is the politics of the matter, which the west is a victim of as well. If the public is more concerned with their troops fighting a war safely and coming home alive, and less concerned with winning a war at all costs, then I blame the politicians for pushing such a ridiculous concept. It put’s into question why we are there in the first place, if in fact we are this concerned with the actions within that war, as opposed to actually winning it? I know our enemies could care less about such frivolous things–and they are purely focused on the win–and at all costs.

Of course you want to protect the troops as best we can, but how are we protecting them when they can’t move around? Or they become heat casualties because of all the stuff they are carrying. Are we fully focused on winning the war, and at all costs–or are we only willing to fight a war if it is done safely from an MRAP, while wearing over a hundred pounds of kit and a reflective belt. lol

I guess another way to look at this, is to see what the enemy is doing. Do you think the enemy has the same obsession with making warfare safe and sane, and loading down their troops with over a hundred pounds of kit? Likewise, do they believe carrying more kit than us, makes them more combat effective on the battlefield? Because in this contest over who has the heaviest load, we are winning hands down. lol

Finally, I am always inspired by the great thinkers of warfare, like Sun Tzu. These guys understood warfare and strategy, and they lived it. In this contest between the west and groups like Al Qaeda or the Taliban, we will always see the enemy attacking weakness with strength because there is no way they can take us on directly. The Vietnamese understood this in the Vietnam War as well. Sun Tzu understood this in his war against the Chu’s, and so on. This is some basic stuff here, and our military leaders continue to forget this.  –Matt


Rifle Platoon Basic Load, OEF XII, 1/A/2/504 PIR