I just read Army Aviator’s post on the helmets, et al. He brings up some good points, and perhaps even ones that he didn’t intend to. Just because the Army does things a certain way, doesn’t make it the right way for a survivalist. The main difference is that the Army has a long logistics capability and an individual’s will vary so much that even things that may work for one group, might not work for another. An example is the tarps used on the 5-ton trucks. For the Army, the plastic tarps are a better system to use. They’re lighter, cheaper, and they can come in different colors cheaper and easier. Basically, they’re more disposable than the canvas ones (that only come in green and painting them tan for use in arid climates only works marginally well) due to unit cost. Well, that approach is probably better for the Army, because they have a huge logistics system that can provide for that, and hence their relatively short service life is not a major issue. The problem is that individual survivalists don’t have a logistics “tail” like that. So for a survivalist, the canvas might be a better option for the same use. Another example is battery powered gear. The Army devours batteries at an enormous rate. In Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), it became critical to a point that batteries rivaled fuel in maintaining the advance. There’s no way that an individual survivalist is going to maintain that tempo of battery usage, yet I see several who continually purchase battery powered devices like there’s no tomorrow. Some of these item s may have great value, and some may not, but they all take batteries and usually these folks have no “battery plan”. The same goes for any piece of equipment, or even tactical doctrine. What works great for the “Big Army” might not work for me. Many people with no exposure to the logistics of warfighting don’t understand just how much effort goes into the Army’s logistic system. They just figure that “if it’s good for the Army, then it must be good for me.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. The Army’s a good place to get ideas, but you must always look at your own needs to make decisions on what to buy, or how to do things. As a side note, the MICH came about to have a compatible helmet for Special Forces (SF) individual commo systems. They made it cover less area for a variety of reasons. For SF use, the higher sensory effectiveness was the trade-off for area covered. The ACH is basically the MICH without the commo integration. Per square inch, the ballistic protection provided by the ACH is actually higher than the K-pot. [The Kevlar PASGT helmet.] The material used is indeed lighter, but it will stop more than the 1980’s Kevlar in the K-pot. The problem is that the old K-pot covers more head area so the ACH may indeed be less effective. The USMC has decided against the ACH (though Force Recon uses the MICH) and will be issuing a helmet made from the same lighter, stronger ballistic material of the ACH, but built in the same profile of the current K-pot. That will give them the same higher ballistic protection, without sacrificing the area covered. As for the sidearm, there is another example of not buying the way the Army now does things. They went with cheap aftermarket magazines, and got predictable results. (Factory mags worked 100% in the desert). What many don’t know is that the mag problem was actually identified a few years earlier. It was pretty common knowledge here when the Navy guys started having the same problems with their P226s here a couple years before OIF. At first I figured some swabbie was swapping out mil-spec mags for their private mags, but sure enough the Navy had bought aftermarket mags for the SEAL‘s SIG P226’s. They were all collected up, and factory mags issued, and P226 failures disappeared. (Shocking!) The bottom line: just because it’s U.S.G.I., it may not be the best. – “Doug Carlton”
JWR’s Note: Some of the readers of my novel Patriots will remember the Doug Carlton character. It is the pseudonym of a real life individual that I have known since college. (We went through ROTC at San Jose State University together in the early 1980s.) “Doug” is a former U.S. Army pilot who now works in the civilian transportation sector.