Friday, March 11, 2011

Equipment durability check

As far as weapons and combat equipment go, US troops today are offered gear that has been thoroughly tested and tortured so that it will survive the day-to-day hell that they have to go through. For a good look at what is expected of this equipment, check out this thread (56k go somewhere else) of Marines going through the Jungle Warfare Training Course. I never got to go to that course, but I did go to some courses that really tested man and equipment, where if your stuff wasn't up to par, you would find out there because you would break it.

To give you one example, I was issued bunny boots at the Mountain Warfare Training Center in California, and snickered when they handed me those cartoonish looking things with no visible insulation. My feet always, always, always get cold in the winter time, and the day I arived as base camp the temperature was 20 degrees and dropping fast. I knew I was going to be miserable, but that didn't turn out to be the case. Those boots not only worked while dry, but when I fell through some ice while crossing a creek, and ended up nipple deep in water and mud, all I had to do to get my feet warm again was pour the water out and stuff my wet socked feet back in them. Simplicity ruled the day, and I didn't fail to notice that fifty year old rubber and wool boots worked better for me than anything I've ever bought from Rocky. I now have a pair of those boots sitting in my basement.

Going back to the Jungle Warfare Training Center pics linked above, imagine being soaked in mud and crawling through holes all day, and knowing that if your equipment breaks then you may fail the course, or if you're lucky just continue on with broken laces, watchband, sling, or whatever. The rifles that they're carrying are made of rubber, as Uncle Sam does not buy Colt rifles to beat up in training unless they are expected to be fired. Something I see often on gunny shows on the Outdoor channel or in gun rags is that a featured weapon will be dunked in water for a second or two and then fired, or covered in Mississippi mud in a tupperware container and then shot into the berm to somehow justify that the weapon is indeed reliable. There is the always present talk of the M16/M4 rifle not being able to take the talcum like sand of the Middle East, or that some new phaser-gun looking rifle from H und K standing up to the most demanding dirt North Carolina has to offer, when in fact it is much more deep than that. Here is a glimpse of the real conditions a battle rifle for the US Warfighter is subjected to for up to a year or more at a time:

But hey, its got a dust cover, right! Despite the rantings of naysayers, the M16/M4 platform has done pretty well to withstand the rigors of combat in conditions like that. You're not going to be able to duplicate those conditions in five minutes on the range either; years of fighting in all sorts of climates will tell you what works and what doesn't. The M16 may have had some teething problems when it first arrived in Vietnam, but from all I can tell they got that sorted out and it has gone on and done wonderful things.

Do you think your equipment would take abuse of this magnatude for a year or more?

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