The Soldier's Load and the Mobility of a Nation - Col S.L.A Marshall (US Army)
A Partyzantski Tuesday Book Review
One factor that bears down upon us all - prepper, military, police, Wal Mart shopper alike is the load that one carries. One cannot help but sense the physical pull of gravity, especially after carrying a pack all day. It robs you of attention, sensation and energy with every step. To provide some historical perspective on this subject, I am breaking out the S.L.A. Marshall classic, "The Soldier's Load and the Mobility of a Nation" to provide you with some solid background on how much people can realistically carry and do their job.
|a used Large ALICE pack, complete with external frame and straps|
On to the work itself. Written by S.L.A. Marshall, one of America's foremost military historians, the work was copyrighted by the Association of the United States Army in 1950. That the work is over a half century old does not invalidate the conclusions of the work one iota. If anything, modern military leadership should turn their attention to this work to better comprehend just what they are asking of not just Infantry and other combat arms, but of logisticians and clerks alike. They all carry the same general load, dictated by policy for the most part.
An aspect of the work is the intersection of psychology and exhaustion. Marshall addresses this early in the work, relating several examples of strong men becoming utterly exhausted in combat. His statement that "worn out men cannot fight or think" on page viii of the introduction is such an immensely important consideration, a consideration that the community may not have a full appreciation of. This issue MUST be considered, in rest plans, duty rotations and other expectations. The character who expects to be firing on all cylinders, day on day on is not just mistaken, but is dangerous to the well being of his fellows.
|Not an endorsement of the NVA and VC, but take a look at what they carried as light infantry.|
The second half of the work, "The Mobility of a Nation", gets to the operational and strategic reasoning for moderating loads effectively. Note that you NEVER will have enough transport assets. Being judicious is one of the most effective combat multipliers out there. On page 84-85, there is a Russian example given where the logistics needs of the Russian soldier are considered. Multiply that simple requirement over the masses, versus the "Iron Mountain" of American logistics and you will see the absolute advantages of carrying less. Just don't skimp on your boots, or you will regret that choice. Here are links to boot reviews by Outdoor Gear Lab and Backpacker Magazine.
Col Marshall wraps it up in the end with a neat bow, linking mindset and mobility through a series of vignettes from his personal experience and that of the staff. What I desire the reader to take from this is the concept that there is a great benefit in discipline of the ounces. You are preserving your spirit, energy and capability for the true work at hand, and shunning the role of pack animal.
|If you spend time outdoors, you will WANT one of these .... the WOOBIE.|
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