When you are tasked with a long range operation that will require you to be out for a long period of time, it will be important to select your gear wisely. This is to save space and weight. I feel that alot of people in militias have a bit of a misunderstanding of what is required or helpful in order to be successful in these types of operations, whether it be because of a lack of experience or poor leadership and guidance.
First thing you may notice about alot of militias is there is a hodgepodge of different camouflages and colors worn by people for various reasons. Some of the people wear multicam and the older universal camo because they don't really test the camouflage capabilities and they just go with what the military uses. Others just grab whatever color camo looks cool or is cheapest at a surplus store. This is all a recipe for disaster. I would not be okay with this in my group (if I had one). I would have each member bring the patterns they intend to wear and test them in one of the drill events. Basic tests to see how well they are able to blend in. Of course there would be flexibility like having one camo pattern for the top and another for the bottom, as well as a different one for the gear worn. Also, I would not ask that everyone have the same pattern. The point of a militia is flexibility and freedom that the military would envy.
You camouflage pattern may work in your area, but the next important thing is to make sure the materials used in the uniform will work for the task at hand. The material should be strong, rigid, and fast drying. No tennis shoes for mountain patrolling. Boots should have sewn on soles instead of glued on (trust me, this is incredibly important).Everyone should invest in wool socks to help the feet from being victims of abuse from all the work they will be doing. Stuff like this is the type of guidance that I feel is lacking among militias all over. But this is just a drop in the water among other things. More to come, but remember I am just giving my two cents as someone who has had to do these things according to the military way, which is rigid and without reason most of the time.
I don't want to sound like a hypocrite, but if you are part of a militia and you fancy yourself a leader, you are in charge of observing and setting your group up for success. This may include laying down the law on what people do or have. Let's face it, most of the derps in the group are gonna be shitty shots and be less than capable at selecting gear that works. The common thing most will go with is MOLLE because "THATS WHAT EVERY OPERATOR USES". This is where I would lay down the law.
You must make sure that these kids and maybe even old geezers understand how to select their battle rattle. I would start them off with the old LC-2 gear and then upgrade them to the LBV88 Enhanced. The mag pouches are in a set position and you can dictate how they lay out their rig for easy weight distribution. I feel that until these people learn competence with their weapons in terms of reloads and manipulations, they are not at a level where they will know what to do and where to put pouches on MOLLE. I know some of you may be freaking out right now, but the point is if you take being in a militia seriously, your subordinates better have competency. It isn't a game and you have to decide when it is not okay to let people be ignorant and let them just trot around with their tacticool setup without even being able to keep up. One obvious telltale sign of being a newb is looking at your gun while reloading or looking at the pouch while you are getting a fresh mag. Everything should be familiar and intuitive to reach. Just my advice for those who are serious.
Having the right pack for the job is about as important as having the right tool for the job. It is frustrating to see alot of people either going with the standard ALICE pack, or going with regular camping packs. It is as if the people selecting them do not understand what the limitations or their gear is. This is frustrating for me to see. However, a good remedy for this is looking at how you should select your pack.
First thing is you need to make sure the pack has a camouflage pattern that works with the area you are in. Keep in mind that this is a big deal and can be aided by using a poncho around the pack or getting a dye and dying a military surplus pack cover to a brown or green. Camouflage isn't gonna make you invisible, but it should aid in helping you be somewhat harder to spot when you are not moving. That said, in Alaska, I would stay away from black, DPM, and Flecktarn. Even though price is a factor for some people, it should not be a deciding factor with gear. Don't go cheap for convenience, and don't adopt surplus because you think Uncle Sam knows best. Get experience and make a wise choice that will aid in mission accomplishment. I will do an article on packs in the future so stay tuned.
When it comes to individual gear selection, it is hard to lay down the law on what everyone will carry. Availability and price are huge factors here in Alaska, but the general principle is having a required gear list for the mission and recommended items on the gear list for comfort and sustainment. I would personally put water and food in the list of required items. You can not slack on those items unless you are okay with causing a deficiency in combat effectiveness.
First thing I would like to cover is mission essential gear. Depending on the operation you are tasked with, your required gear may be more, or it may be less. For example, if you are just doing a long range patrol, you might not need much ammo or stuff for digging in and making a fortified position since the goal would be to stay on the move as much as possible. However, if your team is to set up an Observation Post deep behind enemy lines, your gear list may be incredibly long and this can have and effect on the sustainment items you bring, just for the sake of saving on space and weight. If you are experienced and you run your guys through enough training, they will soon get a respect for what they can live without and what they really need. Things like ridiculous amounts of hygiene items are a big problem when you are only out for a week. I know of people who think it is a good idea to have canned food, cookers for dehydrated food, and deodorant on an operation that requires stealth. Personally, I find all of it ridiculous.
If your goal is stealth, space and weight savings is best. Just remember that no trace means no trace. Even body waste may need to be taken with you or buried after being coated with a powder that will prevent dogs from tracking and picking up your scent. Scent and noise are big factors to consider in stealth. Stay away from the crumpling Mountain House meals. Just go down to your surplus store and collect cases of MREs or go on Amazon and collect Mayday 3600 rations. One big square will last 24 hours. It is not going to have the variety of an MRE but it sure as hell saves weight and space without cutting your caloric intake, requiring preparation, or provoking thirst.
Other things that bother me and kind of show inexperience are things like people packing sleeping bags, tents, and enough clothes like cammies to change every day. In my experience, you will rarely have the luxury of being in a sleeping bag and even less of setting up a tent, even in an OP due to the priority being camouflage and a low profile. Changing clothes is a luxury, except for things like shirts and socks. Usually it is best to have one pair per 2 weeks you may be out. Typically it is pointless to change cammies until the pair you start with is torn or no longer serviceable.
I could go on for quite a while about pieces of gear that are excessive, but I will keep it brief and stick to the meat and potatoes. Please, for gods sake, don't follow the Nut'n'fancy idea of 'two is one, one is none' BS. Don't sit there on YouTube and just take peoples word for what gear to take and carry. Find out for yourself by getting out for a week, stay mobile and watchful and have an objective area to observe for a few days. Might change your mind on what you think you need and what you can live without or simplify.
What I am hoping people will take away from this is that I am wanting to share my knowledge with those that are serious about serving in a militia. If you are serious and it is more than just a way to feel cool and be comfortable as a tacticool derp, I would take advice and learn things with a serious attitude. dedicate a month or two to get training, attend courses at places like One Shepherd, and learn to be proficient, competent, and overall professional. Don't make an ass or yourself by thinking you know everything because you have a buddy who did a tour in Nam or Iraq. They don't have all the experience they need. This is a different game entirely. You are alone and you won't have Blackhawks to come and bail you out. You are alone. Therefore, you better be able to take care of yourself and operate accordingly. Follow the example of the military and I promise you will fail yourself and your unit.
Do It Rite
Alaska-Based Youtube Vlogger, Retired Marine, gun enthusiast, and passionate firearm and gear evaluator.