Small Unit Patrol Class

I am smoked. That is what I told John Mosby after attending his Idaho Small Unit Patrol Class this past week.

I spent two days prior to leaving home packing and repacking my ruck sack in the vain attempt to cut some weight. The front room was strewn with gear for two days prior to my step off. Based on my SUT (Small Unit Tactics) class last year I learned a valuable lesson to pare down the crap I carry. This past week I relearned that lesson. I carry to much crap! And I’m sure a vast majority of us all carry to many comfort items. This was a hard trip to pack for in all honesty. Idaho in the spring can be a very fickle girl. Do I pack for a warm clime or a cold one? In a fit of frustration, I packed a little of both.

I don’t do very well in the cold and in all honesty I am a pussy in the cold weather. My feet are what bothers me the most. Once they get cold it seems to take over my whole body and I just can’t get warm after that. In the end I errored on packing more for cold than a warm environment. Glad I did. It rained  most of the first day of class, then sleated, then rained some more. The daytime temp was in the 40’s and nights dipped into the 20’s.

Rendezvous was at 0800 on Friday in Idaho Falls and we did a caravan to the training site. First order of business was to ruck up a hill to the actual property that we were going to setup a base camp. I come from the flat lands, and attempting to hump up a hill that had 3 inches of slippery clay in full kit, a ruck, an assault pack with 20 preloaded ammo magazines and a 10×12 target steel plate  about did me in a quarter of the way up the hill. I started to loose vision and thought I was going to pass out, twice. This was a deceiving little hill.

After a quick introduction, John gave us a few moments to setup our hooch’s. We jumped right into the safety brief, then John gave us a quick primer on the brown Idaho mud by having us low crawl through the muck. Then the rain started, then it sleeted, then rained again and didn’t end until after dark on the first day. Day one, twelve hours of non stop movement.

Class consisted of, well you can read John’s breakdown of the SUT and SUP classes here. I’m not going to give a blow by blow. That just wouldn’t be right. I suggest you take a look at the Ranger Handbook to get a feel for the class also. What we did is pretty much line by line out of the Ranger Handbook. Besides, it would take away from when you attend the class.

What I will do is give a high view and all is predicated on the crawl, walk, run form of training.

Standard patrol formation. In this case the diamond formation. 4 and 8 man teams.

React to contact drill

Hasty attack

Hasty ambush

Break contact

React to ambush near and far

Movement Formations

Movement Techniques



Tactical Marches

Movement During Limited Visibility

Danger Areas

Patrol Planning


Common Sense

KIA and EPW body searches

We did a night shoot react to contact drill to demonstrate how the muzzle blast from your rifle can mess up your night vision. Lots of laying in the cold mud. Camouflaging oneself and your gear, did I say laying in the mud?  Then we did every drill, multiple times with full ruck sacks on. Total smoke fest, in a very good way. I am in no way complaining, it felt good!

There was also an exercise on moving quietly through the brush. Listening for the sound of a twig breaking, the sound of a jacket scraping along a branch, or velcro separating as you bend down. Ask me how I know that?

A couple take aways for myself. Pack lighter! strip all the nice to haves out of your bag, you don’t need it. I’m here to tell you from experience.

All you need is the pants and shirt you are wearing with one spare set.

Plenty of socks. Two pair per day. (I always changed into clean dry socks when I had wet pair on and before I crawled into my sleeping bag for the night.)

Rain gear. A GI light weight Gortex jacket and pants combo or a civilian equivalent. And one could also use a US GI poncho if that is all you had. I would suggest wearing your kit on the outside of your coat. Some guys didn’t and found it is a bitch to reload quickly when your mags are under a coat.

Fleece jacket or some sort.

Silkies, long johns tops and bottom. One set. I slept in these at night.

Stocking cap. I carried two.

Baseball or boonie cap. Rolls up easy and you can stick in your pocket when you are not wearing it on your head.

Gloves. Some kind of shooting gloves. I used a pair of nomex flight gloves. I also had a pair of winter gloves on hand.

Sleeping system. I used a US GI three piece sleep system. You can pick one of these bad boys for less than $100. The system comes with a light weight bag, a heavy weight bag and a Gortex outer shell. What is nice about this system is you can use parts of or all three together. The Gortex shell is going to keep the damp and rain off you and still let sweat and body moisture out.

Sleeping pad. I used the newer GI inflatable type. But any brand will do.  Just something to keep a barrier between you and the ground. It is amazing what a half inch of padding will do to keep the cold away from your body. Something I figured out the second night. If you stick your sleeping pad between the layers of your sleep system, the pad stays put and will not slide around underneath you all night long.

For this trip I bought a hammock. There are a ton of brands out there. Some costing $60 and others that run all the way up to hundreds. I bought a Hennesey Hammock from a guy at work and I will never sleep on the ground again! The hammock I used had a rain fly and mosquito net that weighed less than two pounds and comes in a little stuff sack that compresses down nicely. I would also suggest getting two sets of hammock rap rings. I’m not a knot tying guy and you can pull your hammock down quickly and be on the go in nothing flat with these. See video below.

Magazines. I used Magpuls but ran into an issue. Magpuls can hold thirty one rounds, this is bad because the spring becomes so compressed, it causes the top most round to hang on the feed lip and not load into the rifle chamber. Stripping one round from the mag solved my problem. This happened to me four times. Glad it happened in training and not in a real life or death situation. I became very proficient at SPORTS (Slap, Pull, Observe, Rack, Tap, Shoot)

Leg rig/Battle Belt. I own both but did not bring either to the class.

Dump pouch. I should have brought one of these. I forgot and left it at home.

Plate Carrier. I run a ShellBack plate carrier. By far worth the $150. I attached a cheapo Condor water bladder carrier to the back with a 2 liter Camel Bak bladder inside.

Multiple tourniquets.

Misc items. I had a small self built first aid kit. Advil is my friend. A butt pack that has bungie cords, chem lights, fire starting kit, and a whole lot of other “stuff”. I also packed a woobie and a GI poncho. A small stainless steel camping cup with folding handles. A GI “E” tool, extra tent stakes and para cord.

MRE’s. I field stripped my MRE’s. By taking the meal pouches out of the cardboard boxes they come in, you can stuff two entire meals into one brown outer plastic bag. By folding the top of the outer bag over and using a small piece of duck tape you can seal the top and keep all the contents in the bag. The tape also allows you to reseal the bag after taking out what you want to eat.

After this trip I think I’m done with MRE’s. Out of the 8 meals I had packed only one meal heater actually worked. The other seven heaters failed. You can find after market meal heaters online. Below is a review.

I just couldn’t eat cold MRE’s without gagging. I lived on the MRE cheese, peanut butter, trail mix packages and crackers for three days. Only on the last day did I get a heater to work enough to have some potato soup for breakfast. It was delicious! Exquisite cuisine that you can only get in a green package made by the folks at Wornick in Tennessee. I’m serious it was awesome.

So I bought a Jet Boil system. I am going to pre-package rice, beans and what ever else I can vacuum seal and stow it in my ruck. I’ll keep a few MRE entrees on hand that I can heat with the Jet Boil system. I hate dry heaving.

Boots. A good comfortable water resistant high ankle pair of boots can really make or break your day. My good old reliable pair of Altama’s lost a sole and I will retire them to un-envious duty of being used for grass mowing now.

PT. Let me say this. If you don’t do some sort of PT or haven’t PT’d in a while your gonna suck at this class and hold everyone up. I’m not a PT nazi by any stretch, but I can find time to workout with my schedule. Burpee’s can be done anywhere, and in the last six months I did a lot. Running up seven to twelve percent grade slopes suck on a good day. In shitty weather, in full kit is even harder. I can’t imagine what it would have felt like if I still smoked.

I drove close to 3000 miles (round trip) to go to this class and it was worth every mile and every hour I spent in my car.

If not for the class itself but just having the ability to meet like-minded people and train with them was beyond cool. I will also tell you all this, I spent my 50th birthday standing in the rain, rolling in the mud, and learning new skills and in the end having 12 people that I met three days prior stand in a circle around me signing Happy Birthday was priceless.

Fucking far out!


Get training, get your mind right, get your body right.

A very good experiment, multiple videos

Whether you like him or hate him James Yeager does put together some pretty decent video reviews and instruction. There is some “language” so don’t watch  or de-tune your ears. I’ll do a short review here.

What I found pretty cool about the series in all is the first video , one of the middle videos and in particular the last video.

James lays out all his equipment that he is taking on his bug-out experiment trip. And he makes it pretty clear that this experiment is a get from point A to point B nothing else. He is not setting up any illusions that his group is bugging out to survive in the woods. A totally impossible, unrealistic and delusional idea. The experimental hike is set on a 10 mile loop that I am guessing is located in a national forest of some sort. The terrain looks pretty undulating overall and pretty tough.

What I found VERY interesting is all the things we pack in our bags that we think we need, James also found out that a lot of stuff he hauled with him wasn’t not only not needed but wouldn’t be used or never used. One particular example, flints and matches versus a lighter!

Another take-away, a sleep system and a plain old GI poncho or tarp. Water, he mentions at the end that he never really drank enough water.  And lastly? Are you in shape? I think James found out he really wasn’t in as great of shape as maybe he thought? I dunno but he talked about it a number of times through out the video’s.

In all? some kernels of lessons learned that can be taken away for yourself.

I sat down on the front room floor last night and dumped everything I had out of my BOB, reorganized, and repacked into a smaller back pack. I didn’t loose any equipment in my repack and am pretty pleased that what I did have was not “extra”. It still weighs 30 + lbs. without a sleep system or water. But my thought is a good portion of the clothes I have in the bag will be used immediately as I change into a more comfortable kit to walk in.  If I were to bail and walk home from work? 64 miles one way. 4 days walk minimum. But that would be in total grid down situation. Otherwise I call for backup.

Hope you can filter and learn something.

More Physical Fitness

A few weeks ago I wrote about physical fitness and the importance of it.  On my last  attempt to do a forced road march of 15 miles, my feet blew out just short of our “finish line”.

My friend and I, fell back to our home bases, did a regroup and  this past weekend  we re-attacked the trail. This time we kept our goal at 12 miles, the weather was awesome and stayed in the low to mid 60’s. We kept up a pretty good pace and hit our 6 mile mark in just under an hour and forty five minutes. We stopped for some lunch (Yummy MRE’s) did a change of socks and a liberal application of mole skin on my feet. We continued on our little adventure with the wind at our back and the sun to our side. Full bellies and much jocularity. What a day! what could go wrong?

About mile 9 I had extreme intestinal discomfort that caused an emergency diversion off the trail and into the woods. Here is another lesson, always carry toilet paper. The little folded pieces of TP that are found inside a MRE bag are woefully inadequate.  My friend had enough foresight to have stuck half a roll of TP in his pack. What a life saver!

The last few miles went uneventfully,  and we exfiled to our waiting driver code named WF  and her pretty gnarly truck.


Lessons learned:

Carry TP! the weight and the relatively small size of half a roll stuffed in a ziplock bag is worth its weight in gold. I personally have never experienced the urgency that I had in the field like this before. I don’t eat to much junk, but something I ate the day before just did not agree with me. If I had had an “accident” sooner in the day, I sure would have been miserable and been in for a long afternoon.

Take care of your feet. Keep moleskin and foot powder in your kit. I wore the same boots as last time but used my powder and moleskin liberally. I also pulled the laces a tight as I could stand them. This kept my feet from sliding around in my boots.

Continue to eat and drink even on the move. Dehydration sucks, even on relatively mild days the elements can suck you dry. And if you are suffering bouts of diarrhea drinking is even more important. Carrying some sort of anti-diarrhea medication is probably a pretty good idea also.

I would also throw in some chest and shoulder weight workouts into your routine, it will save your upper body hauling a pack for a long periods. We only humped 35 lbs. packs (dry weight) not including water. My ruck buddy and I discussed getting some blue guns to carry on our next ruck, just to add that little bit extra and realism to our exercise. But with the current gun paranoia in this country, I am sure we wouldn’t get but a couple hundred meters down the road before some douche would have the cops or DNR hassling us about open carrying two inert 9 lbs of blue plastic.

Anyone who hasn’t done a long road (ruck) march (regularly) has no clue how long it will take them to get from point A to point B, let alone with with any sort weight on their back. FM 21-18 is a pretty concise instruction on road marches and all the planning that goes into pulling one off and the physical requirements needed.

I really don’t want to come off preachy, but for those that believe that they can not be physically fit to survive what ever apocalypse they are preparing for are delusional. With some friends and spouses help it can be a motivating experience to at least try and get in shape.




Could not have said it better myself

Last week WF and I went on much needed trip to the Ozarks. We had a threefold reason, one was to relax, two was to meet up with some family members, and three was to look at some property.

We looked at 4 different pieces of land all pretty varied in terrain. Some of the properties we visited were fairly flat, rolling to hanging off the side of a mountain. Where am I going with this thread? well, On one piece of property I hiked up a pretty steep incline to check out the view. I kind of jogged up the incline in boots to the top, then that’s when it hit me! I felt like a fish laying on the bank sucking air. WF and my brother were at the bottom of the hill watching me so I walked over the ridge and out of view. I put my hands on my knees and started gulping air. I was not going to let the flat landers below see me suffering. I am not in bad shape for my age, but man that was a rude awakening. So below is a video from Southernprepper1. Time to up the intensity of my workouts.