Do you ever wonder what our soldiers are packing these days? Sgt. Michael Galloway, recruiting and retention non-commissioned officer at Brazil National Guard did a mental breakdown of his field pack and load bearing vest.
"A (National Guard) soldier usually packs and unpacks his equipment at least three to four times a year," he said.
He started with the field pack, or "ruck sack," as the soldiers call it. Depending on the mission, the entire pack could weigh 30 to 90 pounds.
On the outside is a folding entrenching tool that weighs about four pounds. A two-quart canteen when filled with water, weighs about four pounds also. Three pockets across the back contain a poncho and wet weather gear top and trousers.
Hanging underneath is a chemical protective outer garment, or CPOG (soldiers seem to have an acronym for everything). It weighs about 13 pounds, depending on the size of the soldier. It consists of a top, trousers, rubber boots or outer shoes, chemical gloves and a decontamination kit.
Inside the field pack are a pair of spare boots, a dry uniform, undergarments, cold weather gear (depending on the climate during the mission), three MREs (Meal Ready To Eat packs), radio pack (depending on the mission), night vision gear, personal hygiene items. A sleeping bag fits on top. It's made of Goretex, fits into a compression bag to make it smaller, is water-proof, weighs about four pounds, has is adaptabe to arctic or temperate weather.
"The first time I saw these sleeping bags was when I was on active duty in 1997 at Fort Huachucka, Ariz. It's beautiful country out there. That's where the Buffalo Soldiers were. They were Apache fighters," Galloway said. The load bearing vest could weigh between 15 to 40 pounds, once again depending on the mission. Inside is the basic load of ammunition holding approximately 210 rounds, about two hand grenades per soldier, medical kit, compass and flashlight.
A pouch (butt pack) is on the back with a day kit. It contains an extra set of gloves and handy items to keep with you, such as extra tools, a snack or two and something fun and personal. Galloway said he always like to keep a good book in his. Hanging on the side is a bayonet, which also serves as wire cutters.
A protective mask for chemical and biological agents would be around a soldier's waist. Also issued to each soldier is a Kevlar helmet. It's a ballistic helmet designed to deflect bullets and fragments. It weighs five pounds.
Each soldier receives a standard issue M-16 shotgun.
"But it may be another firearm depending on the mission. Everything is dictated by the mission," Galloway said.