Warrior Ways: Explorations in Modern Military Folklore

By Eric A. Eliason; Tad Tuleja | Go to book overview

1
The Things They Bring to War

Carol Burke

Luck is always borrowed, never owned.

—Norwegian saying

Today’s US Army soldiers deploy with three sets of grayish green ACUs (Army combat uniforms) or three sets of the more trendy “multicams”; with a helmet that comes with pads, strap, and cover; with three pairs of G.I. boots that soldiers mold to their feet by wearing them, when new, in the shower; with canteen and cover, trenching tool, “Gerber” (a utility knife), and gloves; with both goggles to protect from sandstorms and sunglasses (“eyepro”) that are only marginally more stylish; with wet-weather gear, jackets and fleece for cold weather, and even subzero-weather gear and insulated underwear. The outerwear is of high quality, but soldiers complain that the basic uniform is far too heavy in the sweltering summer heat. They haul their Kevlar body armor (with attachments for neck, shoulders, and groin) and the hefty “small-arms protective inserts” (SAPI) plates that fit into the vest and protect against high-velocity rifle rounds, and two sleeping bags—one for warm weather, one for colder weather with the option of fitting the former inside the latter. Then there’s the “bivy,” the bivouac sack that insulates the sleeping bag from the cold and wet. Any soldier will tell you that the only way to sleep in Army sleeping bags is nude so that body heat will be reflected off the synthetic bag. They also carry an air mattress, a rain poncho, ammo pouches, a laundry bag, a waterproof washing bag, more protective gear, a “CamelBak” (water reservoir), and eating utensils. Everything, along with a few personal items, fits snugly into one rucksack,

-19-

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