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The problem of overloading the individual fighting man has been with us since the beginning of time and continues unsolved into today's warfare. This problem has been the subject of a great deal of research and writing. The age old question of what to carry into battle, and what to leave behind, remains a perplexing dilemma to commanders and soldiers alike.
Arms, armor, shield, entrenching tool, knapsack and four days? rations, all else is excessive. Haelyn Andu, -5 HC.
Roele?s ?loyal legion? marched and fought 670 miles in 48 days through broken terrain without any appreciable loss in effectiveness. Descriptions of Roele's hard-fighting divisions portray units who discarded all but the essential equipment to fight and win on the battlefield:
The coat issued in the early days of the war had already given place to a short jacket. Overcoats were soon discarded. ... Nor did the knapsack long survive. ... But the men still clung to their blankets, worn in a roll over their left shoulder.
Many ancient armies carried 70-80 lbs of equipment ? in Rjurik the legions carried 80-pound loads on the long spiked stakes slung across their shoulders. Brecht infantrymen found themselves with similar loads regardless of which city they served. Their ration carts and pack horses did little to relieve their individual loads. The Mairadan foreign Legion marched 25 miles a day with 100 lbs packs it is said ? though one expects this is but typical Khinasi exaggeration.
Unfortunately, history is replete with examples of commanders who turned their men into beasts of burden, and consequently lost the ability to move their men and individual equipment to the decisive place on the battlefield. Perhaps the most notorious modern example is Baronet Varumel Avan in his disastrous Adurian campaign to found a new colony. Burdened not merely with the usual equipment borne by a legion, but fully 10 litres of water, a parade uniform, prepared defenses for use in the evening (in the bizarre belief that such burdens would hasten the march), spare weapons, and so on, the equipment list imposed by the Baronet was a crushing 160 lbs. Small wonder that the jungle tribesmen danced around the doomed legionaries like terriers around a bear and that only a broken half dozen men from the thousand led by the Baronet staggered free of the jungle in the following weeks.
An important consideration in determining the proper load for the individual is a thorough understanding of the physiological capabilities of the person carrying the load. Finally, the impact of psychological and emotional factors upon a unit and its men must be considered.
During the formation of Anuire into a single political entity by Roele Andu, the emperor ordered Baron Barumel Boeruine, third son of the Arch-Duke, to initiate investigations to measure the physiological cost to the soldiers of carrying various loads under various degrees of temperature. These and other studies in Brechtür concluded that a soldier could sustain indefinitely exertion of 5/3 to double the norm (measured by the amount of food required to avoid weight loss), but could do no more without requiring rest every other day.
The Baron was particularly interested in measuring the effect on infantrymen who were carrying different loads under varying conditions of temperature. His research demonstrated that a load of 50 pounds could be carried by a well-conditioned soldier in cool weather with little difficulty. However, in warm weather the same load produced an impairment in physical strength, and the soldiers did not return to a normal state until some time during the following day. The baron?s research led to significant reductions in loads during the Basarji campaigns compared to the loads borne in the Rjurik and Brecht campaigns.
The Baron?s experiments demonstrated that soldiers continued to show physical distress regardless of the degree of physical conditioning. The Baron concluded that the optimal weight of a load was 1/3 of a man?s bodyweight, and that it is impossible to condition the average soldier to march with a load once it reaches 70 pounds no matter how much training the soldier was given - though training could increase the maximum load by 10-20% compared to green troops.
A number of factors beyond heat affect the maximum load that can be comfortably carried. These include the total weight of the load, rate of movement, grade or slope of the terrain, the firmness of the ground, and the physical condition, size, and fitness of the soldier. But equally important was morale, discipline, and in converse, fear, hunger, and shock.
Leaders must collectively recognize the problems of overloading and resolve themselves to reach a viable solution for the soldiers under their command. Ultimately the leader is the key, for he can negate all the planning, and studies on the spot. The tendency to plan for the ?worst case? contingency and plan the load accordingly must be resisted at all costs.
Ideally every load should be selected for the specific mission of the army ? while few would send troops laden with overcoats fit for the Rjurik winter to burning Saere Sendoure, many officers burdened their men with great amounts of water which served merely to slow them to a crawl. Soldiers should be equipped with the bare minimum of equipment to achieve their aim ? every pound beyond this is wasteful, and serves merely to slow and tire the legion.
Task-arming has much to offer towards reducing the unit's load requirements. Resistance to this concept stems from a lack of confidence in our soldiers' abilities and a desire to keep all assets in one spot for the unexpected contingency.
A good general thus plans to march his men not in straight lines, adding such foodstuffs, water, etc as are required to 'march the distance', but rather identifies where their troops can re-supply, and loads and marches them accordingly with a constant bearable load. In this way their army can maintain combat effectiveness indefinitely.
So neutral parties who can provide supplies must be courted and their aid won, or bought. Plans must be made for supply to ensure the army is neither left hungry nor over-burdened. The general who fails to do this, and simply assumes that if they double their soldier's food supplies then they double their range, brings about their own failure.
Modified From: Battlefield Mobility And The Soldier's Load by Major William L. Ezell, USMC
, 04-05-2009 at 06:44 PM|
Last edited by , 10-23-2011 at 02:06 PM
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