roy elderkin wrote:This is becoming interesting, and it would seem that we are not learning anything from history, we do so at out peril. The jacket was produced to fit the use and style to not only benifit the horse but the soldier. The water bottles and container were lifted higher, so that the kidneys did not get beaten to death, every thing else was carried so as to give freedom of movement, and acess. If the soldier was seperated from his horse he could still function and survive, without having to carry an overweight back pack which seems to be the norm these days.
Centuries of warfare has taught us that we can go without extra clothing and other superflious peices of equpment. And whats more go without changes of clothing for days even weeks. Even washing was one of the things that one could put with, whilst in the bush you could smell a well washed body, or some one who has brushed their teeth. Tom will know this from his time in SW, the smoker is the best you can smell him a way of. But to train soldiers to ride horses with an extra 100 pounds or so on his back, is like putting the cart before the horse. It does not require a degree in phyisics, or have attended the finest equestrian training centre in the world, it is sound logic and common sence developed over the centurys, by military horsemen.
Indeed, in thinking on this, I think what the primary problem demonstrated by this photo is in fact the pack. The soldier is overburdened with an extremely heavy pack.
Having a super sized pack has been the American standard since after the Korean War. Prior to that time, American packs weren't very large as a rule. The WWI and WWII era packs are actually very small, in comparison to the present ones. What caused the expansion in size I have no clue as to, but perhaps the first think that should be asked by the Army is why the huge pack?
Indeed, normally, we'd also see the soldier wearing an armored vest, and he'd be even more heavily laden. However, I would note there that the modern armored vest is load bearing, so it would serve some of the purposes that Roy notes.
Anyhow, what would seem to be the case here is this. We have some sort of special troop, serving in an area where he might encounter local horses that could, and might need to be, used by the troop. He's been dropped there with a really big ruck for some reason. What this would suggest is that:
1. He might just drop the ruck and forget it. I suspect in the real world this would probably be the option. Of the photos of actual deployed SF folks, on horses, in Afghanistan, none of them are carrying rucks. The habit of dropping packs is an age old one in the U.S. Army at that. Frontier infantrymen in the 19th Century almost never carried their packs, and instead just wrapped everything up in a blanket and wore it like a bandoleer. That was still done as late as the Spanish American War. Dropping gear was almost universal during WWII.
2. The Army might come up with a more reasonable size pack. The troops can't do anything about it, but this is extremely large. Having said that, I see troops carrying what look like big book bags, not all that different from what my son takes to school, in the airport all the time, so I wonder if that is what the service has done?
3. If faced with the need to take this big ruck with him, and while in a horse area, a better option would be to use two horses, one for the man, and one for the pack. This also would reflect a prior custom.
4. Finally, if he really needs the big ruck, and has one horse, he might frankly be better off rigging the ruck to the saddle, and walking. That'd take the weight off of him, help get him where he's going, and not hurt his back. Not ideal, but I frankly think having the horse carry the ruck is a better option than having the horse carry the man and the man carry the ruck.
On that, I have a pannier designed for a stock saddle that rolls up and can be tied behind the cantle. The sole purpose of it is to allow a man with one horse in use to go ride in, and get what he's picking up (probably a game animal), deploy the pannier, and walk back in while the horse carries the load. This is a solution to a similar problem. Sure, I'd rather ride. But given the choice between trying to ride with an elk, I'll walk.