This Marine captain figured out exactly how many pounds equal pain in combat
That seems to be what separates a high-performing Marine from eventually becoming a combat casualty, according to new research carried out by a Marine captain at the Naval Postgraduate School.
In her award-winning master’s thesis, titled Paying For Weight In Blood: An Analysis of Weight and Protection Level of a Combat Load During Tactical Operations, Capt. Courtney Thompson argues that being able to move faster is more important against near-peer enemies in combat, and the all-too-common trend of burdening troops with heavier loads can lead to an increase in casualties.
“I was pretty shocked that 15 pounds of gear on top of 43 pounds of gear was already enough,” said Thompson, referencing the typical 43-pound fighting load of flak jacket, kevlar helmet, and other personal protective gear.
Thompson, a combat engineer, based her research off a variety of data, including an Australian study that looked into the effects of combat loads on physical mobility, historical research, and a Government Accountability Office report, which found that the average ground combat soldier or Marine in 2016 was typically carrying a staggering 120 pounds of gear.
She also plugged data into a computer simulation pitting a 13-Marine rifle squad against a small insurgent force armed with AK-47 rifles. After factoring in individual weapons, physical fitness levels, marksmanship, and the squad member’s billet, she found that troops fighting under heavier loads were more likely to become casualties, while Marines that were able to move faster — and thus, were harder to hit — brought about a 60% reduction in casualties.
To put it in grunt-speak: ounces equal pounds, and pounds equal pain. And Thompson, for her part, figured out just how much pain can come as leaders add more gear to the packing list.
“It’s a problem that we’ve had for a long …read more
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