Life in the field for a soldier?


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Drjones
March 28, 2003, 05:19 PM
I'm referring specifically to the current war, and also I suppose the last gulf war, though any input would be appreciated.

This may be a naive question, but do our men just sleep out in the sand?

From all the footage I see on the news, it seems like they just sleep wherever, no tents or anything.

Do they even have sleeping bags?

How often do they get to shower?

Do they get to brush their teeth everyday?

What's it like out there?

God, that makes me appreciate them all the more...

:(

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SkaerE
March 28, 2003, 05:28 PM
i was in after the first gulf war and before the second, but i was stationed in the desert (mojave)

anyhow, if you're assigned to armor, you sleep in/on the armor - i used to just jam my helmet into a something on the track and sleep like that.

in a Hummer, you sleep in/on the hummer - the hood's not bad.

if you're a groundpounder you may get the chance to use a Bivy sack (gortex bag) or poncho/liner combo. most of the time you do the rucksack flop for short periods.

this is all of course when you actually have the opportunity to sleep.

they dont get to shower generally. i assume that brushing your teeth would be something you do whenever you got the time. probably not often though.

QuarterBoreGunner
March 28, 2003, 05:30 PM
Never having been in the service (I tried HONEST- allergic to Sulfa drugs and penicillin) but to me it looks like the worst camping trip in the world, not to mention people are trying to kill you. I’ve read some accounts from reporters with some of the troops and it really sounds harsh.

So not only do you have to sleep on the ground, BEFORE you can sleep you have to dig a foxhole to sleep in, not to mention probably dig a trench for a latrine, maybe you get a quick wash from a babywipe, clean your weapon, check your gear, I mean damn.

All that and stay alive/kill the enemy.

Echo23TC
March 28, 2003, 09:37 PM
I'm National Guard, not Active Duty.

Having said that, the longest I personally have gone in the field without a shower is about a week.

I'm sure it's worse for the soldiers and marines in Iraq right now. Most of them have their sleep systems from the reports I've seen, and enough water to drink, brush their teeth and maybe a sponge bath - but a shower? Not likely. That's water that could be drunk!

Babywipes are wonderful things.

Also, I know that they are shaving every day so that their nbc masks seal.

para.2
March 29, 2003, 02:49 PM
OK, I was In Iraq, on the ground, first time out. The famous left hook/hail mary. Shower? Not at all from late February to early April. No-one had the foresight to bring baby wipes, but MRE's came with a "Moist towlette" which served the same purpose, if not as well. Shaving/toothbrushing was daily, Using about a canteen cup of water for both combined. Drinking water was always provided and the saying went, "if you don't need to pee, you need a drink!" Sleeping?, well for about 72 of the "100 hours" we didn't. After that, in platoon or company defensive perimeter, we brought our rucksack back about 10 meters behind our position, Dug a "hasty" (12"-18" deep pit, big enough for you and your ruck) wrapped up in a poncho liner, and used our ruck for a pillow.

LASur5r
March 29, 2003, 03:05 PM
DrJones,
I have an "adopted" son in the 101st Airborne. As of yesterday, they were sleeping in camo tents. (As per his letter of a week ago.)

Deadman
March 29, 2003, 06:52 PM
Disclaimer - I'm an Australian Army Reservist who has never conducted an exercise in desert terrain or been involved in combat.

So FWIW - from my experience of field exercises and from advice from senior soldiers -

Brushing of teeth is done when possible. Just try to minimize the amount of water used. Same deal with shaving. Luckily I frequently deploy with equipment that needs field generators ( yes I'm a REMF :p ) so I'll usually take an electric razor as the noise isn't any louder than the generators.

Showers? Echo23TC mentioned babywipes already, but nonetheless I can't stress the usefullness of babywipes in the field. Except for the non-tac. white colour. :scrutiny:

Operations are usually 24hrs a day in the military, so you basically sleep when you can. Or if you're on shift duty, sleeping can be more regular. However there are numerous tasks to be completed any given day ( equip. check/clean, refueling, guard duty etc ), so time for sleeping can still be limited.

When it comes to sleeping, I've fortunately never had to dig a foxhole, but in the Aus. Army it usually involves finding a sturdy tree, lightly clearing an area of large rocks or sticks ( but don't over do this as it could leave a clue to the enemy as to previous locations), and then setting up a fold out mat, sleeping bag and setting up a hutchie as quickly as possible.

As for discomfort. Rolling onto your side and having a rock jab you in the ribs while sleeping is annoying. :mad: And that one 5 day field exercise in 44'C heat ( 100+F ? ) wasn't the most pleasant deployment. Plus theres always plenty of dust or mud to keep you company.


However at the end of the day, I've never been shot at while deployed, so my hat is off to all the brave men and women in the Coalition who are just doing their jobs in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lennyjoe
March 29, 2003, 07:05 PM
Dont know for sure but I would guess its rough.

Im a REMF. A guy way back behind the front lines. I know, the Air Force has it easy but someone has to keep them Hogs over the fronline soldiers heads right?;) http://www.imagestation.com/picture/sraid41/p7c8dc2e03c91ac1292efa8a64c31a188/fcf76ab0.jpg

DMK
March 29, 2003, 08:16 PM
You need to watch Band of Brothers. Now try to imagine what it's like to *try to* sleep in sub freezing weather, in a frozen hole in the ground while all the trees around you keep exploding.

God bless those boys. For then and now.

M60
March 29, 2003, 11:23 PM
Wet, cold, dirty and tired. That somes it all up. You sleep in, on, or around your vehicle. Any where you can that is as dry as possible. If we dug a hole to hide in it would fill with water. Its nothing like training in the rear with the gear. All the rules go out the window. And remember, don't step on those bomblettes(sp). It really sucks.


The Pig.

Nightcrawler
March 29, 2003, 11:52 PM
Longest I've gone without a shower has been five days (on our annual ten day field exercise). It's...well, icky, but you get used to it pretty quick. Baby wipes, yes. Foot powder, yes (foot powder bath!). It also REALLY helps to not wear underpants, at least in hot/humid environments. It's just one more layer of cloth to get sticky and disgusting and sweaty, after all.

Having dry socks to wear can't be overemphasized. If you want to be able to keep walking, you NEED to have dry socks. You can live with a smelly uniform (eventually you get used to it...remember, back in medieval days, people bathed like once a month), but wet socks will rub your feet raw.

Having a spare, dry uniform on hand is nice, too. Nothing worse than trying to sleep on a cold night in BDUs that are soaked through with your own sweat.

All in all, it's not a fun experience, and those guys out there on the front lines have my deepest respect.

Being a grunt kind of bites, if you think about it. Long hours, poor conditions, little sleep, heavy things to carry around. Yet there's always people out there that'll do it. Let's be thankful for that.

jmbg29
March 30, 2003, 12:20 AM
Everybody here can help our guys/gals in the military. Go to your local Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, AmVets, etc. and find out if they are sending care packages to our troops.

If they aren't, offer to help begin a local progam. The President talked about it today.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,82497,00.html

Most of the press haven't mentioned it yet because they haven't found a way to make the program(s) help Saddam.

jmbg29 1st Vice Commander of

1st Lt. Benjamin F. Wilson American Legion Post 159 Vashon, WA

QuarterBoreGunner
March 30, 2003, 12:24 AM
Being a grunt kind of bites, if you think about it. Long hours, poor conditions, little sleep, heavy things to carry around. Yet there's always people out there that'll do it. Let's be thankful for that.

Well said Nightcrawler.

Nightcrawler
March 30, 2003, 12:45 AM
I was tempted to say that being a grunt can be the crappiest job in the world, but I dunno...

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?s=&postid=197041

I'll just say that grunt work can be AMONG the crappiest jobs in the world, at times. Other times it's fun. *shrug*

Redlg155
March 30, 2003, 12:26 PM
I was with the M109 series Howitzer during the first Iraqi war. For the first three months we slept in and around our guns. Just about anywhere you could find a spot you stuck your sleeping bag. Things got a bit better about three months in. A base camp was built and we rotated into basecamp once every 3-4 weeks. There we were allowed to "stand down" and take showers under sun heated water tanks and actually sleep on a cot. Things were pretty good there. Then you rotated back out to the firing points.

Once out on the positions we were back to doing bird baths again. We had two uniforms. Once you wore and one you washed. Most folks were lucky and had a 5 gallon bucket to wash your clothes in. Sorry, but no quartermaster laundry for us. The guys back in the rear had laundry service. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr............

As for latrine facilities we buried net poles into the ground and you peed right into the poles. :D We also had burn latrines for solid waste times. You learned very quickly how much gas to mix with deisel.

For food, well the first couple of months we ate MREs for lunch and T Rations for breakfast and dinner. Then someone got the bright idea that geee..soldiers might actually want to eat something "real", so they went into a local town and purchased some chickens. I'll tell you now...not a bone hit the sand that day!

The Middle East is a crazy place. Horned Vipers and Scorpions abound. Camel ticks and fat spiders are also very nice. You never really get used to the taste of desalineated water. Cold in the winter and hot in the summer. During the rains all that sand we stood on turned into something that would make Georgia red clay look like aslphalt.

Good Shooting
RED

Bonker
March 30, 2003, 12:36 PM
I feel guilty for sleping in my bed when our boys sleep like this...but it will all be ok when we win this thing :)

Bonker
March 30, 2003, 12:38 PM
Oops forgot to add the pic...

Dannyboy
March 30, 2003, 06:47 PM
Bonker, those guys are a lot better off than these guys.

I've slept outside in the rain with nothing but a poncho around me. But at least it was in a German forest with leaves, grass, and pine needles underneath my butt and not mud. I hate mud.

M60
March 31, 2003, 12:14 AM
Yeah!! Thats the place. Real crappy.


The Pig.

Drjones
March 31, 2003, 12:23 AM
Bonker and Danny:

Thanks for the pics.

:what:


HOW do you sleep in the rain and MUD???

:uhoh:


Poor guys....:(

Nightcrawler
March 31, 2003, 12:48 AM
How do you sleep in the rain and mud? Same way you sleep in a wet sleeping bag when it's 40 outside and you're shivering. Same way you sleep in a one one three despite the constant vibration and roaring, twenty five year old diesel engine.

You get tired enough, you can sleep anywhere. :o

D.W. Drang
March 31, 2003, 01:43 AM
I keep waiting for a post to begin "No kidding, there I was, thought I was gonna die...":evil:
See, people keep talking about how "soft" Americans are; news flash, they've been saying that since King George's War, which is when Americans first started being CALLED "Americans", as opposed to "Englishmen who live elsewhere." It was also the second of three wars in which Americans took Louisbourg from the French, the second in which they did it ALONE, and the second in which the Brits gave it back afterwards. After the third go-round, which took longer because they insisted on using English troops for the battles, they decided they could keep it after all. But I digress....

Anyway, I am reminded of this deathless scene from Casablanca, which would not have been the same starring Ronald Reagan:
Maj Strasser: He's just another bumbling American.
Capt. Renault: Don't underestimate the Americans, I was with them when the bumbled into Berlin in 1918...

Anyway, it's things like going three weeks (HA! THREE weeks!:neener: ) without a shower and sleeping in the mud and the snow in January in Korea that proves that Americans aren't all that soft after all, they just need to be reminded of what they are fighting for: laundries, clean sheets, and central heat.
And pizza, X-Box, digital cable with 500 channels of nothing to watch, hanging out at the mall, hopping in your ride and driving until you run out of road...

Justin
March 31, 2003, 04:19 AM
Tonight we aired a story dealing with members of the military who have gotten into the whole 'blogging' thing. Here are a couple of links:
http://www.lt-smash.us
http://www.warblogs.cc
http://www.andrewolmsted.com

I doubt that any of them are guys who are on the frontline, as I wouldn't imagine that they'd have much time or inclination to set up a blog. However, there might be some interesting reading on some of these sites nonetheless.

Dannyboy
March 31, 2003, 09:23 AM
Anyway, it's things like going three weeks (HA! THREE weeks! ) without a shower and sleeping in the mud and the snow in January in Korea that proves that Americans aren't all that soft after all, they just need to be reminded of what they are fighting for: laundries, clean sheets, and central heat.

Amen, brother.

CWL
March 31, 2003, 09:42 AM
The active US Marine is issued ~$1000 of camping equiptment today. This includes all field gear, tents, sleeping, mess kit & hydration system.

The US Army, being 'Army' presumably is issued even more.

LawDog
March 31, 2003, 11:40 AM
Ah, the Good Old Days. 23 straight days of the Lasagna T-Rats for supper.

The Patty, Beef, Dehydrated (Not For In-Flight/Pre-Flight Use) Meal Rejected by Ethiopians and its brother the Patty, Pork, Dehydrated (Not For In-Flight/Pre-Flight Use). Usually seen by Yours Truly just before being dragged kicking and screaming into a C130. :banghead:

Fart sacks (sleeping bags) that never, ever dried out once they got wet. God bless the man who invented the Liner, Poncho and the Poncho, (Non)Waterproof.

BDU's that were either cold, damp and slimy or baked into a condition strongly resembling sandpaper.

Bugs. Big bugs. Carnivorous BIG bugs. Carnivorous :cuss: bugs expressly designed to feed upon soldiers.

Dust everywhere. Not just any kind of dust, we're talking the fine, talcum-powder kind of dust, magnetically drawn to your damp fart sack and/or damp BDUs.

Two kinds of weather, and only two kinds of weather: 1)Sunburn/Heat exhaustion/Heatstroke, and 2)Trenchfoot/Hypothermia/Frostbite.

*sigh*

LawDog

D.W. Drang
March 31, 2003, 12:06 PM
C'mon, now, LawDog, the Dehydrated Pork Patty was pretty good in ramyun. One advantage, I suppose, to having spent over a third of my career in Korea was that "Ajashi" was usually around to swap me even up one MRE for a bowl of Ramyun, with rice and kimche, if I wanted, and a coke. Yakimandoo was extra.
Besides, sometimes you could sneak out of the maneuver box and hit a shower ("Mokyokedang)" in town...

bogie
March 31, 2003, 03:32 PM
I learned in Panama that dehydrated pork patties were good for throwing at spiders...

I think I'll stop by my local VFW and see if they're doing anything.

A soldier can sleep ANYWHERE and under any conditions.

cdbeaver
March 31, 2003, 04:13 PM
A dogface infantry soldier in Korea a half-century ago bathed and slept just like today's soldiers--seldom and whenever he could.

Every three weeks or so line company men were trucked back to a shower point several miles behind the line. Fifty or 60 or so of us packed into a gang shower for a prescribed amount of time, then hustled out. Every stitch of clothing was replaced, whether the new stuff fit or not. Usually not. In the summer we usually found a near-by river to cavort in. Korea had lots of rivers.

Sleeping usually was done inside a sandbagged bunker (if you were lucky enough to be close to one). Fart sacks took the place of beds and sheets (I never saw sheets for seven full months). Sleeping was easy if you were tired enough.

Winter time shaving can be a real experience. Chip off a layer of ice and pour some water in your steel pot. Scrape off the whiskers with no mirror to look into. Use TP to stop the bleeding.

Still and all, I can really feel for those guys and gals chewing on sand in Iraq. Hope the sanitary facilities aren't co-ed.

D.W. Drang
March 31, 2003, 05:12 PM
Winter time shaving can be a real experience. Chip off a layer of ice and pour some water in your steel pot. Scrape off the whiskers with no mirror to look into. Use TP to stop the bleeding.
The little AA battery powered Braun electric razors are sold in every PX in the world.
Not as nice as a Mach 3 w/heated shaving cream, but it uses no precious water.

H Romberg
March 31, 2003, 09:49 PM
Big difference in field life bewteen mounted and dismounted. Even a single vehicle can make life bearable for a bunch of people. When I went from the 4ID (Mech) to the 29th ID (Light), I thought I'd gone to hell on earth. What? no Hummer to carry my junk? No Pogi bait?!?! Nothing but what I can carry on my overweight back?!?! On top of 70 Lbs of radio gear for the mission?!?!?!?!!?!?! I hate to say it but being a leg sucks! I seriously feel for those guys, because I got fed up with it and nobody ever shot at me. Spent time as a REMF, and also as a LLVI team leader (Motto: 360 days in a hole). Gotta say I'd rather be a REMF.

Either way, hats off to those doing the fighting now. I get a little choked up every time I watch the news and see those guys dangling at the end of a support line that long. :uhoh: It's enough to make this atheist want to pray. Let's hope the IV division gets off the boat soon, and kicks Saddam's butt.

tommytrauma
March 31, 2003, 10:25 PM
The active US Marine is issued ~$1000 of camping equiptment today. This includes all field gear, tents, sleeping, mess kit & hydration system.

The US Army, being 'Army' presumably is issued even more
And the snivel gear gets jettesoned pretty quickly when the rubber meets the road. You really think ground pounders lug all that crap with them?

All I can say is thank God for poncho liners, canteen cups and baby wipes.

D.W. Drang
April 1, 2003, 01:31 AM
H Romberg: LLVI Team Leader! Dude! Brother! 125 pound rucks SUCK OUT LOUD!!! :cuss:
Especially at NTC or in Korea... :what:
And some nitwit on the staff wanted to give us a SAW! :banghead:

Dannyboy
April 1, 2003, 03:38 AM
Big difference in field life bewteen mounted and dismounted.

Reminds me of my motto while I was in, "Death Before Dismount!"

Powderman
April 1, 2003, 04:24 AM
Ah, the fond memories.......................

15-30 day field problems;

Heading out on foot with basic load, C-rats, and a ruck which I never weighed but oh for heaven's sake was it HEAVY;

Add to that the grunt's most favorite weapon to carry at that time: Gun, Machine, 7.62x51 NATO, M60, w/e. Guess what? Half of the time, no A-gunner--so, you get to hump the tripod, spare barrel and T&E;

Do this right during the monsoon season in the ROK. I can distinctly remember a time when just being able to string up a poncho or shelterhalf enough to keep the water to a small series of drops was GREAT.

Brush teeth? You betcha!! Somehow keeping the mouth clean makes you feel a lot better.

First priority? CHANGE SOCKS EARLY AND OFTEN. Dry your feet off--and your boots, as much as possible. If you can't walk, you can't fight.

Oh, yeah--the first thing you learn on those long humps--LOSE THE UNDERWEAR. By the second day, it's a mess, anyway. Don't even wear them out to the field.

Longest I went without a shower? 15 days.

It is an experience, gents and ladies. My deepest respect to those who served--and those who are serving.

Ed Brunner
April 1, 2003, 05:39 AM
the GI is adaptable. Living without many civilized amenities is part of it. I'm sure baby wipes are great. Do they have any sun block lotion?
My neighbor just got there. I'll have to see if there is anything I could send to make his life easier.

M60
April 2, 2003, 02:10 AM
Ah, the Good Old Days. 23 straight days of the Lasagna T-Rats for supper.

The Patty, Beef, Dehydrated (Not For In-Flight/Pre-Flight Use) Meal Rejected by Ethiopians and its brother the Patty, Pork, Dehydrated (Not For In-Flight/Pre-Flight Use). Usually seen by Yours Truly just before being dragged kicking and screaming into a C130.

Fart sacks (sleeping bags) that never, ever dried out once they got wet. God bless the man who invented the Liner, Poncho and the Poncho, (Non)Waterproof.

BDU's that were either cold, damp and slimy or baked into a condition strongly resembling sandpaper.

Bugs. Big bugs. Carnivorous BIG bugs. Carnivorous bugs expressly designed to feed upon soldiers.

Dust everywhere. Not just any kind of dust, we're talking the fine, talcum-powder kind of dust, magnetically drawn to your damp fart sack and/or damp BDUs.

Two kinds of weather, and only two kinds of weather: 1)Sunburn/Heat exhaustion/Heatstroke, and 2)Trenchfoot/Hypothermia/Frostbite.

*sigh*

LawDog



Yup you got it just right man! I used a body bag to sleep in sometimes. Kept me warm and dry. To bad i learned of this idea far to late.

The Pig.

fivepaknh
April 2, 2003, 06:01 AM
The easiest way to help a grunt to get to sleep in the field, is to tell him he has to stay awake.

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