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Fight Light

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Discounted Close Combat Load Carriage, Project Payne, Fight Light, and what it means to the average soldier.

Written by Tom Cooper

Fight light and Project Payne, are just the names for the plans that the Army have, to try and get you to carry less kit into battle.

During the Falklands war the Paras and the Marines tabbed/yomped across East Island carrying full kit. This, in my opinion, started the British Army on its obsession of everything on your back just in case. Also, we haven’t been in a conventional war since.

Then along comes the Iraq War (OP TELIC) and Afghanistan (OP HERRICK).

OP TELIC was the start of the I.E.D being used on a large scale. From this body armour became thicker and heavier. But, on OP TELIC we had fairly free movement, with vehicles that were able to carry some of our heavier bits of kit and extra ammo.

Then along comes OP HERRICK and we end up carrying what that carried in our wagons, on our back. Plus, the I.E.D threat goes up, so does the amount of protection.

The Taliban used to call us the tortoises because of the amount of armour we wore and the speed we moved. On top of that, the amount of carried ammo went up because we didn’t have the speed and fluidity. We would sit back a hit the enemy with everything we had.

In short, the average weight of a British soldier is around 72kgs and on average he was carrying 53kgs. Which, as you can guess, was shit for fighting!

“The Soldier cannot be a fighter and pack animal at one and the same time, any more than a field piece can be a gun and a supply vehicle combined. The idea is wrong at the start . Yet is always being repeated “ – 
Maj Gen JFC Fuller, to Brig Gen SLA Marshall (1948).

Now we are back from Afghanistan we need to reasses of how we fight battles. So the powers that be have done some thinking…

“When was the last time we had a fight with someone on par to us?”

Well, it was WW2 of course. So, they have looked at what we fought with in Normandy, and particularly what this Welsh bloke, Fusilier Tom Payne carried.

As you can see it wasn’t a lot, and he dropped most of that when he was bagging Nazis around Caen.

Look, here is one of his muckers doing a bit of “house to house“.

70 years later we are doing house to house like this –

As you can see we now carry everything we need for a 24 OP on us, regardless of the type and length of the OP.

So what can you do about it as an NCO or below ?

“ No soldier worth his salt is afraid of sleeping in the cold for two nights “
Brig Gen SLA Marshall

The two heaviest things you carry are out of your control if you’re lower than a Sgt, ammo and armour. Back in the day when granddad was bagging Jerrys he carried 100 rounds, 2 Bren mags (per day), and his tin hat. Now we carry 6 mags of 5.56 (180 rounds), a bandoleer of 150 7.62 rounds and another 150 rounds of link for the LMG. Not to mention body armour and helmet.

So, what can you do to reduce your weight in battle?

Well look at what you carry. First, look at what you carry in your pockets. Do you really need all that crap? If it went all ‘Bravo Two Zero’ and you have to bin your belt kit will that stuff help? No? Mag to grid it!

Next webbing/belt kit. This is what you fight in. Think about what you need to fight add to that some water and emergency rations. It grips me when I see any more than this in people’s belt kit. Jet boils, T.A.Ms, Gore-tex jackets… get them out!

Next look at what you have in your daysack and think about what you need for 12-24 hours. Small daysacks/jacksacks are becoming quite a thing now. The good things about these is that they’re about 20L so you can’t over fill them.

All you need in your daysack is a Gore-Tex jacket, a piece of warm kit like the issue buffalo and a pair of socks. Ultimately you need to say to yourself ‘do I need to take a daysack at all?’ Remember the bigger it is the more crap you’re gonna put in it!

I’m not going to say what you should pack in your bergan just remember you’ll have to carry it at some point and maybe over some distance.

Okay, to summarise on my waffled ramblings… As a junior NCO or below you won’t have much say over how much ammo or what scales of body armour you’ll be carrying, but you have got control of what personal kit you carry. So try to minimise it.

If in doubt take it out!

You’re not gonna die if you haven’t eaten a full 24 hrs ration pack in one day or you haven’t got hot brews on tap.

For more reading look up ‘Fight Light’ or ‘Project Payne’ on the Army Knowledge eXchange accessible through the defence gateway. Failing that ask about it over a few beers down the NAFFI.

This Kit Pest Review article was written by Tom Cooper. Hopefully you enjoyed it and if you have any thoughts or comments related to this article then leave a comment!
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