Every time you go camping or hiking log it away with your lessons learned. Make a list of what you wish you had had, or had prepared, and the things you could have lived without. I just had a great experience running through the Fort Irwin NTC (National Training Center). Sure the before and after sucked; but the actual time in the field was pretty fun. The reason for the lack of articles over the last few month has been primarily due to my focus on our unit’s upcoming training exercise. The quick sum up is a month of achy backs from sleeping on cots, 100 degrees plus under the shade of cammo netting, average temperatures of 115-126 (depending on who you are getting your info from), and lots of sand. Below are some of the lessons I took from our time in the box:
- Hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate. You can drink 4 gallons of water in a day and not have to urinate. And when you do finally relieve yourself it’ll be a small amount and dark yellow. Whether driving or on foot pack the H2O.
- If the temperature is too hot, keep rest cycles. To avoid being a heat casualty on the worst days we ran 15 minutes of work to 45 minutes of shade time.
- Priority should always be security during transit or when you set up camp. Maintain security 24/7 if at all possible.
- Eat at every meal, even if you are not hungry. The water consumption quickly flushes salt and minerals out of your body.
- Keep yourself clean. If you can’t wash with water use wet wipes.
- PACE, or the rule of four. This primarily applied to commo equipment, but can be applied to most survival things you do. Primary, Alternate, Contingency, and Emergency.
- To reduce glare and giving away our positions we covered (at a minimum) windows with cammo netting, cardboard, or raised the hood to hide the reflection of the front window. You can literally see a windows reflection for miles upon miles; so don’t give away your position.
- Pack for the environment you will be working in; for the desert that meant things like hydration salts, sun block, and lip balm.
- Even in the desert multicam/OCP works better than ACUs.
- Make sure you have a good pair of broke in shoes/boots, and good insoles or your feet will be hating you. Bugging out is not the time to break in your shoes/boots.
- A mylar blanket strung up like a small tent and covered in cammo netting does wonders in concealing your heat signature from infrared.
- If you are going cross country make sure everything has a spot and a method to secure it (ratchet straps, cargo nets, or bungees), or it won’t look the same 2 hours later, and you may have left a bread crumb trail.
- While MRE’s do have toilet paper in them, bring a roll or two in your bag.
- A hank of 550 cord, once again, can save the day.
- A little petroleum jelly when you got to bed on your chaffed areas will make you feel brand new by morning.
- They may not be able to track what you are saying, but if you are using anything that puts out a signal (HF radio, cell phone, walkie talkie); the enemy might have the proper equipment to drop in on your position.
- While bugging out you’re not necessarily looking for a fight; but that being said, ammo is good, and more ammo is more gooder. How fast can you burn through 100 rounds?
As I think of more things I’ll add them. Being in the deserts of Southern California makes me once again ponder the plight of my wife’s family. If it goes south, they live in L.A. and need an exit strategy that doesn’t involve trying to cross the Mojave Desert and Nevada. Freeways for them will gridlock, gas stations will run out of food and fuel…and that’s just what I’ve seen coming back from holiday.
What lessons have you learned?
If you are curious I believe that picture is from the 3-116, one of our attached battalions out of Oregon.