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In that bag we drag: as with all aspects of defence equipment, the clothing, hand-held weapons, electronics, camouflage gear and protective systems have taken quantum leaps in terms of technological advancement within the past ten years. There has never been so many options for keeping the foot dry and an eye on the situation.

Ranger Rick F. Tscherne, in his Ranger Digest IX, writes, <<... don't worry, this stuff is still useful and valuable ...>>. With this phrase he was referring to the myriad tips, tricks and outdoor survival techniques he provides for the Special Operations team member who is searching for 'last resort' survival ideas. This little booklet is full of tried and trusted methods of how to, for example, create a solar water bottle still or make a field expedient compass from a piece of wire and a nail, of the many things to do with a used parachute and how to make a pair of snow shoes.

Ranger Rick's tips could be considered last resort survival techniques that most Special Operations personnel will never have to use, mainly because today's equipage cover all areas of soldier survival--but when all else fails one must return to the basics.

Therefore, a basic overview of a few equipment types available to the Special Operations teams is what follows.

And with the basics is a good place to begin--at the bottom. Keeping the foot warm, dry and comfortable is the foundation of these basics. Military footwear has evolved to where Gore-Tex (weatherproofing, warmth and breathability) and Vibram soles (offering stable footing on most terrains and chemical resistance) are standard on most selections.

Companies such as Matterhorn and even Bates manufacture specialised boots for jungle, mountain and desert environs, and many commercial shoemakers design and sell 'military grade' boots, but it is the specialised manufacturers, such as Poland's Kupczak, that offer specific boots for daily work and extreme conditions. This company's boots are sold to the Special Forces of certain countries, some troops in Kosovo and Polish Border Patrols.

Battery-powered socks and even heating inserts may well be available, but nothing replaces warm, sturdy, weatherproof footwear.

From Bottom to Top

Headgear for the black shirts is somewhat limited to patrol caps, boonie hats and helmets, but a few inches lower and one encroaches on possibly the most important area of the body that requires protection--the eyes.

Canada's Revision Military has published a document covering ocular injuries in the armed forces. The report notes that almost 67 per cent of those with eye injuries did not wear eye protection at the time of the injury, and that the injured lost an average of 5.9 work days at a mean cost of $ 6295. Also mentioned is that <<one would predict that eye injuries would account for less than one per cent of all injuries, since ocular surface area is approximately 0.27 percent of total body surface area>>. However, in Operation Desert Storm, ocular injury accounted for 13 per cent of total combat injuries.

On contract to the Canadian military for over C$ four million worth of eye protection, Revision offers its Sawfly solution, which is an impact-resistant shield that weighs 28.8 grams. The quick-change lenses are made of 'indestructible', optical-grade polycarbonate with a scratchresistant coating on both sides. Indestructible refers to the fact that the glasses have withstood a series of 22 shotgun blasts from a .12 gauge semi-automatic at ten metres distant, resulting in no penetration. The Sawfly offers 100 per cent protection from UV-A and UV-B rays--a prerequisite in choosing eye protection.

The name of ESS is standard in military eyewear. The company's Ice (Interchangeable Component Eyeshield) are a solution of choice for Special Forces operatives and can be seen on military and security personnel worldwide. One product of note is the company's Turbo Cam goggle. The system features a two-speed, 15,000-rpm fan that draws air in through the lower edge of the goggle and out the top for complete anti-fog viewing when combat (and the body/face) heats up (see Armada International issue 4/2004, page 64).

Eye--then Tongue

From ocular to <<ocu-lingual>>--one major hindrance to the navigation of any special operations team could be the language barrier. While most teams would preferably include a member qualified in the local language, equipment is available to alleviate any problems encountered.

Kwikpoint offers its Visual Language Survival Guides that include English words and phrases and their phonetic equivalents in the target language. Guides for Afghanistan (in Pashto, Darsi and Farsi languages), Iraq (Iraqi Arabic, Kurdish, Farsi), Horn of Africa (French, Somali, modern standard Arabic), and others; including a Special Forces Guide that provides images of world maps and flags, office, technical and weapons of mass destruction graphics, road conditions, medical trauma, pain scale and body chart illustrations.

Kwikpoint consulted linguists and members of the diplomatic community to create the universally understood icons that appear on the guides. These maps, when folded, are about the size of a man's hand and fit into almost any pocket.

SRI International brings its Bilingual Oral Translator to the table. The unit performs bidirectional phrase-based, voice-to-voice machine translation between English and another language, matching spoken input phrases to prerecorded translations. The first system was developed to translate between English and Pashto (Afghanistan/Pakistan).

Enough Talk

Load bearing equipment and packs abound at any defence industry exhibition, but only a few manufacturers provide equipment that the special operations teams focus on. One name often repeated is Blackhawk Products Group. The company's Gen 4 Strike (Soldier Tactical Retro Integrated Kit Enhanced) line is a modular component system that is Molle compatible and designed to give operators complete versatility in designing their own equipment.

Tactical & Survival Specialties is an online as well as a printed catalogue-based company specialising in providing the tactical gear of a variety of manufacturers. One example being the new CQC Carbon Fiber Holster manufactured by Blackhawk.

Eagle Industries offers its Maritime Load Carriage System that has been supplied to the US Navy Seals for the past two years--as the company puts it "every team, every Seal" gets this kit. The MLCS consists of two Molle platform vests and a variety of pouches and attachments to facilitate customisation.

Stopping the Charge

Body armour is an integral part of any soldier's outfit, and the Special Ops guys are no different in their desire to halt incoming rounds and shrapnel. A variety of body armouring devices are available, but ceramic plates seem to garner the lion's share of attention from the purchasing clerks.

Armor Holdings' American Body Armor division makes the Xtreme line of concealable body armour vests that are in use with many covert operatives and special security detachments. The Xtreme models feature permanent shoulder straps and an internal suspension system which prevents ballistic panels from sagging in the bottom of the carrier and a cool comfort zone interior to wick moisture away from the body. The vest has an anti-microbial Olefin cover that is resistant to degradation by chemicals, perspiration, mildew and weather conditions and the ballistic panels are inserted outside the vest, so there are no interior seams that can cause chaffing.

Armor Holdings' Simula company also provides Small Arms Protective Insert (Sapi) plates, with a wide variety of sizes available. The Sapi plates protect 7.62 X 51 mm M-80, 7.62 X 54R Type LPS Dragunov and 5.56 X 45 mm M855 armour-piercing rounds.

Typical armour plates include the Polyethylene fibre types for Type III ballistic protection, ceramic with polyethylene for Level III special threat protection, and composite ceramic with Aramid backing and plastic coatings for level IV protection. Certain plate types comply with one or more specific international standards, such as PSDB (UK), Mellrichstadt (Germany), Banc d' Epreuve des Armes a Feu (France) and TNO (Netherlands).

Special Materials from St. Petersburg, Russia, makes its Modul protective vest. The Modul accepts a variety of inserts ranging from .357 magnum and 9 mm protection to helping the wearer survive a Kalashnikov AK-47,AK-74, hard steel core or Winchester 308 or 30-06 AP round.

Now Shoot Back!

The line-up of personal weapons available and in use with Special Operations teams the world over is many and varied. An attempt will be made to scratch the surface of this wide field, but no attempt to assume to cover it completely.

While knives and other secondary weapons are as important as assault weapons, unfortunately space constraints dictate we overlook this field and migrate directly to the firearms. The Editor does recommend keeping close eye on further main issues of Armada International, as the Digest section will continue to showcase some of the newest developments. We will include here a short mention of the upcoming MOD Nightwing as a teaser.

The name FN Herstal is synonymous with special weapons, and the company always has an offering or two of interest to the special operations community--beginning here with the P90. The P90 system was built as a true sub-machine gun, with the accompanying 5.7 X 28 mm copper coated steel jacketed ammunition developed as a part of the system.

Overall weapon length is 50 cm and height, with the integrated optical sight, is a slight 21 cm. The unique top-loading ammo magazine holds 50 rounds and feeds the rounds smoothly in both single-shot and fully automatic modes, offering a cyclic rate of fire of 900 rounds-per-minute--and its fully ambidextrous.

The P90 breaks down into five major components and the frame parts are, as a company representative emphasised to the author, 'dishwasher safe'.

Heckler & Koch has unveiled its new XM8 soldier assault weapon with a second-generation Integrated Sight Module. The XM8 is a baseline carbine with a 31.75-cm barrel and weighs just under 3.2 kg with sight mounted. It comes in standard 5.56 but is calibre convertible to 7.62 x 39 mm. The ISM includes optical viewing with red dot, an illuminator and pointer--once the red dot is zeroed the other devices also are at zero.

The XM8 weapon has successfully passed desert tests in Yuma, Arizona, will be undergoing limited user tests in the tropics in December and also in Alaska by the time these lines are read.

Remington Military Products has effectively rendered the current military shotgun obsolete by offering its new Model 870 Modular Combat Shotgun (MCS). The MCS system is four shotguns in one package, whereby the operator can assemble his preferred design for the current situation--and do so without tools.

Available configurations include a high-capacity conventional shotgun, a CQB weapon, a ballistic breaching tool and the accessory weapon set-up. The shotgun barrels are 12 gauge with the breaching tool at 25.4-cm length, 35.5 for the CQB gun and 45.7-cm for the conventional set-up.

Those Who Wait

The job of the sniper has been glorified in many movies, but in reality it can be a cold, uncomfortable and sometimes thankless position. Fortunately, technology hasn't forgotten these specialists.

FN Herstal has stepped up the standard with its OM .50 Nemesis long-range precision rifle. The company relates that the birthplace of the Nemesis was the Charly O'Neill Irish Pub in Geneva, Switzerland over a few pints of Guinness. Rather an atypical beginning, but the Nemesis is not your standard rifle. Still in the prototype stage, the Nemesis is a modular, bolt-action, single shot heavy calibre 12.7 x 99 mm rifle weighing-in at just over 12 kilograms.

Elbit Systems brings a unique system that could almost border on micromanagement. The Sniper Coordination System (SCS) is a combination of command, control and communication capabilities that brings the battle right into the commander's lap. The SCS is a two-way communication system integrated with the shooter's day/night sight, with a lap-top-style control system for the commander that allows him or her to send either a red or green light to any of four sharpshooters simultaneously.

The SCS system features a GPS (naturally), and can send the video image from the shooter's sight to the commander's console, as well as two-way SMS-like messages. The system can relay this information to and from headquarters, the commander and the shooter--so everyone stays in the loop.

One last bit of kit--the warfighter's dream product--is worthy of mention. Armor Holdings is marketing and updating its SoldierVision through-wall motion detection radar for Mout scenarios. The idea of one being able to see through walls--or around corners for that matter, as evidenced by the CornerShot from Israel--is one previously reserved for comic book heroes. Yet these products are available today.

Today's technology and the ideas for tomorrow are what keep the Special Operations Equipment catalogue filled to the seams--and enough to make any operative do his research and choose wisely before starting on any mission.
COPYRIGHT 2004 Armada International
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Complete Guide
Author:Keggler, Johnny
Publication:Armada International
Date:Dec 1, 2004
Previous Article:When the chip drops in.
Next Article:General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems.

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