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Archive for December, 2019

The Baldwin Files – The Issue MOLLE 4000 Airborne Rucksack

Monday, December 30th, 2019

It has been awhile since I have done an article on tactical gear. In the last few days, I managed to get my hands on the new issue version of the Molle 4000 “Airborne” Rucksack. I do not own a lab coat so I am not in the position to objectively and scientifically test this ruck; but I can provide my initial professional evaluation. The opinions I am offering are influenced by my specific experiences and individual preferences; but I think I can provide some broadly applicable and valid observations and hopefully useful practical information for the reader.

Up front, I will make these points to frame my comments and for the reader to keep in mind. There is no such thing as perfect gear. I have never been issued or bought any load-bearing item that I was completely satisfied with out of the wrapper – ever. I believe that everything can be improved and even the best and most expensive gear still needs at least some “customization” to be optimized for each individual user. Indeed, I have already done some of that to this sample and will point out a couple of my modifications and my rationale as we go alone.

I did spend most of my military career on Airborne status as a jumper and Jumpmaster; so I have a great deal of hands-on experience with Airborne operations and techniques. I am also incorporating a number of pictures for illustrative purposes, and a couple of earlier SSD articles with other pictures are here and here for additional reference. As pointed out in the previous pieces, this ruck is being issued to the 82nd Airborne Division and other Airborne units in the Army. I expect that will eventually include the Ranger Regiment, SF Groups, and other ARSOF units because of the Army’s Title 10 responsibilities. There is also some indication that the Army is exploring expanding the issue of this ruck to at least some non-Airborne units.

Let us start with a size comparison. From left to right, and largest to smallest, are the Molle Large, the Molle 4000, the ALICE Large, and the Army’s Medium Rucksack. The Medium Rucksack has ~3000 cubic inches of space. I have a couple of extra pouches mounted as well as a beavertail so this one is probably in the ~3500 cubic inch range. The ALICE is approximately ~3800 cubic inches including the exterior pockets. The Molle Large bag is ~4000 alone and ~5000 cubic inches with a pair of Sustainment Pouches added as shown. As the name implies, the Molle 4000 is ~4000 cubic inches including the external pockets. Compared to the Molle Large, the Molle 4000 has considerably less available real estate for additional pouches. Still, although it may not look like it, it is possible to mount the issue Army or USMC Sustainment Pouches in a somewhat compressed fashion on either side as shown on the right of the ruck.

As the picture also shows, the 3 bottom exterior pockets on the Molle 4000 are approximately the same volume as those on the Large ALICE. Although, since the cordura material is stiffer than packcloth, I found that I could stuff just a little more into the ALICE pouches. The two on either side have a pass thru channel behind them like their ALICE counterparts. However, the opening is just barely big enough for a GI Machete Sheath to be slipped in – nothing any wider or fatter. The horizontal strap shown comes with the ruck and is labeled “Molle 4000 Compression Strap.” Back in the day, we used a GP Strap to do the same thing on the ALICE as shown. It serves to cinch the pouches and attached items like E-Tools to the ruck to minimize flop or bounce – much like the Brits use bungee cord around their old-school belt kits. No doubt, an old ALICE hand like me added this throwback item. I think today’s soldiers will find that it is a useful accessory.

The three smaller pockets towards the top of the rucksack look to be identical to the same pouches on the Large ALICE. They are indeed just as wide but are actually about an inch shorter. On the ALICE, those were very popular for everything from toilet paper, 550 cord, bungies for shelters, to dip cans and smokes. I have been told that they were originally sized to hold a 30 round M16 magazine. A magazine will indeed fit in the pocket; however, I never saw anyone use it for that purpose. I am not sure I believe the story anyway because the Large ALICE was type classified several years before the 30 round magazines became standard issue. Because they are not as deep, an M4 magazine will not fit in the small pockets on the Molle 4000. Still, I think the small pockets will be well received and provide troopers the option to segregate small items for quick access.

In its Airborne role, the Molle 4000 is actually only one-half of the equation – truly even less than half. IMHO, the true star of the show is a much improved Harness, Single Point Release, Molle (HSPR-M) that is being issued concurrently as a separate component. Note: NO portion of the new HSPR-M or any other air item is permanently sewn into the rucksack. Indeed, while rigging and de-rigging of the ruck is much faster with this new harness, the process would be very familiar for any American trained as a static line jumper in the last 30 years. That is a big plus; this new harness will be an easy transition for all jumpers and will actually be considerably easier and faster to check during Jumpmaster Personnel Inspections (JMPI). The new harness is also reverse compatible and can be readily used to rig any rucksack or jumpable load that could be rigged with the older HSPR.

In a nut shell, the big difference between the old and the new is that the release mechanism and attaching straps have been moved to the center of the HSPR-M rather than being positioned at one end near the friction adapters (metal buckles), as it was with the earlier version. Now, when rigged, the release mechanism remains centered on the bottom of the ruck while the friction adapters are routed all the way to the top. Throughout the Airborne operation, the jumper has full access to all the exterior pockets and can even access the main rucksack compartment rapidly if needed without completely derigging and rerigging. That feature alone is an especially important and welcome enhancement. That is because, in real-world contingency operations, mission critical items including ammunition and rations are routinely delivered to the jumpers at the airfield and right up to the point of boarding the aircraft. In short, the new HSPR-M represents a significant product improvement.

As far as I can tell, there is no intention to change the current Hook and Pile Tape (HPT) Lowering Line. Hook and Pile Tape = Velcro. As is Army SOP, I expect that current HPT Lowering Lines in OD (as shown) or Foliage will continue to be used as long as they are serviceable. Eventually, new lowering lines will be produced in Tan 499 as replacement items as required. The ALICE was issued with an instruction pamphlet and the Molle System has a manual; however, if there is a pamphlet for the issue Molle 4000, I have not seen it yet. I presume it will be an addendum to the Molle System and other applicable combat equipment rigging manuals shortly.

Consequently, since I have not seen the instructions, some of my observations – especially about rigging procedures – are just educated guesses. However, while I might not have rigged it precisely in accordance with the official SOP, I bet I am real close. I can guarantee that I have rigged this ruck in a way that is safe to jump and will work as intended. However, this is not a rigging class and I will let the pictures speak for themselves for the most part. As I said, those of you with experience with the old HSPR will find it mostly familiar.

 

In some of the pictures, the reader may notice that I replaced all the elastic loops and two sided Velcro that comes with the Molle 4000 for strap management. Instead, I prefer to use ITW triglides. The triglides provide an additional tensioning device and failsafe to keep straps from slipping or coming inconveniently unstowed from an elastic retainer. If you read my three-part article on the ALICE, you also know that I am no fan of wrap around waist belts / pads. Therefore, I also traded out the pad that came with the Molle 4000 for a DEI pad designed for the 1606 frame. It hugs the full curvature around the bottom of the frame. I find that spreads the felt weight across the entire area of the body in contact with the pad. Because of the curve, the pad “cups” the back and sides rather than putting pressure on any one spot.

 

In combat, soldiers put a pack on and off countless times a day in sunlight and darkness and in blizzards and driving rain – and often under fire as well. It is tiring. Uncomplicated is better. Rucksack configurations that are not prone to getting tangled up with other gear or require a lot of fiddling steps to mount and dismount are eminently more practical and appreciated. From my perspective, the DEI style pad integrates much better, especially with the belt worn gear I personally favor, and provides about as much comfort as possible without the negatives. Warfighting ain’t backpacking; and if I am going into a fight this is how I prefer to run my ruck. Otherwise, as the reader can see, the Molle 4000 bag and suspension system is pretty basic. As previously reported, it is a hybrid, half ALICE and half Molle. For example, on the inside (not shown) is an ALICE style sewn in radio pouch and a Molle style zippered panel that can be used to divide the main compartment in half. I think soldiers will actually appreciate the pack’s utilitarian nature.

 

I am not about to throw shade on the people involved in the design, development, or testing of the Molle 4000. I appreciate their hard work and I am sure they delivered exactly what they were asked to deliver. However, I would be negligent if I did not point out the areas that I feel strongly need improvement. Specifically, there are four problems I see with the Molle 4000: one relatively minor, and three major. First, the minor issue. The current drain grommets on the exterior pouches and the bottom stow pocket are too small. They are much smaller than those on the ALICE or the Molle Large. I do not know why. More importantly, while there are small grommets at least on the bottom of the air items stow pocket, there are no drain grommets at all on the bottom of the rucksack itself. Therefore, if water gets into the main compartment of the ruck it will not drain. That should be an easy and quick fix.

 

The second problem is that the zipper providing access to the bottom of the rucksack’s “sleeping bag compartment” is too short. It does not even go half way around the ruck. That means the opening is narrow rather than a fuller size as found on the Molle Large or FILBE. In turn, that means soldiers will have a difficult time getting something the size of a patrol sleeping bag – let alone a full sleep system – through that unnecessarily restrictive opening. In contrast, the zipper on the air items stow pocket goes a full 2/3 of the way around. It is a good thing they added the bottom access zipper; the prototype Molle 4000 did not have one at all. No doubt, soldiers can live with it as is – if absolutely necessary – but they should not have to. Therefore, the bottom of the rucksack needs some modification or even redesign (see problem four) to make access much more user friendly then it is now.

 

The third – and more significant – problem is that the wide upper pad of the Molle 4000 entirely covers the horizontal recurved arms of the 1606 frame. I submit that those arms are its single best feature. Certainly, the center crossbar has to be padded because otherwise it would press uncomfortably against the soldier’s spine. However, as long as about 2 inches on each end are exposed beyond the padding, those arms provides essential “hard points” to tie down heavy and outsized items like mortar baseplates. It would be a shame to keep something like that completely covered up and unavailable when they could be of great utility to the soldier carrying a combat load. Note: the USMC FILBE rucksack also uses the 1606 frame. A friend pointed out to me recently that the FILBE prototypes had a wide pad similar to the Molle 4000, thus leaving the recurve arms unusable. However, the issue FILBE featured a changed pad system that left the ends of those arms exposed rather than covered. I presume that the USMC saw the greater tactical value in making that modification. I suggest the Army do likewise before the Molle 4000 goes into expanded production.

 

The fourth, last, and most glaring, problem with the Molle 4000 is the air item stow pocket arrangement itself. It is a superfluous design gimmick that is more trouble than it is worth. I know someone asked for it – and some people must like it. It is still demonstrably unnecessary. I would argue emphatically that paratroopers have no pressing requirement for a pocket on their rucksack dedicated solely to the storage of air items. The first clue should be the fact that we have gone DECADES without ever identifying the need for such a pocket before. In all my years of jumping, I do not ever recall a single time when stowing my air items – without a dedicated pocket – was a problem. I do not remember it being an issue for anyone else either.

 

Even more to the point, paratroopers have no TACTICAL need whatsoever to carry air items off the dropzone. Once those items have served their one and only purpose – to deliver a paratrooper and his combat load safely to the ground – they are all expendable. They always have been. The stuff is meant to be abandoned in order to unburden the trooper as he moves as rapidly as possible to his unit assembly area and / or combat objective. That includes the parachute, harness, kit bag, weapons cases, HSPR, lowering line, and any other packing material that dropped with us. The troopers shed it all, either immediately upon landing or at the first opportunity. It is dead weight.

 

Sure, we have a habit of bagging it all up and carrying everything to a convenient centralized location so that the Riggers can take the chutes and accessories back to repack and refurbish. That practice is a sensible conservation of our training resources and money. The fact is, we only issue select air items (HSPR & HTP Lowering Line) to individuals because it is convenient and a time saver for troopers to rig their rucks – and perhaps get their rucksacks pre-inspected by a unit Jumpmaster – before they get to the departure airfield to draw their parachutes, weapons cases, kit bags, etc. to finish the rigging process.

 

However, all of that represents an entirely ADMINISTRATIVE requirement we levy on ourselves that has nothing to do with jumping into combat. And after all, a successful combat jump is ultimately the only jump that really matters – tactically, operationally, and strategically – to the individual paratrooper, the Airborne unit, the Army, and finally the Nation. We do not need to teach our troopers bad habits or add an unneeded design feature to our load carrying gear to support a bad habit. Airborne leaders should constantly be making the clear distinction between what we do routinely on some CONUS dropzone in training vice what needs to happen on a hot DZ in some hostile place.

 

The air items stow pocket is certainly not necessary for the rigging process. In fact, the pocket actually slows down the procedure rather than making it smoother. It would be much cleaner if the bottom of the Molle 4000 just had four web bars sewn on that would index the HSPR’s release mechanism in both directions on the ruck. See my mockup using the blue painters tape (above). Then, the entire design of the bottom of the rucksack could be significantly simplified. The bottom of the rucksack itself would be just that – the bottom. The now redundant sleeping bag compartment zipper could be eliminated entirely. The 2/3s zipper would be retained and would give better access to the interior anyway. The ruck could be rigged even faster and there would no longer be a need to secure the flap of the open stow pocket anymore either. That would be markedly better.

 

Bottom line: the new HSPR-M is a home run for Natick and whoever designed it. The Molle 4000 Rucksack is a solid base hit but has some shortcomings that really need to be addressed. I think that perhaps some decision maker(s) got a little too fixated on securing air items rather than concentrating on optimizing the ruck itself for combat. Even in an Airborne unit, the Molle 4000 will just be a rucksack on a soldier’s back 95% of the time. It could be a much better ruck with some relatively modest adjustments. As is, I think soldiers will generally like it. If those things I have identified are fixed, I think they might even love it. Granted, no one asked me for my opinions, but there they are. De Oppresso Liber!

LTC Terry Baldwin, US Army (Ret) served on active duty from 1975-2011 in various Infantry and Special Forces assignments. SSD is blessed to have him as both reader and contributor.

Pocket Tripod

Monday, December 30th, 2019

Pocket Tripod is a compact, Every Day Carry accessory for your cell phone.

It’s small enough to fit in a wallet, but will hold your phone steady for a shot, at any of a multitude of angles.

pocket-tripod.com

Gripknife Patriot

Sunday, December 29th, 2019

This isn’t the first time we’ve mentioned Gripknife and it probably won’t be the last. In storage mode it looks like an oversized foregrip.

The blade stores in the handle and once disengaged from the Picatinny rail compatible mount it extends into position.

DETAILS:
Gripknife – 4” Patriot
Knife Type: Foregrip
User: Ambidextrous
Mechanism: Out-The-Front
Action: Magnetic Assist ™ Spring Assist
Overall Length: 8.10″
Overall Mounted Length (From Tactical Rail): 5.50″
Blade Type: Spear Point, Single-Edged
Blade Grind: Flat
Blade Length: 4.00″
Blade Material: M2 (54-56 HRC)
Blade Width: ?1.06″
Blade Thickness: .187″
Blade Finish: Black Nitride
Handle Material: Zytel
Handle Color: Black
Handle Texture: 60 Grit
Handle Width 1.50″
Handle Thickness: .96″

gripknife.com/gripknife-patriot

SCUBAPRO Sunday – Mask Maintenance

Sunday, December 29th, 2019

Your dive mask my not be your most expensive piece of kit, but it is the one piece of equipment that if you have problems with it, it will make for a very long dive. I like to say the dive mask is one of the most personal things every diver has. Even if you are issued all of your dive gear, from head to toe, a lot of people with go and buy their own masks. Great effort is put into finding and selecting the right kind of mask. I know a lot of people that would buy three or four of the same masks if they found one, they liked in the fear that they would never find one again. Which is even more reason to learn how to take properly care for your mask so that once you find that right mask, it serves you for a long time.

When you first buy your mask, you will have to clean it very well to make sure it doesn’t fog up all the time. This helps remove the tiny layer of oil that manufacturers coat the silicone surfaces of the mask with to protect the silicone in storage and shipping. What I like to do first is take some soft scrub without bleach and a light duty scrub pad to scrub all the stuff left in the mask from when it was made. I scrub the entire inside of the mask glass and rubber. After that I like to use a little bit of toothpaste and rub the inside glass surfaces and rubber. I just use my fingers for that part. Toothpaste can also be used when you need to clean a used mask from dirt, or oils from your head, suntan lotion etc. Gently rub the paste applying minimal pressure to clear both surfaces from any dirt or oils. The micro abrasive particles in toothpaste help clear dirt and oil from the microscopic dents and scratches that are on the surface of the mask.

To ensure that your mask remains scratch free, never lay it face-down on any surface. Sea salt, sand and dirt found on boats and piers will scratch the lens of your mask and permanently damage the viewing surfaces. Always place your dive mask face upwards when you are not wearing it. If you have to put it down, try and always put it on your fins or something that way you will always know where it is. Also ensuring your mask is transported in your dive bag inside its protective box this will prevent other items of equipment scratching it and it help if someone throws your bag. In the old days a day/night flare gray box with some holes in the lid made a great and cool mask box. Well maybe not great. But cool looking.

Always rinse your mask in clean, freshwater after each dive. Salt and grime attack the soft silicone in your mask causing it to degrade over time. Dry the mask thoroughly before putting it away for storage in a hard case. This will also help protect your mask in storage, if you do not clean your mask properly the oil on it from your skin will attract bugs(rotches). They will think it is food and try to eat it. It will look like dry rot, but it is bugs looking for a meal.  If you are between dives, keep your mask out of the sun and allow it to air out and dry (after you fresh water rise it).

One of the most important things to ensure your mask lasts a long time is to keep it out of contact with direct sunlight as much as possible. Sunlight and high temperatures attack the rubber and silicone of masks, turning the translucent soft silicone into a yellowing harder mass, that causes mask leaks and degradation over time. Mask bands and straps exposed to sunlight, form cracks and may break easily when stretched. SCUBAPRO has a lot of their masks adapted to use their comfort straps, it is very similar to a ski goggle strap and won’t break in the middle of a dive.

Always store your mask inside its case in a cool dark place. If you have a silica gel packet or desiccant, place this inside your mask case to keep the moisture at bay. Prolonged exposure to moisture will harm your mask and eat away at the silicone. While on a dive, ensure that when you are not using your mask, that you place it in a cool shaded area and away from the harsh sunlight.

There are more ways to clean a mask that I have not talked about, the reason is if you have never done it and you try it can ruin your mask. Like everything today, you can google how to clean dive mask and watch a video about it. I hope this will help you keep your favorite mask for a long time.

NetWars Competition Test Knowledge, Skills of Military Cyber Warriors

Sunday, December 29th, 2019

WASHINGTON — Loud music blared throughout the crowded hall of the Washington Hilton as cyber professionals from the military, industry and academia launched into the final day of the NetWars Tournament of Champions, Monday.

NetWars is a suite of interactive learning scenarios designed to provide training and assess the cyber proficiencies of personnel, according to the SANS Institute, the organization responsible for the competition. Individual and team competitors that won other NetWars event over the past two years were invited to the final tournament in Washington, D.C.

“We have organized the NetWars Tournament of Champions for about six years now,” said Ed Skoudis, the creator of NetWars. “The idea was to bring together the ‘best of the best,’ and have them compete in a fun … but competitive [environment.] This year is our biggest Tournament of Champions ever,” he said.

The Army was represented well during this year’s NetWars competition, said Matthew O’Rouke, an intelligence specialist with the 782nd Military Intelligence Battalion (Cyber) at Fort Gordon, Georgia.

As the team captain of “Nation_State_Alchemy,” O’Rouke was joined by Sgt. Andrew Beat, a cyber-operations specialist assigned to the 782nd MI Bn., and Carl Peterson, Chris Maloney, and Neil Klissus, Department of Defense civilians within the U.S. Cyber Command community.

During the competition, O’Rouke and his team huddled over their laptops as they launched a series of attacks or bolstered their defenses during the “castle versus castle,” part of the competition, also known as “level five.” Teams had three hours to increase their scores from the previous day of competition.

The day prior, Nation_State_Alchemy quickly sailed thought the first four levels of the competition to be amongst the first to reach level five. The initial stages included a series of cyber-related exercises that increased in difficulty and corresponded with a fictional-based scenario, O’Rouke said.

At level five, participants set up and managed their “castle” — a virtual server — during a capture-the-flag-type competition, O’Rouke said. In each castle, teams managed four Linux- and four Windows-based services, which included a “digital-text string,” known as their flag.

After they set up their castle, teams could then attack another team’s services and take down an enemy’s flag, put up their flag, or even take down a team’s services altogether.

“Ideally you want to automate as much as possible and get your services set up and automatically defended,” Peterson said. “Then you want to get your attacks set up and get them firing automatically against another team’s systems.”

NetWars scoring servers periodically check the status of each castle. Teams are awarded points based on their uptime or the number of flags the team has across the online play space.

Ultimately, Beat said, NetWars turns into this giant “cyber-knife fight.” Teams try to maintain a 100% uptime by defending their castle, as they branch off to try and take over another team’s services.

“There is certainly a potential upside to aggressive play; however, defense is easier to maintain,” Peterson said.

In this competition, understanding how a team exploited a system can provide an ample opportunity to build a proper defense, O’Rouke added. Further, a team can leverage a known weakness to breach another team’s system.

“Attribution is a challenge, just like in the operational environment,” Peterson said. “Based on the types of attacks we are seeing and the data they leave behind — their flag — we can start to associate each of these attacks with different threat actors.”

Through it all, NetWars provided teams an opportunity to practice their techniques, tactics, and procedures in an open-source competition against a real and thinking adversary, Beat said.

“Ten years ago, we started NetWars — and no offense, the U.S. military personnel just did OK,” Skoudis said. “This is U.S. military, and we face some significant adversaries — OK is just not good enough.

“Now, whenever we run a NetWars event, whether it’s the Tournament of Champions or anything else, the U.S. military is well represented among the winners,” he added. “I do think that shows the investment in those skills is paying off, and cyberspace is a dangerous place, and we need our military forces to be ready to defend the country.”

In total, around 500 people participated in this year’s tournament, in varying levels of competition. Nation_State_Alchemy placed third in the event and is planning to apply the lessons learned in future contests. A second joint-Army team, Whiskey_Business, placed fourth in the tournament.

“One big takeaway: no matter how hard you defend, the attackers will go after the weakest link,” Peterson said. “The teams we were up against didn’t focus on us. They focused on the less prepared teams in the play space.”

SERVICES CUP

As Nation_State_Alchemy and Whiskey_Business competed in the Tournament of Champions division, the team “Crabby_Patties,” led by Capt. Michael Milbank, represented the overall Army in the 2019 NetWars Services Cup competition.

Milbank joined other members of the U.S. Army Cyber Command’s Cyber Protection Brigade out of either Fort Gordon or Fort Meade, Maryland, including Capt. Braxton Musgrove, Chief Warrant Officers 2 Michael Edie and Michael Shue, Warrant Officer Christopher Watson, and Staff Sgt. Buffye Battle.

“Being placed in a contested environment with actual adversaries offers us a chance to test new strategies, enhance our tactics, and rehearse our procedures so that we are more effective and adaptive in real-world scenarios,” Milbank said. “Our team is incredibly thankful to SANS for putting together this competition and thankful to the Army for providing the training and opportunity to allow us to be successful.”

Teams representing the Navy, Air Force, the Marine Corps, Coast Guard and National Guard also participated in this year’s competition. The Air Force was the overall winner, followed by the Navy and Coast Guard, respectively.

“The [services] are always competing with each other for fun, so we decided to have a commander’s cup for cyber,” said Daryl Gilbertson, SANS DOD national account manager “The cup travels with the winning team … and it gives the [cyber team] some notoriety. Their names are actually engraved on it … it’s a big deal.”

WEST POINT

Cadets from the Army Cyber Institute at West Point, New York, also participated in this year’s Tournament of Champions. Joining the cadets was their instructor, Capt. Daniel Hawthore, an assistant professor and deputy at the Cyber Research Center, who placed third overall as a first-time solo player.

West Point qualified for this year’s event by beating the other academies during a SANS training event and tournament last spring, Hawthorne said. The team pressed hard and broke into level four before the close of the competition.

“Anybody who sat in one of my classes will tell you I’m very passionate about the field,” Hawthorne said. “I’m watching these cadets take off. They’re going to go further than I have.”

By Devon L. Suits, Army News Service

Federal Ammunition Launches “It’s Federal Season” Podcast

Sunday, December 29th, 2019

ANOKA, Minnesota – December 18, 2019 – Federal Ammunition is excited to announce the launching of “It’s Federal Season,” a podcast dedicated to everything ammunition.  Federal is coming up on 100 years and there is a ton of information to share that is both entertaining and informational.  The first episode will drop on December 19, 2019 and can be downloaded from federalpremium.com/podcast.     

“This is an exciting launch and a new marketing tool for our leading ammunition brand,” says Jason Vanderbrink, President of Federal. “Our goal is to entertain, inform, and give insight into our new and existing products that you use in your practice, your hunts, and in your self-defense every day.”  

Listeners can expect to learn about new products and promotions but also hear from our many partners in the hunting and shooting industry including conservation leaders, celebrities, competitive shooters, and prominent newsmakers.  These conversations are going to be engaging and informative.  The podcast will feature a TECH TALK segment where Federal’s engineers or product managers will go in-depth on design and performance of our category leading products and the key differentiators that separate us from the competition.

The initial podcast schedule will be dropping new content each month with the primary host being Jason Vanderbrink, President of Federal.  The flexibility of the medium allows Federal to increase frequency when seasons heat up.  Look for more information at www.federalpremium.com or where you find your favorite podcasts.     

Ft McCoy’s Cold-Weather Operations Course Students Build Improvised Shelters, Survive Outdoors

Saturday, December 28th, 2019

During each session of the Fort McCoy Cold-Weather Operations Course (CWOC), students spend several days in the field surviving in improvised shelters they built with materials they find and have with them.

Instructor Hunter Heard, who works for contractor Veterans Range Solutions, which supports the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, or DPTMS, students spend nearly 20 hours during their 14 days of training learning about and building improvised shelters.

Heard said the most important factor for each shelter is making sure it’s well insulated. Some students have used evergreen boughs combined with leaves and debris. Others have incorporated Army ponchos with natural materials.

“They are all unique,” Heard said.

CWOC Class 20-01 student Sgt. Ty Laird of Fort Bragg, N.C., said learning about building shelters and more were especially good lessons.

“Most helpful part of this course was the field portion,” Laird said. “I can leave here knowing I can train my Soldiers on how to properly wear the cold-weather clothing, how to build shelters, and various ways to pull the ahkio sled.”

During CWOC Class 20-01’s field training with shelter building, the students built several lean-to-style shelters and others took advantage of already fallen trees to build shelters around.

Weather often helps determine how the students will build their shelters and what materials they incorporate into the build.

Each CWOC class training includes a wide range of cold-weather subjects in addition to shelter building, including skiing and snowshoe training, how to use ahkio sleds, setting up the Arctic 10-person cold-weather tent, cold-water immersion, and more. Training also focuses on terrain and weather analysis, risk management, proper wear of cold-weather clothing, developing winter fighting positions in the field, and camouflage and concealment, Heard said.

Located in the heart of the upper Midwest, Fort McCoy is the only U.S. Army installation in Wisconsin.

The installation has provided support and facilities for the field and classroom training of more than 100,000 military personnel from all services each year since 1984.

Learn more about Fort McCoy online at home.army.mil/mccoy, on Facebook by searching “ftmccoy,” and on Twitter by searching “usagmccoy.”

Story by Scott Sturkol, Ft McCoy PAO

58″ Wide ACRONYM Now Available in M81 Woodland Camo from Whiskey Two Four

Saturday, December 28th, 2019

Whiskey Two Four are excited to offer 58″ wide ACRONYM in M81 woodland camo.  ACRONYM (Advanced Composite Rugged Optimized NYlon material) laminate fabric is manufactured with milspec, Berry / IR compliant, solution dyed fabrics to produce a tough, medium weight fabric perfect for laser cut applications.  Approx 18oz / sq yard.

www.wtfidea.com/acronym-500d-laminate-58-137cm-wide-per-yard