Hearing to focus on troops’ heavy combat packs.

U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Eric C. Hopfinger, (left), a Combat…

U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Eric C. Hopfinger, (left), a Combat Engineer attached to Marine Wing Support Squadron-271 (MWSS-271), and Sgt. David J. Swaney, (right), a Data Technician attached to Marine Wing Support Group-27 (MWSG-27), swim with their packs during swim qualification class three at the combat pool on Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., Mar. 19, 2010. Swim qualification is part of the required annual training Marines must undergo each year. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. John A. Krake/Released)

A key House lawmaker wants the Army and Marine Corps to consider low-cost ways to help ground combat troops more easily carry their heavy loads of ammunition, water and equipment.

“We have to do something,” said Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s tactical air and land forces panel. “We cannot expect them to carry that much.”

Bartlett said he is pleased to hear some combat units are using donkeys and mules to carry such loads. He thinks they should also consider goats — which he has raised on his Frederick, Md., farm — as well as wheeled vehicles like garden carts, or even sleds when moving over areas where wheels are impractical, in order to reduce the stress on troops’ backs.

His panel will hear from Army and Marine Corps officials on Thursday about efforts to reduce the weight of equipment and body armor, along with other planned improvements in combat-related clothing and gear.

With backpacks and protective gear often weighing 130 pounds — and sometimes more for those packing extra ammunition — military commanders concede that the load is great, limiting mobility and agility and likely causing increases in back, shoulder and leg disabilities in Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

“No farmer would carry that kind of weight,” Bartlett said. “They would find some way to roll it or slide it or drag it.”

Bartlett said he isn’t talking about having the military design an expensive, high-tech armored garden cart, but rather low-tech solutions that are inexpensive and durable. “In this high-tech environment, you often overlook the low-tech solution,” he said. “I’d like to know what might work.”

Source: Rick Maze for Army Times.

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  • Steve

    This wont work, first, Jeff, you cant take a jeep into areas we need light infantry to go. Mountainous or difficult terrain will not allow for any type of wheeled assistance, even a garden cart. We will go through the process, waste money, and be no furthur ahead. It comes down to the commander of the mission focussing on mission priorities and not taking the kitchen sink, planning for resupply, as well industry must strive for smaller and lighter in everything. It is very obvious Bartlett has no combat experience. Infantry go through areas farmers would not farm!! This is done for thier security, if you dont understand that, you dont need to know more.

  • SLA Marshal wrote the book on this after WWI…Soldiers Load and the Mobility of a Nation, here we are almost 100 years latter and we still have not learned this lesson.

  • Eric L.

    A coworker of mine who served in Vietnam said one of the biggest obstacles for our soldiers was their cumbersome packs. Same thing goes for todays warriors.

  • Jeff

    Or how about some sort of 4 wheeled motorized vehicle… like a jeep or humvee?-I think its absurd to burden infantry with one more piece of dead weight to drag. They need weight reduction that isn’t superceded by the addition of new equipment.