Way back in 2004 I wrote two articles about warrior "inventories". One was what the police should have on their person or available to them and the other applied to soldiers. Looking back I realized that there are lessons to be learned in what today's soldiers wear or carry and it's changed since 2004 as the mission and environments have changed. This week I wanted to take a look at some of what our contemporary soldiers either wear or carry and the applicability of those items to the law enforcement or ready civilian communities.
First we should all recognize that today's soldiers, Marines, airmen, sailors and coast guardsmen all have to maintain a decent physical readiness level. I know many of you probably get tired of reading this and me harping about it - and I have to work at it just as hard as the next guy - but we do ourselves a serious disservice if we fail to maintain a reasonable weight, a healthy cardio-vascular system, sufficient strength and enough flexibility. Failing to pay attention to any one of those areas can be detrimental in any crisis situation. The approach to such maintenance is very straight forward:
- You should maintain a weight proportionate to your height
- You should perform at least 30 minutes of cardio-oriented exercise at least four times each week
- You should perform strength training exercise at least three times each week
- You should stretch DAILY
Now I've had a few of my associates argue the need to stretch daily. No, it won't hurt you if you miss a day here or there. That said, I've known plenty of people who have "old back injuries" who suffered if they didn't stretch and felt great if they did. I know time is tight for everyone but it only requires ten minutes of your day to stretch from head to toe.
All of those maintenance items should be viewed as marathons and not sprints. I've known far too many people who "need to lose ten pounds" so they go on some crash fad diet and lose it in a week or two. A month later they've gained it all back - often plus a few more. The most beneficial and easily maintained weight maintenance method is to monitor what you take in, exercise sufficiently (stay active) and pay attention. I don't know many soldiers who actually count calories but they exercise so often and do so much throughout each day that few of them have weight problems. I didn't know a SINGLE soldier in my Basic Training Unit that had any weight control issues by the end of the training. A very few came into the training over-weight and had lost quite a bit during the training. A few (like me) went in too skinny and came out with a healthier weight and lower body fat levels.
The first item on any readiness inventory is YOUR BODY. Take care of it in an on-going consistent fashion.
Next item is clothing. Today's soldiers have specially designed and treated uniforms to suit all types of environments and defeat some technologies. Of course I'm talking about battle uniforms and not barracks uniforms. If you want to dress up, put on a suit. The things the battle uniforms have in common that we can learn from are:
- They virtually all have "layers"
- The outer garments are rugged materials
- Pockets are placed strategically and ergonomically
I know that during the hot summer months it seems ridiculous to have to worry about "layering". After all, it's hot all day, right? The challenge we face with this thinking is that under crisis conditions - that which we prepare for - we might not just be out during the day. What's comfortable at two in the afternoon at the peak of the heat may not provide enough insulation at two in the morning in the chill of the darkness. Yes, if you're going to prepare then you need to do so from the 24/7 perspective.