I recently came across the above picture which is reputed to be a CIA Ground Branch contractor’s kit that he takes out on operations. On first glance, the picture is probably a few years old considering some of the kit, but it looks pretty legit.
The desert tiger stripe uniform is one of the first giveaways which would imply that this guy is either Ground Branch or GRS (Global Response Staff). The MBITR radio has a special attachment so that it will accept a 5590 battery, giving a lot more juice than the standard battery for missions that are longer in duration. We got a Kalash truck gun as well as an M4 with an EO Tech and an ACOG, each zeroed to their own upper receiver. Body armor is concealable for low visibility work.
We also see an M203 grenade launcher with a half-dozen 40mm rounds, a few frag grenades, PVS-15 night vision goggles, Glock 19 pistol, Garmin GPS, strobe light, folding knife, gun oil, Thuraya satellite phone, helmet, and of course the mandatory tactical kafiya. (Not pictured: water, Nalgene bottle, whey protein powder, alimony check to ex-wife, and operator beard.)
Pictures like these are always interesting to juxtapose with those from operators of the past. For instance, there is a whole chapter in John Stryker Mayer’s memoir Across the Fence about the weapons and equipment that MACV-SOG soldiers carried into Laos and Cambodia during the Vietnam War.
If you would like to learn more about the CIA’s para-military component called Ground Branch, take a look at the following SOFREP article:
“The CTPTs (Afghan Counter-Terrorism Pursuit Teams) are getting their motherfu&*ing slay on tonight,” a Ground Branch paramilitary officer said as he watched tracer fire shoot through the night sky near their forward operating base on the Pakistani border.
“GB (Ground Branch) officers constituted the main force at Stone and were selected from among the baddest-ass military units—SEALs, Marine Force Recon, Air Force parajumpers, and the Army’s Combat Applications Group (formerly known as Delta Force). They wore civilian clothes and were equipped with the most advanced light weaponry on the planet,” writes former CIA Case Officer John Smith in his book, “Left of Boom.”
Read more about the CIA Ground Branch on SOFREP.
*Originally published on SOFREP and written by