Sometimes you just can’t get any better than a mule carrying your kit. With the changes to the Marine Reconnaissance community in the recent past, MARSOC Marines are getting some training that we never had access to back in the 90’s. Here’s a quick article from the Marine Corps site about MSOC getting mule packing training prior to a trip over to Afghanistan.
Here’s an excerpt from the article that was origanlly written by Lance Cpl. Stephen C. Benson on April 27, 2009.
The next day, Marines and Sailors participated in a mule packing class with the MWTC Pack Outfit. Students learned basic mule health and safety rules prior to cleaning and prepping the mules for packing classes.
“These mules are a lot healthier and generally larger than the mules they may find in Afghanistan,” said Sgt. Chad Giles, an instructor with the MWTC Pack Outfit. “The mules we use receive regular veterinary care and are ideal for traveling with heavy loads through rough terrain.”
Instructors set up different teaching stations and rotated the students between them. Box-hitching, barrel-hitching and various other packing techniques were taught at the stations. Each technique provided for the type of equipment being loaded and how they would sit securely and comfortably on the mule’s back.
“Mules can be stubborn and feisty animals,” said Giles. “But they can climb just about anywhere the Marines can, and they can do it carrying a lot more weight.”
Once the mules were packed up and the Marines and Sailors had received their preliminary classes, instructors took them for a hike. This gave students the chance to see how the mules moved with a combat load. Students also learned the challenges of taking care of them when bivouacking on long hikes. According to course instructors, mules require a certain amount of maintenance and care in order to work diligently for their Marine or Sailor.
After the courses and the hikes were over, the Marines and Sailors of the company had an improved understanding of how to tackle the high elevations and rough, cold terrain of the mountains. It will be a valuable skill to have should they deploy to the similarly difficult terrain in Afghanistan.
Read the entire article here – http://www.marines.mil/unit/marsoc/Pages/Stories/MARSOC_MWTC.aspx
Bill Janson is a former Recon Marine and is the founder of Eleven 10, a tactical gear manufacturer.