Continuing, kinda, with the earlier theme, not only does the Army keep coming up with shiny new toys for us to schlep around, they also refuse to re-evaluate whether or not we need the old toys we are still packing from times past. When I joined the Army, the Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) suits, boots, and masks were a must-have item at all times. Of course, it was the tail end of the Cold War and everyone was worried about Soviet use of chemical weapons, which was not only part of their standard war doctrine but also there was some supposed use in Afghanistan at the time. So carrying NBC gear seemed prudent.
We took it everywhere– if we had a road march, whether on vehicles or an actual, literal march on foot, we had to carry “something” in our packs, and that “something” was frequently an NBC suit, or a “full set of MOPP gear”, with MOPP standing for “Mission Oriented Protective Posture”, the full, technical name for the use and wear of the suit, mask, boots and gloves.
Eventually, the Soviet Union faded; MOPP gear was briefly used for the initial invasion into Iraq due to fears of Saddam Hussein having a chemical arsenal but eventually it became clear that there was no chemical threat. Use of the MOPP suit (and its eventual replacement, the “JSLIST”, or Joint Service Lightweight Integrated Suit Technology, pronounced like “Jay’s List”) fell by the wayside. We were issued MOPP suits or JSLIST suits, but most of the time we didn’t even need to take them out of their factory wrapping: “Just have it!” was the order.
Every new bright shiny toy that gets hung on us never gets taken away, unless it can be replaced by something else that is newer…. and maybe just a few ounces heavier, it seems.