'cause ya don't fight"
Boy, you gonna carry that weight
Carry that weight a long time
--Cary That Weight, The Beatles
The Army is looking at the heavy combat loads carried by soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, mainly because it is increasing their "non-deployable rates" -- soldiers sidelined due to stress injuries. The Army reported 257,000 acute orthopedic injuries in 2007, up from 247,000 the previous year (Weight of Combat Gear is Taking Toll.)
"You can't hump a rucksack at 8,000 to 11,000 feet for 15 months, even at a young age, and not have that have an impact on your body, and we are seeing an increase in muscular-skeletal issues"
"Individual Marine combat loads -- including protective gear, weapons, ammunition, water, food and communications gear -- range from 97 to 135 pounds, well over the recommended 50 pounds, a 2007 Navy study found."
"In Afghanistan, soldiers routinely carry loads of 130 to 150 pounds for three-day missions"
The Army's concern is that it keep troop levels up. However, we should also be looking longitudinally at the impact of these loads on lifetime muscular-skeletal problems among veterans. How will a soldier prove ten years out of service that his chronic back and knee pain was caused by his humping a rucksack combat load?
Unless the injury is documented while on Active Duty, future problems will not be adjudicated service-connected. Ranger's advice to all combat arms soldiers: Get spinal and knee exams before leaving Active Duty. Cover your ass before you leave the service, because the Department of Veterans Affairs is not your momma.
Your future welfare may hinge on it.