PERSONAL PROTECTION AND INDIVIDUAL EQUIPMENT
Shortly before H-Hour, several MP patrols moved into position to neutralize selected PDF positions and establish roadblocks. Shots rang out, and tracers were seen throughout the night along the highway connecting Ft. Clayton and Panama City. At one roadblock, an MP maintained surveillance behind the M60 mounted on his high mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicle (HMMWV). A PDF sniper moved into position and engaged the MP. The sniper round struck the MP's kevlar helmet, knocking him out of the gunner's cupola onto the hood of the HMMWV. The soldier suffered a concussion, but his kevlar helmet saved his life.
The kevlar helmet stopped bullets that would have penetrated the old steel helmet while the body armor was effective stopping grenade fragments and ricochets. The body armor caused significant heat buildup in the tropical climate. Many unique and individual equipment items were proven effective when used in addition to the unit's standard issue; for example, the butt pack, hand axes, bolt cutters and chemlites.
- Issue an assault pack similar to the old butt pack for carrying basic load ammunition and other items. The rucksack was too large for the final assault and for MOUT operations.
- Develop unit SOPs that state the type and amount of special equipment which should be pre-packed and maintained by the squads. Large wire cutters, bolt cutters, and crash axes dealt with heavy padlocks, chains, hasps, hinges and doors quickly and efficiently. Grappling hooks, small fire extinguishers and other items can be critical for specific missions.
- Use chemlites to mark cleared buildings at night. They can also be used to mark positions, breaching and link-up points. IR chemlites are preferred since too many of the standard type will light up the area and cause confusion.
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