Thursday, March 25, 2010

Friends... In Afghanistan

© 2010 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.

Friends in Far Away Places...

It's just everyday stuff...for A'stan.

I was going through some pictures from Afghanistan, when I remembered one late evening.

We had been sorting and moving, I don't know, one-hundred thirty thousand pounds of mail or so, and we were dog tired. You know that feeling. The one where you can barely put one foot in front of the other. You don't bother to focus because it's too much of an effort.

For some reason the lot of us found one skid particularly funny. It was no different than any other skid of triwalls, just as overloaded, just as back-breaking as the previous thirty. Someone started laughing, and it spread like fire. Before you knew it we were chortling and wheezing, the cold air hurting our lungs as guffaws of laughter echoed throughout the warehouse.  After a short while, we were wiping tears from our eyes, looking at each others and could think of no place we would rather be.

There were other nights, easy nights. Nights that you made quick plans to get together with your friends and watch the latest movie on someone's laptop. Or maybe you met up with them and got your electronics, internet, or commo squared away. Or maybe you just sat around the hootch or bunker and shot the breeze, talked about home, or maybe the future. Sometimes you missed being home, sometimes you wished you were home. Sometimes, that was home.

Now I'm sitting around here, waiting for my next contract to start.  I wonder what everyone else is up to, how they're doing. You get the occasional email, but it just doesn't convey the camaraderie you had while there. And sometimes you just get that feeling

You sweat the stuff because you're so far away. Is Johnny ok, wherever the devil he is this week? Is Paul running convoys again? Is Herbie close to a bunker when the rockets start raining down on them?

I have friends running convoys.
I have friends down in Helmand Province.
I have friends on mountain tops and ridgelines.
I have friends ... in Afghanistan.

When you guys get around to reading this, remember you are never far from my thoughts and prayers.

Albert A Rasch

Member: Bagram Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

Monday, March 22, 2010

What You Need to Bring Overseas as a Contractor

© 2010 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles and
The Range Reviews: Tactical
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.
Afghanistan Lessons Learned:
Contractor Edition

Having now spent some time in Afghanistan, I have learned through first hand experience, sometimes painful, and through observation, what are some of the less obvious things you should bring with you. (This covers non-Force Protection personnel.)

Things to know:
The US Mail will be your life line. USPS Flat Rate Priority takes anywhere from 5 days (East Cost sender) to 15 days to arrive at the Bagram Post Office. SAM (Space Available Mail) can take much longer.  Depending on where you are, it could be another ten days before it gets to you after it hits Bagram. So if you are out on some FOB or COP, I am really sorry, you are looking at three weeks minimum. That's just the way it is in a hostile environment.

Anything with liquid in it that is to be mailed, must be well packed, the bottle top sealed with filament tape, and the box similarly secured with tape on all edges! Spend the money and get a couple of roles of the filament tape. There is nothing more disappointing than getting a box that got all torn up and finding your things gone. Do not over pack boxes, a bulging box will pop and the contents become lost in transit. Similarly, a loosely packed box will be crushed, the box torn apart and the contents lost. Pack the box tight, use newspaper to fill in the gaps!

Dust is omnipresent. Be prepared with personal allergy relief meds if necessary. Contact lens wearers need lubricating eye drops.

You will get sick as a dog. If you are smart you will bring two boxes of generic Dayquil, and two boxes of generic Nyquil gelcaps. This will help get you through the initial incident. Bring aspirin, ibuprofen, and/or acetaminophen as you prefer.

If you take a prescription medication regularly, you need to bring a six month supply of your meds with you. There are no pharmacies on BAF, KAF, or any of the FOBs. You may be able to use or one of the online pharmacies though.

Things to have:
Chapstik regardless of your gender! You are not used to the dry climate/altitude.
Good quality hand lotion. Hand washing is constant.
Babywipes, large pack. For the days when there is no water to bathe with.
Two pair of ballistic sunglasses. Z87+ rated.
If you wear reading glasses, bring a spare.
Nail clippers, small and large
Shemagh. Basically a large square scarf that you fold into a triangle for covering your face.
A good day pack.
A pack of thumbtacks! They are perpetually in short supply.
A couple dozen nails, 6d commons or finish. Always hard to find!

Two of everything you use as toiletries. Often the exchange is out of items... for a long time.
Two toothbrushes.
Two tubes of toothpaste.
Two deodorant sticks.
Two large bars of soap. (Might as well grab the hotel ones too before you go.)
Two full size bath towels (three is actually better.)
Two wash cloths.
Two cans of shaving cream. Tape the top on, and put them in individual plastic bags in your checked luggage.
As many packs of blades for your razor as you think you will need. You won't find what you need at the PX when you need it.

Feminine hygiene products in particular, are always in short supply!
Conditioner! Conditioner! Buy the good stuff... So I am told.

Anti fungal foot powder
Talcum powder
Qtips, large pack.

Bring a good pillow! You will thank me for it.
Two sets of twin sheets. You need to change them weekly!
Ship a quilt ahead of time if possible. Otherwise bring it with you.

2 pair of broken in boots. I like OTBs myself.
12 pair of good socks. Darn Tough Vermont top my list.
12 sets of underwear.
12 sets of t-shirts.
3 sets of UnderArmor tee shirts. Expensive, but worth every penny.
Hoodie or sweatshirt and sweatpants for hanging around or extra warmth.
Wool cap
Baseball cap
Buy your work trousers stateside. They are over-priced at the PX. I have been using 5-11 trousers and I am relatively satisfied with them.
One set of blue jeans. Good for your mental well being.
Flip-flops/shower shoes

Good quality flashlight. At minimum a Mini MagLight. SureFire would be better.
An MP3 player. Trust me, it will be one of your few pleasures.
Spare batteries. Get lithiums, they're expensive but they last longer.
Multi-tool like a Leatherman or Gerber. I also have one of those small tool kits with allen wrench, torx, Phillips, square, and straight bits along with the driver handle. I must use it at least once a week!
Two sets of addresses, passwords, copies of your Ids etc. Stash one away in your hootch and another in your pack.
Gel type Crazy Glue.
Canned air! Have it mailed to you in packs of three! You need to blow out your computer every couple of days. If you have a DVD player, same goes.
Medium sized RubberMaid or Tupperware food bins for your snacks.
A set of Squishy Bowls and Utensils™. I used mine constantly.

In your carry-on:
fleece blanket for the flight. It's long...
Headache remedy
Chewing gum
Power bars
When traveling to or from theater, be inconspicuous. Wear casual but comfortable clothes. Think business casual, not contractor casual.

More things to know:
Break your boots in before you go!
If you are going to use insoles, use good ones.
Get your Eagle Cash Card as soon as possible.
The laundry turn-around in Bagram is usually seven days. (As of 7/10-10/10)
The shower facilities are quite capable of burning you. Be careful.
All bases are dangerous. They are no different than any other big city.
Always travel in pairs. Especially women!
Know where your bunker is.
Keep your body armor handy, clean, and well maintained.
One more time! When traveling to or from theater, be inconspicuous. Wear casual but comfortable clothes. Think business casual, not contractor casual.

That's my list for now. As I remember anything else that's pertinent, I'll add it in.  Traveling to Afghanistan and working there can be difficult. It is an austere environment, and anything that can make it more comfortable and bearable is a good thing to do. Your company will not prepare you adequately! Remember, it is the small things that make it tolerable, so keep that in mind!

Best regards,

Hogs and DogsBest Boar Hunting Calibers: Part I Best Boar Hunting Calibers: Part I I

Thursday, March 11, 2010

North American Arms NAA Guardian .32NAA

NAA Reintroduces Guardian Pistols in 32NAA and 25NAA 

North American Arms is pleased to announce the reintroduction of the Guardian pistols designed to chamber NAA's proprietary bottle-necked cartridges, the 32NAA (380ACP case) and the 25NAA (32ACP case). "Our new manufacturing capability has enabled us to assure our customers of regular production and a timely supply this popular platform," explained NAA's President, Sandy Chisholm.

"As personal protection specialists, we felt it was our role to pioneer this important development to create a new benchmark in extreme high-performance handgun ballistics. We were supported in this task by Ed Sanow, editor of Law Enforcement magazine and a recognized ballistics expert, as well as the team at Cor-Bon, a company whose brand is synonymous with high performance ammunition," Chisholm added.

The 32NAA is a new cartridge/firearm 'system' designed and developed by the partnership of North American Arms and Cor-Bon Ammunition. In essence, the cartridge is based on a 380 case, which is necked-down to hold a smaller 32 bullet. The benefit is a remarkable gain in ballistic performance (below).

As an example, the 32NAA cartridge pushes a 60 gr. Hornady bullet in excess of 1200 feet per second from the 2.5" Guardian barrel, generating almost 200 ft. lbs. of energy. It's not a 45 ACP, but serious students will find that compares very favorably with virtually any ammo/gun combination in the pocket pistol category.The 32NAA produces more velocity, more energy and more stopping power than any conventional jacketed lead hollow point (JHP) 32 ACP, 380 ACP or 380 ACP (+P) with 15% less recoil (Power Factor) than the (+P). It also penetrated 8.3" of Gelatin after passing through four (4) layers of denim, expanding to a .55" mushroom with a retained weight of 100%.

* Corbon brand, box of 20, 60 Grain JHP Cartridges for $11.00
* Corbon brand, box of 50, 71 Grain FMJ Performance Match Cartridges for $24.00


*Caliber: .32 NAA
*Magazine Capacity: 6+1
*Operation: Double Action Only
*Material: 17-4 pH stainless steel
*Barrel Length: 2.49"
*Height: 3.53"
*Overall Length: 4.75"
*Width: 0.930"
*Weight: 18.72 ozs. unloaded
*Suggested Retail Price: $449.00
*Trigger Pull: 10.0 LBS.

Full specifications and test information can be found at North American Arms.

Media Contact:
Ken Friel
General Manager
North American Arms
2150 South 950 East
Provo, Ut 84606
Ph: 800-821-5783

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Archangel Armor Internal Load Bearing Armor

The Range Reviews: Tactical

I humped a ton of different body armors in the short time I was in Afghanistan, and you can rest assured that a good design saves you from being fatigued.

I met the owner/designer of Archangel Armor back in 2009 at the Shot Show. He knows what he is talking about, and his products are top notch design and performance oriented equipment.

Internal Frame Load Bearing Armor Study

Current “lighten the load” efforts focus on shaving ounces from the tactical load. The thinking follows that if you can decrease the actual load carried, you can decrease the rate at which you get tired. Inversely, this should result in increased performance. However, based on the current state of the art and desired protection levels, this approach may take some time to produce a significant difference. On the other hand, a recent load carrying study undertaken by North Carolina State University seems to validate an entirely different approach. The basic claim is that use of Archangel Armor’s Internal Frame Load Bearing Armor (IFLBA) removes the load from the neck, back and shoulders of the wearer, and redirects it to stronger load carriage muscles groups. The major effect indicated is a reduce rate of fatigue.
Redistributing the weight from the back neck and shoulders, prevents translating the weight through the neck back and spine in order to be carried by the strong load carrying muscles of the hips and legs. Many of the effects of fatigue can be felt between the neck and the hips. This system literally bypasses this sensitive area, and there fore the negative effects they suffer.

The end state of redirecting the weight is to reduce the rate of fatigue. An objective measure of this was conducted at Fort Bragg, NC last November. The pilot study was sponsored by the Partnership for Defense Innovation, and conducted by NC State University, Ergonomics Center. Additionally, the data was peer reviewed by Dr Richard Kuhns who conducted an independent Medical and physiology review.

“The Archangel IFLBA re-directs the load bearing to a stronger, more secure area of the body, which will reduce injuries to the spine and its supporting structures. It allows greater range of motion in the head/neck/shoulder are regardless of loads carried. The nominal changes in total measured weight are negligible especially in light of the idea that the Archangel IFLBA creates less fatigue which equates to greater levels of job performance and decrease injury occurrence. The Archangel IFLBA also provides ergonomic support for the spine. The added benefit of this will be evident with prolonged periods of standing, sitting, walking, running, laying prone, and laying supine.” Independent Evaluation, Jan 2010, Dr Richard Kuhns

During a measurement conducted at the NC State University, Ergonomics Center at Chapel Hill, NC, this graphic was produced to provide an objective measure of how the weight is removed from the back, neck, and shoulders. On the left is a Improved Outer tactical Vest (with soft armor and full plates), the right is that an IOTV - IFLBA retrofit. In addition to the armor load, the Soldier also carried a rifle and pack with 30 pounds. As you can see from the graphic, the use of the IFLBA retrofit resulted in over 80% of the load being removed from the shoulders.

The study at Bragg used several objective events to measure a baseline load configuration against the IFLBA system. The Modular Body Armor Vest is fielded to SOCOM units.
Independent variables:
• 2 types of equipment (Fielded MBAV - Existing, IFLBA - New)
• 2 loads (armor + 25 lbs, armor + 40 lb pack)
Three tasks: (Average over 6 hours)
• Litter Carry (simulated casualty) - 400 m
• Fireman’s Carry - 100 m
• Soldier drag – 100m

400M Litter Carry
This task was conducted more than 20% faster with the IFLBA than the MBAV.

Fireman’s Carry, 100M lane
This task was conducted more than 30% faster with the IFLBA than the MBAV.  Soldier drag, 100M Lane
This task was conducted more than 40% faster with the IFLBA than the MBAV.

Additionally, NC State researchers collected subjective data from study participants rating levels of discomfort experienced. Data is based on the Borg Rating Scale of Discomfort which is often used in the medical field to allow a patient to communicate pain levels to a physician. On the scales shown below, the MBAV is on the left as the baseline and the IFLBA on the right. The results shown are as the mean of multiple iterations over a 6 hour period. Also please note that the IFLBA team demonstrated a lower level of discomfort after 6 hours than the MBAV team showed on the first iteration.

 Whole and Upper Body Discomfort

This data set covers the muscle groups used to operate small arms.

This shows Back Discomfort was lower for those wearing the IFLBA

This shows how the fatigue in the legs and lower extremities was decreased as well. The decreased fatigue in the lower extremities is explained by Dr Kuhns.
“When unencumbered, the body is used for upright posturing, and the lower extremities are used for locomotion. When under load, the body must compensate for balance, starting and stopping, and more muscles are recruited for these tasks. This increases the amount of work placed on them constantly. The increased demand on these muscles makes them tire faster, and prevent recuperation, i.e. “fatigue”. “When carrying loads that increase spinal load bearing you can either remain upright and compress the spine itself or bend the upper body to take the pressure off the spine and use the lumbosacral muscles and waist as a fulcrum, especially when running, jogging, carrying something with the hands, as this only further compresses the spine and creates more discomfort. The decision to adjust body posture to minimize spinal impact is a self-preservation reaction that people will instinctively due as pain or pressure builds in bony structures. The resulting fatigue is due to the fact that the lower extremities are now tasked with using mostly the leg muscles to balance and carry the weight that is not evenly balanced over the core of the spine in a non-spinal bearing fashion. If the weight is balanced over the core structure on a non-spinal load bearing and spinal supporting method, then the person does not need to bend in any unusual manners to compensate for an unnatural fulcrum created out of discomfort or fear of injury.” Independent Evaluation, Jan 2010, Dr Richard Kuhns

In summary, the information presented in the study illustrates three main points:
1. The IFLBA redistributes the weight from the back neck and shoulders to the stronger load bearing hips and legs, as measured by the NC State University Study.
2. This decreased the rate of fatigue and increases performance as measured by the NC State Study.
3. An Independent Medical and physiology review by Dr Richard Kuhns provides scientific explanations for the enhancements exhibited during the study and how this system can reduce the number and severity of the spinal compression injuries suffered by the wearers of tactical equipment.
The final report for the study as well as the review by Dr Kuhns are available to Government acquisition officials in addition to select parties contact Archangel Armor.

Friday, March 5, 2010

AWC Systems: Effective .50 Caliber Suppression

I pulled this off the Wire earlier today.  I had the opportunity while in Afghanistan to look over several weapons systems that to be honest, I didn't even know existed. Among them were some suppressed fifties. I never mentioned them because I wasn't given permission to.

In tis particular case, it comes from a press release, so i feel comfortable putting it out there for everyone.

AWC Systems Introduces TurboDyne Suppressor for Compact, Effective .50 Caliber Suppression

PHOENIX, - When deploying a .50 BMG rifle in any trouble situation, silence is the key to keeping the operator safe and hidden. The TurboDyne suppressor from AWC Systems Technology was designed to be the most compact, effective and quiet .50 caliber suppressor on the market.

AWC designed the TurboDyne to reduce the bang of the mighty .50 BMG rifles to a mere thump. Constructed out of 100-percent stainless steel and 360-degree circumferentially welded for added strength, the TurboDyne produces less noise than a .22LR. By reducing the concussion associated with firing a .50 BMG, operators are able to shoot comfortably for hours."

Overall weight and length vary by individual needs and design, but diameter is 2 inches. Standard finishes are matte black and matte stainless steel. The TurboDyne can be fitted to most semi-auto and bolt-action .50-caliber rifles, mounting directly to the current muzzle brake threads without modification to the gun. The suppressor is also available for rifles chambered in .416 caliber.

AWC Systems Technology has provided suppressed weapons systems to the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, major law enforcement agencies nationwide, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Energy, federal and state correctional facilities and Special Forces units in Central America and the Middle East. AWC Systems Technology now sells to consumers who want to experience the comfort, accuracy and enjoyment of shooting with the advanced technology, quality and durability found in AWC Systems Technology products.