An assault pack is a pack which helps you to sustain you and your unit with the very essentials during combat and immediate approach to combat. An assault pack is sized between 10 and a max of 30 liters. Intention of an assault pack is best described by “securing victory while preparing for failure”. This is achieved by bridging the gap between your second and third line. The particular assault pack pictured is a slightly modified Mayflower assault pack which features 12l of volume and two zippered compartments.
Assault packs have been the first dedicated military packs in history. With a large train supplies and other dedicated support assets rolling behind them soldiers just had to carry the minimum sustainment and their fighting kit from ancient history to world war 1. Even in WW2 this fact didnt change to much but lessons had been learned. After the 2nd world war there has been a clear cut between assault packs and combat rucks. However many armies preffered the smaller buttpack that got attached to the wearers beltkit. With the rise of airmobile operations more and more soldiers used to shift their sustainment gear to the back again. There are fixed assault packs and assault packs with fixed shoulder straps. For most users a pack with shoulder straps is the most viable option as you are able to acess its contents yourself without doffing your second line kit. If we can learn anything from history: Keep it simple. Your assault pack is there to carry ammo, tools, night vision, batteries , signalling kit and other items that will sustain your lethality in combat. Additionally they will contain a bare minimum of sustainment. Assault packs arent day pack. “Secure victory, but prepare for failure” could be the best phrase to define their role.
A good assault pack should feature attachment points. Those attachment points dont have to be comprised of an abundanche of PALS webbing as you need ways to carry odd shaped items like helmets, breaching tools, rain gear and ammo boxes for quick acess. Bungees like the Gearaid Gruntline featured in the image above are an handy asset to do so.
Make sure your attachment points are well thought out and robust. Many items have to be stored to the outside of your pack. Aside from this you should have a big compartment instead of several micro compartments for administration. Pack your kit from bottom to top, starting with sustainment items while putting combat related, quick access kit to the top or the outside.
Overall Considerations & Contents
One or two small admin compartments are a great thing. You should store small items here. Batteries, folded signal panels and chemlights and lights in general lend themselves. You just dont want to search for those items at the very bottom of your pack.
The upper picture shows how I store my items in my admin compartment. The lower one shows the contents sepparated. in this case we are talking about (from left to right): VS17 panel, camo paint, emergency bivvy, chemlights, spare batteries, cordage and an emergency ration.
An assaultpacks contents are highly dependent on the particular mission. You can roughly divide it into ASSETS (Breaching Tools/Spare Barrels/ E-Tools) /COMBAT SUSTAINMENT (Water, Magazines, Frags, Belted ammo, Signalling devices) /MISSION SUSTAINMENT (Spare Batteries, Ponchos, Survival Kit, Food… )
You can surely distribute some of those items to your second or first line. remember that the mission doesnt only dictate gear but also dictates its placement. Those are just items I want to have with me but I dont need immediate access to.
Ammo and water are focused on this pack. I carry a 2l Camelbak bladder, 4 Mags, a rain poncho, a full sized map, spare socks and a canteen inside. This leaves space for even more ammunition. A small breaching tool is mounted to the outside. You can also carry a large breaching tool.
Again, those are just considerations and the contents may change. Just make sure that the pack focuses on combat sustainment and not general sustainment. Ammunition, tools and water are imperative. However you can do a lot with the contained sustainment items. You can achieve a lot with the sustainment items pictured below. The poncho is not only a pice of rain gear but will also make a great shelter when combined with the paracord. The steel canteen enables me to boil water. So if a mission fails Iam still able to survive. I can also add a full size survival kit to this loadout.
1: Chemlights for low light marking/ Emergency illumination.
2: A map of the area. Everyone should know about his surroundings as everyone can get a leader in a blink of an eye.
3: 1,5l Steel Canteen
4: Emergency Ration, you can use any other snacks. An approach can take a while. Extractions can fail.
5: 2l Camelbak
6: Spare batteries, tape, lighter.
7: VS17 panel. This panel doesn’t only serve as a visual sign for aircraft. It can mark entry points to trenches or buildings or can be used for communication.
8: Waterproof magazine pouch holding 4 30rnd magazines. Can be attached anywhere with a carabiner.
9: Stuffsack, 30l. Can be used as an SSE bag or to carry additional loads.
10: Small breaching tool (can as well be an E-Tool or spare barrell)
11: Face Camo
13: Spare Socks, packed watertight.
As said before, the ability to strap items to the outside of your pack is important. In the upper picture you see a poncho and an e-tool. An e-tool is a great addition to any assault pack. It isnt outdated, it is one of the best general purpose tools you can get. On the lower picture you see strapped on ammo boxes.
Another consideration to add utility to your assault pack is a stowable stuffsack. Those dont only keep your equipment dry, they serve as SSE pouches and can be a great hasty addition to the volume of your pack to store a puffy layer or other light but bulky items.
OPERATIONAL USE AND CONCLUSION
Today operational use of assault packs is manyfold. For light infantry use or patrolling I advise people to hitchhike them to their field or patrol packs by either strapping them to the front or by just cinching them under the packs lid. Reason for this is that you dont need to carry your full sized pack when leaving the ORP for a mission while being able to ditch the full size pack quickly in an evasion scenario. You can see my assault pack hitchhiked to my crossfire DG3 patrol pack in the lower picture.
The next role is more focused on a mechanized or vehicle based operation. Your pack can be stowed in reach inside the vehicle and can be grabbed when disembarking for a mission that may require it. Use as a bailout bag is another way of to use them. In civilian vehicles you may be only able to stow one or two assault packs in reach. However this is more than enough to sustain you for a prolonged engagement.
Specialists like RTOs, JTACs or medical providers should consider carrying a daypack to combine the contents of their mission focused kit and their assault packs. As always, use your brain to apck your kit. As a leader, set solid SOPs.