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From the Library

April 8, 2019

1) Jungle SNAFUS….and How to Remedy Them, Cresson Kearny, PhD.

My copy came in last week, finally. I read it in two nights. I would have read it in one night, but my wife woke up, and caught me sitting up reading it, at 3AM, and insisted I needed to go the fuck to sleep, or I was going to be a bear the next day. Since I wear exactly which pants she tells me to each day, I did as ordered.

That having been said…while I have some issues with this book, I really, really recommend it, especially if you’re prior service with your only deployment experience being to the Middle East, if you live in a tropical or subtropical environment, or if you’re in the military and anticipate maybe being sent somewhere tropical in the near future.

There ARE some things I disagree with. I think part of the problem is, most of the remedies that Dr. Kearny discusses were his inventions, and he obviously had a vested interest (to be fair, he never patented ANY of his inventions, so he never made royalties off them. His interest wasn’t financial.) in believing that they were game-changing, life-saving approaches. While I think many of them DO have a place, and many of them WOULD be extremely useful, in context, he seems to think they should be shoehorned into EVERY solution. Seriously, dude….I don’t care if your one man, breath-inflatable boat only weighs three pounds…I’m STILL not packing that fucking thing if the only rivers in my area can be crossed with a rope bridge or a poncho raft.

I also disagree with his solution of mixing synthetic and cotton for hot-weather tropical clothing/uniforms. I know….Seriously, I know…the new Army Jungle Uniforms will apparently be made this way…and at least one SOCOM unit has ordered a new jungle uniform that is completely, or near completely, nylon. I don’t understand it, and I don’t agree with it.

I understand the CONCEPT. Synthetic fibers are hydrophobic, so they don’t absord water. That means they don’t weigh as much following interminable water crossings. I’ll take cotton in hot weather, every single day, and twice on Sundays. Here’s the thing, in my experience: synthetic fiber clothing doesn’t absord water well…which means it also doesn’t absorb sweat well. So, just like the reason we “like” synthetic fibers in cold-weather, it doesn’t trap the moisture near your body. But, in hot weather, we NEED that water to be close to our body, to hasten the evaporative cooling effect. We’ve MOSTLY gotten away with synthetic blend ACU pattern uniforms in the desert, because A) most missions are conducted with vehicles nearby, so a heat casualty can be exfiltrated quickly, and B) the desert tends to be dry enough that the atmospheric pressure created by the heated moisture in the micro-climate under your clothing pushes the moisture out and away, so you get that cooling effect, with “breathable” clothing. In the tropics and subtropics though…the humidity levels are high enough that they keep the moist heat trapped next to your body, under the synthetics. That doesn’t seem to happen as badly with lightweight, ripstop cotton, like the old summer weight BDUs, or the older jungle fatigues.

This isn’t to say that you don’t get miserably hot and sweaty in cotton. It just means you get LESS miserable, hot and sweaty in cotton. Again, that’s my experience. While I have some tropical jungle experience, I’ve also spent more time in the desert mountains, which completely changes that paradigm.

(I hope that explanation made sense. It does to me, but then, I know what I was trying to express….)

Dr. Kearny did have some really solid criticisms of the BDU uniform design, which I agree with, and I agree with him that something better needed to be developed. I’m just not sure that the current trend towards synthetics is the solution, especially in the jungle.

And, I would argue it’s not so much a disagreement, as the fact that the book was written in the 1990s…I know the M16/AR15 is just fine, as currently designed. I’ve done landings on sandy beaches, and in the desert, out of MH47s, with sand scouring my flesh off, and I didn’t need a goddamned bag to put my weapon in to protect it. I’ve crawled through tropical and subtropical swamps with my weapons for days and weeks on end, and I didn’t need a goddamned bag to protect the weapon.

Still, like I said, read it. It’s a really great book, and should get you thinking of things you may not have considered.

2) OBA: The Last Samurai by Don Jones

This is one of those stories that I’d heard of over the years, but have never actually read. This is the story of an Imperial Japanese Army Captain of Infantry, who managed to survive the invasion and conquest of Saipan, by the USMC, during WW2. CPT Oba subsequently gathered together a mixed group of IJA soldiers and civilians who has settled on the island, when the Japanese took it over, years before the war, and managed to hold out, until after the end of the war.

This is a book that ANYONE who is a prepper NEEDS to read. Especially if you are considering bugging in, or bugging out, in the event of a catastrophe. While it is not a how-to manual, there are a pile of lessons to be learned in this story. Oba ended up with around 300 people under his direct command/protection. If I remember correctly, about 80 of them were IJA, while the rest were a blend of men, women, and children. He managed, for a year, to keep them—mostly—hidden and safe, on an island completely controlled otherwise, by one or two DIVISIONS of US Marines…and his area of operations was only 3 miles by 5 miles (the island was larger, that was just the area that he kept his people in). Granted…that 3×5 mile area was in the mountains, and was thick, jungle vegetation, and the Marines that were doing the patrolling, looking for him and his people had just conquered the island, and then, had just won a war, and probably weren’t particularly interested in getting smoked by some holdout slope who was “too dumb” to come in, now that the war was over (in my defense, the author was one of those Marines, and he admits that was the case, in the book). But, despite multiple patrols sent out to look for them—IN A 3 MILE BY 5 MILE AREA!!!–they managed to stay mostly hidden.

There were a couple instances of people getting rolled up by patrols, when they got caught out, and two of his little hide site villes were located and destroyed, but he had escape plans in place, and back-up sites for them.

Now, part of CPT Oba’s ability to pull this off was—inarguably—the shared culture, traditions, and values of the people under his command. Even the civilians believed that they were serving the Emperor, and that, at the end of the day, giving their life in service to the Emperor would be their greatest glory, but…they also wanted to live, and some did surrender, when they became a burden on the holdouts.

Seriously…my copy of this is one I found at the used book store last week, and snatched up. It’s one of the old 1980s mass-market paperback military history books from like Ballantine or something. I think I paid $0.75 for it, but I just looked on Amazon, and even in original, first edition hardcover, it’s only like $20.

3) To Hell and Back by Audie Murphy

While I’ve seen this movie a hundred times over the course of my life (and honestly, probably more), I’d never actually read the book. It was my bedtime reading for a couple nights last week, and I’m glad I did. When people think of Murphy, they tend to think of the flashy cowboy movie star, or the scene in the movie adaptation of this book, of him standing on the tank, mowing down Nazis with a machine gun, while the tank is burning under him.

This is a grunt-level discussion of what he experienced, slogging through the war. He doesn’t sugarcoat anything, but he makes it clear that they found humor in the midst of it all as well…and occasionally, even managed to get laid!


I think I’m about done with my WW2 kick for a bit. I suspect next week’s list will be Permaculture and Doomsteading type stuff, again.

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  1. Hey Mosby! Try the “Blackout Podcast”. About an extended grid down situation. I know you like “One Second After”.

  2. permalink

    Big Mike agrees with you 100% about cotton. I’ve lived many decades in what I call “the armpit of the universe”. Located 60 miles form the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, we see many days where we have 90% humidity and 90 degree plus temps. My wife buys me T shirts that are only 10% polyester and I refuse to wear them. Wearing anything except 100% cotton, especially if the temp is over 80 degrees is torture to me. As you mentioned in your post, the “BEAR” comes out in me. I can’t stand it. Wearing a non-cotton T shirt is like wearing a plastic trash bag, there comes a point where I will rip it off. I am a profuse sweat-er and my clothes may weigh 10 extra pounds when I’m done baling hay on a 90 degree day but that is ok with me. I want to wear something that can “BREATHE”.

  3. RSR permalink

    From the eastern (more humid) end of Central Texas here, and all I wear is nylon in high heat — spend at least 2-3 hours daily working on our ranchette/hobby farm.

    In particular, I go w/ Academy’s Laguna Madre moisture wicking fishing shirts:

    They’re a lifesaver and keep me much cooler than anything I own that’s cotton. For natural fibers, take a look at linen, bamboo, and hemp clothing. Much prefer any of those to cotton too.

    Beyond just cooler and better airflow, I find wet cotton leads to chafing in friction areas, which are also among the heaviest sweaters — but with the least airflow. Other fabrics that wick more help to move moisture further away from your pits and such, so more evaporation of same amount of sweat=cooler.

  4. RSR permalink

    *Following up on previous post re preference for nylon: the key to synthetics is to use appropriate detergent. Atsko Sports Wash is the only way to go IMO — removes a lot of the crap standard detergents leave behind on the clothes and no UV brighteners, but cannot remove UV brighteners if you’ve washed your stuff w/ standard detergent. Sportsman’s warehouse has it the cheapest I’ve seen it.

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