Special Forces Gear -- Rolling with The Elite By: Michael Ruiz Special Forces gear enables military and law enforcement special forces teams to conduct commando, long-range reconnaissance, training and other special operations missions successfully and with minimal casualties. The gear used by military special operations organizations like the US Army’s Green Beret Special Forces and Army Rangers, and the US Navy Seals, is generally more sophisticated and of higher quality than the gear used by regular combat military forces. Apparel and protective gear The apparel used by Special Forces varies depending on the environment that the unit will face. Generally, apparel should be able to “breath” so that moisture does not collect underneath the clothing. However, the apparel should also provide sufficient insulation especially in cold weather environments. Military special operations uniforms generally have a camouflage scheme that will vary depending on the terrain involved. In many cases, the uniforms undergo special treatment with flame-retardants to provide an extra degree of protection in combat situations. The field uniform should have varying degrees of water resistance up to fully waterproof raingear including waterproof boots. In cold weather, heavy jackets or parkas may use polyester or down insulation to protect soldiers and police officers from cold weather injuries. Other types of cold weather gear will include gloves, facemasks, insulated headgear and insulated footwear In combat situations, body armor utilizes Kevlar, a composite material with high tensile strength, to provide protection against both direct and indirect fire. Police Special Forces units tend to use padded protection for joints including knee and elbow pads. Riot police will use more extensive padded protective gear. Survival gear Units like the Army Rangers and the Green Beret Special Forces often must stay in the field for long periods without resupply. A whole range of special survival gear from knives to fire starters and cooking accessories helps special operations units to survive in the most difficult conditions. In many cases, Special Forces personnel must carry everything they need in a single back pack and on their web gear. MREs and similar types of rations will provide nutrition although in some cases they may need to hunt and forage to supplement their diet while in the field. MREs are ready to eat meals that can last up to five years and they provide a full meal including main course, dessert, beverage, utensils, seasonings and accessories: • Water-resistant matches • Toilet paper • Towelette • Chewing gum Some typical types of survival gear that will help in managing environments ranging from rainforests to Arctic tundra include: • Canteens and hydration systems for carrying water and other fluids • Water purification kits • Fire starting equipment • Solar chargers and solar energy panels for power generation • Tents and other types of shelter • First aid kits • Shovels and other types of tools • Lanterns, flashlights and other lighting • Compasses, GPS and other navigational equipment • Sleeping gear • Cooking accessories and equipment • Special survival kits • Hunting equipment Sensors In the modern battlefield, the troops with the most advanced sensor equipment have a distinct advantage. Night vision goggles and other types of night vision equipment are important for operations in low light conditions. Nigh vision goggles use imaging infrared technology that allows the user to see objects based on the thermal energy they radiate or reflect. Night vision binoculars and monoculars use the same type of thermal imaging technique but with a more advanced zooming capability. Another technology for use at night or in other low visibility situations is low light digital television. Camera sets like the Monocam NEPVS-14, for example, allow surveillance and target acquisition in a wide array of light conditions. This digital camera is capable of operating in all-weather conditions and has special protection against shock, corrosion and exposure to dust and other elements. Law enforcement special units often use concealed cameras that allow them to record video during security operations for identification of suspects and documentation of events. Climbing and Rappelling Negotiating natural and manmade obstacles requires special training using climbing and rappelling equipment. Special operations teams must often "drop in" with an element of surprise that requires skillful handling of natural and urban environments. Some of the equipment used for such operations includes ropes, anchors, grappling hooks, pulleys, harnesses and rescue gear. A Special Ops full body harness utilizes a special design for rescue operations by US Air Force helicopter crews. Maritime gear The Navy Seals and Green Beret Special Forces receive special training in sea operations that generally includes scuba training. The Navy Seals often conduct operations from rigid inflatable boats or other types of tactical sea craft. Maritime special operations gear includes floatation devices, diving masks, air systems, first aid kits, snorkeling equipment and wet suits. The TRAP tactical re-flotation assault pack is a back pack with its own flotation device that allows the wearer to negotiate water obstacles. Special Forces teams can use fully loaded packs as rafts while maintain low profiles during tactical missions that involve navigating over water. Airsoft Weapons and Accessories Airsoft is a popular way of simulating military and police drills and exercises using the popular Airsoft simulated weapons systems. Airsoft replicas of a wide variety of contemporary Special Forces weapons fire 6mm or 8mm plastic rounds for use during these military simulations. The weapons closely resemble their real life counterparts and a wide variety of accessories is available including: • Scopes and sights • Lasers and flashlights • Practice targets • Face masks • Slings • Bipods and adapters • Helmets Other Special Forces gear The items mentioned above, of course, involve only some of the wide range of Special Forces gear available. Other popular items include radio and signaling equipment, law enforcement gear, uniforms, eyewear, watches, flags, and books and manuals. Many ex-Special Forces and other service members are interested in finding unit t-shirts and other gifts with their special badges and symbols. These types of memorabilia provide a sense of pride in their past service to the owner. Special Forces gear represents the top-of-the-line equipment used by military and police forces. The gear allows forces to handle extreme weather conditions along with most complex tactical problems.
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