Category Archives: MOLLE

Osprey Mk IV LMG Pouch

One of the larger pouches issued with the Osprey Mk IV is that for 100 rounds of LMG. This pouch is made of the standard MTP cordua nylon and is deep enough to hold 100 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition for the GPMG:imageThe belted ammunition sits inside and adds a considerable weight to the pouch:imageAll this weight requires the pouch to have substantial PALS straps on the rear, with multiple loops to ensure it attaches to the vest securely and doesn’t come away in combat:imageThe pouch is closed with a large box lid:imageSecured with a heavy duty tan plastic Fastex clip:imageAs ever a label is sewn to the rear with stores information:imageThe weight of ammunition was always a factor on operations. One ex-British Army soldier explains what men typically carried in Afghanistan:

I always carried 6 magazines of 28 rounds each of 5.56mm for my personal weapon plus perhaps that many rounds again either loose or in clips which could be speed loaded into the magazines. We also each carried not less than 200 rounds of 5.56mm belt ammunition for the Minimi light machine gun and/or 200 7.62mm belt rounds for the GPMG. I can’t remember exactly but it certainly was around 30 lbs of ammunition alone.

Each man in a foot patrol would have carried that much, the gunners carried more link ammo because their main weapon was the GPMG or Minimi. It depended on the job. If we were part of a force going on a full offensive op then it’s likely we would have carried much more but as we were mainly in a defensive roll due to our main task we depended heavily on close air support . We were taught to be disciplined with the ammo and to make every shot count. No spray and pray. If we had to, one guy could start breaking down some of the 5.56 belt ammo and load it into empty magazines. So in reality each guy had at least 300 rounds. That’s a lot of bullets in the real world.

The gunners carried 600+ rounds for their machine guns so between us we could bring a lot of firepower to the fight for a prolonged period. I promise not one round was fired unless an enemy fire position had been spotted which was usually easy due to the very low standards of the local Taliban fighters. Most of their lead flew right over our heads and contacts didn’t last long because we spotted and then smashed them or they ran out of ammo very quickly and then ran away.

In vehicles we would have brought with us several thousands of rounds of 5.56 and 7.62 ammo in boxes and rounds for the .50 cal if we had one. In addition there might have been boxes of rounds on belts for an automatic grenade launcher and plenty of bombs for the mortar if we were equipped with those weapons.

We had the occasional contact with Taliban forces made up of foreign fighters. These guys were more motivated and smarter soldiers (less likely to be high!) than the locals and much better trained so contacts with them lasted much longer, 4 hours or so, and could be very tricky, fast moving battles. With close air support from fast jets, attack helicopters and drones on our side the Taliban never got the upper hand but in the period of time between the start of the contact and when the first attack helicopter arrived on the scene, the foreign fighters could be very bold and would try their best to get close to our defensive positions. A lot of ammunition was needed at times like this. When the AH’s arrived which could take anything from 10 minutes to an hour, their cannons would turn the most persistent Taliban into high protein fertiliser.

Along with Electronic Counter Measures we carried on our backs, spare batteries for the ECM, water, ammo, weapons and body armour which alone would easily be half your load, plus whatever other stuff you were told to carry for some military reason, it was all very heavy. I don’t think that civilians realise how heavy all this equipment is and how tough it is to work with it all on. Soldiers, especially those in ‘teeth arms’ regiments deployed to Afghanistan, would regularly be patrolling and fighting out on the ground on foot in 100F degree heat carrying 60+ lbs of equipment and ammunition. We would occasionally have to move in non-tactical but still dangerous situations carrying over 100 lbs of stuff. This might explain why my knees, hips and back are so painful and stiff now.Operation Zangal Haf

DDPM Three Magazine MOLLE Pouch

We have looked at the MTP pouches for the Osprey Mk IV quite extensively over the last few weeks, so this week we are taking a break and looking at an example of the DDPM pouches that were used with the earlier osprey Mk II and Mk III armour. It must be said that these pouches were designed to be worn on the Tactical load Carrying Vest we saw here, and this would then be worn over the Osprey. In reality troops quickly ditched the vest and attached pouches directly to the Osprey vests to reduce weight and bulk in the heat of operations. This pouch then is for carrying three SA80 magazines:imageThe pouch is particularly deep when compared to the later designs, as can be seen from the side:imageNote also that PALS straps are also sewn along the side of the pouch to allow smaller pouches to be fastened here (quite why you would choose to do this is beyond me, but the option is there). The back of the pouch has a pair of straps and the PALS loops to allow the pouch to be attached to the vest or osprey system:imageA label is sewn to the rear with store’s details:imageA standard metal eyelet is fitted into the base for drainage:imageThe pouch as quite a complicated fastener for the top flap, firstly it is held by a strip of Velcro:imageThe lid is then secured with a ‘Spanish’ fastener:imageThis consists of a plastic staple:imageA loop then goes over this:imageAnd the plastic fastener is pushed through this. This clip is very secure, but difficult to open in a hurry so troops often slipped the pull tap through the staple instead so that it was easier to pull it open:imageThis was not as secure, but did allow quicker access to the magazines in a combat situation. This design was clearly not ideal as the later patterns of Osprey ammunition pouches only carried a maximum of two magazines rather than the three of this design, presumably because troops found the pouches too deep to wear comfortably and ditched the Spanish clips for simpler Velcro fastenings.

Osprey Mk IV Ops Panel

This week’s Osprey component is a large panel that clips onto the front of the vest to give the wearer more PALS loops to attach pouches to, known as an ops panel. It is a large rectangular panel in MTP with a full set of loops sewn across the whole of the front:imageThe back of the panel has the hook part of Velcro across the whole of it:imageThis allows it to attach securely to the front of the MK IV Osprey vest, additional support is provided by a pair of loops at the top, each with a press stud on:imageAnd separate T-Bar connectors on the side, each with a Fastex type plastic buckle:imageFour are used for the set, two on each side of the panel. The combination of these T-Bars, the press studs and the Velcro ensure the panel is held very securely to the front of the vest:imageThis secure fastening is essential if the wearer decides to fit pouches with heavy items such as ammunition in them to the front of his vest. The manual gives detailed instructions on the correct sequence to assemble the ops panel:CaptureThe usual stores details and NSN number are on a small label sewn to the back of the panel:imageThis panel is fitted to give extra carrying capacity to the vest, and can be removed and replaced with a pair of cummerbunds if more armour is needed on the wearer’s flanks. Standard operating procedure seems to have varied from unit to unit with some commanders banning pouches form the front of body armour in case an IED turned their contents into more shrapnel over the vital organs. Other commanders did not see this as a problem and were happy for troops to wear pouches on the ops panel, trusting that the Osprey pouches were robust enough and the armour behind them effective enough that this would not be a problem.

Osprey Mk 4 Anti Personnel Grenade Pouch

This week’s Osprey component is the pouch for an anti-personnel grenade:imageTwo of these pouches were issued with the Osprey Mk 4 set and being quite small pouches are often slotted around other larger ammunition pouches as the wearer prefers. In most respects this pouch is very similar to other MOLLE pouches in the Osprey set and they are made of the usual MTP pattern infra-red resistant Cordua nylon. On the rear are long MOLLE straps for fitting into the PALS loops on thee vest:imageTwo uni-direction press studs are fitted to the base of these straps and with the straps pulled back you can also see the loops on the rear of the pouch:imageThe idea is to interweave the vertical straps between the horizontal loops on the vest and pouch to create a very secure fixing. This is a little fiddly to do, but works very effectively and once set up they are not going anywhere! Note also the stores label sewn to the rear of the pouch in the photograph above.

The base of the pouch has the usual drainage hole:imageIf the rear and base of the pouch is conventional, the fastenings are a little more involved. The top flap secures with Velcro on the underside of the flap:imageAnd a large Fastex type plastic buckle on the front:imageThis design is more secure than that used on the older DDPM version of the pouch and suggests that from operational experience it was decided to beef up the fastenings on the newer design. Presumably there had been instances of people forgetting to fasten the buckle and grenades falling out, the Velcro adds an extra security so that if a man forgets to push the buckle home the Velcro will still prevent the top flap from opening.

Osprey Single Point Rifle Sling

This week’s Osprey component is the single point rifle sling:imageThis rifle sling is made of a hard wearing Cordua nylon and has a ‘T’ bar at one end to fit to the rear shoulder of the wearer’s Osprey body armour:imageHeavy duty plastic buckles are used to adjust the length:imageAnd a tan Fastex fastener is used to allow the rifle to be quickly detached:imageThe plastic fittings on this sling are very robust and well made. A single point sling is a little unusual, but works well with body armour as it does not get caught on pouches and the edges of the armour in the way a conventional sling would, but provides a secure connection to the weapon so if it comes out of the user’s hands it is not going to go anywhere.

The Osprey manual gives detailed instructions on how to attach and use the sling:CaptureThe following description highlights some of the advantages and disadvantages of the single point sling:

A specialized sling design that permits the shooter to transition to firing from the opposite shoulder. Like the 3-point sling, the single-point sling permits the shooter to drop the weapon and let it hang downward while still attached to their body. This sling design is best suited for short-term tactical use. A single-point sling is only worn in one way, and cannot provide the same degree of long-term anti-fatigue weight support as other slings. The one great advantage of the single point design is that it is very easy to switch from shoulder to shoulder for weak side barricade shooting. Negative attributes of the single point sling include a tendency to make the rifle dangle and hang off the shooter in an inconvenient fashion; it can interfere with the shooter’s movement and hang up on the shooter’s gear.

Osprey Double Magazine Ammunition Pouch

This week’s Osprey post is a shorter one as we are covering the two magazine ammunition pouch:imageThis pouch is almost identical to the single round version we looked at here, except that it is slightly deeper to hold two magazines. The top flap is secured with Velcro:imageWhen open this allows two SA80 magazines to fit neatly inside (I only have the one magazine, but you get the idea):imageThe rear of the pouch has the ubiquitous MOLLE straps:imageAnd a small label giving details of the pouch’s purpose:imageThe double pouches were far more popular than the single magazine variant as soldiers could get twice as much ammunition into the same space on their vests. When Osprey was issued to soldiers it came with four of these two magazine pouches, allowing soldiers to pick and choose how many they needed to attach according to their personal preferences.

One soldier explains a typical setup:

Most people I saw (but I was a FOBit) went with med pouch on the right, as far round as you can but allowing access and the double mag pouches on the left (but same detail). Admin pouches were in short supply so I used the front of the med pouch for my cards/compass etc. Everything else went in the day sack.

Osprey Commander’s/Admin Pouch

Even the best body armour is bulky and it is virtually impossible to reach pockets on a jacket being worn underneath a set of Osprey. Despite this, soldiers need ready access to items such as pens and notepads, translation cards and other small administrative objects. To solve this problem, Osprey Mk IV body armour sets were issued with a ‘Commander’s Pouch’ and this is the subject of this week’s Osprey post:imageAlthough called a commander’s pouch, this was actually issued universally with all sets of Mk IV Osprey and was widely used by many troops and perhaps ‘admin pouch’ would be a better description. The large Velcro loop panel allows insignia to be attached to the front such as unit badges, ISAF patches or blood type. The pouch is typically worn high and centrally on the body armour, as in this case where it is being worn by a female dog handler:imageElasticated loops are fitted at the top to allow pens to be slipped in and held securely:imageA long Velcro strip is fitted that acts both as the top of a small pocket and as a convenient place to attach a rank slide:imageThis is completely removable if the wearer prefers. There are two further pockets on the pouch, a small one behind the front panel, and a larger one at the rear that extends the full width of the pouch:imageMOLLE straps are fitted to the rear to allow it to be securely fitted to the PALS loops on the Osprey vest:imageA stores label is also sewn onto the back and this component is clearly a later production example as it has an NSN number rather than just an ‘NIV’ designation:imageAlthough it was most common to see the pouch on the chest, some troops preferred to keep their front clear of all pouches and moved the commanders pouch to the side of their armour, still within easy access though.