This week we have another short post on the Osprey system as we look at the full size collars for the Osprey Mk IV:We have covered most of the details for these collars on the posts on the DDPM version of the collars here and the half collars for the MTP version and filler here. Details then will be familiar with the same Velcro and press stud arrangement for attaching the collar to the vest:Along with a loop on the rear to secure this section:A Velcro tab is provided to secure the front of the collar when worn, which can be tucked away on itself when not needed:The inside of the collar has two labels, one for each part:In close up we can see that the collar dates from 2012:Again, I am lacking fillers for this collar, but they do turn up from time to time so I will keep my eyes out for some and it’s another osprey component I can tick off the list.
Among the many pouches produced for the Osprey IV system was a small pouch to carry spare 9mm magazines for the service pistol. By this stage traditional holsters had been largely replaced by hard shell plastic designs so a soft holster was not part of the Mk IV complement of equipment, however extra magazines would be required to be carried so a set of dedicated pouches was clearly desirable. The pouch is made of an MTP printed fabric with a top flap that has a more open weave than many of the other pouches in the Osprey IV set:This change of fabric was presumably to give extra strength on a thin top flap that would otherwise be in danger of breaking if the more standard fabric had been used. The large top flap covers the base of the magazine and is secured with a large Velcro fastening to make it harder for the pouch to be accidently opened:The magazine itself slides inside to make a secure fit, but one that allows it to be easily withdrawn:The magazine used here is for a Browning Hi-Power, in service more modern magazines would have been carried, but this is the only double stack pistol magazine I have access to and illustrates the concept just fine.
A single MOLLE strap is fitted to the rear to allow the pouch to be secured to the vest:The weight of even a full pistol magazine is negligible so one strap would be more than adequate. Under the strap is the standard Osprey label, printed on fabric and sewn to the rear of the pouch:These pouches were not only used for carrying pistol magazines, but also occasionally saw service on operations to carry morphine syringes in a safe and secure pouch that allowed easy access in case of emergency. Although not what the designers had originally envisaged this sort of adaptation is typical of how soldiers use equipment when deployed on active service and this seems a very sensible secondary use for the pouch.
The standard set of pouches issued with a set of Osprey Mk IV body armour included two for smoke grenades, We have taken a look at smoke grenades on the blog before, in this post. If you have seen our previous posts on Osprey pouches, it will come as no surprise that this pouch is very similar to previous examples, but sized appropriately to carry a single smoke grenade:The lid is secured with both a tan plastic Fastex clip:And a piece of Velcro to ensure the grenade does not come out accidently:As with all these pouches, a pair of heavy duty straps are fitted to the rear to allow it to be attached using the MOLLE system:And a small label is sewn to the bottom rear of the pouch with stores numbers on:This is just a quick post this week as there is very little to say about this pouch that hasn’t been covered in other posts, however it has been included for completeness and to help make this series a useful reference to those researching the Osprey Mk IV.
After a few weeks looking at MTP osprey components, this week we return to the slightly earlier DDPM items with a look at the desert pistol holster, issued extensively during the operations in Afghanistan and used to carry the Browning Hi Power and Sig P226 issued to troops at the time. The holster is a simple open topped design, made in desert DPM infra-red resistant Cordua nylon:A top strap goes over the back of the pistol and secures the gun into the holster with a simple press stud:A plastic adjustment buckle is fitted to the rear of this strap to allow it to be tightened to hold different weapons effectively. The holster is designed to be used with the MOLLE straps and PALS loops of the Osprey system so two straps are fitted to the rear:There is one long and one shorter strap to conform with the shape of the rear of the holster. Beneath these is a series of loops that allow the straps to be interwoven with the straps on the Osprey vest to allow a secure fit:A label is sewn to the rear as well and indicates that this holster was manufactured in 2011:Interestingly the design of holster is open at the bottom, leaving the muzzle of the pistol exposed:This seems an odd choice for a piece of kit designed to be used in the desert where there is a high likelihood of dirt and dust getting into the muzzle of the gun. I suspect though that it was felt that gravity would remove most traces of debris that entered the barrel and it was better to allow it to fall away than leave it in the bottom of a holster where it would gather and could start abrading the weapon or turning into an abrasive paste with the oil coming off of the weapon.
These holsters were commonly worn either on a drop leg panel or strapped to the chest on the Osprey body armour cover.
Tonight we turn to one of the more curious elements of the Osprey Mk IV set, the waist belt. This component is listed in the Osprey user’s guide and seems to have been issued with the rest of the pouches but I am struggling to find any information on if it was ever actually used, and how it was intended to be worn. My best guess is that it was designed to go over the vest to help tighten it, but I am struggling to find anything concrete so if you can help please comment below.
The belt is made from heavy duty MTP Cordua nylon and features a padded front section:The belt splits into two parts:Secured together with Velcro at the front:And rear:The back part of the belt is elasticated, with the strap split into two pieces. The inside of the front part of the belt has a distinctive ribbing to it and curves in slightly along its length:This would aid the belt in gripping anything it was wrapped around, like the Cordua nylon of the Osprey vest of the fabric of a uniform.
A label is sewn to each of the Velcro tabs on the rear of the two belt halves:There are a number of different sizes of belt produced for different sized soldiers, this is a small but medium and large examples are also available. As a later production piece, this belt has a proper NSN number, rather than just saying ‘N.I.V.’ (Not in Vocab).
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:The belted ammunition sits inside and adds a considerable weight to the pouch:All 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:The pouch is closed with a large box lid:Secured with a heavy duty tan plastic Fastex clip:As ever a label is sewn to the rear with stores information:The 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.
We have previously looked at the collars used to increase protection on the Mk II Osprey system here. Tonight we are looking at an example of the half collar used with the Osprey Mk IV and happily in this case the collar has its original filler as well…I am very glad I am not going to have to cut up Yoga mats for this one! Like the earlier design, this collar is made in two sections, but this time in MTP pattern camouflage:The two halves separate to allow the filler to be placed inside each half, the shape of the collar prevents it from being fitted from just one end as the middle section would be wider than the two ends. Each half collar has a piece of ballistic filler inside, which in turn is protected by a black nylon cover to protect the contents:Each piece of filler has a white label giving NSN numbers, sizing and when the filler was manufactured:The date of manufacture and lot numbers are important in allowing any faulty or substandard batches of filler to be identified at a later date and removed form service if necessary. The rest of the collar follows the design of the earlier pattern having a loop and popper fastening on the base of the collar to allow it to be attached to the vest:The instruction manual illustrates how this is done:And here it is on my vest set, which is slowly filling out with more components:A standard label is sewn to the outside of each collar half, dating these pieces to 2012: