Enemy at the Gates” the Russian snipers use a lightweight periscope to peek out of a shell hole in a wall. Facial wounds received while looking around cover are quite common in combat. The use of a lightweight periscope would avoid most of these wounds. Periscopes can also be used to see over cover that would be too high to normally see over, look into confined spaces, under vehicles and various other uses only limited by the Soldier's imagination.
A simple periscope can easily be made from a pair of small mirrors and sheet aluminium bent into a square section tube. For field use mirrors should be unbreakable so either plastic or polished metal. "Door Finger Plates" sold at Hardware stores are a very economical source of mirror polished metal for making periscopes and other devices such as signaling mirrors. An issue item would be painted neutral grey or khaki. Trench periscopes were sometimes camouflaged with a sandbag "hood". Wrapping some suitable cloth around a periscope to break up its outline is probably prudent. The objective aperture should fitted with something like Killflash® or failing that some stocking or mosquito net. A lightweight sling (bit of paracord) would also prove useful.
For a purpose-built infantry periscope some form of magnification may be incorporated but the device shouldn't become too complicated or heavy.
Adding cats eyes.
A British serviceman I knew once told me that he'd been trained to avoid wearing brimmed hats for night operations since it reduced the amount of light reaching the eye. If he had to wear something like a patrol cap at night he would wear it backwards. This poses a problem in units that require reflective cat's eyes to be sewn to the back of the cap to make the soldier visible to his comrades and traffic. Sewing them to the front is out, since it will compromise daytime camouflage when you need the brim forward to keep the sun out.
The solution is to find a piece of khaki or green elastic equal to about half the circumference of your cap. You can use a couple of laundry pens to add a pattern and break up the linear shape if you want. Sew one end of the elastic to the outside of the brim, midway along just above your ear. Sew the other end to the other side, or button hole that end and sew a suitably coloured shirt button there. Onto the elastic you sew the cat's eyes.
If you haven't yet worked it out, this is how it works. In day time the elastic is concealed in the crown of your patrol cap. At night you pull it out and wear it at the back of the cap, dependent on which way you are wearing the cap. If in woods or open country your eyes need all the light they can get, so the brim is to the rear. On the road you may need to appear "smarter", and you may need the brim to reduce the glare of street lighting.
The advantage of this arrangement is that you can't loose the cat's-eyes (unlike a pin on badge) but can hide them if necessary for example if you have bypassed an enemy unit and don't want anyone looking backwards to see you.
Russian Spetznaz are supposed to wear string vests between their combat jackets and underwear. In cold weather this traps a layer of warm air and allows the free passage of sweat. In summer it allows air circulation and stops the tunic sticking to the sweat covered skin. It also prevents mosquitoes biting through the cloth reaching the skin.
A "net underjacket" might prove a useful item for wearing under combat dress. It would certainly be small packing, and would double as a device for trapping and fishing. Such a garment would be a khaki-grey colour and made from a material that does not withhold water.
Skirts on Greatcoats.
Another Spetznaz idea is to fit a skirt piece to a coat. This turns a hip length coat into a greatcoat keeping the legs warm while marching while still allowing them to be well ventilated. The skirt piece can be removed should terrain or mode of movement suggest that it will get in the way.
This idea offers potential for several forms of garment, but particularly rainwear.
Any coat that uses this feature should include a pocket large enough to store the folded skirt when it is not wanted.
On Mike Sparks' page on Class A uniforms I mention the British No.5 Battledress and the American version known as the "Ike."
Since I made that post I've discovered that the style of collar of the British blouse is called "Panteen". This could be worn buttoned up or open with a shirt and tie, an open necked shirt or scarf. The American version had a more conventional suit collar with lapels and was much smarter in cut, as pictures of Eisenhower or Patton will show.
I think a good case can be made to re-introduce a Class A "Ike" in addition to the long jacket. It would be popular with staff car drivers or computer operators that have to spend long periods seated. It would also look smarter when a sentry or MP wears webbing and Class As.
Make the modern Ike jacket smart but give it a Panteen collar for versatility. Alternately have a lapel collared version for Class A wear and a panteen version for daily/barracks/fatigue wear.
I'd keep the idea of the Class A greatcoat being a waxed cotton, but add that it would be available with a button-in warm liner, probably of wool or fleece.
I'd also suggest that Class As revert to the dark khaki colour used by the US army during World War two (called Olive Drab or OD in US service). This is a far better colour should a Soldier in Class As be ambushed and take cover in undergrowth.
Shirts for field wear should be Khaki-Brown colour and marked with wearer's surname and blood type. They should be made from Cool-max fabric which is comfortable, very fast drying and allows the shirt to be washed in the field. Ribbed garments of coolmax known as RVUs have been produced for wear under body armour.
Shirts should be available in two styles a short sleeved Tee-shirt and a long sleeved "Norwegian army-style" shirt (polo-neck with zippered or buttoned opening down to chest). A merkalon thermal version of the shirts may be desirable.
Combinations of short and long sleeved shirts can be worn in cold conditions.
Anyone who has hiked up a hill in hot weather knows how trousers seem to drag at your legs. Many hikers prefer shorts for walking but the wearing of shorts is not practical for many military uses. Famous outdoorsman Horace Kephart advocated that unless one was near civilisation an outdoorsman should wear trousers cut down to finish 6 below the knee, the remainder of the leg being protected by puttees or gaiters.
Currently popular for civilian wear are short legged trousers know variously as shants, shpants, clam diggers, flood panta or highwaters. They are far from being the most elegant of garments, particularly if you are on the tall side, but anyone who has worn them has probably been impressed by how comfortable they are. In combat function and comfort must take preceedence over smartness and fashion.
Three quarter length trousers should be adopted for field and combat wear. If you wear gaiters an ankle length trouser leg is redundant, prone to unnecessary wear and sometimes uncomfortable. In hot weather the Shants allow better ventilation and freer movement of the knee. During WW2 many commonwealth troops wore Bombay Bloomers. These were shorts with a generous turn-up. In daytime they were worn as shorts. As nightime approached the turn-ups were folded down over the knee to provide more warmth and protection against mosquitoes.
Combat Shants should be fitted with double ended-side zips to allow a medic easy access to wounds. Such zips would also make it easier to turn up the legs in hot weather.
Should also be made from Cool-max or thermal material, depending on climate. Pertex boxer shorts may also prove suitable. In certain conditions disposable underwear may be used.
Socks and Insoles
If you use insoles, carry two pairs -one pair to air and dry while the other is being worn. Use a needle to poke two holes in the heel of each insole and run a loop of fishing line through. This allows you to tie your insoles to your pack or webbing while airing.
Socks should be khaki (ie, Muddy-Green) colour. Sew loops to their necks so they can be used as emergency pouches or tied to things to dry. Socks can be used as emergency mittens.
An even better idea for Socks comes from Scott Miller in his article on "Dominant Logistics". Each Log-Pack should contain half a dozen pairs of cotton socks, vacuum-packed to keep them dry till opened. Once opened the plastic wrapping can be put to other purposes, such as protecting the gun muzzle.
These "Field socks" can be returned for laundering and re-use is facilities are available, but are cheap enough to be considered as disposable. Scott sees used socks being used for weapon cleaning, etc. Since these are not a parade item, I'll suggest that these are available in several different shades of grey, brown and green. This will make them more useful for camouflage when sewn to the outside of a combat smock or if wrapped around a rifle's fore-end.
Scott's initial idea was that each pack contains three sizes of sock -you wear the pair that fits you and use the others for rags. medium socks fit most of the male population, so my feeling is that a pack should have two pairs of medium and one large. Soldiers with big feet can trade socks with their medium sized comerades, and the excess used for other purposes. Most of the Soldiers who are likely to be too small to wear medium socks are likely to be female, so a supply of small socks can be included in feminine care packages.
Such socks can be used as liners for thicker and more expensive woollen socks. A sock filled with virtually anything makes a pretty good weapon.
With appropriate camouflage pattern. Trousers may have a different pattern to the jacket due to the differences in body shapes and shadow. All BDUs should be tropical-weight and loose cut, allowing air to circulate in hot conditions and allowing room for other layers of insulation in cold. Trousers may need to be of a heavier fabric than jackets.
"General wear" BDUs will be cotton. Active service BDUs may be Nomex or even provide protection against chemical agents. Alternately combat smocks may be used instead of jackets.
Desert pattern BDU trousers should be cut extra roomy. This allows perspiration to cool within the garment, re-condense on the skin and evaporate again, so the same water cools the body many times. This is the principle of Arab robes, and the French Foreign Legion uniforms of the 19th Century show the same design features.
Fingerless Recondo gloves protect the hands while still maintaining dexterity. They may be used in hot climates or when dexterity is needed, as may silk "glove liners". In Iceland I found they worked well with thin Merkalon gloves and prevented windchill on the backs of my hands. Fingerless gloves should be issued in a brown colour and have plastic reinforcement across the knuckles and edge of the hand.
Fingerless versions of Sap Gloves are a useful addition to a Soldier's kit, although I have not seen these in any colours other than black.
Rainfall favours certain stealthy military operations. Consequently in heavy rain defensive measures such as patrols must if anything be increased. Having to hold a rifle means that a Soldier's hands are not protected fromthe rain by his sleeves. Hands will rapidly become cold and unresponsive and rain will run down the sleeves. When it is raining a Soldier needs to wear fingered gloves and of a gauntlet configuration. The cuff of the gauntlet must be sufficient to cover the cuff of the sleeve and should probably be provided with an adjustable fastening such as Velcro straps. Such gloves would also be used for operations such as rappelling and FAST-roping and should be designed accordingly.
Scrim in jungle or temperate climates, cotton shemagh in desert, wool or silk in cold climates.
Cotton bandannas are very useful items to carry, and will be even more useful if printed with survival information.
Many different forms of boot may be needed for servicemen, but temperate field boots should be brown in colour. It has been suggested that future designs of military boot will have built in gaiters, rather like some French boot designs. An advantage of these is that in an emergency boots can be secured without needing to tie the laces. Even with such a feature many experienced servicemen may chose to wear separate gaiters since they protect more of the leg, and provide extra protection against arthropods, leaches and snakes.
Many thanks to Jade Geko for these interesting links on clothing and camouflage.:-