<XMP><BODY></xmp>Roman ideas for Future Combat Clothing.

Old Ideas for Future Combat Wear.

Added 23-2-15

                If one looks closely at the history of military equipment it becomes obvious that what soldiers have been required to wear has often been linked to current or recent civilian fashions. In the eighteenth century Soldiers wore frock coats. During World War Two most armies wore what was essentially a variant of the wool suits civilians wore. In Vietnam a more casual jacket and tee-shirt field dress was used, again reflecting a more casual manner of dress that had become acceptable in civilian circles at the time. Fashion, however, must take second place to functionality for field equipment and we must look at all options, no matter how outré they may look on the high street.
                While I was discussing this concept last night I happened to be watching the new series of Spartacus and it occurred to me that for several centuries the Roman legionary seems to have used the same basic clothing to soldier across most of Europe and a sizable chunk of Asia and Africa. Only when he reached the frozen end of the world (or “Scotland” as it is now known!) did there seem to be any moves to modify his apparel for climate. Other than his armour, the Roman soldier seems to have made do in most climates with a woollen tunic, breeches, a neck scarf and a cloak. The reason he could be comfortable in so little was because he also wore armour. The evidence we have indicates armour was not just worn for battles, but also on the march and when performing construction duties.

                Suppose we put aside the influence of modern civilian fashions and instead design a soldier field dress based on functionality and historical precedent. We could do worse than to start off by looking at the Romans.

                Firstly, we will give our soldier an easily washable shirt-like garment. Like the Roman tunica, we will make it long so that it is less likely to ride up and create a cold spot over the back. We will give it half-length sleeves and make them generous of cut so that air can circulate to the armpits. We'll base the collar on that of the Norwegian Army shirt, essentially a polo neck with a zipper, so it can be worn snug in the cold or open for ventilation. The body of the shirt will be ribbed to create an airspace between the skin and the armour. Under the shirt we may provide a string vest. This is a very unfashionable item but one that proves very comfortable in both hot and cold weather. The airspace the string vest creates lets air circulate and sweat escape.

                For the lower body we will give him a set of long shorts that reach down to just above the knee. We can supplement this with a “kidney warmer” as favoured by the Germans (“Nierenwärmer”) and Japanese (“Haramaki”).

                On the next level out goes the body armour. Armour traps heat so it is foolish to expect troops wearing armour to wear the same clothing as when they do not wear armour. In addition to the armour knee pads will be added to the knees and if desired, elbow pads.

                If you visualize this figure you will notice that the forearms and calves are bare. This is not a problem since the next layer that is added is a camouflaged smock and over-trousers. Commonly knee pads are worn over the trousers but this arrangement restricts air circulation around the legs. The smock and over-trousers are designed to fit over the knee and elbow pads, improving camouflage and allowing a better circulation of air around the limbs. The elbows and knees of the outer garments are provided with camouflage patterned patches that can be easily replaced in the event of wear or damage. The smock also fits over the body armour, allowing better air circulation around the body. For good ventilation the smock has a full frontal opening with zip and poppers and also vent zips under the arms.

               Since they will be worn with gaiters the overtrousers are cut to finish six inches below the knee, saving weight and wear and tear and improving comfort. Side zips allow the trousers to be easily removed and give easy access to the legs in the event of wounds in this area.

               Gaiters offer numerous advantages as well as extending the life of the trousers. They keep insects out, offer some protection from snake bites and are a clean place to stand barefoot before and after river crossings. Gaiters are non-goretex condura, since the primary mission for gaiters is protection rather than waterproofing. They zip up the back, hook onto the laces and stay in place without an understrap. When the Soldier is about to cross a river, he will take one of the gaiters off and place it outer-side down on the ground. As he removes socks and boots he is able to stand barefoot on the clean inner side of the gaiter. The boots are put back on to wade across the river. On the other side the Soldier again puts down a gaiter to stand on while you dry he dries his feet. He can then put his socks, boots and gaiters back on and continue marching.

                The questionable practice of hanging pouches from the armour is not possible with the body armour covered by a smock. This outfit therefore includes a lightweight set of webbing that is worn over the smock. Since it is worn over the armour the webbing needs very little padding. Separate webbing allows the combat load to be removed or changed easily without needing to handle the weight of the armour as well.

                This basic outfit is complimented by the poncho. In fact the Soldier has both a rain poncho and a blanket poncho, which can easily be donned should the weather get colder or when the soldier is less active. Interestingly, one of the types of cloaks favoured by Roman soldiers was a poncho, the Paenula. If alternate rain protection is needed a rainjacket can be worn under the smock, protecting the rainjacket from damage, reducing noise and maintaining camouflage.

               This proposed outfit described above is probably a three-season rig. The Romans did of course use additional items in cold and inactive situations. Most obvious were longer trousers but they also used puttees, socks and multiple tunic and cloak layers. Simple tubular knitted leg warmers can be worn under the over-trousers to convert the shorts into long leggings. Likewise “arm warmers” could be worn under the smock to extend the arms of the shirt. Such garments are easier to put on and remove in field conditions than more conventional items and take up less room and weight in a pack. For winter/arctic conditions something like the Buffalo P fibre pile and pertex clothing could be worn under the camouflage coveralls.

               Helmets are of course the primary combat headgear. For field combat use the only other head gear you might need are a headover, boonie hat or bandanna.

                In his pre-G2mil days Carlton Meyer proposed that military helmets would be wise to take note of the past and should be based on Greek designs, giving better protection to the ears and cheeks. Ralph Zumbro and myself have also discussed that modern body armour might be more effective and more comfortable if based on designs like the Roman Lorica Segmenta.
                Carlton's original page appears to be off-line but some of his arguments, along with some suggestions on related topics can be found here.

                A while back I was watching the third Evil Dead Movie, “Army of Darkness” and I noticed the majority of the Soldiers in this movie were wearing a type of helmet called a “sallet”.
                The sallet shape actually has a lot to recommend it for modern usage. Many have a “coal scuttle” shape that protects the ears and back of the neck while allowing good air circulation. In a modern context this would also allow the wearing of earphones or hearing protection. Sallets were often worn by archers and crossbowmen since they did not restrict their vision or the operation of their weapons. Correctly designed the rear part of the sallet could also protect the back of the neck and upper back when the soldier is prone.
                Many sallets had visors. Since they were often worn with bevors this was often a sort of half-visor giving a “Judge Dredd” look. Suppose we take the idea of such a visor and replace it with a simple curved strip? This could be used as a mounting for Night Vision Goggles (NVG), allowing them to be easily swung up out of the way without exposing the green glow of the eyepieces. The same band could also mount a clear plastic riot visor. It has been suggested by other writers that NVG mounts could also be used to mount light field glasses for snipers, spotters, FISTs etc. For certain applications a true armoured visor might be mounted.
                On the modern lorica page I have suggested that a true bevor might reduce facial injuries. A sallet is obviously compatible with this addition, and would also have room for a respirator.

By the Author of the Scrapboard :

Attack, Avoid, Survive: Essential Principles of Self Defence

Available in Handy A5 and US Trade Formats.

Crash Combat Second Edition with additional content.
Epub edition Second Edition with additional content.

Crash Combat Third Edition
Epub edition Third Edition.
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