For convenience and for those already familiar with referencing ODJ, we’ve grouped all of the content from ODJournal here in the same manner it was originally presented. You can also find it with the rest of our articles.


“How to Pack a Rucksack”

One Shepherd’s 9-minute training video “How to Pack a Rucksack” employs the USGI Medium ALICE.

The specific focus of this training is for combat patrols in environments other than mountain warfare. Mountain warfare includes climbing and rappelling tasks that necessitate a weight distribution of placing the heaviest items closer to the center of gravity – the spine.

That exception aside, the majority of combat environments demand a weight distribution of heaviest items placed as close to the shoulder blades as possible, and balanced left to right. Furthermore, notice that items of immediate need are intentionally placed in the outside pockets, flaps, or added onto either side of the rucksack where they can be accessed readily.

This training video makes recommendations. Your unit will, of course, develop its own Standard Operating Procedure.

– One Shepherd in conjunction with Olive Drab Journal and Battle Rattle Radio

Battle Rattle Radio

Commanders Intent

Host Simulation Events

OPFOR Types and Functions

Decisive, Shaping, and Enabling Operations

Training Multi-Media

Deliberate Attack





Movement To Contact





Hasty Attack





Hand and Arm Signals

Know Your Gear

Load Bearing Equipment
It is said that since the days of Christ, the foot soldier has fought with 60 pounds of battle gear. Let’s talk “battle rattle” by looking at it in various forms, keeping in mind that each variation is designed to aid the modern warrior carrying and using a range of battlefield operating systems.




Night Vision & Observation Devices
For the record, Night Observation Device (NOD) is the more encompassing term, as compared to Night Vision Goggles (NVG) and Night Vision Devices (NVD), which generically refer to both passive and active light amplifying equipment. This distinction may seemed nuanced, but when we think in terms of NOD we must avoid thinking of only NVG.




AR15 – The Dubious Underdog
It might be argued that the AR15 consistently wins “second best”. It cannot outshoot long range .30 caliber battle rifles. It lacks the penetration and energy-to-target ratio of that weapon class. It is not as agile as the bullpup series of rifles and carbines. Nor is it a particularly cheap weapon to manufacture. And it certainly doesn’t have the reputation of reliability such as the Kalashnikov!




In Praise of the Kalashnikov
Let me be clear, I am not an aficionado of the Kalashnikov, better known as the AK-47, or more properly the Automat Kalashnikov Modernizirovannyj (AKM). Yet there are countless millions who have been singing the praises of the AKM for the past half-century. It did not become a beloved weapon by accident or mere happenstance. And so it’s time to give this weapon its due.



Worst Case Scenario

Behind Enemy Lines
It’s an oddity of battle that there are numerous tactical reasons to find oneself behind enemy lines. An envelopment or in the case of airborne troops a vertical envelopment will almost invariably and intentionally place friendly forces behind enemy lines to achieve specific effects.




Outnumbered Assault!
We’re bound to be outnumbered sometimes. That is unless the MILSIM scenario planners intentionally set the opposing forces at exactly an equal number of troops – and that almost never happens!




Weapon Jam!
It happens. Weapons jam no matter how sophisticated or primitive. Even a club can break. Frankly, the more moving parts in a weapon system, the greater the chance that something will fail—particularly in the rugged demands of the battlefield.




Tactics & Leadership

After Action Review: Process-Oriented Enhanced Performance
The US Army has used the After Action Review (AAR) since the end of the Second World War, although this process did not become institutionalized within the Army until the onset of the National Training Center at Ft. Irwin, CA in 1981. Notably, the AAR achieved the rare feat of instantaneous and unanimous hatred.




Leadership Styles: Calling warriors to do their best
There is no single, magical solution in leadership style. The cliché of “one size” does not and will not fit all situations. For this reason it is best if we are aware of the various leadership styles; the situations in which each is best suited; and the limitations of each style.




Principles of War: Tactical guidance for small unit leaders
The brilliance of Carl von Clausewitz’s essay Principles of War (1812) is that his words are as relevant today as they were 200 years ago. This work places Clausewitz, along with Sun Tzu, as one of the most quoted military philosophers of all time.




Mission Planning: In Seconds, Minutes and Hours
Planning can be found in Troop Leading Procedure (TLP) and its parallel build, the Military Decision-Making Process (MDMP). Decision-making is also very much a part of these two processes, but this topic has been discussed in a previous ODJ article (see “Decision-Making” 1 November 2007).




Operational Warfighters: An Intro to the Modern Battle Staff
Battle staff officers are warfighters at the operational-level of conflict. They work on behalf of the commanding officer and employ a myriad of technical expertise and knowledge.




Commander’s Critical Information: What the leader needs to know, and needs to hide
Commander’s Critical Information Requirements (CCIR) are defined by the Department of Defense as a comprehensive list of information requirements identified by the commander as being critical in facilitating timely information management and the decision making process that affect successful mission accomplishment.




The 70 Percent Solution: Perspectives of Time Management
I am quick to point out that while leadership and management are inextricably entwined, leadership is a universal art whereas management is industry specific. Alright then, it’s time I put some weight behind that statement. Let’s talk time management from multiple industry perspectives – corporate, academic, and martial.




Elusiveness: Force protection means being hard-to-kill
As with any other aspect of warfare, force protection includes various measures and concerns, with situational awareness, simply knowing what’s coming next, being preeminent. Too, it’s always a good idea to establish 360 degree security around us; an umbrella of protected space above us; and a networked bubble below us. For large formations of troops, say a brigade, division or coalition joint task force there is little in the way of alternative options




Gunfighting: The Force-on-Force Quantum Leap
The best way to win a gunfight is to train for it. The training regimen is straightforward and follows a banal sequence – firearm safety, basic marksmanship, combative shooting, and finally gunfighting against actual human opponents. That’s force-on-force training.




Reconnaissance: Masterful Use by Small Unit Leaders
Most warriors understand reconnaissance – the need for it, it’s objectives, and how to conduct various reconnaissance techniques. Yet when tasked with an Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) asset, few small unit leaders are comfortable with this asset. In fact, it is commonly viewed as a burden.




Management of the Defense
Few tacticians give the defense its due. But for the record, history does. The slaughter of Union troops at Fredericksburg, Virginia; the massive carnage of Confederate forces at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; the unimaginable horror at Ypres, France; and the wasting of a million Chinese lives along the 38th Parallel between the Koreas. All of these examples illustrate the effect of a well-managed defense.




Advantage of the Offense
The effort of the offense is to maintain a tempo of operations that the defense cannot match. Too abstract? Yeah, I agree.




Violence of Action
What is the objective of armed conflict? The answer, in its purist form is to impose will. This means to impose our will upon our opponent, both for brief moments of time and for a lasting duration. Imposing will for a lasting duration is decidedly not a military objective – However, to impose will for brief moments of time is very much a military objective of armed conflict.




Vocal Commands
Noise and light discipline are essential to remaining elusive. Yet some of the most successful teams employ a great deal of noise and yelling to seemingly fantastic results. So which is it? Should noise and light discipline be enforced, or should these considerations be scrapped for running amuck while yelling back and forth?





Beyond the Square Range
There is something amazing about watching a Steel Challenge shooter hit 5 plates scattered about in just a few seconds. Watching guys decked out in full armor punch out of a vehicle blasting an array of steel targets while flash-bangs go off is just down right cool.




Full Spectrum Training: Which conflict…this one, or the next?
I’ve heard the grumbling for a handful of years now. This mild dissention is understandable. An artillery captain in the 10th Mountain Division at Ft. Drum, NY tells me his troops train so little on their guns that they can barely pass their firing battery.




Failure in Training
I’m riding across Missouri with four members of One Shepherd’s staff, headed to a 3-day immersive field exercise. Invariably the war stories start flying – as that is the birth right of all troops. And this is good because war stories often turn into lofty discussions of what went wrong and how to fix it.




Contemporary Issues
If you look at a broader perspective, action pursuit games could arguably be classified as either speedball or scenario games. MILSIM falls under scenario games and has a specific emphasis on real-world military missions.