Securing personal equipment is a basic task expected of all soldiers since the beginning of every ones military career. As our careers progress we become for more and more gear. There are many reasons why you should maintain positive control of your equipment. Mainly being operations security. You do not want the enemy to get their hands on it and use it against you. You also want to keep accountability of your things so that others can not use your items and information are not used to cause harm to your name.
Securing personal equipment falls under one of the Army Values,Duty, in which you fulfill your obligations and carrying out your assigned tasks or in the Soldiers Creed “I always maintain my arms, my equipment, and myself”, which i have failed to uphold even the basics of every United States soldiers. It is of the utmost importance to secure your personal gear because if you do not have the basic equipment , such as a helmet.
Then how could you possibly complete the simple task of driving a military vehicle. No one is just going to have an extra helmet for you to borrow when you lose it. If one can not even do this, then how can they be expected to complete the missions overseas that are much more demanding than just having a piece of equipment. Most of the senior members here did not start at their current level of responsibility and leadership that they are at I now realize. Most of them have most likely made similar mistakes like me and learned how to complete these task and now teaching me so i do not make the same mistake again. This time it was only my helmet but next time who knows what it will be, So I am writing this hoping I learn and remember to secure my personal equipment from now on. Small mistakes turn into big mistakes if not corrected and nobody wants that.
Accidents happen, but when one fails at a simple task like this repeatedly, peoples view of you will begin to lessen. They will start to trust you less and less, double checking you on even the simplest things, wasting their time simply because they can’t be sure if you are right about what you say. Like “Did you put the chalk block down” or “Did you put batteries in your Nods”. All this adds up and waste not only your time but everyone else’s. After this goes on for a while this could possibly effect the morale of those soldiers around you at work causing a rift between you and others, causing them to be disappointed when they are tasked on duties with you. You are not deploying alone. You are going to have soldiers to the left and right of you depending on you to help them complete tasks and make it home to their families in one piece. Losing a helmet cost a lot of money, like couple hundred dollars. In spite of it costing so much it is one of the cheaper pieces of equipment compared to much more sensitive items that one will be in charge of, ranging from the thousands and up. Not only will these sensitive items cost more but can also be damaging to fellow soldiers and the unit if misplaced and lost or worse, fallen into enemy hands. Although sensitive items of restricted nature may not disclose information of high value, items and information obtained from being unsecured can cause adverse effects impacting mission success to include compromised routes, vehicle information or sensitive items used for personal protection. Any and all information obtained by any means can be used to put together a larger pictures of a units operations. Leaving the units operational security compromised. You do not want it on your conscious that your actions led to a terrorist attack that could have been prevented.
The loss of equipment is expensive, not only for you but also for the military to charge you for lost sensitive and non sensitive equipment, but also the time needed to procure the missing equipment. Most of your equipment is only temporarily yours until your service is over. When you are finally leaving the military you need to turn in these items that will be used by new incoming soldiers to prepare them for their duties in the military. When you turn in your equipment missing items you are wasting the time of the military to get their hands new items for the new soldier. If one loses some of their equipment during this time that soldiers readiness has been lowered and one could possibly be mission incapable, causing a chain reaction lowering the overall mission readiness of the unit and possible mission delay, or worse mission failure if it takes up enough time. All of your equipment is important. From your boots to protect your feet from the harsh environments to your helmet to protect your brain which keeps you alive. It all serves a purpose, such as eye pro to protect your eyes from debris that can damage your sight for life or your gloves which protect your hands from scrapes, cuts and harmful substances. Even something small like ear pro to protect you from permanent hearing loss. This is why we do Pre combat Checks and Pre Combat Inspections at the range. To ensure we have all our personal protective equipment because good practices in the rear leads to good practices on the front line where it matters the most. Losing personal equipment on deployment is much more severe than losing it in the rear during training due to the fact that we will have limited resources on deployment and unknown time in between resupplies.
Penalties for losing personal equipment can range from an epic ass chewing if found immediately, negative counselling statements, to a statement of charges if it is non sensitive equipment. However if it is considered sensitive equipment, which is anything that considered classified or a mission essential item, can not and must not fall into enemy hands and compromise the mission or even the loss of life. Such as weapons, night vision devices, radios, maps with sensitive information for the mission, GPS, or secret paper work, you will most likely end up with very large amount of money owed to the army along with an Article 15. An Article 15 is an “in house” method where the immediate chain of command can deal with soldiers with lesser offenses that do not require a trial or break other local or federal regulations. The penalties of an Article 15 range from but not limited to one. Base or quarters restriction for a certain period of time. Forfeiture of pay. Extra duty, in which you pretty much become a janitor, cleaning offices, common areas,latrines, police call areas and and special tasks that the unit commander or first sergeant have for extra duty personnel, after the duty day is over till almost midnight to include weekends. Reduction in grade, which means even less money. As well as confinement in military jail. But at least you will get food and water everyday. Finally a dishonorable discharge, leaving a permanent negative mark on your record that will follow you for life. Limiting your job opportunities in the civilian world.
Securing personal equipment is not that hard of a task. There are many ways to secure and keep track of your gear. Using habits and exercising the securing of sensitive and non sensitive items will make it possible for the soldier and his team to operate at the highest level of performance. For starters you can keep your equipment organized and secure under lock and key when you are not using it so you are always ready to go and not fumbling around looking for something at last notice. When you are out in the field and it is time to move, you should get accountability of all your gear before you move to your next location. If this is a common issue where you can not remember if you have everything one could easily just make a list of what your brought with you and check it for all items before you move to your next location. For small items you can simply attach them to larger ones so it will not get left behind. For example you can secure your helmet by clipping your helmet to your assault pack, putting your night vision device in a pouch on your kit along with a tie down in case it does so happen to fall out and putting your gloves in your pocket. In the worst case where you have to leave equipment behind you will need to some one in your unit to watch your gear for you and let them know exactly what you are leaving in their control for the specified time. The best way for securing your personal equipment is to have it on your person so you always have it right then and there when ever you need it so you are always mission ready.
In conclusion there is no reason why your personal equipment should not be secured one way or another. Everyone is accountable for there their own equipment and one should not leave it unsecured. It slows everyone down as a whole and it just is not good to drag others down with you for your own mistakes. This will most likely not be my last mistake, losing my helmet, but I hope I will learn from this experience and not make the same or similar mistake again of losing personal equipment. I will to the utmost of my ability maintain and secure my personal equipment from now on. I consider myself very lucky that someone with integrity picked up my helmet and I am not at the moment receiving statement of charges and a negative counselling statement, leaving a very poor mark on my record.