Submitted by Eric Daniel
Ok ok, I know this is outside the realm of Kit-Up since this particular item is still currently under development and it will be GI issue but I couldn't just let it pass as soon as I found out that the Army was actually investing man-hours and tax dollars on developing this piece of battlefield technology.
In the event you don't follow cutting edge technology like I do, you probably haven't heard about the new tactical sling bag NATIC is working on. Seems that the old OD green canvas, um..."alternate lifestyle sachel" (to be PC about it) has finally lost its usefulness in today's digital asymetric battlespace.
Apparently soldiers have issue with the assault bag, which is a "daypack" you stuff with goodies like more magazines, demo, food, batteries, and maybe a poncho liner and poncho for in case you have to "bug out." In the old days, wearing an assault pack was a no-brainer, but now that most of what we're doing is vehicle based (get in the truck, get out of the truck, get in the truck...) using an assault pack has become a pain in the ass. For starters, you can't wear it in the truck, and putting it on and taking it off not only takes time (which you might not have) but it could potentially expose you to enemy fire (if you hapopen to be doing a "hot" dismount.) One option is to just leave it in the truck, but then that kind of defeats the purpose of taking it on a patrol. Another option is to use a different bag, one that you can stow in front of you or behind you.
This is where the old Army map bag, a.k.a. the "Foxtrot Bravo", comes in. The FB was a pretty versitile bag. The size of a large telephone book, it was durable, simple, it could hold quite a bit, and with the shoulder strap, you could stow it behind you, or hip throw it to swing it around and get something out. Unfortunately however, it would seem that the FB is no longer up to snuff and the Army has chosen to set out building a better wheel.
Mind you, I've no issue with improving on the qualities and functionality of the FB, but where I get confused is in the justification that the Army used to develop their own unique product (i.e. reinventing the wheel.) Hell, to be perfectly honest, why don't we go back to issuing the Bag, Canvas, Field, M1936 (Musette Bag), which could be worn both as an assault pack, or a shoulder bag.
It is said that "they" evaluated a number of existing commercial bags but none of them met the criteria they had established for the bag. Who did they check out? Coach? Versace? Gucci? Louis Vuitton? There have got to be dozens top quality tactical gear manufacturers out there, each producing dozens of different tactical bags. From metric to left-handed, from canvas to cordura, there is a bag out there to meet your needs.
Yet the Army, apparently, couldn't find a bag it liked, so it built its own. The Army also goes on to identify potential uses for the bag such as storing small electronic devices and laptops (who takes a laptop to a firefight? and what were you carrying your laptop in before the Army developed this bag?) or for medics, to store there supplies in, which would be laudable, if it wasn't for the fact that there are already a couple of million medic bags already on the market. Truly, after reading the Army press release, it seems almost as if the Army just developed the bag and it will be up to the soldiers in the field to figure out what to do with it.
Bottom line here is, great idea, but where I'm left lost and clueless is how this new and improved Army developed bag is going to be so much better than what's already out there.