DeployedNathanael Morrison, RKC
Being in the military
has its challenges. Being in special operations has more challenges. Being
in special operations and being deployed has more challenges yet. Its not
easy, if it were, everyone would do it. That said, I would like to share
some of these challenges and experiences with you. For the average
civilian this may simply be interesting. For the military member this
information is essential.
When you leave your
comfortable home and deploy to a location that is 125 degrees in the
shade, obviously you are in for a shock. For those of you who think you
know what it is to sweat, get ready for a new definition. Bring some huge
tubs of Gatorade and use it! Drink water as if your life depends on it
because it does. In the deployed location water seems to grow on trees.
For those of you civilians, take heed. If you’re not visiting the restroom
once an hour you are dehydrated. If you are thirsty you are already two
quarts low. Hydration is the biggest factor in your ability to operate and
survive in a hot environment. After a week or two you will acclimate and
your workouts will resume some amount of normalcy. You need to push your
self as hard as you do at home to keep in top fighting shape. Your body
will adapt, just listen to it a little more closely.
If water grows on trees, food definitely does
not! Over here you have the choice of MREs (Meal Ready to Eat, i.e.
rations) or a horrible chow hall that serves some of the worst food on
earth. I usually opt for the MRE. With food that would choke a pig and the
oppressive climate it’s often hard to muster up the will to eat. Well, you
have to. MREs might suck, but they are loaded with all the right amounts
of nutrients to keep you going. Eat at least two meals a day to keep your
energy up. You won’t get cut up but the enemy doesn’t care about how your
When I first got here I thought that the Warrior Diet
was a good idea because of the way I was eating. Well, the facts of life
caught up with me. You have to feed the machine and that means 2-3 meals a
day. Breakfast is essential if you are going to be on the move all day or
if you are going to workout. Don’t skip breakfast! Dinner is also very
important. Your best recovery time is when you’re sleeping. Give your body
something to process.
MREs are full of fat. We all know that. If
you are working out or operational you will need that fat. In this
environment it is essential fuel.
In the states, many experts say
that high potency vitamins and minerals like GNC’s Ultra Mega Gold are
excessive and far more than the normal human needs. Not over here! When
you are deployed they are essential to maintain your body’s balance. I
swear by Ultra Mega Gold vitamins and minerals. The Spetsnaz believed in
using huge doses of V&M and had a lot of success. I’m here to tell you
they were right.
You eat when you can. I remember an exercise
where we had been running for most of the night avoiding enemy patrols and
attempts to catch us. While on the run I pulled out an MRE main meal and
started eating it. To make matters worse I had to call in an air strike
halfway through the meal. That’s Coordination! It really helped out though
because my body needed the energy. I got one heck of a second wind and was
good to go for the rest of the night.
If you have the opportunity
to get off base or out of your compound, eat the local food. This helps in
a couple ways. First is the hearts and minds aspect on the locals. The
second is that you do have a scent that is different from the locals and
yes they can tell the difference. Eating locally will disguise your scent.
For those of you shaking your head, you haven’t been there. Trust me, its
important. We have a chicken stand close by and the chicken and bread is
Many people load up on
Myoplex and Creatine when they deploy. I don’t think too highly of this.
Extra protein may help some people. I think it’s mostly in their heads. It
never really helped me and I hate choking those shakes down. Creatine is
good for short explosive events. Nothing in the military falls into that
category. I’ve tried just about everything on deployments and I didn’t see
any improvement over the MRE and vitamin diet. I firmly believe that most
supplements are worthless and I will not advocate their use in the
deployed environment. Eat 2-3 meals a day, drink lots of water, and take
your vitamins. It’s that simple.
out presents some challenges. Since you rarely have a Golds Gym in the
middle of nowhere most guys improvise. The problem is of course in what
and how they improvise and workout. Few understand that bodybuilding has
no place in the military and they waste their time and effort. On the
other hand, I deploy with all six of my kettlebells and all I need is a
pull-up bar, which is easy to improvise. I get a better workout and I
don’t need lots of equipment. The simplicity of kettlebells is amazing and
perfect for the military
With so much turmoil in the schedule it
is almost impossible to nail down a routine. I rely on density workouts. I
choose a few drills and do 30-40 minutes of circuits with minimal rest.
From time to time I will do random drills with long rest periods, mostly
pressing and grinding drills. I always do pull-ups at the end of my
workout. I do as many sets of 3 reps as I can manage. Every other day or
so I do this same rep scheme with 16-24kg hanging off my feet. I always go
to a dead hang and I go to my chest on every rep. This seems to be doing
wonders for my upper back. I just go by feel and rarely write anything
down right now. Jandas are always a part of my circuits and they are
coming along nicely. I slacked off on Pistols for a while and I am seeing
now what a bad idea that was. I’m resuming them immediately!
Running is essential. Running in boots is good,
though it takes some getting used to. The boots we have suck and I just
wear Merrill hiking shoes. They are much better to run in and give you
much better footing in rocky terrain, on ships, and in buildings. The
Soviets found that out in the 1980’s and most soldiers bought the Russian
equivalent of Converse sneakers when they deployed to Afghanistan. If
you’re not in Special Forces you’re out of luck in this respect. Sorry,
you can always cross train. It is also a good idea to run in body armor
often. The rib cage compression and weight are factors that you have to
get comfortable with.
Ruck marching is also very important. I
ordered a large Bergen that the SAS uses and when it gets here I plan on
doing some heavy rucking. Right now I go out once a week for a 6-8 mile
ruck with a standard ALICE pack with about 80lbs. I have not been timing
this but I try to find the line between “way too fast” and “this sucks”
and I stay between the two. Seems to be working just fine.
out with a heart rate monitor is a great way to train. Is it essential?
No. Is it a valuable tool? Yes.
Comrades, my entire life has been dedicated to
the military. Military operations are not easy despite technological
advances. You must be prepared at all times to defend yourself and that
might mean running like hell in the middle of the night with all your kit
on. Some things we have done to prepare are below.
-Go to an area
where you have a lot of conex containers, vehicles, etc… Climb over every
other one and crawl under the others. This is not as easy as you might
-Ropes and ladders are fun. Hang a Fast rope and caving
ladder next to each other. With all your gear, climb one, crossover,
descend the other. Reverse and repeat. String a Fast rope or rappel rope
between two trucks. With all your kit on, traverse the rope. Once on top
of the rope, once below the rope.
-Buddy carries are hell. There
are so many ways to carry or drag someone. Find a stretch of open ground
and do every drag and carry you can think of for 50-100 meters each. Stop
if you are going to drop your buddy.
That’s just a few ideas to
get the brain going. I have included a few pictures. ENJOY!
Nathanael Morrison is a member of USAF Pararescue and a
certified Russian Kettlebell instructor.
Article and Photos © 2002 by Nate Morrison