Why toiletpaper is an essential military gear item
Some time ago, I was on a execise ranging over a couple of days. One of the key elements of a soldiers well being is that you have access to enough- and if possible- well tasting fooditems.
The Swedish Army supplies you with canned food- which actually tastes rather good- sporting such namelabels as "Prariestew" and "Dead man's fingers" (I'm not joking.)
But sometimes canned food is to heavy to carry around, or just to impractical. Then we are issued the freeze- dried, eat out of a bag fieldrations.
It's not that they can't taste well aswell. But there is a catch! You have to have access to near- boiling water. But when in a time hurry, you most often use whatever you got in your thermos flask. They also have to saturate for an ample amount of time to be properly cooked. If not you get those - Ahh, so good- crunchy pieces to chew on.
There is another thing. If you eat the freeze- dried food half cooked you will sooner or later come down with an allmost terminally bad stomach condition.
On the second day of the exercise we (the squad) were going out for a recon mission. We had bad weather conditions. The sky was overclouded, rain was pouring down from time to time and nighttime was falling. Under ideal conditions (daytime) making way through untracked forestlandscape is hard- to say the least- without being heard. Under nighttime and overcast conditions, it is very, very hard to navigate and make your way unheard.
We sneaked- as well as we could- through the woods. Nightgoggles are rare (that's the Swedish army for you!) And only a few of us had them. After 30 minutes or so we traversed a hillside. Well up on the top the Lt ordered a break to let us get a breather as well as giving him the chance to brief us on the situation.
We positioned us in a "Hedgehog" Defensive formation. The Lt then had to move around briefeng us individually, one at the time. When he came up to me, he squatted, and started to give me the brief. Suddenly he stopped.
After a few seconds of silence his eyes widened; some "Nnnngh, nnngh" sound slipped over his lips. He put forward his hand, positioned in a clawlike manner and suddenly, cleanching his teeths, wheesed. "Paper... Paper, do you have any paper???
After a moment I told him that I did'nt have any paper readily avalible, so he went on to next man and then the next man all the time in a low pitch de sotto voice asking for paper with som nnngh´s and aaarghs thrown in for god measure.
Finaly someone produced a pack of papertissues and he took off like cat on fire, all the way leaving a 20 meter long trail of shedded gear. We could not see him through the thick bushes and in the darkness. All we could here were his frantic sprint through bushes, twigs breaking, as he went down the hillside. Then there was a moment of silence.
I looked at my partner laying proned at my side, and raised an eyebrow. He silently shrugged his shoulders in reply.
Then! Echoing down from the riverbank below the hill came a "NnnngnnngaarghARRGHAHHHHH followed by Brrrront! and an Oh my lord!"
Remember that our unit was under strict silent mode. We actually had to physicaly restrain and gag one of the squadmembers because he was laughing so hard. Another one rolled down the hillside.
What's the point of this story? Well none at all. I love my Lt dearly and just wanted to write something about him.
So this is for him! You know who you are. Don't leave home without an ample supply of toiletpaper the next time.
After talking with the Lt about the "incident"; he told me that he had to leave his shorts behind "Because they were beyond saving", and go "commando style" for the rest of the mission.´He also told me that when filling in the AFSE- form, on the line were you are supposed to fill in what have happened to the equipment in question wrote, "Gone beyond critical mass". And after som afterthought added, "Please be advised. For safety reasons. Do not, I repeat NOT! send out a decontamination team."