Team Equipment Part 2: Sustaining Operations

Last week, Part 1 covered force-multiplying tactical equipment that a team might invest in.  This week we cover the boring, yet important, topic of logistics.  Having gear is nice, but if you actually plan to conduct operations, you need to make some more investments to keep you and your equipment in the fight.

Military radio operator with a SPACES solar charger and a VHF/UHF radio.  The solar panel is likely charging extra batteries or a tactical tablet.

Solar Chargers

Whether you’re preparing to fight a guerrilla war or just looking to defend your property during a crisis, you cannot rely on the lights staying on or being able to run to Wal-Mart for more AA batteries. You should seriously consider having some way of continuously powering your mission-essential equipment like night vision and radios, and that generally means solar power.

If you’re static (defensive) and have large power needs, you may choose to invest in an expensive solar setup that includes battery banks to store energy so you still have power when the sun’s not shining. If you’re foot-mobile and only need to recharge AA batteries for your night vision and radios, you’ll want a more lightweight (probably foldable) panel that can fit in your pack. S2 Underground made a thorough video on solar power here.

A “field stripped” MRE.  By removing the heater, cardboard, and unnecessary items, you can cut the size of an MRE in half to save room and weight in your pack.

Emergency Food Storage/Field Rations

You should have already stocked up on food by now, and if you haven’t you really should start while you still can. Everyone’s situation is different, and there are many options out there. This is an incredibly involved topic that I can’t hope to do justice here, so I’ll redirect you to this article about long-term food storage.

What I would like to discuss here is field rations. If your METL involves multi-day patrols or field operations, you need something that you can carry with you to continually fuel your body. Military MREs are good for this, but they have a shelf life of around 2-3 years. Canned food works if you don’t need to heat it up (or you can, if the tactical situation allows), but it can get pretty heavy in your pack. Freeze-dried food from places like ReadyWise or Mountain House are also good options that still taste good. Whatever you choose, make sure you have the ability to support yourself and your team through whatever operations you plan to execute. Don’t just assume you will go innawoods and hunt/gather what you need, PLAN YOUR MEALS.

The Sawyer Mini water filter.  Not the best option out there, but for $20 you get a reliable 0.1 micron filter that weighs almost nothing and takes up only a few inches of space in your pack.

Water purification

Again, there are a myriad of resources and options for water collection and purification/filtration. Suffice here to say that a 7-day patrol cannot carry all the water that they will need to survive, they need a way to get drinkable water in the field. At a minimum, every member of your team should have a Sawyer Mini filter or iodine tablets on them when in the field. Badlands Rifleman wrote a comprehensive article on field purifaction/filtration options here.

Be sure to store your ammo properly to ensure that it will last.  GI ammo cans are excellent if the rubber gasket is intact.

Ammunition Stockpile

You should standardize your team around one type of ammunition. Ideally, you also all have the same weapon and optics so that at any time you can grab your buddy’s gun and know how to use it. However, it can be a hard sell to convince someone to sell their prized rifle just to match what everyone else is running. At a bare minimum, your fighting carbines should all use the same mags and ammuniton to simplify your logistics in the field. Obviously, exeptions can be made for specialized weapons as discussed above (except the automatic rifleman; he needs to be able to resupply off of the rest of the team).

Once you’ve standardized your ammo, you may consider having a team ammo stockpile that you all contribute towards when you’re able. Talk with your teammates and set up a goal that you want to reach for what you want to have when SHTF. Once you reach that goal, you continue adding to the stockpile, but everything more than your emergency reserve you plan to use towards training events. This would only be used for when the team trains together, not for individuals to go off to shooting competitions by themselves. Folks will get grumpy when they think they’re funding someone else’s hobby.

A good resource for bulk ammo purchases is Ammoseek is a search engine for online ammunition, and it sorts your results of what’s in stock by cheapest per round. It also updates every few minutes. You will very rarely find an online deal better than what ammoseek provides, and you will never find a better deal at your local gun store.

In rural parts of Africa, this is the ambulance.  Better than nothing.  A minivan with all the back seats removed would also do the job.

Medical Supplies

As a team, you should have access to more medical supplies than just what is in your IFAKs. Best case scenario, you have a doctor in your group for long term care of wounded/ill people. At a minimum, you need the ability to do an ad hoc CASEVAC if someone on your team goes down in a fight. This means a stretcher/backboard, a vehicle to use as a provisional ambulance, and someone with the training to keep the casualty alive long enough to get to a higher echelon of care. I am not a medical professional, so I cannot provide an in-depth look at what you would actually need for this. However, MechMedic has several excellent training classes available for TCCC, so you should check him out.


Equipment and supplies are important, but at the end of the day you need to have a skill set to use those supplies. In a pinch, you can use skills to overcome a lack of equipment, but you cannot use equipment to overcome a lack of skill. You and your team need to train regularly and realistically for whatever it is you are preparing for. And if you are the team’s leader, it is your responsibility to plan and coordinate training events for your people.

If you want to learn how to do this, as well as learn how to lead a small team in a tactical environment, I have classes for that. Check out my Training Schedule and learn how to be a small unit leader. And if you want to see how well you work with a team in a series of tactical scenarios, sign up for the next Force-on-Force Lab in March.

Published by vonsteubentraining

Mike is the owner and chief instructor of Von Steuben Training & Consulting (VSTAC). A self-described “Tactical Scholar,” he spent 6 years in the Marine Corps as a radio operator and small-unit tactics instructor. He has dedicated his life to honing the tactical prowess of himself and his fellow patriots, guided by the wisdom of his commanding officer, Jesus Christ. He can be contacted via email at

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