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By definition, combat load is the minimum gear that a soldier must carry into battle. It includes items that are worn, carried in a rucksack, and/or strapped on a belt or fanny pack. The soldier’s rucksack is filled with rations, water, personal belongings, firearms, and any number of odd items as Tim O’Brien eloquently wrote in his 1990 book “The Things They Carried.” Most items are necessities for battle, while others are included because of sentiment or superstition.

History

Soldiers have long been expected to carry a heavy load, whether what they carry is dictated by their commanding officer or by their own desire to be prepared for extended combat. The historian S. L. A. Marshall observed that soldiers historically have been asked to carry too ...

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