One of the qualities that’s most prized in the military or law enforcement is initiative. Once you know what the job is, you need to get on and get it done; if you run into problems it’s up to you to fix them and get on with your mission. Usually you’re going to have to find a solution with the resources you have to hand, and your first resource is your pockets.
A rucksack has space for a lot of gear, and a vehicle even more, but you’re not always going to be able to get to those right away. On the other hand, if you no longer have access to your own pockets, the chances are your problem is pretty bad; usually you can rely on being able to get to what’s in there. That’s why it’s important to make sure they contain all the right stuff. It can be hard to keep on top of that, and by the end of an operational deployment the pockets of your field jacket can have some pretty horrific stuff in there – old candy wrappers covered in dust and lint are always a favorite – but as long as you have a few essential items in there (in good condition) it’s fine.
The most essential tool is a knife. Most military and LE personnel now carry a multi-tool, but where’s yours? The most usable are full size tools like the Leatherman Blast or Gerber Suspension, but many people find these too heavy and bulky to carry in a pocket. That means they often end up on a belt or in an LBE pouch, and there’s no guarantee those locations will always be accessible. It’s best to carry a pocket knife as well, ideally with a locking blade about 3” long.
Next you need a flashlight, and again this is going to be a compact item to back up the bigger one you probably have in a pouch. A single AA or even AAA cell is fine here, and with modern LED technology, you’re still going to get good performance out of it. Make sure you have a spare battery too, and protect it – a small ziplock bag will do.
Gear falls apart sometimes, or needs to be secured. Your vehicle probably has a couple of rolls of duct tape stashed away somewhere but those are bulky and won’t fit in your pants pocket. A roll of electrical tape is a different story. It’s still pretty strong, it gives a reasonably watertight seal and of course it’s an insulator. That makes it ideal for all sorts of temporary repairs, or just tidying up the ends of all those straps on your armor and load vest.
Some way of starting a fire is another essential. Hard-core tools like a flint and steel are great if you know how to use them, but start with the basics. Even the most expensive lifeboat matches can get damaged, and Zippo lighters are awesome until the fuel evaporates. Butane lighters on the other hand are reliable and cheap. Get two and stash them in different pockets. If you smoke, make sure you don’t run down your duty lighters keeping your habit lit.
Finally, try to squeeze some morale in there. A small bag of hard candies or a chocolate bar comes in handy when you need a short-term energy boost. Energy bars or even a sachet of sports drink can be good as well, but with drinks there’s always a risk of it bursting and turning your jacket into a dripping, sticky mess.
Your off-duty pockets are your own affair, but when you’re working, the carrying space in your uniform has a vital function, and that’s to hold the bare minimum of gear you need to stay effective. Check it out and make sure your pockets contain the items you need.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.