The book “No Easy Day” chronicles the events surrounding the death of Osama Bin Laden and is told by a former SEAL who is known as Mark Owen. Since it’s release, Navy SEAL fans and gear collectors have poured over Owen’s detailed account of the kit he wore during the raid for many reasons. What I’d like to do is to take this a step further and analyze WHY he brought what he did and show you why this matters to you as a milsim player.
All information pertaining to Mark Owen’s kit and activities are derived from his book. I do not know him, I am not associated with him and I do not speak for him. I absolutely respect him and thank him for the sacrifices he has made for our country.
METT-TC is the military acronym for Mission, Enemy, Terrain and weather, Troops and support, Time and Civil considerations. METT-TC plays a large part in mission planning as well as deciding what to bring on each mission. Most troops are told what to bring on a mission, but milsim players have the luxury of bringing whatever we darn well please. Our kits will be forever evolving due to our individual experiences and will forever remain proof that there is no one “best” kit for everyone. Keep this in mind as we go through this one operator’s kit. His kit is not the end all solution, it is simply a sample.
Every kit begins with the uniform, and Owen’s was no different. His unit was issued combat pants and shirts at the time of the raid, so this is what he wore. In the pockets he carried items that he would need quick access to and that he would want with him in case he had to ditch his kit.
- Leg pocket – assault gloves and fast rope gloves. Owen was operating from a helicopter in an urban environment. Gloves would protect him both from his fast rope and from broken glass, sharp metal, etc…
- Leg pocket – batteries, energy gel and power bars. In the event that this mission was extended due to unforeseen circumstances, these items would give Owen and his electronics the power they needed to continue the fight.
- Right ankle pocket – tourniquet, for easy access.
- Left ankle pocket – rubber gloves and Sensitive Site Exploitation kit. Owen mentions that he had played “CSI Afghanistan” at many of the operations he went on. These items would allow him to collect evidence (like DNA samples) that would confirm the identity of the residents of the compound.
- Left shoulder pocket – $200 American in case he had to buy his way out of trouble.
- Right shoulder pocket – camera for gathering evidence.
- Belt: fixed blade knife – for numerous uses such as freeing oneself from a tangle or personal defense.
Owen also wore Solomon Quest boots as he found that they prevented his ankles from rolling while under a combat load. Here we see another unique problem fulfilled by a specific product. Most milsim players will never carry as much as Owen did for this mission so this may be a non-issue and a lighter weight boot may be more advantageous. As such there is no such thing as a “best boot” for all situations.
From the information in the book, one can surmise that Owen wore a variant of the London Bridge Trading Company 6004 plate carrier on this mission. Like most of his kit, he wore it because Uncle Sam gave it to him. On this plate carrier he carried the following items:
- 3 magazines – this provided Owen with around 112 rounds for his weapon, which was plenty for the number of people the CIA told them would be in the house. If an external threat appeared and a firefight ensued, a quick reaction force would handle it.
- 2 radios – one was set to his team’s frequency and one was on the “troop net”. This was a frequency shared by the leaders of all the teams for that mission. Running two radios allowed Owen to keep in contact with his team and his superiors simultaneously.
- 1 frag grenade – useful for clearing rooms but deadly to innocent bystanders. The sheer number of SEALs storming this compound negated the need for Owen to carry more grenades.
- Infra red chem lights – chem lights are light and can be woven into the MOLLE webbing on most vests. They are most often used to designate rooms that have been cleared.
- Paperwork – photo of compound (with grid references for easy communication), photos and information on people of interest, and a list of radio frequencies. Again this keeps everyone on the same page and the mission progressing smoothly.
- Remote antennas for each radio – remote antennas are mounted on the back of the plate carrier so they are out of the way and are as high up on the operator as possible to increase the radios’ range.
- Bolt cutters – the target compound was divided into multiple courtyards, all with locked gates and all the buildings could be locked. This made bolt cutters invaluable.
- Breaching charge – rubber banded to Owen’s back, the breaching charge would be used if the bolt cutters or a sledge hammer (carried by another operator) were unable to provide quick access to their structure. Note that Owen didn’t have a super high speed pouch for his charge, he simply improvised.
- Mesh bag – used to round up intelligence. This would include any electronics, papers, weapons or anything else that looked important.
On his head, Owen wore a ballistic helmet. He noted that although the helmet was only rated to stop a 9mm projectile, he had seen them stop AK rounds successfully. On this helmet he carried the following items:
- 4 tube night vision goggles – these have a battery pack that attaches to the rear of the helmet to balance the weight of the device.
- Princeton Tech Charge – this light fits on a helmet rail, is lightweight and provides a flexible boom to direct it’s light exactly where the user needs it.
- Infra red strobe – this is used to show air assets your position to prevent them from firing on you.
- “Bone phones” – this headset gave Owen the ability to listen to one radio in his left ear and the other in his right. The headset allows him to hear by vibrating his cheek bone, leaving the ear open to listen to the world around him. An earpiece can be added to block out ambient noise when necessary.
Owen carried his Heckler and Koch 416 on this raid. He stated in the book that he like it because it’s rounds provided a better punch than his MP7a1 even though it was louder. On his weapon were the following accessories:
- EoTech 553 – this optic is night vision compatible, meaning that the reticle can be seen through a night vision device. They provide no magnification making them perfect for close quarters target acquisition.
- PEQ 14 – the PEQ 14 is an infrared laser, visible laser and infrared flashlight all shoved into a little box. Infrared lasers provide aiming points while wearing night vision and the infrared flashlight is used in areas that are too dark for your night vision to pick up the ambient light. The visible laser was found to help non combatants understand that the user was serious about making that person keep their distance.
- Vertical grip – for comfort and speed of weapon presentation.
- Suppressor – according to Owen, all the SEALs on this particular raid carried suppressed weapons. As the target compound was on the edge of a residential area, this cut down on the number of people that heard their shots. It also enabled them to immediately know if they were hearing SEAL or enemy fire.
- 2 point sling – this sling enabled Owen to secure his weapon while fast roping and to ensure that he would never be separated from it no matter what he had to do with his hands.
- Garmin Foretrex – this is a small GPS with basic features. It’s strength is in it’s small size and the fact that it has just the right features to enable you to get to and from a set of coordinates. Mounted on the stock of a carbine, it is easy to glance at quickly and stays out of the way when not needed.
What’s Not There?
- 15 magazines
- Food and Water
- Anti armor and anti aircraft weapons
- First line
- Overnight gear
Notice that all the items on this kit are designed to work together, yet there isn’t a single items that isn’t absolutely mission critical (do you see the pattern?). Every extra item adds weight, which slows you down. At a different point in the book Owen talks about how his team had to chase down some individuals that were running away from a compound they were assaulting. Some were on foot and two others were on a moped. Could you chase down a moped with your gear on? Conversely if two guys on a moped were chasing you could you get away? That extra item that you brought just in case might be the reason you are unable to keep pace and get away.
So now you realize that kit choice is important. But in a sea of literally thousands of gear options what do you need to bring!? I’ll focus more on that in my next article on METT-TC entitled METT-TC and You, Tailor Your Kit to Your Mission.