Load Carriage Capacity of the Dismounted Combatant - A Commander's Guide

Jace R Drain, Rob Marc Orr, Renee L Attwells, Daniel C. Billing

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned reportResearch


There is a universal requirement for military personnel to carry an external load. The load of military personnel is typically comprised of clothing, protective ensemble (i.e. body armour, helmet), combat equipment (i.e. webbing, weapon systems, ammunition, power sources, radio) and sustainment stores (i.e. food and water). In addition, military operations often requires dismounted personnel to move, on foot, through various climates and terrains for long and continuous periods. The total load varies dependant upon factors such as mission requirements and threat profile. Recent evidence suggests that the individual’s load is increasing with advancing technologies and personal protective equipment. Excessive external load may adversely impact upon an individual’s physical capability (e.g. mobility, lethality) and health (e.g. survivability, thermal burden). It is therefore important we consider (likely) individual load carriage capacity in mission planning. An individual’s load carriage capacity is influenced by a multitude of factors that can broadly be categorised into three groups; 1) personnel characteristics (e.g. fitness, body mass, gender, age, injury profile, load carriage experience), 2) task characteristics (e.g. total external load, distribution of load, load carriage equipment design, movement speed, march duration, work to rest ratio) and 3) environment (e.g. terrain, heat, humidity, altitude) in which the task is performed. Some of these factors may in some situations be controlled (e.g. marching speed) whilst others are not (e.g. ambient temperature). There is a dynamic interaction between these factors which ultimately impact on an individual’s load carriage capacity. When undertaking mission planning it is important for commanders to consider the factors influencing load carriage capacity and identify the likely burden.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAustralia
PublisherDefence Science and Technology Organisation
Number of pages87
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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