2nd Amendment to the Constitution of The United States of America

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

"I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few politicians."
- George Mason (father of the Bill of Rights and The Virginia Declaration of Rights)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Heavy Metal Monday - The Humble E-Tool

Ah, the E-Tool....Entrenching tool if you must be formal...the shovel if you want to talk so the average person can relate.  Both a tool and sometimes a weapon, the humble E-tool has served the fighting man on all sides since....well, just about forever.  Ever since the first caveman realized that getting in a hole was a good way of not being hit by a rock thrown by the other Captain Cavemans in the area Man has dug to create fortifications and obstacles on the battlefield.   The Roman Army...who really knew a thing or two and more about engineering on the battlefield...required each legionnaire to carry a shovel or mattock along with two stakes while on the march to make a nightly fortified ditch from which to camp behind.

These aren't real Roman soldiers, camera weren't invented to around 1100 AD I think...
Throughout the annals of warfare there have always been special troops dedicated to the science of combat engineering.  These troops on today's battlefield have a bevy of vehicles and technologies to draw upon to build and defeat obstacles as well as the modern threat of IEDs used by our enemies....and then they also have shovels.  More importantly, the E-Tool puts a little engineering ability into the hands of soldiers all across the battlefield to provide their own defensive positions...or maybe even just to answer the call of nature.

Shovels and E-Tools are not necessarily the same thing.  Shovels are usually full sized...well, shovels.  E-Tools on the other hand are usually those portable spades that are designed to be carried by soldiers along with their other gear.   The simplest are just smaller headed shovels with short handles.  From there you have the variety that have straight handles with heads that fold down and/or lock in multiple positions.  After that category you have the E-Tools I am most familiar with and have used myself, the aluminum tri-fold unit that the US Army has used for the last 30 some years.   Glock, of all companies, makes a more modern version of the collapsible E-Tool replacing steel and aluminum with polymer plastic for a more lightweight tool...that is so Glock.

Again, there are 2 main uses for the E-tool, as a tool for digging or a weapon for fighting.  For its use as a tool, well its pretty simple...thrust blade into earth, shovel dirt away from hole...repeat.  In any war that has involved heavy use of infantry forces, solders are well versed in this simple task.  I have talked to men from Vietnam that would be required to dig a hole every night to sleep and fight in, and then fill it in each morning and start again the following afternoon.  Due to the current tactics used in the war on terror, most soldiers are removed from this task for the most part, although its use is not totally uncommon...just ask those paratroopers that used shovels to dig and fill sandbags to build OP Restrepo in the movie of the same name.

notice this solder ditches the e-tool for a full sized shovel, not a big upgrade but any is better than none when you have a hole to dig two M-16's long, by two helmets wide by armpit deep...no shit, that was the standard I was taught....thats about 6.5'x2'x5'..or about 65 cubic feel of dirt...
 As for its use as a weapon, a wide blade on the end of a stick is a very viable option.  Its use was probably more prevalent in wars where the primary firearm was a single shot, muzzle loaded weapon and/or a low capacity repeating rifle.  Of course there are exceptions to everything.  WWI saw the use of many crude and violent weapons in the trenches of the Western front.  Even in more modern warfare more than one poor soul has ended up with the blade of a E-tool in their neck.

Actual instruction pic from US Army combatives manual, circa 1990's
 Its use as an "official" weapon is not just a secondary thought thought.  The US Army has included it in its combatives training manuals for some years now and the Russian Spetnaz (Special Forces) has famously touted their fighting ability with their shovel for years.  Cold Steel has been making a copy of one now for years...then again they also make copies of African walking sticks too....

Spetsnaz shovel....in Soviet Russia shovel digs you!  Actually, it only works if you have a blue and white stripped t-shirt on...
 Now, for a musical selection to go along with it...."Dig" by the metal band Mudvayne...of course!  If you are unfamiliar with Mudvayne, this is somewhat typical of their work but their lead singer has a much wider vocal range than this screaming aural assault and they do some complex arrangements in their songs.

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