From: Special Agent Deacon Caine, IS
RE: Mission Equipment
Recently, I was asked to create a report on mission-critical equipment that should be considered essential for NIF personnel. Upon study of said report, it was suggested that I provide an analysis based on experience for the consideration of NIF soldiers and operatives.
When one prepares for the field, it seems clear that most are at least minimally prepared for combat operations of limited duration, and for most missions this is sufficient. However, there are any number of small, easy-to-carry tools and materials that can make any soldier's life less difficult- and many seem unaware of them.
When I see soldiers preparing for combat, said preparation seems to center around armor, standard or specialized weapons, and special equipment they tend to favor- sighting equipment, special sensors, lightsabers, what have you. What seems to be missed are the small items that can spell the difference between an unexpected, miserable tour, and a mission in reasonable, well-prepared comfort.
The NIF has standard weapons available for Army, Navy, and various other units. While they might seem unstylish or bland in comparison to custom weapons, do not overlook the reason the NIF issues them: reliability, combat effectiveness, and availability of spare parts. If one's E-11 breaks in the field, it is likely that spare parts to fix it are easily available. If one carries an obscure blaster rifle from some Rim Territory manufacturer, and it breaks...it hardly matters how much more powerful it is if it breaks and you have no spare parts to fix it. When using a customized or less common weapon, I strongly advise carrying repair parts as a matter of course. You can never predict what will happen in combat, and it is better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. Melee weapons: vibroblades are common, reliable, and effective. However, they have mechanical and electronic parts that can fail. Carry a backup of plain metal or ceramic- it doesn't cut as well, but it won't run out of power and modern knives can be stepped on by an AT-AT without breakage. Modern multi-tools that include various tools and knife blades are a wonderful backup weapon and tool in one.
StormTrooper armor is reasonably effective, protects you from the elements, and has many attachment points for gear and weapons. Its main problem is, frankly, color. In many combat instances, this is not a problem- the enemy knows who you are, and in a standard battle camoflage is of limited effectiveness. The ability to instantly tell friend from foe is a very handy edge, and one not to be discounted. However, in missions that require stealth or unobserved movement, the white color of the armor is a decided flaw. To this end, carry a can of spray coloring. Many brands are available, and most are easily removable by solvents, sonics, or simple water (it is not recommended to use water-soluble paint in the field, for obvious reasons.) When camoflage is needed, one simply sprays on an approved color (olive-drab green is a standard.) When combined with camo-cloaks, ghillie suits, or netting, this completely neutralizes the 'aiming point' of the white armor and is easily removed when not needed.
A note on colors: black is *only* useful camoflage at night. In wilderness conditions, or during daylight hours, black stands out almost as well as white, since very few 'natural' objects are plain, unreleived black. A neutral brown, green, or even rust-red is less noticeable in most environments. Study the environment you will be operating in before selecting colors!
The standard StormTrooper belt carries a number of useful survival tools, including rations, water purifier, grapnel and climbing cord, blaster packs, and a mini-medkit. However, there are any number of small items that can make the field an easier place to deal with, and here are suggestions:
Rations: you'd be suprised how many soldiers forget to pack a few extra rations, and count on constant resupply in the field. Having 5-6 extra ratpacks can make the difference between a hungry day when supply is disrupted and a full stomach.
Tools: ranging from small multi-tools to blaster repair kits, these small kits contain a multitude of useful tools. At the absolute minimum a multi-tool should be carried at all times; when you need a tool, you need it *now* and even a poor substitute is better than nothing at all!
Spare parts: a small pack of spare parts for vital equipment weighs very little compared to the peace of mind it brings. Knowing that if your blaster's initiator burns out you can snap in a new one in seconds instead of using it as a club is incredibly reassuring. Everything from moisture to bacteria to hostile nanites can cause enough problems with equiment to require replacement parts, and a selection of spares can be the difference between life and death.
Medical: medkits are always available, and should be carried- but a number of other small items should be part of any soldier's kit. Pain tabs: these non-addictive, helpful tabs are quick-acting, able to be taken with or without liquids, and are always useful for those aches and pains in the field. Even small contusions and bruises can hamper a soldier's effectiveness, and you may not want to see a Medic for small things- but those small things add up. Bandages: even minor wounds can become infected, and self-sealing dressings can be slapped on in seconds for minor wounds without taking away from the main medical supplies. Vitamin tabs: extra vitamins and minerals are easily available, and contribute to overall health. Ratpacks usually have everything, but extras help when a soldier is shivering in the wet bushes of a mission.
Extras: This is everything from a spare compass to holo-cubes of favorite books, portable caff-makers, advanced protein converters, breath masks, folding thermal-weave blankets, and inflatable pillows. All of it it small and light, and none of it is 'mission critical equipment'...but the soldier who sleeps comfortably and has a hot cup of caff to look forward to in the morning is a more effective solider by any standard. One must make sensible choices, and not become weighed down with nonessentials, but some small extras to make the field more bearable should always be included in a soldier's kit.
I hope this helps the field soldier to have a safer, more effective mission. A well-rested, comfortable soldier is less susceptible to unecessary injuries, won't make bad decisions based on discomfort, and won't be on sick-call as often.
-Special Agent Deacon Caine