Soldier Combat Skills

Chapter 3-2 – Preventive Medicine

Personal hygiene and cleanliness practices (Figure 3-48) safeguard your health and that of others. Specifically, they–

  • Protect against disease-causing germs that are present in all environments.
  • Keep disease-causing germs from spreading.
  • Promote health among Soldiers.
  • Improve morale.
  • Never consume foods and beverages from unauthorized sources.
  • Never soil the ground with urine or feces. Use a latrine or “cat hole.”
  • Keep your fingers and contaminated objects out of your mouth.
    • Wash your hands
    • After any contamination.
    • Before eating or preparing food.
    • Before cleaning your mouth and teeth.
  • Wash all mess gear after each meal or use disposable plastic ware once.
  • Clean your mouth and teeth at least once each day.
  • Avoid insect bites by wearing proper clothing and using insect repellents.
  • Avoid getting wet or chilled unnecessarily.
  • Avoid sharing personal items with other Soldiers, for example
    • Towels.
    • Shaving gear.
    • Canteens.
    • Pipes
    • Toothbrushes.
    • Washcloths.
  • Avoid leaving food scraps lying around.
  • Sleep when possible.
  • Exercise regularly.

Figure 3-48. Rules for avoiding illness in the field.


3-74. Situation permitting, wash or exchange your clothing when it gets dirty. Do the same with your sleeping gear. When you cannot do this, at least shake everything out and air it regularly in the sun. This will reduce the number of germs on them.


3-75. Wash and dry your feet at least daily. Use foot powder on your feet to help kill germs, reduce friction on the skin, and absorb perspiration. Change your socks daily. As soon as you can after you cross a wet area, dry your feet, put on foot powder, and change socks (Figure 3-49).


3-76. For proper development, strength, and survival, your body requires proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. It also requires minerals, vitamins, and water. Issued rations have those essential food substances in the right amounts and proper balance. So, primarily eat those rations. When feasible, heat your meals. This will make them taste better and will reduce the energy required to digest them. Avoid overindulging in sweets, soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, and other non-issued rations. They have little nutritional value, and are often harmful. Eat food only from approved sources. Drink water only from approved sources, or treat it with water purification tablets. To do this-

  1. Fill your canteen with water, keeping trash and other objects out.
  2. Add one purification tablet to a quart of clear water or
  3. Add two tablets to a quart of cloudy or very cold water.
  4. In the absence of purification tablets, boil water for 5 minutes.
  5. Replace the cap loosely.
  6. Wait 5 minutes.
  7. Shake the canteen well, and let some of the water to leak out.
  8. Tighten the cap.
  9. Wait 20 more minutes before drinking the water.


3-77. To maintain mental health and self confidence–


3-78. The way you think affects the way you act. If you know your job, you will probably act quickly and effectively. If you are uncertain or doubtful of your ability to do your job, you may hesitate and make wrong decisions. Positive thinking is a necessity. You must enter combat with absolute confidence in your ability to do your job. Keep in mind that–

  • Fear is a basic human emotion. It is mental and physical. In itself, fear is not shameful, if controlled. It can even help you, by making you more alert and more able to do your job. For example, a fear-induced adrenaline rush might help you respond and defend yourself or your comrades quickly during an unpredicted event or combat situation. Therefore, fear can help you–use it to your advantage.
  • Avoid letting your imagination and fear run wild. Remember, you are not alone. You are part of a team. Other Soldiers are nearby, even though you cannot always see them. Everyone must help each other and depend on each other.
  • Worry undermines the body, dulls the mind, and slows thinking and learning. It adds to confusion, magnifies troubles, and causes you to imagine things that really do not exist. If you are worried about something, talk to your leader about it. He might be able to help solve the problem.
  • You might have to fight in any part of the world and in all types of terrain. Therefore, adjust your mind to accept conditions as they are. If mentally prepared for it, you should be able to fight under almost any conditions.


3-79. Exercise your muscles and joints to maintain your physical fitness and good health. Without exercise, you might lack the physical stamina and ability to fight. Physical fitness includes a healthy body, the capacity for skillful and sustained performance, the ability to recover from exertion rapidly, the desire to complete a designated task, and the confidence to face any possible event. Your own safety, health, and life may depend on your physical fitness. During lulls in combat, counteract inactivity by exercising. This helps keep your muscles and body functions ready for the next period of combat. It also helps pass the time.


3-80. Your body needs regular periods of rest to restore physical and mental vigor. When you are tired, your body functions are sluggish, and your ability to react is slower than normal, which makes you more susceptible to sickness, and to making errors that could endanger you or others. For the best health, you should get 6 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each day. As that is seldom possible in combat, use rest periods and off-duty time to rest or sleep. Never be ashamed to say that you are tired or sleepy. However, never sleep on duty.

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