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«Special Forces Use of Pack Animals JUNE 2004 DISTRIBUTION RESTRICTION: Distribution authorized to U.S. Government agencies and their contractors only ...»

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FM 3-05.213 (FM 31-27)

Special Forces

Use of Pack Animals

JUNE 2004


Distribution authorized to U.S. Government agencies and their contractors only to protect technical or

operational information from automatic dissemination under the International Exchange Program or by

other means. This determination was made on 2 April 2004. Other requests for this document must be

referred to Commander, United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, ATTN: AOJK-DT-SFD, Fort Bragg, North Carolina 28310-5000.


Destroy by any method that must prevent disclosure of contents or reconstruction of the document.

Headquarters, Department of the Army *FM 3-05.213 (FM 31-27) Field Manual Headquarters No. 3-05.213 Department of the Army Washington, DC, 16 June 2004 Special Forces Use of Pack Animals Contents Page PREFACE



Planning Considerations


Mule Characteristics

Donkey Characteristics


Animal Conformation

Health and Welfare

Feed and Water

Feeding in Garrison

Feeding in the Field

Care of Forage

DISTRIBUTION RESTRICTION: Distribution authorized to U.S. Government agencies and their contractors only to protect technical or operational information from automatic dissemination under the International Exchange Program or by other means. This determination was made on 2 April 2004. Other requests for this document must be referred to Commander, United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, ATTN: AOJK-DT-SFD, Fort Bragg, North Carolina 28310-5000.

DESTRUCTION NOTICE: Destroy by any method that must prevent disclosure of contents or reconstruction of the document.


*This publication supersedes FM 31-27, 15 February 2000.

–  –  –



Farrier Science

Field Training


Animal Behavior

Physical Examination

First-Aid Supplies

First-Aid Treatment

Parasitic Infestation



Heat and Sun Stress

Immunization Schedule

Medical Supply List

Pharmacological Listing



Selection of Equipment


Halter and Packing Equipment

Care of Equipment

Fitting and Adjusting the Saddle

Unsaddling the Animal

Saddling With a Fitted Saddle



Western and McClellan Saddles

Riding Techniques

Leading a Pack String

Combat Considerations

–  –  –


Tying and Using Knots

Wrapping Cargo With a Mantee

Building Loads

Special Weapons Loads


Slings and Hitches

The Pack String


Transporting Sick and Wounded Personnel



Duties and Responsibilities

Movement Procedures

Stream Crossing at Fords

Crossing Unfordable Water




Cover and Concealment

Actions on Contact

Urban Environments














Field manual (FM) 3-05.213 is a guide for Special Forces (SF) personnel to use when conducting training or combat situations using pack animals. It is not a substitute for training with pack animals in the field. This manual provides the techniques of animal pack transport and for organizing and operating pack animal units. It captures some of the expertise and techniques that have been lost in the United States (U.S.) Army over the last 50 years. Care, feeding, and veterinary medicine constitute a considerable portion of the manual; however, this material is not intended as a substitute for veterinary expertise nor will it make a veterinarian out of the reader. SF personnel must have a basic knowledge of anatomy and physiology, common injuries, diseases (particularly of the feet), feeding, watering, and packing loads to properly care for the animals and to avoid abusing them from overloading or overworking.

Though many types of beasts of burden may be used for pack transportation, this manual focuses on horses, mules, donkeys, and a few other animals. One cannot learn how to pack an animal by reading; there is no substitute for having a horse or mule while practicing how to load a packsaddle for military operations.

However, the manual is useful for anyone going into an environment where these skills are applicable.

The most common measurements used in pack animal operations are expressed throughout the text and in many cases are U.S. standard terms rather than metric. Appendix A consists of conversion tables that may be used when mission requirements or environments change.

The proponent of this publication is the United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (USAJFKSWCS). Submit comments and recommended changes to Commander, USAJFKSWCS, ATTN: AOJK-DT-SFD, Fort Bragg, NC 28310-5000.

Unless this publication states otherwise, masculine nouns and pronouns do not refer exclusively to men.

iv Chapter 1

Military Pack Animal Operations Since the deactivation of the pack transport units after the Korean Conflict, the Army has relied on air and ground mobility for transporting personnel and equipment. Today and throughout the operational continuum, SF may find themselves involved in operations in rural or remote environments, such as Operations UPHOLD DEMOCRACY or ENDURING FREEDOM, using pack animals.

SF personnel must conduct a detailed mission analysis to determine the need for pack animals in support of their mission. Military pack animal operations are one of the options available to a commander to move personnel and equipment into or within a designated area of operations (AO). Pack animal operations are ideally suited for, but not limited to, conducting various missions in high mountain terrain, deserts, and dense jungle terrain.

Personnel must have a thorough understanding of all the factors that can impact military pack animal operations. The objective of this chapter is to familiarize the reader with military pack animal operations and to outline the planning considerations needed to successfully execute them.


1-1. Commanders use military pack animal operations when the AO restricts normal methods of transport or resupply. Animal transport systems can greatly increase mission success when hostile elements and conditions require the movement of combat troops and equipment by foot.

1-2. The weight bearing capacity of pack animals allows ground elements to travel longer distances with less personnel fatigue. The pack train can move effectively and efficiently in the most difficult of environments with conditioned animals, proper/modern equipment, and personnel with a moderate amount of training in handling packs. The pack detachment, without trail preparation, can traverse steep grades and heavily wooded areas, and can maintain acceptable speeds over terrain that is not mountainous, carrying 35 percent of their body maximum (150 to 300 pounds [lb]). This amount should be decreased for loads that are prone to excessive rocking as the animal walks (for example, top-heavy loads and bulky loads).

This capability continues indefinitely as long as the animals receive proper care and feed. In mountainous terrain, with no reduction in payload, the mule or horse can travel from 20 to 30 miles per day.

1-3. The success of pack operations, under extreme weather and terrain conditions, depends on the selection and training of personnel and animals.

–  –  –

Animal Management The survivability of a pack animal detachment and its ability to successfully complete a mission depend on the animals and their management. Historically, animals of all types and sizes have been successfully used for pack transportation throughout the world. Animals indigenous to the AO are usually more effective than imported animals.

Although native animals may be smaller and not ideally proportioned, they are acclimated to the environment, generally immune to local afflictions, and accustomed to the native forage. Nevertheless, any animal locally procured needs to be thoroughly inspected for disease and physical soundness. Animal management entails selection, feed, and feeding along with stable management. Employing an untrained pack master, making poor animal selections, and improperly feeding the pack animals could prove disastrous for the detachment.

–  –  –

also serve as a visual communication system, telegraphing danger or asinine moods. They punctuate their “ear-ial” code messages with tail swishes, body language, and of course, grunts and moans.

–  –  –

2-7. Other special characteristics of donkeys are tough, compact hooves that can handle sand and rock, woolly hair to insulate from desert heat and cold, and a lean body mass that is fuel-efficient and easily cooled, yet very strong and enduring. They also have a digestive system that can break down almost inedible roughage while at the same time extracting and saving moisture in an arid environment. Donkeys have only five lumbar vertebrae compared to most horses, which have six. They also generally have upright, sparse, spiky manes with no forelock.

2-8. Donkeys come in various colors, but the most common (for standards and miniatures) is the mouse gray called gray dun. There are spotted donkeys, white donkeys, various shades of brown that breeders refer to as “chocolate,” black donkeys, sorrel donkeys, and even pink donkeys, which have light, red hair mixed with a gray dun coat giving the illusion of pink.

There are also various roan and frost patterns. Donkeys come with or without a cross, leg stripes, or collar buttons. Most have white muzzles, eye rings, and light bellies. Mammoth jack stock tend to not have crosses and usually are seen as black, red, red roan, blue, blue roan, and spotted combinations, to name a few.

2-9. Regardless of the packaging and through the ages, different countries bred the donkey in whatever form they needed (the donkey had many uses then, as it still does today—riding, packing, draft work, creating mules), so

–  –  –


2-29. In the selection of a pack animal, the above criteria are ideal, but many serviceable pack animals have defects in their conformation and still perform well. Nevertheless, it is better in the long run to avoid animals with many defects. Personnel should try to ensure that the larger animals carry the heaviest loads, and the gentle, experienced animals carry the fragile, easily breakable items. The smaller animals or animals with certain conformation defects should be tasked with carrying the light and not-sofragile loads, such as food for animals and Soldiers. Bigger (size and weight) is not necessarily better. A load of 100 to 150 pounds is big enough for most packers. Heavier loads risk injury to an animal unless it is exceptionally well proportioned. The detachment probably cannot use the extra capacity anyway. The pack handler will have to lift the load in the field, and a 100pound load is usually about as much as a person can properly lift and position by hand on a packsaddle. Between fourteen and fifteen hands (4 feet 7 inches to 5 feet 2 inches) is a good range for pack stock. (Note: One hand equals 10.2 cm or 4 inches.) Even men more than 6 feet tall can have difficulty loading animals that are higher.


2-30. The health and welfare of the pack animal is a major concern of animal handlers in garrison and in the field. Each individual provides for the welfare of pack animals. Whole pack trains can be lost and missions compromised because of poor animal care. Implementing animal care will be distinctly different for field and garrison conditions even though the requirements and desired end points are the same.

2-9 FM 3-05.213


2-31. Rarely will a packer have the luxury of shelter or even corrals to hold animals in when packing. If fencing or corrals are not available, some means of limiting movement is necessary. The packer can limit movement by tying long “stake-out” lines to trees, using the high line or by using auger devices secured into the ground. These methods permit animals to graze in defined areas and provide windbreaks during cold winds. However, there are some disadvantages. The animals must be moved every few hours as they graze the available forage. Sometimes they become entangled in the stake-out lines or entangle the line in brush or rocks. Some animals panic at loud noises (for example, thunder) and snap the line or pull the auger out.

2-32. The packers can hobble the animals by tying their front legs together with just enough space between their legs to take small steps but not run.

They can secure the hobbles around the pastern or above the knees. Pastern hobbles (American hobbles) are easier to apply and maintain but can cause some animals to become entangled in brush or rock. Hobbles above the knees (Australian hobbles) are more difficult to apply and maintain but prevent entanglement with brush and rocks. Packers must slowly acclimate animals to hobbles in garrison before using the hobbles for an extended time on pack trips. Figure 2-4 shows two types of hobbles that the handler can use for various purposes.

Figure 2-4. Two Types of Hobbles

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